A place of honor in mayoral voteIn 1997, then-speaker of...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 02, 1999

A place of honor in mayoral vote

In 1997, then-speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to "sit in a place of honor" during the president's State of the Union address. Mr. Jackson accepted the invitation.

The reaction from many Republicans and many blacks was akin to "how could they?"

For me, the speaker's invitation was a small, yet important, step toward Republicans re-establishing a relationship with black communities and their leadership.

And now, as Republican candidates seek common ground and opportunity to re-establish a relationship with black communities throughout the city as we face an election, many on both sides are asking "why should we?"

For some time, the Republican Party and black voters have danced around each other -- with Republicans hiding behind the "blacks will never vote for us" mentality and many blacks ignoring real solutions to serious problems because those solutions have a "Republican" label.

Very often, both groups have missed real opportunities to reach out to each other.

But "outreach" means more than good speeches and a pat on the back; it means establishing a relationship and building a partnership that will benefit all concerned.

Baltimore stands at the threshold of the next millennium poised to take a new direction with new leadership. But its citizens must make some hard choices before crossing that threshold.

Baltimoreans can no longer afford to think in black and white, but must focus on the quality of leadership and ideas and the inevitability of change.

For far too long, city voters have seemed to turn a blind eye to their own welfare.

But at some point we have to ask: Are our schools better? Is my neighborhood safer and cleaner? Are there fewer boarded-up houses and businesses?

Have our elected officials served us well?

At some point, city voters have to stop and say we can no longer afford to vote for failed leadership. I believe city voters have reached that point.

As the Democrats jockey to put before voters names and faces which have been a part of the policies and legacy of the past three decades, Republicans have largely gone unnoticed simply because they are Republicans.

Surely, Baltimoreans won't forsake possible change just because of a label.

Instead, I challenge city voters this fall to at least consider taking the road less traveled.

Likewise, I challenge Republicans candidates to present themselves directly to voters and offer their vision of Baltimore and the future of its communities.

Michael Steele, Largo

The writer is first vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Horse-race approach to elections

In his Perspective-section post-mortem on Baltimore's mayoral primary, Gerald Shields criticized my several electoral campaigns, in which I have never gotten more than 10 percent of the vote, as showing my apparent inability to "take a hint" ("Memorable primary moments," Sept. 26).

But it's not a trivial matter of my not taking a hint. Democracy itself is at stake.

And when the democratic process fails, the people lose.

Since the major media, led by The Sun, refuse to view elections as a process to resolve real problems democratically, all it covers is their horse-race aspect. Consequently, the real problems in our city, state and nation are hardly ever addressed, much less solved.

If not addressed through the democratic process, how are these problems solved? Most of them simply are not solved at all.

That's why I ran for office to offer real solutions to those real problems. I'm proud that I met this responsibility throughout the primary election.

Had the "Big Three" candidates (made Big by Big Money) along with the Big Media (owned by Big Money) fulfilled their responsibility to develop real solutions to our city's crisis, we might hope to see that crisis resolved during the next mayor's term.

But don't hold your breath.

The real losers in this election are the people of Baltimore -- many of whom cannot vote (felons, immigrants, 16-year-olds) and most of whom have been so frustrated and isolated by our system of misgovernment that they see no point in voting.

Those who did vote were apparently so mesmerized by the last six weeks of media blitz, strengthened by those TV and radio "debates"" (which, with my forced absence, were hardly debates at all) that they became convinced there were only three choices -- all establishment candidates.

We, the people, just lost this election.

We will be paying for that loss through the next four years.

A. Robert Kaufman, Baltimore

UM heart study raises questions

I was concerned by The Sun's front page article "Study finds no value in heart supplement," Sept 27).

The article reports that Dr. Stephen Gottlieb, director of the cardiac care unit at the University of Maryland Medical System studied the effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10 in treating the symptoms of congestive heart failure. He found that Co Q10 did not relieve symptoms.

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