Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 27, 2004

Poor oversight caused crisis in city's schools

To suggest, as the panel that reviewed the city schools' financial woes did, that the blurred lines of authority in the city-state schools partnership resulted in a "system ruled by `fiefdoms,' in which departments did not cooperate with each other and were accountable to no one in how they spent money," misses the point ("'97 flaws evident in school' '04 woes," July 22).

The "fiefdoms" that have caused so much bureaucratic inefficiency in the city schools have existed for ages. That's why institutional reform has been virtually impossible.

What the flawed legislation that created the city-state partnership did was to give free rein to these fiefdoms, which had always operated with a modicum of restraint.

The debate over whether the schools' financial crisis was mainly the result of the flawed legislation or of local mismanagement also misses the point. Such either/or thinking only serves to obscure the fact that each failure only reinforced other failures, which is why the problems led to such a fiscal calamity.

What boggles the mind is that seasoned state legislators, who routinely approve billion-dollar budgets, with standard requirements for fiscal controls, approved an unprecedented plan between the city and state without giving much thought to oversight.

Howard Bluth

Baltimore

City shouldn't fund counsel for council

Am I the only person in Baltimore who is outraged by the decision of the mayor and city's Board of Estimates to dole out up to $230,000 of our tax money for personal legal expenses for City Council members who are under federal investigation ("Lawyer drops council clients," July 19)?

Council members are accused of using public monies as personal slush funds; they hired relatives and took freebies from contractors doing business with the city. Then, after a federal investigation apparently caught their hands in the cookie jar, we taxpayers are supposed to pay for their lawyers? Unbelievable.

Could the city better spend $230,000?

How about hiring more school teachers or more police officers or more firefighters?

Bill Barry

Baltimore

Change in jury pool alters Baltimore trials

Something has poisoned the well of justice in Baltimore and reporter Allison Klein is on the case: "Art trips up life: TV crime shows influence jurors" (July 25).

And the astute surmise - "CSI: The expectation of futuristic hard-science evidence leads to acquittals in cases prosecutors thought were airtight" - fingers the toxic element: irresponsible jurors.

A subtle change in the jury selection process within the last decade or so - eligibility shifted from registered voters to licensed drivers - has resulted in the routine seating of jurors who don't vote.

Registering to vote is a declaration of a stake in the wellbeing of the community. Those who don't vote don't care.

What has corrupted criminal trials in Baltimore? TV-addled jurors with no sense of civic duty.

Gregory L. Lewis

Baltimore

Was Kerry hiding Berger's behavior?

I think it is Sen. John Kerry who is trying to take attention away from the fact that he had an adviser who was being investigated for criminal wrongdoing ("White House knew about investigation of Berger," July 22).

I find it very suspicious that someone who was the national security adviser would make a mistake like the one Samuel R. Berger claims to have made.

And still Mr. Kerry had him as an adviser up until this issue became public.

People should not be asking why this information became public now, but why it didn't happen sooner.

Davis Maloy

Baltimore

Las Vegas' vitality is good for families

While I wasn't raised in Las Vegas, I did grow up in Nevada, and was exposed to the prevalent gambling (slot machines in Safeway) and the "24-hour pleasures" mentioned in The Sun's editorial "Las Vegas, America" (July 21) on a regular basis.

I grew up going to casinos for headliner entertainment, and for incredibly inexpensive meals. I also grew up riding horses, skiing and sailing - all activities available in the Las Vegas area. And I take exception to the suggestion that many Americans would not want to raise families in Las Vegas and certainly wouldn't want what goes on there in their own backyards.

Since when are prosperity, job opportunities and thriving neighborhoods bad for families?

Sarah King Scott

Monkton

Balloon-war cartoon showed poor taste

As a fan of KAL's ever since he came to The Sun, I mostly appreciate his work even when I don't necessarily agree with his point of view. However, his July 20 editorial cartoon seemed in poor taste. Linking the experience of those involved in the gondola near-tragedy at Port Discovery to mankind's difficult efforts in the war on terrorism seemed neither funny nor appropriate.

KAL's drafting skills were first-rate, as usual, but in this case they were wasted.

Ross Sanderson

Towson

Story reminds us of the horrors of war

Reporter Scott Calvert's "`Ripples' of War" (July 18) was truly a poignant story. It reminds us all of the total devastation of war, of the friends and families left behind, and of extraordinary men and women being shipped out for battle, never to return.

Count me as yet another person who has serious misgivings about the necessity of the war in Iraq, and also about the president's position on it.

Charles Chambers Jr.

Middle River

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