Letters To The Editor


August 14, 2007

Wiretapping cave-in demeans Democrats

In his column "Cowardly Democrats give in to president on NSA wiretapping" (Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 13), Bill Press notes that Congress "with the help of 16 Senate Democrats passed emergency legislation to authorize [President] Bush's past illegal, warrantless wiretaps" and thus "rewarded Mr. Bush's lawless behavior and gave him a free pass to continue doing legally what he had been doing illegally."

As Mr. Press adds, "doing so was a huge, cowardly, shameful cop-out."

Indeed it was.

If nothing else, the Democratic congressional majority elected in November was at least expected to rein in the lawless excesses of this administration and curtail the abuses the previous, Republican-led Congress had failed to control.

What is more infuriating: Democratic spinelessness in the face of attacks by Republicans and the Bush administration criticizing Democrats for being soft on terrorism or the Bush administration's brazen disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law?

Dave Lefcourt

Ellicott City

Bush's priorities pose real problem

Speaking of the colossal price tag to replace our aging bridges, President Bush said last week that Congress should change the way it spends money before it considers raising gasoline taxes.

"So before we raise taxes which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities," Mr. Bush said ("Critical of earmarks," Aug. 10).

Coming from a president whose priority is his pet folly of a war going on in the Middle East, which is costing us untold billions of dollars and whose end is nowhere in sight, that is one of the most inane remarks ever from the White House.

How this president (who originally was essentially put in office by the Supreme Court rather than by popular vote) has escaped impeachment is beyond my understanding.

Henry Seim


Bloated bureaucracy hurts city's schools

More often than not Gregory Kane and I occupy different political universes. But I want to credit him with the most astute and pointed analysis I have encountered in the ongoing discussion about what's gone wrong in Baltimore's public school system ("Why all this cash for so few students?" Aug. 8).

New city schools CEO Andres Alonso's honeymoon will indeed be short unless he quickly grasps that the problem with the system is, simply, the excessive size and hierarchical shape of its central administration.

What Mr. Alonso needs to do is to develop a zero-based budget and reorganize and flatten the system's administrative structure, using state-of-the-art information technology in the process.

The resulting school administration would likely be a small fraction of the size of the current one. The speed of decision-making would be much more rapid and decisions would largely be school-based.

Admittedly, this approach is easy to conceptualize but tough to carry out. But let's hope Mr. Alonso is the leader needed to begin the process.

Carl Thistel


Do murders boost Baltimore's brand?

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin found the silver lining to that city's nearly 120 homicides this year ("Nagin calls killings a `two-edged sword,'" Aug. 11).

The murder count keeps "the New Orleans brand out there, and it keeps people thinking about our needs and what we need to bring this community back," Mr. Nagin said.

This is a stunning statement.

And it suggests that Baltimore, with 196 murders so far this year, must be a brand manager's dream.

I guess the old saying about all publicity being good must have some twisted merit.

Melvin Barnhart


Dixon distances city from developers

Something is amiss.

Conventional wisdom tells us that big developers provide the financial fuel for political campaigns to win favorable treatment for their projects.

So why did we read last week, once again, that our mayor has sided with a community, Federal Hill, over the interests of big developers ("HarborView tower plan is blocked," Aug. 8)?

She did the same thing earlier this year for the Canton community in blocking the huge Icon Tower project ("City panel kills tower project in Canton," May 16) and in Mount Vernon she stood with the community as City Council president to keep skyscrapers out of the urban renewal plan ("Mount Vernon's plan advances," March 21, 2006).

This is looking like a pattern.

Will the campaign financial disclosures soon to come out give us a clue? Will "payback time" for the developers come only after the primary votes are in?

Or are we seeing a new style of independent and community-focused leadership?

I don't know. But perhaps those financial disclosures and time will tell.

In the meantime, it is refreshing to see Baltimore's neighborhoods actually being put first.

Steve Bowman


Jail-like substation will ruin Seton Hill

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