Misleading expose on Balto. Co. raises cost of public...


April 19, 2001

Misleading expose on Balto. Co. raises cost of public service

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for governments to attract the brightest and the best to serve. The Sun's front-page, 60-inch article "No-bid real estate arrangements involving county raise questions" (April 8) will only make matters worse.

This article implies there was wrongdoing when there was none.

Robert J. Barrett, a man I have known for 40 years, was prominently mentioned and pictured in the story. During these many years, I have known him and his wife Debra, to be honorable, honest and hardworking concerned citizens.

A very careful reading of the article acknowledges neither Barrett nor any county employee personally benefited from any real estate action by Baltimore County. In fact, the county has benefited tremendously from Mr. Barrett's service.

I recently agreed to serve the citizens of Baltimore County, because I admire County Executive C.A. Ruppersberger and Mr. Barrett's goals. Those goals involve a better county for all citizens.

I recall an occasion about six years ago, among some of Mr. Barrett's friends, when he raised the specter of public service and his interest in it. Most of his friends thought he was crazy -- and that it was not worth anyone's time and energy. But I encouraged Mr. Barrett, as I believe public service to be a noble calling.

However, when I see good people like the Barretts go through stuff like this, I too second-guess my commitment.

Anthony J. Ambridge


The writer is a former Baltimore City Council member who is a consultant to Baltimore County on community revitalization.

Stadium flea market enjoyed at least a taste of success

The Sun's editorial "Hobby groups could boost city's economy"(April 8) suggested the Baltimore government was incapable of running a flea market at Memorial Stadium and Eastern High School.

The two flea markets were privately run. In its short life of three-and-one-half months, the Memorial Stadium flea market grew to be one of the largest outdoor flea markets in the mid-Atlantic area.

On any given Sunday more than 300 vendors set up and 6,000 shoppers came to buy. The city received $5 for each vendor, or more than $1,500 a weekend.

However, a then City Councilman who lived across the street from Memorial Stadium had the permit pulled without any meetings or consultation; otherwise, that flea market could still be prospering.

After moving across the street to Eastern High, the market didn't do as well, yet continued for three years.

Jay Harris


The writer is president of Harris Promotions, which ran both flea markets.

The flag is much more than just a symbol

I am a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and I wonder about the true patriotism of people who state that the American flag is nothing more than a symbol ("Burning America's flag is an act of symbolic speech," letters, April 10). The letter-writer states: "If flag-burning is not speech or expressive conduct, then what is offensive about burning the American flag."

I'll tell him why it's offensive. The American flag was raised in victory on Iwo Jima upon the bodies of thousands of dead buddies who fought for that symbol.

When a mother has a son or daughter laid to rest as a result of giving up their life for their country, the gift from the American people is an American flag.

This "symbol" was the inspiration that enabled American fighting forces to sacrifice their blood and guts to give people such as the writer the opportunity to express his opinion.

Bill Kearns


Coverage of HMO bill added light to the topic

Many thanks to Jeff Barker for his article "Nurses' HMO bill fight goes to the Senate" (April 9). As a nurse-practitioner who has provided primary care to my patients over the last 13 years (most of them HMO patients), I was happy to see this issue addressed by the media.

After having the opportunity to attend the hearings before the Senate Finance Committee regarding the bill, I came away with a sense of pride and renewed respect for the legislators who supported us.

As for MedChi and its erroneous testimony, I can only say that its lobbyist, Joseph H. Schwartz III, is very well suited to be a lobbyist for the solid-waste industry.

Bonnie Bock


Portrait of clarinetist attained perfect pitch

I want to thank Rob Hiaasen for his thoughtful portrait of Chucky Valentine, the mysterious musician with diamond fingernails, dalmatian mice and a clarinet calibrated to Karen Carpenter's voice ("A Man and His Muse," April 10).

I think life is made richer by Mr. Valentine's pursuit of an unusual artistry.

The piece explained that Mr. Valentine has relative pitch as a clarinetist; the craftsmanship of the piece showed that Mr. Hiaasen has perfect pitch as a writer.

Stephen R. Thurston


Struever's reuse projects enliven urban landscape

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