Department was right to suspend firefighters who...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 08, 2001

Department was right to suspend firefighters who disobeyed orders

As a volunteer firefighter and fire officer for most of my adult life, I agree with the suspension of the five Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Department firefighters who traveled to the New York disaster scene against the direct orders of fire officers ("5 volunteers suspended for going to N.Y.," Sept. 29).

Professional firefighters, be they volunteer or career, must understand the importance of discipline and organization.

Firefighting is a dangerous endeavor at best. Those who cannot handle orders in a paramilitary structure are a danger to themselves and others.

I'm sure the suspended volunteers had noble intentions, but they were simply wrong. They need to understand they were wrong, accept their disciplinary action and learn from it.

If they do, I'm sure they will be welcomed back to active duty by their peers.

If they sulk and complain that they were "on their own time" and thus treated unfairly, I suspect the fire service can do without them.

William R. Ward

Ellicott City

Why suspend firefighters for trying to help others?

I find it inconceivable that some martinet would suspend volunteer firefighters for using their personal time to help in New York ("Firefighters forced to sit after N.Y. trip," Sept. 30).

It matters not that they weren't asked to go. It does matter that these Baltimore County firefighters provided even minimal assistance at the disaster site.

If the memorandum in question "encouraged" firefighters not to go to New York without being summoned, there appears to be a choice left to the individual. These five opted to help if they could.

Their captain only managed to soothe his bruised ego by suspending them.

My tolerance for that sort of nonsense is virtually zero; I wouldn't be suspended. I'd be gone.

W.C. Harsanyi

Pasadena

Don't criticize Ehrlich for offering us a choice

The letters criticizing Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for considering a run for governor were most untoward ("In shadow of tragedy, Ehrlich's ambitions appear self-centered," Oct. 2).

A two-party system is the foundation of a strong democracy. To take Mr. Ehrlich to task for working within that system is just plain wrong.

Although I am a registered Democrat, I applaud the congressman for attempting to give Marylanders a choice. We must not concede prematurely the coronation of our lieutenant governor, who appears to be taking full advantage of the visibility of her office and her fund-raising connections without a pause.

Mr. Ehrlich is only trying to level the playing field.

Stephen Kaiser

Baltimore

I don't make a habit of defending Republican politicians. However, I feel compelled to reply to the letters "In shadow of tragedy, Ehrlich's ambitions appear self-centered."

My question to the writers is: When would be the right time for Mr. Ehrlich to announce, or in this case, test the waters?

Life must go on.

President Bush and every other politician who has stood before a television camera since these despicable acts on New York and Washington have stressed this point.

To do otherwise would confirm that terrorists have won.

W. Cary deRussy

Timonium

Selecting Schmoke is a recipe for failure

I read with amusement and horror that Kurt L. Schmoke is being considered for U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive ("Olympic panel eyes Schmoke, Shattuck," Sept. 28).

After the tremendous terms of Mayor William Donald Schaefer, Mr. Schmoke spent 12 years causing 200,000 city residents to leave and making Baltimore known for having one of the highest rates of crime and drug abuse in the nation. He did not attract even one major Fortune 500 company.

Although it is always stated that he is a Rhodes Scholar, Mr. Schmoke surrounded himself with incompetent people who had no idea of how to govern a city.

If the committee wants a recipe for guaranteed failure, make sure Kurt Schmoke gets the job.

James J. Ward

Towson

The writer is president of Ward Development Co

State standards undermine creativity in the classroom

As I read "Uniform teaching program advances" (Oct. 2), I found myself pondering the future of our education system. I concluded that as curriculum unifies and so-called "standards" are implemented, students will lose the ability to think.

I hope State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and our state representatives realize the irresponsible and devastating concept of a statewide curriculum will not create consistency; it will deprive students of creativity and self-motivation in the classroom.

Eric Singer

Reisterstown

Lenient DWI sentence sends the wrong message

A six-year sentence (of which only two will likely be served) for killing two police officers while driving drunk is outrageous ("6-year term for man in police deaths" Sept. 21). That Shane Weiss feels remorse is to be expected, and should not qualify him for leniency.

This outcome is counterproductive and sends the clear message that it is OK to get drunk, climb into the equivalent of a tank missile and fly down the road.

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