Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 30, 2004

Lack of debate in mayoral race bad for the city

The citizens of Baltimore are getting a bad deal, twice over.

First, the rescheduling of the city's election to coincide with the national election has put the mayoral election in the deep shadow of the presidential election -- to the point that there is virtually no coverage of this vital event. Second, because of the virtual one-party system in Baltimore, the mayoral election will pass with little campaigning or debate.

A municipal election is normally an opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished and the problems that a city faces, and to force candidates to present a case for election or re-election.

But I ask anyone reading this letter: Do you have any idea what Mayor Martin O'Malley's platform is for the next four years?

Yet my good friends in Baltimore, like lemmings, will go to the polls Nov. 2 to vote without ever asking what he will do for this city.

The issues that surround municipal government mostly do not lend themselves to traditional political party solutions. School reform, crime reduction, drug addiction, economic development, affordable housing and job creation call for pragmatic, workable programs and solutions.

Yet, sadly, The Sun's endorsement of Mr. O'Malley ("O'Malley for mayor," editorial, Oct. 24) did nothing to press Mr. O'Malley to do anything more than he has been doing about those issues.

But I ask you: Is anybody satisfied with the current state of the city?

David F. Tufaro

Baltimore

The writer was the 1999 Republican nominee for mayor of Baltimore.

Wartime mistakes harmful to troops

Who says President Bush is a competent leader in time of war? As much as 380 tons of explosives are now missing from the Iraqi facility at Al Qaqaa ("Missing explosives capture spotlight," Oct. 26). This huge facility was supposed to be under U.S. military control.

We are two brothers who served overseas during wartime in the U.S. Army. There were three of us, but one was killed in Normandy.

We can't imagine serving for a commander who would allow weapons and explosives to fall in the enemy's control. It shows no concern for his troops.

We are sure the explosives are being used to kill our boys.

We think any military person who makes these kinds of mistakes should be reduced to cleaning latrines.

Morton Davis Joel Davis Baltimore

Orwellian shadow cast over election

This threat of a possible attack around the time of the presidential election reminds me of George Orwell's novel 1984 ("Concerns remain over election-time terror attack," Oct. 24).

And I have the sense that an insidious game is being played with us as citizens of the United States. We are constantly being reminded of the threat of terrorism -- the invisible, evasive, unknowable enemy. So we cave in to spending billions of dollars for defense, accruing our own weapons of mass destruction and missile defense systems.

And when the people of our nation cry out for funding for better housing, decent schools, health care for all and more jobs, they are shushed. We are told we must use those billions for the war against terrorism. So we shut up.

The hierarchy in Mr. Orwell's novel knew that if you keep the citizenry scared enough, they will do as they are told.

And now that we have in our great democracy the possibility of regime change, we are once again threatened by that invisible enemy -- terrorism. We are told that it just might strike at us while we vote. So, to be safe, should we stay away from the polls?

I say: No way.

If we are willing to send our young men and women 6,000 miles away to fight for democracy in Iraq, we must not let the threat of terrorism, real or contrived, deter us from our sacred right to vote here in our own nation.

Phyllis S. Yingling

Baltimore

Faith isn't relevant to the presidency

Some recent letters have mentioned Sen. John Kerry's religious beliefs (e.g. "Kerry's Catholicism is no moral compass," Oct. 22) usually in a critical way. And in the final presidential debate, Bob Schieffer asked President Bush and Mr. Kerry to explain the role of religion in their own lives.

Such a discussion is totally out of place in this country.

Article VI of the Constitution bans any religious criterion from the consideration of qualifications for any office in the United States.

The same article also requires every judge to be bound by the Constitution's supremacy and requires every U.S. official to be bound by oath to support it.

This principle of separating religion from government under our Constitution is being seriously undermined by advocates who would impose religious symbols, practices and dogma through civil government.

We should not indulge President Bush or anyone else in any effort to undermine the separation of religion from civil government.

Beliefs about the creation and any other aspect of religious doctrine or practice are personal, not political.

They are not a proper subject for an evaluation of who should serve as president or in any other office of the United States.

Ronald P. Bowers

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