Letters To The Editor


December 24, 2003

Professionals needed to run social services

With the recent appointment of Floyd R. Blair as interim director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, many of our members are questioning Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s actions in the appointment process and his plans for management and leadership in local departments ("Maintaining a morass," editorial, Dec. 17).

The National Association of Social Workers' Maryland chapter strongly supports the appointment of experienced social workers in management positions in public agencies such as the Department of Social Services, rather than appointments based on party affiliation.

We are particularly concerned about the effective termination of experienced management staff in public social services agencies without notice or explanation and the governor's plan to replace these and other management staff with political appointees.

The work of the social services departments is complicated, requiring a thorough understanding of human dynamics and the skills necessary to intervene in families that have very difficult and many times intractable problems.

Professional and visionary managers with social work degrees, experience in the delivery of public social services, and a demonstrated commitment to this work are best equipped to assist our state's most vulnerable children and families.

John Mistrangelo


The writer is president of the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Consider marriage a form of civil union

The controversy over the sacrament of marriage, which is now on the brink of generating a constitutional amendment, cruises at full speed past a fundamental question: What is the government doing in the sacrament business in the first place ("Bush backs amendment on marriage," Dec. 17)?

The state is not allowed to concern itself with whether a person has been baptized, bar mitzvahed, confirmed, shunned or absolved. What, precisely, is its interest in marriage?

Some suggest that marriage is for procreation - but often it isn't. And childless marriages, either by choice or medical circumstance, are not held invalid.

People get married for every reason under the sun - economic, emotional, practical and religious. Yet the government proposes to define it purely in terms of reproductive anatomy.

The government should recognize marriage as a subset of civil unions, neither superior nor inferior to any other way of defining a commitment between persons.

That way nobody would have his or her own private notions offended.

And everyone would be free to consider his or her marriage as the only proper marriage, while all the rest are simply civil unions that allow partners to live and die together with certain rights.

Jeff Matthews


Wasting more money to change Charles St.

Just think, the mayor is going to change 11 blocks of Charles Street and it is only going to cost $800,000, or about $73,000 per block. What a deal ("2-way traffic due on Charles," Dec. 20).

A few weeks ago, it was a $40,000 overcharge for light bulbs ("Senior city officials say they knew last year about overpriced light bulb deal," Dec. 5). Earlier, after three years on the job, former police Commissioner Edward T. Norris walked off with a $137,000 separation payment. And we can't forget the $52 million deficit in the school system.

As a Baltimore resident and taxpayer, I was under the impression that the city was strapped for cash.

Of course, I am using old math. I guess Mr. O'Malley is using new math.

R. A. Bacigalupa


Dean's foes present a pale alternative

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is unconsciously providing a bit of comic relief this campaign season. Mr. Lieberman is not the "starkest alternative" to Howard Dean ("Lieberman sees Democratic contest as `me vs. Dean,'" Dec. 17). Our misbegotten president is.

At every turn, Mr. Lieberman - and most of his congressional colleagues - have caved in to whatever President Bush's cronies desire. That is not a Democratic alternative.

Mr. Lieberman and the other Democrats contending for the nomination are playing right into the hands of the GOP by attacking Dr. Dean.

Their job is to offer alternatives to Mr. Bush and policies that many Americans oppose.

Joe Roman


King family's efforts add to hospital safety

I want to thank The Sun for telling the story of Josie King ("A Mother's Promise," Dec. 14-Dec. 15). As director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, I have the privilege of representing and advocating for a world-class group of nurses, physicians, nonmedical professionals and administrative staff - all of whom work very hard to do their best for the patients and families who come to us. Their daily accomplishments are widely regarded as representing excellence in the practice of pediatric medicine.

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