Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 16, 2006

Invest in housing to curb the crisis

The affordable-housing crisis will not be wished away by simplistic visions of an "ownership society." Ending homelessness and achieving stability for low-income families will require an earnest investment in the production and maintenance of affordable housing.

The Sun's coverage of Harvard University's recent housing study rightly frames the issue and demands action ("Need for affordable rentals grows critical nationwide," March 9).

Advocates would be wise to focus now on the affordable-housing fund working its way through Congress.

The Federal Housing Finance Reform Act passed the House last fall, and the Senate is working on companion legislation.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill does not yet include an affordable-housing fund, but an amendment to add one is highly probable.

Marylanders should call upon Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (who is the ranking Democrat on the relevant committee) to punctuate his decades of housing advocacy by advancing the bill and pushing for it to include an affordable-housing fund.

Millions of low-income renters across the country - including displaced persons in the Gulf Coast and Baltimore's 40,000 low-income renters who cycle through our city's homeless shelters and dilapidated housing - would benefit from such a service.

Jeff Singer David Johnson Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the president and CEO and a health policy specialist for Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

O'Malley's regime missed malfeasance

Although Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon may have done the steering as $600,000 of city work was awarded to her former campaign chairman during the past five years, her political ally, Mayor Martin O'Malley, was captain of the obviously foundering ship of state during this time ("Dixon steered work to ex-aide," March 12).

It was the O'Malley-controlled city Board of Estimates that somehow failed to notice that these payments were being made each year without the written contracts and procedural action required by law.

It was Mr. O'Malley's director of finance who made these payments each year despite the absence of documentation that the expenditures were proper.

This fiasco by the administration is yet another in a series of incidents of management malfeasance that have included highly questionable crime statistics, massive education budget overruns and runaway overtime expenditures.

What happened to the efficiency and accountability the mayor has been promising to bring to city government ever since he was first elected mayor in 1999?

Barry C. Steel

Phoenix

Dixon's misconduct isn't mayor's fault

Mayor Martin O'Malley is not City Council President Sheila Dixon's babysitter.

Each elected official is responsible for upholding his or her oath of office. Ms. Dixon simply doesn't take her oath as seriously as one would hope.

But the effort by the other gubernatorial campaigns to make a connection between Mr. O'Malley and Ms. Dixon's ethical problems is just a weak attack on Mr. O'Malley's campaign ("Mayor vows Dixon `look,'" March 14).

I doubt any of the other candidates would want to be held responsible for every elected official who works with them.

Aimee Darrow

Baltimore

Public should own the public utilities

In "Rate phase-in on table" (March 9), Del. Dereck E. Davis, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, is quoted as saying that "our utilities have to remain solvent."

I say that in monopoly situations, our utilities should really be "our utilities."

We cannot afford to leave essential utilities unregulated and able to set prices that some of those who need these services to survive cannot pay.

Our government should be the provider of last resort for the real needs of the people. And government-owned and government-operated public utilities are, I believe, what is really in our best interest.

The only reasonable alternatives I see to that are to provide stringent regulation of these profit-seeking entrepreneurs or government payments to people who cannot afford their rates.

Kenneth A. Stevens

Savage

Literalists grasp God's view of gays

It's interesting that while Leonard Pitts Jr. accuses "Bible literalists" of picking and choosing passages from Scripture for the purpose of condemning homosexuality, he's blind to his own dishonest handling of Scripture ("Stop picking and choosing from the Bible," Opinion * Commentary, March 12).

Quoting difficult Bible passages out of context doesn't negate the fact that the word of God clearly expresses God's disapproval of the abominable homosexual lifestyle.

Homosexuality and lesbianism are sad and painful distortions of human sexuality.

The Rev. Eric A. Green

Baltimore

The writer is pastor of the New Millennium Foursquare Gospel Church.

The Bible prohibits many other things

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