`Pay parity' changes undermine the morale of city's...


March 30, 2000

`Pay parity' changes undermine the morale of city's firefighters

Mayor Martin O'Malley's attempt to destroy pay parity between city firefighters and police officers, on the grounds that "police officers need to get paid more because their recruitment and retention is difficult," is an insult to the men and women of the Baltimore City Fire Department ("O'Malley's spunkiness raises expectations," editorial, March 12).

City police officers deserve fair pay. But police "recruitment and retention" issues don't make the work of Baltimore's firefighters any less dangerous or worthy of fair compensation.

According to a recent survey, firefighting remains one of the country's most dangerous professions, with about one in every three firefighters injured on the job.

A city police officer's starting salary is already about $9,000 more than a city firefighter's. By attempting to strip firefighters of the fair and equal pay they deserve, the mayor has declared firefighters second-class public servants.

This has done more to lower firefighter morale than the threat of 250 layoffs did a few years ago.

While there are retention issues within the police department, instead of solving the problem by attacking pay parity the mayor should give the department's new command the chance to bring back the pride police rank-and-file once enjoyed.

Increasing police pride may help the situation; breaking firefighters' morale certainly won't.

William V. Taylor


The writer is president of Baltimore City Fire Fighters Local 734

Racetrack would destroy idyllic rural community

I am a resident of Little Orleans, a tiny rural community located in Allegany County. Perhaps 300 families live here, some going back three or four generations, and our way of life is sacred to us.

Recently, we have learned that this all may be lost because a developer wishes to build a multi-million-dollar horse racetrack right here in our community ("Two plans for track in Allegany County to be submitted today," March 2).

This is an area where children are able to go out and ride bikes, go down to the river and explore without fear. Deals are still closed by a handshake and a man's word is good.

The area is well-known for the pristine mountain views, and the fishing that Fifteen Mile Creek has to offer. Wildlife is abundant and the surroundings serene.

There's a campground for those who wish to vacation here and residents have always welcomed them.

I cannot fathom the impact this racetrack will have on our area. I cannot imagine a less appropriate place for heavy traffic, gambling and off-track betting.

The limited water supply in the area cannot possibly support a business of this size -- more than 30 family wells went dry last summer.

It saddens me greatly to realize there are all kinds of agencies to regulate zoning and land-use, but none to preserve a way of life that Little Orleans has to offer.

How can this possibly be Smart Growth for Maryland?

Carol L. Whitfield

Little Orleans

Editorial on justice system ignored defendants' rights

It is noteworthy that The Sun's editorial "A silence that kills" (March 19) did not mention that the accused should receive fair trials or use the phrases "unjustly accused," "fair trials," "due process," "fundamental fairness" or "quality representation."

Is this merely an oversight -- or are these issues not a concern?

Stephen E. Harris


The writer is the state's public defender.

Why did report of rape question victim's account?

On March 17 The Sun reported in the "Police Blotter" the following from the Towson Precinct: "Rape: A North Baltimore woman told police she was raped early Wednesday morning . . ."

The other reports were worded without questioning the victims veracity -- i.e. "a thief stole . . ." " a gunman robbed . . ."

Why would a rape account be worded any differently?

Melissa Falen


Clinton's in no position to object to NRA's criticism

President Clinton and his leftist media cohorts have no reason to be upset by recent statements made by the National Rifle Association.

For years, Mr. Clinton has routinely lambasted anyone who didn't support his assault on Second Amendment constitutional rights.

At the same time, he's refused to insist that laws to rein in criminal activity with firearms be vigorously enforced.

It is ironic that Mr. Clinton seeks to exercise boisterously his First Amendment right to criticize his opposition, while denying the same option to his detractors.

The president needs to learn that when the worm turns, it often becomes a snake armed with the venom of truth.

Ronald L. Dowling


Lawsuits aren't the way to regulate gunmakers

In its recent front-page article "Gun maker, U.S. reach agreement" (March 18), The Sun put it perfectly: "Inspired by the settlement reached between the states and the tobacco industry, gun control proponents were taking to the courts to effect changes they could not secure through legislation."

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