Labor dispute may threaten port, further city's decay...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 05, 2000

Labor dispute may threaten port, further city's decay

The Longshoremen's union's decision to reject the contract offer from Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines is remarkably short-sighted and shows incredible ignorance of the reality of the past 40 years and of current conditions in Baltimore ("Port project put in doubt," April 28).

As a longtime city resident, I have watched the ebb and flow of revitalization and urban decay as the city continues its agonizing death march.

The nation, Maryland and the metropolitan area are experiencing an unprecedented economic boom, while Charm City continues to lose tax-paying population and maintain an unemployment rate double the national average.

Most businesses and industries in the modern world learned long ago that labor practices that make businesses uncompetitive spell eventual doom.

This union is fighting not for a living wage or acceptable working conditions, but for the convenience of a labor ideal that was outdated in the 1950s.

By refusing the Wallenius offer, the union is helping close the door on a brighter future for the city as well as for its own members, who will surely regret their "no" votes when the company leaves the port for good, whether that happens next year or in 10 years.

Steve Johnson

Baltimore

Violence to immigrants is anything but unusual

Where have the people shocked, alarmed and "appalled" at the rescue of Elian Gonzalez been for the past 20 years?

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has been routinely raiding restaurants, bursting into homes and grabbing people off the streets in their relentless search for workers without green cards.

And, as far as I know, this has not raised a hair among middle-class Americans.

Elian's rescue was violent? What could we expect in this nation of gun-huggers?

Michael Kernan

Baltimore

Officers such as Gavin are the real heroes

A police officer gives his life stopping the flight of a criminal -- value, $30,000 per year. A man hits a ball over a fence -- value $13 million dollars per year. You gotta love American values.

What lessons are we teaching our children with our obsessive veneration of the professional athlete?

As a police officer, my season is 12 months long. I play when I'm sick or injured. I must practice to keep in shape and stay on top of my game. I play extra innings. I buy my own uniform and equipment and pay for my travel.

I can be cut from the team at the whim of the front office. I don't get special attention when I'm weary, tired or achy.

There is nothing special about me. When I leave for work in the morning, millions of others do also. They're just people.

They play hard and give it their all. They will never be famous, become millionaires or get a standing ovation for perfect attendance. They are my heroes.

A player was lost with the death of Officer Kevon Gavin. We were blessed by his effort and sacrifice.

Thomas Dolan

Baltimore

More aggressive policing could have saved lives at zoo

The National Zoo security and Washington police were caught in a Catch-22 on April 24 ("6 children shot at zoo in capital," April 25).

Reports suggest there were multiple altercations between small groups of hooligans at the zoo that day. But it appears that security and police were reluctant to clamp down on the disturbances and eject some zoo patrons for fear of ruining African-American Family Appreciation Day.

The shootings of six people exemplify the tightrope that law enforcement officers walk daily as they balance the rights of individuals with the safety of the group.

In this case, it is apparent that more aggressive tactics would have protected innocent people and saved lives.

Charles M. Fitzpatrick

Baltimore

Norris' personnel records shouldn't be the issue

It is not the Baltimore City Council's, or anyone else's, right to see someone's personnel file, as Counilwoman Lisa Stancil has requested of acting police Commissioner Edward T. Norris ("Norris won't open his files," May 1).

I understand the the council's concern to approve the right person as police commissioner. But no employer would ever release a former employee's records to a prospective employer -- there are laws against that. So why should Mr. Norris?

I would worry less about Mr. Norris' record than about making sure the mayor's plan to reduce crime is followed.

Mr. Norris, if confirmed, will be implementing the mayor's plan. Did we ask to see the mayor's personnel record before electing him?

Of course not: We listened to his word and the people elected him on his word.

Kelley Ray

Baltimore

Morgan State must not be a pawn in anyone's agenda

Del. Howard P. Rawlings has attempted to establish his credentials as a friend of Morgan State University by declaring that he is responsible for the $44 million fine arts center under construction on campus ("Assessing fallout from public feud in the legislature," April 18).

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