City government is reaching out to gays and lesbians On...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 21, 2001

City government is reaching out to gays and lesbians

On Jan. 5, I met with community leaders at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore (GLCCB) to begin working to mend the damage done by city Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano's outrageous comments and my failure to adequately express my disgust and disappointment with Mr. Graziano's behavior.

I was furious when I learned what Mr. Graziano had done. I remain extremely disappointed by his words and actions.

What he said represents the opposite of what this administration is trying to accomplish in Baltimore: bringing together people -- across the lines of race, class, sexual orientation and other factors that too often divide us -- to move our city forward.

Our meeting resulted in an agreement to improve communication and cooperation. We also agreed on concrete steps to demonstrate our administration's commitment to strengthening the trust of the gay and lesbian community:

We will implement sensitivity and diversity training for every city employee, starting with my Cabinet in February.

We will appoint a commission to examine and respond to issues facing the gay and lesbian community.

We will do a better job seeking out and appointing openly gay men and women to serve in high-ranking positions within our administration.

We will consider appointing a liaison to the gay and lesbian community.

We will hold quarterly meetings at the GLCCB to ensure the productive dialogue we have begun continues. The first is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21.

And when Mr. Graziano returns from treatment, he will take additional steps to reach out to the gay and lesbian community.

I am grateful for the willingness of members of the gay and lesbian community to work with me to heal the wounds opened by the events of the past few weeks.

Ultimately, we all want the same thing: a better, more just Baltimore. I trust the steps outlined above will help us make progress toward our common goal.

Martin O'Malley, Baltimore

The writer is mayor of Baltimore.

Sales tax holiday will arrive in August

I was pleased to read the recent letter asking when Marylanders will get a break on sales tax ("When will Marylanders get a break on sales tax?" Jan. 15).

The author should know, however, that in May Gov. Parris N. Glendening signed legislation establishing a sales tax-free week scheduled for Aug. 10-16 of this year.

That week, there will be no sales tax on clothing and footwear costing under $100.

And state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer was a strong proponent of the sales tax-free week.

Tom S. Saquella, Annapolis

The writer is president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

Tactics used against Ashcroft threaten everyone's freedom

I am deeply saddened by the divisive race-baiting tactics that are being used to discredit President Bush's nominee for attorney general, John Ashcroft.

Mr. Ashcroft is a man of faith and ethics; he is not a racist. The real reason behind these accusations is a virulent hatred for the man's deeply held religious beliefs and pro-life stance.

Mr. Ashcroft is a highly qualified individual who will uphold the law of the land.

To imply that anyone with strong convictions should be barred from holding a job for which he or she is well-suited has chilling implications for each and every one of us. It is the ultimate censorship of intellectual freedom.

No matter what you think of Mr. Ashcroft, such tactics are just plain wrong.

Amy Fogelstrom Chai, Ellicott City

Bush, Rumsfeld are wrong to push for missile defense

Our nominee for secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has applauded President Bush's missile defense program ("Leave peacekeeping to others, Rumsfeld says at Senate hearing," Jan. 12).

It seems not to matter to either man that the scientific community generally agrees that such a program is unworkable and a scandalous waste of money.

But even were it proven to be doable, what a colossal and irresponsible misdirection of our national wealth.

Frederick C. Ruof, Baltimore

Wolfe's works live on, along with his home

As members of the Thomas Wolfe Society, we appreciate Laura Sullivan's article on Wolfe, the arson at the Wolfe Memorial in Asheville and the efforts to restore it ("If Wolfe could go home again," Jan. 5).

We would like to point out that Wolfe's works are in print in German, Russian, Hungarian and Japanese and in all English-speaking countries in the world.

And a restored edition of "O Lost," his original version of "Look Homeward, Angel," has recently been published by the University of South Carolina Press.

Ann Rutledge, Jerry Locklee, Baltimore

Boy Scouts have the right to choose their own leaders

How can anyone deny the Boy Scouts the right to choose leaders they see as fit to model their mission?

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