Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 21, 2005

Unfair for mayor to attack others for city's failure

Baltimore has been excusing and denying its chronic neglect of the education of disabled children ever since the mid-1970s, when federal and state laws first mandated that they too be provided an adequate education ("O'Malley attacks decision on schools," Aug. 16).

In 1980, the city responded with blanket denials to the allegations by my client, special education director Robert T. Rinaldi Jr., that he was fired in retaliation for having complained publicly about the illegal underfunding of his operations by millions of dollars.

A federal jury upheld his claims and awarded him substantial money damages.

Four years later, the case in which U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis recently ordered a state takeover of the city's special education programs was instituted.

After 21 years of what Judge Garbis called a "massive failure" by the city to manage these programs properly, the judge's ruling was perhaps long overdue.

Given this sad history, Mayor Martin O'Malley's verbal assaults on Judge Garbis and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. - in an unwarranted attempt to blame them for his and the city's own shortcomings - border on the pathological.

Excuses and denials in these circumstances are merely irresponsible. Baseless accusations against others are absolutely reprehensible.

Barry C. Steel

Phoenix

The writer represented a former head of special education for Baltimore's public schools in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

The wrong partner for city's schools

Let me get this straight: State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick is being ushered back in as our state partner to fix the special education system in Baltimore ("Ruling places focus on state for schools fix," Aug. 14).

Is this the same state "partner" who was supposed to be watching things as the school system was bleeding money and racking up a huge deficit?

The same "partner" who argued with judges' demands that the state give the city schools money it has been due for years as our "partner" continually defied judges' orders.

I'm not saying the school system doesn't need help.

But bringing in the same old "partner" is akin to letting former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay help fix a company's accounting problems or having Vice President Dick Cheney craft an energy policy that benefits the environment and average taxpayers.

Steven Parke

Baltimore

The city's choices make little sense

After reading that the Baltimore schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland has been retained for another year ("Copeland's contract is renewed through 2008," Aug. 17) and that the city will be financing a hotel, I just have to shake my head in amazement at the leadership of Baltimore.

It is obvious to anyone with a pulse that Baltimore's school system has had, and still has, major problems.

Whether Ms. Copeland was unaware of the problems or was unable to correct them, does not matter. Either way, the leadership of the school system must be held accountable. To extend her high-paying contract is crazy.

And, with regard to the city-financed hotel, if private enterprise is not interested in financing this project what makes the city think it can be successful?

The citizens of Baltimore city are being robbed by the politicians once again.

Robert Schwartz

Owings Mills

Big contract fitting for big education job

Baltimore schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland's salary cannot be based solely on what the school system can afford ("With bonus, Copeland could earn $300,000," Aug. 18).

We are asking someone to undertake an enormous, thankless job. If we want someone capable of doing this job, we must pay for it.

Why would anyone undertake this job if he or she could get more money from a less challenging school system?

Ms. Copeland's salary should at least be comparable to those of the leaders of nearby school systems.

Sheri Vizzi

Baltimore

Impossible to put Iraq back together

The Sun's editorial "Failure is an option" (Aug. 19) bravely suggests that, "If the various sides haven't hit on a winning formula by Monday," it would make sense to allow the process to start over.

The Sun suggests that this process, which includes new elections, may lead to the incorporation of Sunni voices as well as diminish the power of what it calls the "unpopular" Shiite parties.

I agree that the United States should avoid pressing for a "shotgun" constitution and that a delay is likely warranted.

It is unclear, however, how Iraqi politics will evolve in the meantime. Popular support for Kurdish autonomy will only grow stronger. Moreover, there are troubling signs of increased sectarianization and the making of a civil war that threatens to tear apart an already fractured Iraqi society.

Economic reconstruction shows limited progress while the insurgency remains deadly for both Americans and innocent Iraqis.

It's possible that the U.S.-led regime change has created a nation-building challenge for which there is no solution short of going back in time.

Waleed Hazbun

Baltimore

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