Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 10, 2002

Hiring freeze worsens woes of child welfare

The Sun recently reported on a legislative audit of Maryland's foster care system that identifies lapses in documentation that may indicate neglectful care of children in state custody ("Audit finds lapses in Maryland's foster care," Aug. 23).

While the article identified social workers' caseload size as a serious obstacle to ensuring that children in our state's custody receive the quality care they deserve, it is troubling that the article did not mention the state hiring freeze that has been in place since last October.

Unlike child welfare programs, 16 state agencies, including institutions of higher education, are entirely exempt from the freeze. And because of shortfalls in the state budget, vital child welfare positions are to be eliminated.

Ironically, legislation passed in 1998 after several child welfare tragedies required the state to lower caseloads to meet national standards.

Passing such legislation, and then failing to provide funding and forcing staff cutbacks as though child welfare programs are operating on fat, is simply dishonest.

Perhaps it is time for our politicians to acknowledge that, in fact, child welfare is not a priority for Maryland, and that the needs of children in state custody are considered secondary to the needs of those in college.

Judith Scher

Baltimore

Turning workers into scapegoats

Mona Charen's column "System's neglect heaping injury on kids" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 26) must be some kind of a bad joke. Ms. Charen's friends in the Republican Party are the very ones who have been cutting the budget for human services and giving tax breaks to the wealthy.

The foster care problem in Maryland and elsewhere is the result of a lack of sufficient funding for all child welfare programs.

Maryland's caseloads have risen, and in response the state has piled more and more paperwork on caseworkers, which only enables them to document their inability to keep up with unreasonable caseloads.

Then, when bad things happen, the media blames the hard-working staff.

It's time we stopped searching for scapegoats and began doing something truly helpful for Maryland's children.

And Ms. Charen and her friends won't be doing that until they put their money where their mouths are.

Alan L. Katz

Owings Mills

The writer is a former assistant director of the Carroll County Department of Social Services.

Ex-chief never used supplemental funds

I am writing in regard to the article "Mayor opts for audit of Norris' spending" (Aug. 16) -- more specifically, the paragraph that reads, in part, "Over the decades, the funds were converted to stock and grew substantially. In 1983, then-police chief Bishop L. Robinson consolidated the three charity funds into one `supplemental account.'"

Please be advised that this is incorrect. I was not police commissioner in 1983. Therefore, I did not have the authority to consolidate any funds into a supplemental account.

I was appointed police commissioner on July 1, 1984. I never spent any funds from the cited supplemental account during my tenure as police commissioner.

I am confident that The Sun will want to correct this error.

Bishop L. Robinson

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of Maryland's Department of Juvenile Justice.

Shut off the water to state's golf courses

Throughout our state, farmers' wells and springs are running dry. Crops are ruined. Acres of corn are brown stalks in the fields. The reservoirs are drying up. Wildlife is suffering.

However, our esteemed governor has allowed the continued watering of golf courses ("Governor tightens water limits for Central Maryland, Shore," Aug. 28).

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Macie Grace

Halethorpe

Protect ourselves from Iraqi threat

Certainly, there are reasons why our president is talking tough on Iraq, we just haven't been informed of the evidence as yet. However, the strong opposition to military action from our sometime allies may deter us from action.

But with the support of so many countries, Saddam Hussein could intensify his nefarious actions with impunity.

If we are convinced we are in danger, we must protect ourselves from Iraq's hatred -- and we can do it on our own.

Stanley Oring

Pikesville

Deception keeps inspectors ignorant

Scott Ritter, in his case that we should "Send inspectors first" to Iraq (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 1), claims that "from 1991 to 1998 U.N. weapons inspectors ... were able to verifiably ascertain a 90 percent to 95 percent level of disarmament inside Iraq."

But to quantify any level of disarmament, all armaments and weapons must be precisely known.

And, considering Iraq's proven history of determined and cunning deception, it's certain that a good fraction of Iraq's deadly cache was completely hidden from, and unknown to, the inspectors.

I believe this consideration renders ludicrous not only Mr. Ritter's past claims of inspection, but his current argument.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Sept. 11 reminds us to treasure each day

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