baltimorecity.gov LET'S HEAR IT for Frank Perrelli...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

April 05, 2000

baltimorecity.gov

LET'S HEAR IT for Frank Perrelli. With just $150 for an extra piece of software, the planning department graphic designer has created a breakthrough Web site for Baltimore city government.

Unlike the City Council's much-ballyhooed $150,000 Web site (which is still a bust), the Perrelli version -- baltimorecity.gov -- actually gives citizens useful information. It contains Mayor Martin O'Malley's transition task force reports and recommendations. The new crime-fighting strategy, too, will be on the Web.

A Web site, though, is only as good as its links.

Those referrals show how poorly some municipal agencies and private-sector organizations maintain their own sites. Some cities have shown great inventiveness in developing their information technology. Boston allows violators to pay parking tickets online with a credit card. Torrance, Calif., broadcasts City Council meetings live on the Internet.

Baltimore, too, must take better advantage of these short-cuts. There is no reason whatsoever why routine permit applications could not be filed online or their status checked without a series of phone calls. It's past time to drag city government into the 21st century. Mr. Pirelli's site is a good start.

Genetic information

A BILL now making its way through the General Assembly would prevent the kind of assault on personal privacy that no one should have to endure.

The legislation, sponsored in the House by Del. Michael J. Finifter of Baltimore County, would make it illegal to discriminate against a worker or job candidate because of genetic information about the individual. It passed the House and faces a tougher Senate test.

The bill deserves final passage and the governor's signature.

NASA's mission

TWO COSTLY failures should persuade NASA that space exploration does not come cheap, despite its motto -- "faster, cheaper, better."

The space agency has cut too many corners in efforts to reach the Red Planet, and two lost missions resulted. NASA has canceled a Mars mission scheduled for next year and may delay other missions to the planet. Fine. The space agency needs time for introspection.

And it needs a smarter, fresher, better motto.

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