Letters To The Editor


May 11, 2007

Fire agency change should start at top

Once again, The Sun has opted to mischaracterize the actions of city firefighters at the scene of the tragic Feb. 9 training exercise that claimed the life of fire cadet Racheal M. Wilson by noting Mayor Sheila Dixon's suggestion that "19 experienced firefighters were present during the bungled exercise" ("New era sought for fire agency," May 8).

To suggest that those 19 firefighters did anything other than try to avert the tragedy is to deny the truth.

And to continue to suggest, in hindsight, that anyone other than those Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. appointed to positions of control and authority had anything to do with Ms. Wilson's death is simply mind-boggling.

As to Mr. Goodwin's edict that rank-and-file firefighters should now openly question their superiors, well, I'm afraid that this can cost a firefighter his or her position, assignment or job if Mr. Goodwin is the object of such questioning.

If there exists a need for a "change of culture" in the department, it is the self-righteous, "my-way-or-the- highway" atmosphere created by Mr. Goodwin that must change, not the brave, daily actions of the men and women I represent.

Stephan Fugate


The writer is president of IAFF Local 964, which represents city firefighters.

Firefighters trained to follow orders

In The Sun's article "New era sought for fire agency" (May 8), Baltimore Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. is quoted as saying, "Everyone has to do their part."

Well, that starts at the top.

Promoting a member of the city Fire Department through several levels of command to head the training academy, as Mr. Goodwin did with former training academy chief Kenneth Hyde Sr., is a recipe for disaster.

And now, in another transparent attempt to escape responsibility for the Feb. 9 death of fire cadet Racheal M. Wilson, Mr. Goodwin is advocating a "culture shift" in the department and encouraging members to question orders.

And indeed, Mayor Sheila Dixon seems to have bought the argument, apparently floated by Mr. Goodwin, that someone should have questioned the orders given at the training exercise that ended with the death of Ms. Wilson.

But my guess is that if every soldier on the beaches of Normandy had questioned his orders, the D-Day invasion would have had a different outcome.

In war, only generals know the big picture, and in the case of the Fire Department, only the chiefs can have such a view.

In a paramilitary organization such as the Fire Department, you follow the orders of the qualified commanders to the best of your ability.

But for that to work, indeed "everyone has to do their part" - and that includes the fire chief's appointing qualified firefighters to command posts.

Paul J. Moeller


The writer retired in 2006 after 32 years as a Baltimore firefighter.

Who wants to win Bush's mess in Iraq?

Do any of the Democratic or Republican candidates for president really want to win the 2008 election?

President Bush has made it perfectly clear that he will do everything in his power to ensure that his successor inherits the enormous mess he has created in Iraq ("GOP leader backs benchmarks," May 7).

His chief "strategy" seems to be to keep kicking the Iraq can down the road so his successor will be blamed for the inevitable disaster that will occur after the just-as-inevitable withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Perhaps a constitutional amendment removing the two-term limit on serving as president is in order.

If that happened, Mr. Bush might be forced to confront the insoluble dilemma that will face the next president, and the blame game would end.

Benjamin Rosenberg


Reservoir Hill needs flexibility from HUD

I do not think that the Reservoir Hill condominium project should be sidetracked because of concerns about affordable housing ("Reservoir Hill project draws HUD rebuke," May 5).

Two big apartment housing complexes, the Lakeview Towers, are down the street from the site where developers would like to build the condominiums.

These are big buildings, and many people who cannot afford other housing establishments because of their low incomes live in the towers.

The city is looking to find communities to house some of the thousands of defense workers and contractors who will be moving to Maryland to work at Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground as a result of the base realignment and closure process ("Growth creates chance for city," May 4).

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials should be aware of this concern and change the terms and conditions of the contract for city use of the properties across from Druid Lake.

They should be flexible given the changing needs of the community, not sticklers for the 10-year-old, outmoded terms of a contract with the city.

Howard P. Fink


The writer is a member of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.

Sabbath elevator would show respect

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