Council proposes `Bea Gaddy Day'

Bioterrorist ordinance, Pledge of Allegiance resolution introduced

October 16, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

The City Council introduced a resolution yesterday that would designate Oct. 3 each year as "Bea Gaddy Day," honoring the late councilwoman best known for her advocacy on behalf of the city's poor.

In other matters, City Council President Sheila Dixon asked for an ordinance that would codify Health Department protocol in the event of a bioterrorist attack and penalize anyone who does not adhere to the code.

And Councilwoman Catherine E. Pugh proposed legislation asking city schools to enforce a state law that requires the display of the American flag and daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The council unanimously supported "Bea Gaddy Day," to be held on the anniversary of their East Baltimore colleague's death from breast cancer at age 68.

Dixon said that each year, the occasion would be noted with a citywide drive to gather food for the Thanksgiving dinner for the needy that Gaddy started -- and which grew to feeding as many as 20,000 homeless and impoverished people every year.

"On the date of her death, we want to celebrate her life," Dixon said. "We are committed to continuing her efforts."

Dixon introduced the bioterrorist ordinance on behalf of Mayor Martin O'Malley. The ordinance requires that the city health commissioner be notified daily about elementary school absences, suspect animal carcasses, patients reporting to hospitals with suspicious symptoms and pharmacies selling over-the-counter medication that could be used to treat symptoms.

The ordinance would put into law much of what city leaders have been doing since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to protect Baltimore. The ordinance calls for penalties up to a $1,000 fine and 12-month jail sentence for anyone who violates the rule.

The Sept. 11 attacks also prompted Pugh, a 4th District Democrat, to introduce a resolution about the Pledge of Allegiance. She and her staff conducted an informal poll of 14 schools and 100 students two weeks ago. They discovered that while most elementary pupils know the pledge, fewer middle schoolers and high schoolers could recite it in full.

"If someone has to defend this country, it would be those [students] emerging out of high school," Pugh said. She and her staff would ask, "What does allegiance mean to you?," Pugh said, "and they [the students] would just start laughing."

She said teachers and parents told her that the pledge is rarely said in school, despite a state law requiring that each school display a flag, and have a morning session to salute it and say the pledge. By law, any student or teacher can be excused if they wish. But, Pugh added, they must be respectful.

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