Saturday Mailbox


July 17, 2004

Chimes' record of service stands up to scrutiny

It's outrageous. The Sun has published several articles, two editorials ("No questions asked," July 9, and "For whom the Chimes toll," Oct. 23) and several letters to the editor attacking The Chimes Inc., one of Maryland's most cost-efficient, effective service organizations. If the Chimes were a failure it wouldn't get this amount of coverage.

The Sun seems affronted that an entrepreneurial nonprofit group should pay its executive management team for building an organization that leads the nation in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities.

But The Sun's attacks cannot alter the Chimes' outstanding performance record or the facts. The Chimes serves nearly 6,000 individuals who face barriers to independent living -- in six states, the District of Columbia and Israel -- through a variety of entrepreneurial programs and services.

In Maryland, the Chimes provides jobs for 1,250 people and maintains a payroll exceeding $29 million. The Chimes' total revenue exceeds $130 million.

The Sun clearly doesn't approve of the Chimes' executive compensation philosophy. But its compensation for a CEO who has led the organization's growth for 33 years is just a small fraction of its revenue.

The Sun doesn't approve of a few board members providing essential services to the organization through contracts awarded after competitive bidding.

The Sun doesn't approve of the fact that Maryland's Board of Public Works recently awarded the Chimes a contract to provide janitorial services at Baltimore-Washington International Airport ("Chimes' airport contract approved," July 8), a contract that results in jobs and dignity for 259 Marylanders with disabilities and saves taxpayers $2 million per year over the previous contract.

After The Sun published the editorial "For whom the Chimes toll," which called on the group to be "more publicly accountable," the Chimes responded by taking unprecedented steps to do exactly that. The Chimes management and board launched an organization wide overhaul because we believe it was the right thing to do.

No law, no regulation required Chimes to launch the process of self-correction it undertook to create a 21st century model for nonprofit governance and operations.

But as board chairman of the Chimes, I am very proud of our recent changes.

Stephen S. Kramer


Condo-mania costs Ocean City its charm

It is indeed sad to see what has become of this wonderful resort town of yesteryear ("Wrecking ball ushers the `lifers' out of O. C.," July 9). Condo-mania has taken over to the point that life-long residents of Ocean City, including the former mayor, are being ushered out.

Here is a town that once boasted fine boardwalk hotels with broad porches and rocking chairs, lovely lobbies, large dining rooms serving the finest in Eastern Shore cuisine and rooms with high ceilings, large windows and door louvers allowing a constant flow of sought-after "salt air" to waft through. The environment in these old hotels allowed vacationers to know each other and look forward to renewing friendships each year.

Life was easy, relaxing and rehabilitating. But now the dank, cramped and hermetically sealed cells of condos and motels have taken their place.

Ocean City should have addressed this issue decades ago by going the route of Cape May, N. J., which prizes its heritage.

You might as well stay at home these days for what you get in Ocean City. It is a real shame.

Joseph Clisham


Ruling against Israel a blot on world court

The 14-1 ruling issued by the International Court of Justice against Israel's right to create a barrier to protect its civilians against terrorist attacks reveals that institution's lack of legitimacy ("Opinion goes against Israel on building of wall," July 10).

To even hear a case involving Israel's right to defend itself against terrorists is clearly beyond the jurisdiction of the court. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on the issue as well, and Israel will honor that ruling.

This world court's ruling also reveals something else about the world community: America is in the minority. The sole dissenting judge in The Hague case was the American judge, who recognized Israel's right to defend its existence.

Throughout America, people are beginning to feel fear and anger over the international community's lack of respect for justice as they realize that, despite our power, when it comes to the international justice system, our power is reduced to one dissenting voice.

Sarah David


The writer is a student at the Johns Hopkins University.

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