Letters To The Editor


September 22, 2002

Address crisis in funding for mental health

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. have stated in public forums that mental health services would be a high priority for them as governor.

Ms. Townsend notes that the number of people using Maryland's public mental health system has doubled over the past five years.

Mr. Ehrlich points out that the current administration has severely underfunded this increased demand for care.

Both are correct. Nearly 90,000 children and adults are using a system designed for 50,000. The result is multimillion-dollar budget deficits that are forcing state officials to impose strict limits on who can get access to services.

Yet neither candidate has called for exempting the public mental health system from across-the-board budget cuts or freezes being proposed to deal with a mounting state budget deficit.

And failing to take such a step will only worsen an underfunding crisis that is causing more homelessness among persons with mental illness and more unnecessary incarceration; huge increases in emergency room and inpatient hospital use by people in psychiatric distress; and greater use of unlicensed group homes by vulnerable people desperate for a place to live.

Meanwhile, more and more outpatient clinics, which are the system's front line, shut down for lack of funds.

Mental health stakeholders await a commitment from either candidate to end this crisis.

Herbert S. Cromwell


The writer is executive director of the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

Where's the outrage on Hoffman's ouster?

What would the reaction of The Sun, and other leaders, be if the facts were switched and an experienced, influential and well-regarded black politician (such as Del. Howard P. Rawlings) were redistricted into a majority-white district, and white political leaders publicly advocated his or her defeat by a white rookie - who looked like them, smelled like them and thought like them ("Power politics," editorial, Sept. 12)?

Because this is the essence of racism practiced against blacks, I suspect the reaction would not be the hypocritical, politically correct silence we have seen about the campaign against and defeat of state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman.

Ms. Hoffman was "profiled" and Del. Lisa A. Gladden was elected solely because of her race. Based on experience, track record, influence and power, Ms. Hoffman was the best candidate to advance the interests of the citizens of the 41st District and the citizens of Baltimore as a whole.

Where is the outrage, or at least strong criticism, that we would expect to hear if the victim of this blatant, public racial discrimination were a black person or a member of another minority?

Or is that only a one-way street?

Joseph Erving


Losing objectivity on state's attorney

In its editorials on the election for Baltimore state's attorney, The Sun blamed State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy for witnesses who do not come to court, juries who ignore overwhelming evidence of guilt and even low voter turnout ("City state's attorney," Sept. 8, and "A mixed bag," Sept. 11).

As The Sun suggests, the state's attorney should indeed review her office. May I also suggest that The Sun review its own reporting and analysis.

Just as the citizens deserve a prosecutor's office that is efficient, effective and accountable, they deserve a newspaper that reports fairly and objectively. The editorial board has reached a point where personal animosity has so undermined its objectivity that credible, insightful and fair analysis of the performance of the state's attorney is impossible.

Page Croyder


The writer is an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore.

Israeli army acts to stop snipers

There are two major problems with G. Jefferson Price's article on Beit Jala, a town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank ("Hoping for peace and a garden," Sept. 8).

First, he fails to mention that Israel has occupied Beit Jala because it was used by Palestinian snipers to fire at Gilo, an Israeli suburb of Jerusalem (not a settlement, as Mr. Price implies). Israeli action against Beit Jala was a reaction to the sniping.

Second, in reporting about the Beit Jala resident who asked of Rachel's Tomb, "Who was Rachel?" Mr. Price neglects to mention that Rachel, the wife of the Patriarch Jacob, was one of the four historic matriarchs of the Jewish people (along with Sarah, Rebecca and Leah).

This is the reason the tomb is sacred to Israeli Jews.

Robert O. Freedman


The writer is a professor of political science at Baltimore Hebrew University.

U.S. attack would set dangerous precedent

The United States says the United Nations' credibility is at stake if Iraqi defiance continues. But what is the price to U.N. credibility if the United States ultimately bypasses the Security Council, ignores the General Assembly and goes ahead with an attack on Iraq ("U.N. must act, Bush says, or U.S. will," Sept. 13)?

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