Why Do We Pick on the Defenseless?
Editor: I was appalled to read that the Baltimore City administration to save funds would cut to 10 days from 30 days the storage period for an evicted person's personal effects.
I recently heard a homeless woman's testimony of how she was evicted by an unscrupulous landlord who told her she complained too much (the last complaint being when her child was almost hit by a sink that fell off the wall). Obviously she lived in sub-standard housing and did not know her legal rights. She did not have the money at the end of 30 days to reclaim her possessions.
Why do we always pick on the defenseless? The personal effects of evicted tenants sit on the streets for several days where anyone could help themselves and the elements beat down.
Why do we need a third party to come in, pick up these possessions, store them and sell them at the end of 30 days when unclaimed, keeping a part of the sale money? Aren't there enough vacant buildings in the city where these possessions could be stored by the city and under honest city employees, and the cost minimized giving the poor a better chance to reclaim what little they have?
Why do we always pick on these least able to defend themselves instead of trying to help them solve their problems?
'Elizabeth R. Schreiber.
Editor: Contrary to recent articles on redistricting in The Sun and Evening Sun, the American Civil Liberties Union has not threatened to file suit over Mayor Kurt Schmoke's redistricting plan. We, like some others, have concerns about whether or not the proposal meets the requirements of the Voting Rights laws. But we have made no decision regarding a lawsuit, and have made no threats about one.
The writer is executive director of the ACLU.
Editor: In his recent letter to the editor, Brian Morrison expressed concern that the R&D; complex being planned for location on the UMBC campus will result in corporate dollars compromising the academic integrity of the faculty. It is evident that during his employment at UMBC, Morrison learned little about the academic side of this institution and of the motivations and aspirations that drive me and my fellow independent-spirited (sometime rebellious) teacher/researchers.
Yes, many of us do need and strive to obtain the external resources to support our research and creativity. But this is not achieved at the expense of our integrity and independence as scholars. Our quest for funds will certainly not result in "merger" of the School of Engineering with Westinghouse nor will my Department of Biological Sciences (UMBC has no botany department) open a flower shop.
To assure that Morrison's uniformed scenario remains a piece of fiction, UMBC's Faculty Senate and administrators are engaged in developing objective controls and criteria that will assure high standards of academic integrity as an integral part of the linkages being UMBC and its future R&D; associates, linkages that we expect to be synergistic. The UMBC faculty will insist that freedom of scholarship and creativity will not be compromised.
If Morrison were truly concerned about the future of higher education at UMBC, he might better put his energy into working to increase funding for this campus (and, for that matter, for the other 10 University of Maryland System campuses), particularly for disciplines such as those in the arts and humanities that are least likely to benefit directly from R&D; synergy.
Robert P. Burchard.
Editor: I am appalled at the plans to "improve" Black Marsh Park. At a time when parks are being closed across the state, when the governor and others are discussing raising taxes and when the state can't afford pay raises for state workers, I find it unbelievable that the Department of Natural Resources and the governor want to spend even more money to destroy a pristine nature area.
!Marilyn Liebegott. Baltimore.
Editor: In the reprint of Page 536 from H.L. Mencken's, "Thirty-Five Years of Newspaper Work" which appeared in The Sun's Opinion * Commentary page, Mencken wrote of former management's concern with improving the editorial quality of the paper and cited his approval of Paul Patterson's suggestion to remove the Bentztown Bard's "countrified column of Prose and Verse."
Neither Patterson nor Mencken could have envisioned that after the passage of more than 60 years, someone would remember the masthead opening sentence which introduced Folger McKinsey's Bentztown Bard column. It read as follows:
"It was only a glad 'Good Morning' as he walked along his way, but it turned to morning glory throughout the livelong day."
They were and still are words to live by.
Editor: In a recent Sun editorial entitled "Hypocrisy in Suburbia", the school boards of Montgomery County and Howard County were challenged "to turn to an obvious area for savings: the payroll."
By eliminating the proposed pay raises for teachers and support staff in Montgomery County, $38 million could be saved. Approximately $8 million would be saved in Howard County.
The superintendent of Montgomery County schools and superintendent of Howard County schools are resisting this quick-fix solution.
In the long run, these leaders realize that if they are to attract the best teachers to their school systems, the systems must be willing to offer the best pay and benefits package.
They should be congratulated for taking a stand. The Sun should realize that these two counties achieved this status partly by offering the highest pay in order to attract the best teachers.
Presently there is not a teacher in any county who is overpaid for the difficult job they are expected to do -- a job that becomes more difficult with each passing day.
I would hope that all superintendents would support the negotiated pay increase for the teachers. The backbone of any school system, today or tomorrow, will be based upon obtaining the best teachers.
Editor: Your recent editorial supporting a parental notification clause ignores the real implications of such a policy.
While this legislation might be the "sugar coating" abortion legislation needs for political expediency, it victimizes society's most vulnerable group -- poor young women. This is the last group Marylanders should be willing to sacrifice as a political concession.
Teen pregnancy is an unpleasant reality, but it is a reality nonetheless. Those who must confront this problem must do so with all the resources available including counseling, birth control distribution, aggressive education, and if necessary, abortion.
Most teens do tell their parents if they need an abortion. Over 50 percent bring a parent or guardian with them voluntarily; this number increases dramatically among younger teens.
Those who are not able to tell parents have a good reason, whether it is fear of physical, verbal, or psychological abuse or a desire not to disappoint her parents' expectations.
We must resist the temptation to impose our own image of the "functional" family structure on others. State intervention during moment of crisis is certainly not a good way to legislate family communication -- if such a thing can be done at all) -- it can only exacerbate a traumatic situation.
Your position on parental notification is shortsighted and superficial. Unrestricted access to abortion has ben the law for 18 years and it works for the teens who choose to tell their parents as well as for those who can not.
If the idea of teens receiving abortions without parental consent scares you, how can you reconcile the idea of these teens becoming parents?
Editor: The Schaefer administration wants to increase gasoline and other auto-related taxes because the transportation fund is running out of money. Here's why:
It They transferred $76 million to the general fund to cover other excess spending.
Auto-related taxes must pay for the "idle port that taxes built" -- fantastic union wages and featherbedding have driven the ships elsewhere.
Auto-related taxes pay a large portion of the cost and operation of public owned and operated transportation, construction and operation of subways, light rail, etc.
Advice to legislators -- if you ever want to be re-elected -- "Just say no" to increased auto taxes.
Morris A. Cole