United action Common ground: United Way, Urban League need to find way to end their feuding.

March 19, 1998

THE "RASHOMON"-LIKE saga of relations between the Baltimore Urban League and the United Way of Central Maryland isn't easily sorted out. That's why it may take a responsible third party or parties to plumb the depths of the current dispute and seek a resolution, as Urban League board members are suggesting.

In the meantime, both groups must understand that their constituencies are pained to watch this feud escalate. Nothing good can come of the bickering -- for any of us.

The United Way and the Urban League are important to the Baltimore area -- too important for communications problems or disagreements over accounting procedures to drive a wedge between them. Both of these high-profile agencies play a role in providing services in this community. To maximize their potential to do good, the agencies need each other.

Comments from both groups suggest positions are hardening. The Urban League has said it no longer will seek money from the United Way; the United Way may be on the verge of "disaffiliating" the Urban League. Best for all involved -- especially the people both groups are trying to help -- would be a timeout. Problems that were four or more years in the making won't be resolved this week, or next.

Nor are they likely to be resolved if the rhetoric continues to escalate. That would only make reconciliation and compromise more difficult.

It would be a sad day for this metropolitan area if people of such obvious good will as the leaders of these two agencies can't find a way to resolve their differences.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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