Letters To The Editor


April 25, 2005

New DSS chief needs support to make reforms

We were pleased to read in The Sun about the new director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services "Rolling up his sleeves in new job" (April 17).

The hiring of Samuel Chambers Jr. by Mayor Martin O'Malley, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and state Human Resources Secretary Christopher J. McCabe should bring hope to vulnerable children and adults, advocates and concerned citizens.

Despite the good work of many committed and compassionate staff members over the years, DSS is in desperate need of reform. Mr. Chambers has the combination of intelligence, powerful commitment and experience needed to make the necessary changes.

And he has a vision - of an agency accountable to the people, of a staff ready, willing and empowered to effect change and committed to improvement, of people at all levels working together to make the city a better and more welcoming place for the most vulnerable among us, and of an agency that has a responsibility to respond forthrightly when the public asks questions.

It is a refreshing vision. And Mr. Chambers has a proven record and deserves the chance to make this vision a reality in Baltimore.

But he cannot do it without the genuine support of our state and city governments, the advocacy community and the public at large.

The stakes are too high to allow him to fail.

Kristin Kinkopf


The writer is a member of the Baltimore City Social Services Commission. The letter was also signed by eight other members of the commission.

State of city belies kudos for the mayor

Mayor Martin O'Malley has been named one of the top five mayors in the country ("Magazine names O'Malley to list of best mayors," April 18).

He is mayor of a city where crime is out of control. The school system is a disaster. The condition of the roadways is deplorable. The trash and dirt on the streets make the city look like a giant landfill.

Eight months ago, the city was in a financial crunch, so much so that he had to impose a tax on phones. Then last month, he suggested lowering the tax rate and gave $3 million to the school system. Now he says that the city has a $37.5 million surplus ("City expects $37.5 million surplus this year, O'Malley says," April 14).

In the real world of business, a CEO with such a record would be handed his walking papers.

Alfred E. Bittner


Time editors missed Baltimore's realities

Did I miss something? How in the heck can Mayor Martin O'Malley be named one of the five best big-city mayors in America ("Magazine names O'Malley to list of best mayors," April 18)?

He is the mayor of a city that has one of the highest murder rates. Did I miss something?

He leads a city where the dropout rate among African-Americans in the ninth grade is one of the highest in the nation.

We are talking about a city where there is a huge drug problem that adversely affects every aspect of city life.

Did I miss something?

Maybe the folks who offer up praise for Mr. O'Malley do not reside in this city of "urban innovation."

Maybe they do not understand that the condition of life in Baltimore is not conducive to prosperity and longevity for the majority of its black citizens. Or maybe they live in another world.

I must have missed something.

Ventura McLee


Federal Hill plan a big boost for city

Baltimore Planning Director Otis Rolley III is right when he says that it would be a "slam dunk" for Baltimore if the 9 acres of Key Highway were developed into a public promenade, residential and retail space and an exciting addition to Baltimore's skyline ("Federal Hill takes dim view of proposed towers," April 16).

How can community groups oppose such progress when a drive from Fort Avenue to Key Highway shows a wasteland of empty, weed-strewn lots, pot-holed streets and unkempt parking garages?

I'm old enough to remember when the National Aquarium was criticized as nothing more than a "fishbowl" and Harborplace was seen as a threat to the businesses of Little Italy.

I hope the citizens of Federal Hill will not condemn this plan - it would bring a lot more residents, tourists and money that everyone could share.

John Costantini

Ellicott City

Duplicity on rights offends the world

Suzanne Gershowitz of the American Enterprise Institute is correct in condemning Libya, Syria, Iran and North Korea for human rights abuses ("Same old Kadafi," Opinion * Commentary, April 15). However, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Lebanon were conveniently omitted from the list of abusers by Ms. Gershowitz, who sees human rights abuses through a conservative ideological prism.

One reason, among many, why our government is so hated by the people of Third World countries is its blatant double standard.

The United States strides around the world like a self-appointed Wyatt Earp, punishing venal dictatorships we do not like and rewarding venal dictatorships we do like.

Gerald B. Shargel


Return ephedra to the shelves

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