Letters To The Editor


April 22, 2005

Waste by HABC dwarfs surplus city has gained

Kudos to Mayor Martin O'Malley for realizing a $37.5 million budget surplus and for immediately reallocating it to address unmet needs in our schools and communities ("City expects $37.5 million budget surplus this year, O'Malley says," April 14). If only the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) would follow the mayor's lead.

Among Baltimore's most pressing needs is additional affordable housing. Unfortunately, Baltimore's budget surplus for fiscal 2005 is dwarfed by the housing dollars recaptured by the federal government because of HABC's inability to spend them.

According to a December report on an audit by the Office of the Inspector General, from 2001 to 2003, HABC spent only 80 percent of the federal resources allocated for its historically troubled Section 8 housing program - far below the expected 95 percent spending rate.

More disturbing, HABC forfeited $42 million in unspent resources in fiscal 2002 and accumulated another $38 million in unspent funds in its reserve account over the next two fiscal years. This triggered a recommendation that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recapture another $25 million from HABC.

In a city in which one out of every five residents lives below the poverty level, these un- spent resources might have been used to house some of the 15,000 people on the Section 8 waiting list or any of the 30,000 Baltimoreans who experience homelessness each year.

As Baltimore crafts a plan to end homelessness and the federal government tightens its budgetary belt, we look forward to HABC making full use of the dwindling resources available to house our most vulnerable neighbors.

Kevin Lindamood


The writer is a vice president of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Olesker's intention isn't the real issue

Public editor Paul Moore states in "Fame shouldn't protect writers who fabricate" (April 17) that the issue regarding Michael Olesker is one of intent: "Olesker used a metaphor to describe something that had happened, which some readers took literally. Olesker said he did not intend to deceive readers and Sun editors believe him."

My feeling is that this is not the real issue, which is that Mr. Olesker was lying about the facts and impugning someone else's veracity in order to make his point.

By writing that Paul E. Schurick was "struggling mightily to keep a straight face," Mr. Olesker was suggesting Mr. Schurick was knowingly making a statement he believed was not true.

Mr. Olesker admits to not being present to see the expression on Mr. Schurick's face; he made this up. Therefore, Mr. Olesker was lying to imply that Mr. Schurick was a liar. This is indefensible.

Whether Mr. Olesker was intending to deceive readers to make his point is another issue entirely, and to me pales in comparison with his altering the truth and defaming someone in the process.

Will Shoken


Don't tax the dead to pay for pensions

When a million-dollar bank heist is foiled, you never hear anyone say the failure cost the robber a million dollars. So why this talk about abolishing the estate tax costing the U.S. Treasury $750 billion or $1 trillion over time ("The high cost of eliminating the estate tax," letters, April 20)?

There's got to be a better way to fund Social Security than stealing from the dead.

Jeffry D. Mueller


Letting developers ruin the city's gems

I must be watching too much Desperate Housewives lately because I missed the ceremony where big developers were given the keys to City Hall and a private washroom at the Planning Department while residents and businesses of Federal Hill and Mount Vernon were shoved out the back door with a bag of dirt as a consolation prize ("Federal Hill takes dim view of proposed 290-foot towers," April 16).

The city is, in effect, saying to its historic communities: "Thanks for making these communities valuable again. Now we'll bring in developers and their god-awful tall buildings to ruin your neighborhoods forever."

What's next? A McDonald's in the Washington Monument, a convention hotel on top of Fort McHenry, a Wal-Mart in Fells Point or an amusement park in Guilford?

Susan Warren


Mount Vernon also menaced by towers

If Federal Hill's problem with the city's Department of Planning wanting to allow big developers to ruin a historic neighborhood with enormous towers sounds familiar, that's because much the same situation is happening in Mount Vernon ("Federal Hill takes dim view of proposed 290-foot towers," April 16).

As in Federal Hill, our residents and small businesses, which have been working and investing for years to bring about revitalization, are being sold down the river by a city administration that now brings developers, whose only mission is to build big and make lots of money for themselves, to the table as "stakeholders" in our neighborhoods.

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