Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 27, 2004

Lack of diversity doesn't mean discrimination

The Sun's article "City Fire Department recruits 1st all-white class in 50 years" (April 20) notes that "in a city where 65 percent of the residents are black, only about 25 percent of firefighters and paramedics are racial minorities."

But the significance of this statistic is never explained; the numbers are left hanging as a clear implication that there is something inherently discriminatory in the way the Fire Department hires people.

Are blacks underrepresented in the Baltimore Fire Department? Perhaps. But the critical number is not the percentage of black citizens of Baltimore, but the percentage of black citizens of Baltimore who are eligible for employment with the Baltimore Fire Department.

And so what? It is likely that many social and ethnic groups - Jews, Latinos, Asians, women - are underrepresented in the Fire Department. That does not mean members of those groups are being discriminated against.

The bottom line on discrimination should not be the numbers or percentages of a group in the work force, but the fairness of the process used to hire employees.

Is there hiring discrimination taking place? Are people being denied jobs because of their race?

If the answer is "yes," victims should file complaints with the appropriate entities and pursue them.

If the answer is "no," then the alleged underrepresentation cannot be the result of racial discrimination and there is no basis for a complaint.

This story is not about racial discrimination, but racial politics.

Giffen B. Nickol

Bel Air

The writer is a member of Baltimore Fire Officers Association Local No. 964.

Tax hikes will drive people out of city

I read with renewed annoyance that Mayor Martin O'Malley has proposed new energy and phone taxes on Baltimore residents ("Mayor lobbies for tax plans," April 25). I understand that the lack of fiscal responsibility in the State House has left the city with a larger tab to pay.

But I live in the city and pay high property taxes and increased water bills. I also pay Baltimore's piggyback income tax even though I don't work in the city.

When will enough be enough?

Let's decide what city services are vital and cut the rest. In my book, vital services are those that keep people feeling safe (the police and fire departments) and those that keep people feeling clean (the Department of Public Works and some functions of the housing department).

There are folks who will continue to live in the city regardless of any tax increases the mayor proposes. Some of them are those who cannot afford to move anywhere else, and some are those who can afford to live anywhere.

But unless we want a city that will have no middle class left in 15 years, the city must stop boosting our taxes.

Kim Samele

Baltimore

Cruel to cut funding for housing program

I find it appalling that the Bush administration wants to cut funding for Section 8 housing and "eliminate a rule that now reserves three-fourths of the vouchers for the neediest families." As the editorial "Rent controls" (April 23) points out, this change would penalize "the poorest of the poor, for whom Section 8 was created."

At a time when the administration is pushing for more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and U.S. taxpayers are doling out about $1 billion every week for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, it boggles the mind that the most disadvantaged segment of our population is being asked to make the biggest sacrifices.

This is unfair, misguided, unnecessary, cruel and counterproductive.

Joanne Heisel

Columbia

The president needs to be wise, not tough

After reading that President Bush's campaign will question Sen. John Kerry's "ability to be a tough president on national security" ("Bush ads to attack Kerry on national security," April 25), I'd say that "tough" is easy; "wise" is what is desperately needed.

Rosalie McQuaide

Baltimore

Rally for `freedom' to kill children?

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of American women marched in the streets of our nation's capital to secure their right to continue to kill their own children ("Thousands rally for abortion rights," April 26).

They call this "reproductive freedom."

God help us all.

Mary Burke

Columbia

Restricting marriage does nothing for kids

The Rev. Dick Richardson states that "marriage was created, largely, for children - because children do best when they grow up in a home with a mother and father" ("Defending marriage for the sake of children," Opinion * Commentary, April 21).

However, how do children benefit when we deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians with families and children?

The institution of marriage is not under attack by gays and lesbians; indeed, it is heterosexuals who have severely damaged marriage all by themselves.

And Pastor Richardson certainly cannot explain how his marriage would be negatively affected by the marriage of gays and lesbians.

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