Senator's doubletalk should cost him key committee seatThe...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 03, 1999

Senator's doubletalk should cost him key committee seat

The Sun in its editorial "Doing the bidding of bail bond business" (March 25) has rightly focused indignation on state Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV for voting to kill the bill to allow public defenders to represent indigent defendants at bail review hearings.

Bondsmen and private lawyers who don't want to shrink the market for their services stand to gain most from the defeat of this bill. Those who stand to lose most are people who don't have enough money for bail but whose charges will be dropped by the state when their cases finally come to trial.

Mr. Mitchell insists that his vote in the Maryland Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee was "completely aboveboard." What he doesn't seem to understand is how hard it is to retain a reputation as an honorable man when you tell people you'll support a bill, even lobby the lower house of the General Assembly on its behalf, and then vote against it in committee.

Senator Mitchell, of course, isn't saying for public consumption what the price was for his vote. Matthew Mosk reports in The Sun ("Senator draws ire with vote," March 27) that Mr. Mitchell may have traded this vote for support for the civilian review board that he has long wished to inflict on the Baltimore city police.

Be that as it may, the price that now ought to be exacted from him for his treachery is instant removal from the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Hal Riedl, Baltimore

Baseball's main focus should be Cuban people

I am concerned with the Orioles' trip to the communist country of Cuba. Americans do not want to have the appearance that we approve of the dictator Fidel Castro being in power.

The Orioles, baseball and America might benefit from opening relations with Cuba, but instead of thinking of ourselves, we should think of the oppressed Cuban people who are barely surviving.

Maybe this home-and-home series will make Mr. Castro become open to democracy or, at the least, human rights. But I do not think that is going to happen.

I hope the United States is opening a dialogue with the Cuban leader to influence Mr. Castro to bring human rights and democracy to Cuba. I also hope the Orioles and Major League Baseball aren't just looking out for themselves and are actually thinking of the Cuban people.

Christopher Paff, Baltimore

Race should not matter in getting best teachers

The story "Recruiting blacks goal of proposal" (March 15) discussed a three-year plan to recruit and hire more black teachers in Harford County. Why?

The article quotes a black Aberdeen High School teacher as saying he doesn't believe discrimination prevents black teachers from pursuing jobs in the county. Quite the contrary, he says, black teachers he talks to feel "quite at ease" in Harford. So what's the problem?

It seems that while 13 percent of the county's school children are black, only 5 percent of the teachers are. Eugene Chandler of the school board says, "I think students need to see people that look like them." Oh really?

What about other minority groups? Don't we need to match their representation in the population?

Parents and teachers have been beseeching this same school board for better pay for our excellent teachers of all colors. Harford County ranks near the bottom of the state in teacher salaries, yet ranks among the top performers in the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

I want the best teachers for our county, and I don't care what they look like. If hiring decisions are based only on merit and 100 percent of our teachers are black, that would be fine with me. But special treatment based on color is racist, and it's wrong.

We need to value excellence, and we do that by spending our resources on getting and keeping the best and the brightest.

Cynthia Mumby, Bel Air

Real social worker's life is much deeper than TV

Finally, social workers get to be portrayed on a popular sitcom -- and what a laugh (" `Norm': a likable blockhead," March 24).

Here's a crook who's given the choice by the judge of working in the community as a "social worker" or going to jail. It might have been even funnier if he'd been given the choice of practicing law or medicine, working as a nurse or teaching in a public school. Can't you just imagine all the possibilities?

Those who believe the myths surrounding social work should spend a day in the life of a real social worker. You'd be surprised at how comic some of our real-life situations are. And they are heart-warming, heart-rending and downright unforgettable.

Valerie Bailey Grasso, Baltimore

The writer is chairwoman of the public relations task force of the National Association of Social Workers' Maryland chapter.

Cumbersome ride to work juggling crossword supplies

One compensation for taking the train to work is that the ride allows time to work The Sun's crossword puzzle. At least, this was so until recently. I could usually complete the puzzle by the time I arrived at my station.

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