Banning begging is no way to help those in need With...


April 29, 2001

Banning begging is no way to help those in need

With little fanfare, a bill to restrict begging has been introduced in the City Council. The bill proposes to make it a crime, from dusk until dawn, for an individual to speak to another individual with a request for "an immediate donation of money or any other thing of value."

Would this provision, for example, prohibit a request for a smile or a prayer?

Baltimore faces serious problems: declining public revenues, thousands of people with addictions, 100,000 residents without health insurance. We lack thousands of units of affordable housing, causing many of our relatives and neighbors to sleep in abandoned cars or under bridges.

Local soup kitchens and food pantries are hard-pressed to meet the demand for their services. Health Care for the Homeless turns away dozens every day because our resources are inadequate to the need.

Last year, the Baltimore City Task Force on Homelessness proposed practical solutions. These include guaranteed access to shelter, enhanced outreach, day resource centers, additional affordable housing and employment opportunities.

Arresting people for begging was not included among these recommendations.

We are certain that the police have more pressing problems, as does the City Council. Let's work on solutions, not merely responses.

Jeff Singer


The writer is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless.

Movers and shakers can find funds to keep libraries open

To save $1.1 million in annual operating costs and $3.3 million in renovation costs, the Pratt Library system is considering closing several branches in some of Baltimore's neediest neighborhoods ("Underserved area ponders effect of Pratt closings," April 24).

Could somebody please remind me: How much did it cost to build the new stadiums for the Orioles and the Ravens?

Every time I enjoy a game in one of those stadiums, every time I drive by and look up at them, I appreciate that they are monuments to the fact that when the patrician class of this city wants to get something built and maintained, it can find the money somewhere, somehow.

In comparison, the amount of money the library needs is peanuts.

Obviously the wealthy folks in this city can get things done when they want to. Do the possible library closings inspire a sense of noblesse oblige in anybody?

Chris Roberts


Instead of spying on China, use funds to meet city's needs

William E. Burrows tried hard to convince readers that the Navy plane on Hainan Island was involved in reconnaissance, not espionage ("Before Navy aircrew's ordeal," April 15). The plane was clearly involved in electronic eavesdropping but, semantic arguments aside, more troublesome matters were ignored.

According to the Center for Defense Information, U.S. military spending totaled $324.8 billion in fiscal year 2000, or more than 50 percent of the federal discretionary budget, while the Chinese military spent $39.5 million in 1999.

The Chinese military remains a gnat to the Pentagon elephant. Since China does not pose a threat, why not close down that airborne espionage program?

Let us really provide for the national defense by using that money in Baltimore to enlarge the recycling program, expand drug treatment, keep libraries open, provide adequate food and shelter to the needy and rebuild the school system.

Max Obuszewski


Why not just allow Mississippi to secede?

Mississippians voted 2-1 to retain their stars-and-bars state flag, proving again the United States really should allow Mississippi to secede ("Flag to retain Confederate emblem," March 18).

If we do let Mississippi go, the only question left for those neo-Confederate die-hards will be: Since South Africa has renounced apartheid, what other country on earth will accept the Magnolia State?

Grenville B. Whitman


Federal estate tax is wrong and unfair

In the editorial "Estate-tax repeal would be unwise move" (April 21), the liberal-left editors of The Sun as usual missed the point of repealing estate taxes. The estate tax is wrong. It is unfair.

Government has no right to confiscate a large or even small fraction of my estate, which has already been taxed ad nauseam.

I grew up in a one-parent family in Highlandtown. We had no money. My dental work was done by students at the University of Maryland because we could not afford to pay a dentist. My sister and I did without presents many a Christmas.

I put myself through college by working to pay my bills, and I worked hard all my life to build an estate that I could pass on to my kids and grandchildren. But The Sun suggests I am rich and undeserving to keep what I earned for my family.

The Sun should wake up and think about what's right.

Bob Marshner


We should be happy to aid private schools that aid us all

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