Letters To The Editor


June 27, 2008

Confront violence throughout the city

I applaud The Sun for the article that did an excellent job juxtaposing how violence is viewed in two very different Baltimore neighborhoods ("2 neighborhoods, 5 dead," June 24).

The writers were able to show the divisions that exist in this city based on race, class and neighborhood - and how those divisions are being perpetuated by the behavior of the neighborhoods' residents as well as by the power structures that dominate our city.

The Bloom Street residents, if not accustomed to living in the midst of the madness of drug-related violence, are at least comfortable enough with it to erect quickly "the kind of street memorial that is all too common in inner-city Baltimore."

On the other hand, one Federal Hill resident viewed the violence in his neighborhood as the "outside coming in."

To have one neighborhood ready with "common" displays of loss to accompany its outrage (which is only whispered behind closed doors), while another is shocked into immediate action and has the power to gather police and city officials with the snap of a finger, just shows us how far this city has to go.

A 30 percent decrease in homicides in the city so far this year is something to appreciate. But until we, as citizens of Baltimore, realize that when one of us is killed we have all lost something, no matter where the body falls, and until we can all be outraged together, there will be no fundamental change, just the ticking of statistics.

Nicholas W. Seldes, Baltimore

The writer is a social work psychotherapist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Community Psychiatry Program.

I attended Monday's community meeting in Federal Hill and was very glad to see the strong turnout of neighbors concerned about the Federal Hill community who wanted to identify ways to address the recent violent incidents.

However, countless homicides occur in neighborhoods throughout Baltimore all year long and don't receive nearly as much attention as those that happened last weekend did.

The Sun's article "2 neighborhoods, 5 dead" called attention to the fact that such incidents are often dealt with differently depending upon the socioeconomic status of the community where they occur.

It also mentioned that it is people from the "outside" coming "in" to Federal Hill who were involved in the shootings here.

But what's most important is for all of us to realize that this is one city.

The struggles those in lower-income neighborhoods face each day often create a desperation that leads to crime, and this cycle continues to repeat itself.

Federal Hill is one of the more prominent neighborhoods in the city and has undoubtedly helped contribute to the city's economic revitalization, so I understand the attention given to the recent shootings here.

However, what happens in each neighborhood ultimately affects every neighborhood. Unnecessary violence should prompt the same attention from city officials and police and communities in every neighborhood, all the time.

Improvement won't happen overnight, but a more unified effort in struggling and stable neighborhoods alike would be a start.

Kerri Corderman, Baltimore

Gambling generates critical revenue

In "Numbers Game" (June 22), Laura Smitherman did an admirable job depicting the frustration that comes with trying to find the facts when faced with dueling ledger sheets promoted by opposing sides on the slots question.

Perhaps the title of the article says it best: Numbers can be "gamed."

But there is a way the public can check this information - by listening to the elected officials, civic leaders and business men and women who live with gaming on a daily basis.

For instance, James Goldman, president of the Harrison County Commission in Indiana, noted this year, "We bring in more revenue from [gaming] than the rest of our budget. ... We're paying for three ambulance stations around the county. ... All 10 volunteer fire departments have new equipment. And it's helped with economic development."

And Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said, "The casinos are an enormous taxpayer, both to the state and locally. They are a very important part of these communities' fiscal health."

Our industry stands behind the numbers that show the benefits of gaming. But the power of the numbers pales when compared with the testimonials of the people who live and work in gaming states and communities.

Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., Washington

The writer is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.

Let Dixon do work a mayor must do

I am an 83-year-old Baltimore citizen who never thought much of Sheila Dixon when she was on the City Council and was very disappointed when she was elected mayor.

But now I think she is doing a wonderful job with the city she loves. If she had a boyfriend who happened to get some city contracts, so what ("Dixon funds linked to firms," June 25)?

She did nothing wrong. The Sun and other backstabbers should get off her back and let her continue to do the job at hand as mayor.

Grace Y. Jones, Baltimore

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