Bills offer voters City Council size, makeup choices...


August 20, 2002

Bills offer voters City Council size, makeup choices

Baltimore voters deserve a choice. And on Aug. 12 the City Council approved two charter amendments in support of the issues raised by the citizens' coalition to reduce the council size ("Politics of sabotage," editorial, Aug. 14).

Two years ago, the Commission on Council Representation, a volunteer group including members from labor, academia, elected officials and the community, reviewed council structures from around the country, held two public forums and gathered written input before making its 17 recommendations. Multi-member districts and a reduced council size were among its recommendations, not simply retaining the status quo.

Voters who agree that the current structure needs to be changed now have options. Single-member districts may not support the kind of coalitions needed to garner support for legislation or necessary projects in your community.

Two- or four-member districts could be the right configuration for those who support team-building. And some voters believe the council's configuration should remain as is.

On Nov. 5 voters will be able to choose the structure of their choice, and that is what the public process is about.

Sheila Dixon


The writer is president of the Baltimore City Council.

Council's concern is self-preservation

The City Council's vote to offer competing ballot initiatives to reduce the number of members shows how much members will do to protect their sinecures, and how little they care for accountable and responsible government ("Council OKs two plans to shrink size," Aug. 13).

President Sheila Dixon and member Robert W. Curran only offered their respective alternative bills after ACORN announced its initiative. And only after ACORN gathered the necessary signatures to put its reform initiative on the November ballot did the council approve its own minimal bill. This is a bald and bold push by council members to hold onto their jobs.

Ironically, on the day of the council's vote the U.S. Census released figures showing that, even after improving 44 percent in the 1990s, the median income in Reservoir Hill, where I live, is only $19,448.

It must be hard to give up a council member's $48,000 salary in Baltimore.

Ben Schreier


Why keep berating the Mitchell family?

I was appalled by the article "Eviction, auction at bar linked to Mitchell" (Aug. 8).

The Mitchell family has, for at least four generations, done more for Baltimore than, arguably, any other family. Why does The Sun continue to berate such dedicated people?

Would it be because state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV broke ranks with liberal Democrats, voiced his own heartfelt and sincere opinion and supported certain Republicans who, unlike the Democrats who have been in power for over 30 years, really wish to advance the opportunities of African-Americans?

Ron Praydis


Feeling violated by Norris' spending

As a city resident, I feel violated by the irresponsibility and downright greed displayed by Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris ("City won't check Norris," Aug. 15).

While the city coffers suffer, Baltimore's alleged finest was taking full advantage of an accounting arrangement he acknowledges was, "a terrible system." Given the city's economic standing, it's an outrage that there was no watchdog committee to oversee such frivolous expenditures.

And I cannot help but wonder if there are similar accounts elsewhere in the Baltimore City government.

Richard Crystal


Politicians will face senior ire over drugs

I feel certain that most senior citizens agree with the letter writer who severely criticized President Bush and Congress for passing a tax bill last year that returned taxes to American corporations and reduced taxes on the wealthy -- and now telling us we cannot afford to have Medicare pay even a part of the cost of prescription medicine for seniors ("Cancel the tax cut to pay for drugs," Aug. 13).

Congress will find out in November which side its bread is buttered on -- when members are voted out of office because of senior citizens' disgust with their government.

Philip R. Grossman


Handy-dandy wipes add to waste woes

Oh, goody. Now we can add a few zillion handy-dandy wipes to our landfills ("Why spray when you can wipe?" Aug. 11).

We have become a throw-away society, with disposable cameras, contact lenses and, probably the worst invention ever for our environment, those dreadful paper diapers that take eons to disintegrate.

Now, apparently, it's too much trouble to use a sponge to clean floors and windows. Heaven forbid we actually have to put cleaner on a paper towel when a pre-soaked disposable awaits us.

Shame on companies that make these wasteful, expensive cloths, sure to add tons more debris to our overloaded dumps. And shame on those who feel so over-scheduled they're willing to pay for these "expensive time-savers."

Those people may be willing to pay for the convenience, but we shouldn't have to pay for the impact on our landfills.

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