Spring cleaning CHURCH BELLS will ring at 9 a.m. today...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

March 24, 2000

Spring cleaning

CHURCH BELLS will ring at 9 a.m. today to summon Baltimoreans to Mayor Martin O'Malley's two-day Super Spring Sweep Thing.

Hundreds of volunteers are expected to aid city work crews in cleaning some of the worst eye-sores in the city. "From neighborhoods to businesses, unions and nonprofits agencies, everyone is on board," vows Mr. O'Malley.

At a City Hall press conference Thursday, he was flanked by Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Ocean City Mayor James N. Mathias Jr.

The former is providing a dozen Dumpsters to support the effort; the latter is sending about 30 employees with 10 pieces of equipment.

"This is regional cooperation at its best," explained Mr. Ruppersberger. "The more we do this, the more people want to get involved."

Citizen involvement, that's the key. After this weekend's cleanup, it will be up to Baltimoreans to see to it that their neighborhoods and public spaces stay free of trash.

Democracy

SINCE independence in 1960, Senegal has never had a coup and always had elections, which the Socialist Party always won. First the founder, Leopold Senghor, was president. Since 1981, Abdou Diouf has been.

For the past five elections, Abdoulaye Wade, a sometime professor, has run against the cronyism and corruption of the ruling party.

This time, the 73-year-old upstart ousted the 64-year-old incumbent. Mr. Diouf led in the first round but Mr. Wade talked minor candidates into supporting him in the runoff.

Mr. Wade's priority is to reduce his own power, ruling as a "transition" until he organizes a constitutional revision to transfer authority to the parliament. It takes a strong man to end the strongman tradition in Africa.

Mr. Diouf conceded defeat with laughter and good grace. This looks likes it is going to work.

Senegal always was notable for stability. Now it is giving reality to democracy. That should enable the French-speaking country of 10 million on the west coast of Africa to tackle infrastructure, education and poverty more effectively.

Boost for seniors

SOMETIME early next month, President Clinton will put his signature on a bill putting more money into the pockets of 800,000 older workers.

As we editorially suggested, the Senate on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a measure eliminating the punitive earnings limit on people ages 65 to 69 who continue to work while receiving Social Security benefits.

There's even a bonus -- the bill is retroactive to Jan. 1. That means working seniors can put in more hours right away. .

This Republican-sponsored bill should help the country surmount its tight labor market. More experienced seniors will be available for important skilled jobs that are now hard to fill.

This Depression-era provision is outdated and harmful to seniors and the nation's economy. Encouraging seniors to stay active in the job market is a winner.

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