Flanagan Must Go
In light of the sensational escape of Dontay Carter from the custody of the Division of Pretrial and Detention Services, I am at a loss to understand how its commissioner, Lamont Flanagan, retains his job.
To be sure, he was lightning-quick in moving against his two officers following the Carter debacle. But he should have been just as quick to resign. Now, he ought to be fired.
There is little else available to us citizens by which to gauge the job performances of our state's managers than the performance of their subordinates. And, by that measure, Mr. Flanagan has failed miserably.
Perhaps a second gauge is the degree of foresight (proactiveness, in bureaucratic jargon) with which administrators manage their agencies. If so, then Mr. Flanagan's management is desperately wanting.
In any event, we surely expect much more from our highest-paid employees than a willingness, if not eagerness, to fire staff or to issue tardy procedural directives in order to direct our attention away from lax management and to preserve their jobs.
This is especially true where public safety is the manager's primary charge.
James R. Berger
First Lady's Role
While I am confident that Bill Clinton will effect the needed changes in our nation and its public policies, the recently announced role of First Lady Hillary Clinton raises many important constitutional issues that touch the very fabric of our democracy.
The Founding Fathers, in writing our Constitution, were reacting to the dangers inherent in government by royalty and royal families. They insured that the office of president would be limited in term and restricted to one person elected by the people, who withstood the scrutiny of the voters.
However talented a woman Hillary Clinton may be, if she is made a de facto vice-president of the United States (or co-president), we are setting the precedent that we elect not a president, but a "ruling family." In essence, we are re-establishing a form of royalty, where the power of the nation's highest office is shared by a First Lady neither elected by the people nor carefully examined for qualification in the electoral or congressional review process.
Hillary Clinton can play a great role in the betterment of our nation by championing causes of public importance.
However, I believe there is great danger in her assuming powers that our Constitution does not grant her. Our Founding Fathers realized that power is a dangerous commodity that must be regulated by the guidelines of a constitution.
This new role for the First Lady is creating a seat of power operating outside our Constitution, and its prudent checks upon the use of power and those legally entitled to exercise it.
Lawrence R. Epp
Your Jan. 16 editorial commended Towson Commons for its "old-fashioned, walk-on-in accessibility."
No argument here. Towson Commons may be easy to walk into, but for a newly constructed building, it is sadly lacking in "wheel-on-in" accessibility.
A person in a wheelchair can enter from the attached garage to the second floor. There, he or she is confronted by one elevator that is locked during evenings and weekends, and another that is up four steps.
Although there is a retro-fitted wheelchair lift, it is cumbersome to use and requires one to ask for assistance. Such a lift would be an understandable accommodation in an older building, but it is inexcusable in a brand new one.
Recent Federal legislation requires all public buildings to be accessible to people in wheelchairs. Though Towson Commons
technically may conform with such a requirement, it fails to meet the spirit of the law.
What could the architect have been thinking in placing the elevator up four steps and failing to add the short ramp that would have made its use by people with disabilities possible?
Old fashioned? Yes, but for Towson Commons, not something in which to take pride.
The writer is the vice-president of the mid-Atlantic chapter of the
Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps.
No Role Model
I am writing in response to a paragraph in the People and Places section of Jan. 11 containing a quote from director Spike Lee that has convinced me he is the worst kind of separatist-racist this country has seen since Malcolm X (the subject of his latest successful movie).
Spike Lee's comments that "you can only go so far in white corporate America" and "if you're going to rely on the goodness of white America, it's not going to happen," indicate that he is not willing to work at living together in harmony as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted so much.
Yet isn't he a rather successful director? Wasn't directing formerly a white man's profession?
It seems to me that black people who go to college, start at the bottom of the ladder can go as far as they wish to go in "white corporate America."
Look at Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Ernest Green, a successful Washington businessman.
Another black man who managed just fine in white corporate America was the late Reginald Lewis, noted philanthropist and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice Corp.
Schmoke, Green and Lewis are just three well-known black people who strove to do their best and succeed in white corporate America.
There are also black men who lived up to the negative stereotype of black men and also rose to prominence in a "white America" -- for example, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a man who rose to prominence from poverty and saw no problem with sexually harassing women who worked with him.
This example illustrates that not only can a black person with intelligence and drive succeed, but so can one who skirts the accepted rules of societal behavior to get what he wants.
I certainly hope that when Spike Lee wins his Oscar for best director for Malcolm X -- as he should -- that President Clinton does not invite him to the White House and hold him up as a role model.
Rather President Clinton should condemn Mr. Lee as he condemned Sister Souljah. For they are both atrocious racists, not role models for our young people.
Alexandra N. Olver
'All Children Can Learn'
Does anyone know where I can get a hefty supply of sackcloth and ashes? You see, I am a city resident and an employee of the Baltimore City Public Schools, and I need to prepare appropriately for an annual verbal flogging by members of Maryland's General Assembly.
History has proved that logical presentations of fact have not dissuaded many of our elected officials from their ritual criticism and threats of reduced funding to Baltimore City. Facts clearly point out the following:
The percentage of Baltimore's "bloated" central office educational staff has been reduced to a point below that of several surrounding counties.
Superintendent Walter Amprey has said publicly and repeatedly that he holds all educators accountable for improved student achievement.
Dr. Amprey has also stated for the record that more money is not the only solution to Baltimore's problems.
Not insignificantly, Baltimore has the largest number of the state's neediest children in an inequitably funded system.
Despite these and other pertinent facts, Baltimore City public schools continue to be pilloried by state legislators whenever funding is discussed. Sadly, Sen. Barbara Hoffman may have exposed the real problem in your Jan. 17 paper by stating her suspicions that many of her colleagues really believe certain students "can't learn."
Discrimination on the basis of race is prohibited by law. Are we in Baltimore now to accept the not-so-subtle substitute of discrimination by test scores?
Sandra L. Wighton
?3 The writer is principal of Western High School.
Senator Hoffman pinpointed probably the major problem the legislature must face: the assumption by too many people that many children "can't learn."
I hear that attitude expressed by liberals and conservatives, supporters of increased education spending and its opponents.
In addition to being wrong, this assumption is counterproductive because it allows all of us -- legislators, parents, educators -- to evade responsibility for figuring out how to help children learn, even those who are in the most difficult circumstances.
Regardless of one's views of the best routes to better education, we at least should be able to agree that all children can learn, and that our responsibility as a community is to help them do so.
K? The writer is a state delegate from Prince George's County.