Activists' story was inspiring, but is anyone...


October 04, 1999

Activists' story was inspiring, but is anyone listening?

Gregory Kane's column "Community activist struggles to save city" (Sept. 25) brought tears to my eyes.

Tears of admiration for that brave and determined woman, Orisha Kammefa, and her determination to save her neighborhood and tears of frustration about the society that is ruining it.

And a sense of despair about changing all that is wrong.

In examining my own neighborhood for the past three years, I have concluded that there are four factors that are important for a stable, successful community: quality housing stock, location, a citizenry with respect for the environment and each other and a strong neighborhood association.

The last two elements are most important. Citizens without respect for their surroundings can, and do, destroy anything. Our city is replete with examples.

But, when the voices of concerned citizens are instead joined together in a vocal neighborhood association, a community can thrive.

Ms. Kammefa's is a lone voice, but a courageous one. She deserves our admiration and respect.

But is anyone listening to her? Is anyone providing Ms. Kammefa with a base of support to organize her community?

Or are we merely continuing to build hotels and stadiums and destroy our existing housing stock?

Will our new mayor respond to the needs community activists reveal, so we can look forward to a better future? If not, our city will continue its decline.

Eileen Higham, Baltimore

Millennium report reveals changes the city needs

The Sun's editorial on the report of Baltimore's Millennium Group deserves attention from everyone interested in efficient and effective government -- and from all the candidates for city office ("Mayor must overhaul bureaucratic practices," Sept. 23).

Baltimore resembles a billion-dollar plus corporation with an outdated infrastructure and a lack of management skills at every level.

In 1995, the Baltimore Homeowners' Coalition sponsored, with the city, a study by outside experts of the city's Department of Public Works.

But city officials stonewalled its findings -- which were not dissimilar from those of the Millennium Group.

We salute Del. Howard P. Rawlings and Del. Sandy Rosenberg for their help in re-starting the Millennium Group's work, when Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke began to backtrack on pursuing it. We also compliment the Millennium Group's chairperson, Vera Hall, for her work.

Karen M. Footner, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore Homeowners' Coalition.

Frazier led the fight against domestic violence

In the commentary about Baltimore's departing police commissioner, Thomas P. Frazier, I have yet to see a mention of his progressive leadership in the department's approach to domestic violence.

Two years ago, the police commander who coordinates the department's domestic violence units, Col. Margaret Patten, attended a conference on the link between animal abuse and human violence -- cruelty to animals is often a predictor of future violence toward people.

As a result, Mr. Frazier endorsed the cross-training of domestic violence, child abuse and protection and animal control officers to permit cross-reporting of various kinds of abuse.

Mr. Frazier was also instrumental in developing a collaborative approach to domestic violence, by supporting a coalition that involves the Baltimore Police Department, the House of Ruth, Second Step and the Snyder Foundation.

Under Mr. Frazier, Baltimore was among the first cities in the country to embrace this model.

His genuine commitment to eradicating domestic violence will be missed.

Lora Junkin, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the William Snyder Foundation for Animals.

Reaction to commissioner reflects poorly on O'Malley

I wish voters would look very hard at the substantive issues which differentiate the Baltimore mayoral candidates, and stop blindly voting by party loyalty.

A good example appeared in The Sun's article, "Frazier taking key Justice post in Washington" (Sept. 24). Mr. O'Malley, the Democrat, was quoted as quipping merely, "Sic semper tyrannis."

But the reported remarks of the Republican mayoral nominee, David F. Tufaro, contained two substantive points: that "Frazier's new job should benefit Baltimore by having a friend in Washington," and that "he [Tufaro] wants to meet with Frazier to discuss the success of various programs."

Which man would you trust: The one who wants to delve into the problems facing the city or the one who is making jokes about a very serious matter?

Stephanie Link, Hampstead

Perhaps it would have been too much to ask of Martin O'Malley that when Police Commissioner Thomas P. Frazier announced he was stepping down, Mr. O'Malley either refrain from commenting or respond with some measure of grace.

But, by instead continuing his attacks on Mr. Frazier, Mr. O'Malley has diminished his stature and demonstrated both a lack of judgment and a vindictive streak.

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