The events of the past few weeks concerning Lexington Terrace and other housing matters bring home the error of selecting friends, political allies, inexperienced and often incompetent persons to direct housing activities.
Until a few years ago, the housing department and the Housing Authority were run by outstanding professionals. Richard Steiner, Ed Ewing, Robert Embry and Jay Brodie created and directed an organization that was recognized as one of the best in the country.
Then came a big change. These professionals were not succeeded by personnel of equal qualifications.
First came a personnel officer. Although she had successfully directed a manpower program, she had no housing experience.
She brought with her an equally inexperienced staff and created a super-staff, placing each of her people above existing professional branch heads.
Her successor, who arrived with the new city administration, had been an educator. He had no housing experience.
The results have been chaotic. One after another, capable and experienced professionals have left.
The housing department and the authority have not received the support they needed from the city administration. Operating funds have been slashed. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency which supervises the activities of the authority, has been negligent, uncooperative and, in some cases, a road block.
Rebuilding the Housing Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development will not be easy. It will require leadership and trained personnel. It will require the full support of the mayor and his administration.
Chester Wickwire's letter about Israel and the Palestinians (Feb. 9) contains much that is true and painful, but yet it is critically flawed.
Mr. Wickwire speaks of understanding "why Israelis cannot forget their own painful story." But if he really understood Israel's pain, he would call on the Arab states to end their state of war, as well as for Palestinian independence.
Mr. Wickwire suggests that "the peace talks are threatened as Arabs perceive a double standard in the Middle East."
He should at the same time recognize that, as George Bush said in his great post-gulf war speech, the road to peace is on two tracks: land for peace and termination of belligerency.
Robert D. Katzoff
I was bemused by the article in the Maryland section Feb. 8 on rubber used to supplement asphalt on several experimental highways.
This is not as revolutionary as it sounds. It is my understanding that roads in Northern Europe have been supplemented with rubber products for some time.
This is because these governments require a guarantee to the point that contractors must repair the road if it collapses.
As a consequence roads in Europe are built with better materials cluding rubber) and may last 20 to 30 years without maintenance.
It would be highly unprofitable for a European contractor to utilize popcorn asphalt a la Interstate 83, with a life cycle of three years.
A proposal that road contractors similarly guarantee newly constructed roadways for a modest number of years was jettisoned by the previous administration.
Paul Schlitz Jr.
Germany & Bosnia
I refer to your editorial "Action on Bosnia" Feb. 11. To state that Germany's recognition of Croatia and Slovenia made the catastrophe inevitable and also to draw a direct link to Hitler's policies during World War II is not only misleading, it is wrong.
Germany's decision to recognize Croatia and Slovenia, a decision taken together with its partners in the European Community, was prompted mainly by two reasons.
First, the invasion by Serbian troops into Slovenia and Croatia made it abundantly clear that Yugoslavia had de facto and irreparably disintegrated. The decision came only after a dozen or so cease-fires had been broken. Only after recognition was the cease-fire observed by the Serbian aggressor. Europe and the international community could not but recognize the right of self-determination for Croatians and Slovenians, a basic right to which the Paris Charter entitles them.
Second, the Serbian invasion of Slovenia and Croatia had already revealed the resolve and brutality of Serbian policy. In Germany, where TV reported the atrocities day after day, public outrage led to the outstanding humanitarian relief efforts matched by no other country in the world.
By the same token, the U.S. administration soon came to admit that the German assessment and the European decisions were justified, and that an early common Western stance and decisive action might have avoided the catastrophe we have been confronted with since then.
The writer is press and information counselor for the German embassy.
Regarding The Sun's Feb. 15 editorial on Medical Waste Associates, some additional questions must be asked.
Why was the community estimate of available medical waste more accurate than the consultant's?
Should a City Council committee's decision be affected by cost overruns which elevated the break-even tonnage figure from 68 tons per day to 85?
Should the city suffer the penalties of business errors which may only become worse in the future?
Was there no consideration of alternative methods already provided by waste companies which are less expensive than MWA's fees (source separation, autoclaving)?
Contracts limiting the collection area to four jurisdictions were understood and signed by MWA.
Is it fair for the city to bail out one firm and not others when bad judgment and marketing conditions do not satisfy their financial needs?
The basic premise about one state-of-the-art facility reducing air pollution is based on all the many separate facilities signing contracts and cooperating.
MWA built an over-sized, 150-ton-per-day facility without enough area contracts, and those who did sign on are paying fees which are too high to attract other hospital contracts. Is this the city's fault?
Baltimore City is already a processor and repository of solid waste for the entire metropolitan area, out of proportion to population and waste generation.
Do we wish also to become the recipient of medical waste generated by the most populated jurisdictions in the state while the small, individual hospitals continue to use their own incineration facilities?
No matter how "state-of-the-art" MWA's facility might be, Baltimore is left with more incineration than before -- and more pollution.
Many citizens and some members of the City Council saw this situation clearly from the beginning.
The Land Use Committee will address the above questions carefully and be responsible to the citizens of Baltimore.
Patricia S. Lane
Social Security Proposals
In his Feb. 11 TRB column, Mickey Kaus of the New Republic insists -- as do most media types -- that Social Security should be taxed, cut, etc. He obviously doesn't know anything about the program.
Mr. Kaus states that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is wrong when he claims the Social Security program is solvent and accumulating billions each year.
According to Mr. Kaus, "means testing" -- not taxing, but actually cutting the benefits that now go to the affluent -- could easily redirect $60 billion a year from Social Security for other uses without touching most retirees' benefits.
I've got news for Mr. Kaus: Congress just recently borrowed, withdrew or stole $63 billion from the Social Security fund to make the deficit look smaller.
Why doesn't the New Republic print this type of news, instead of giving young people working today the idea that the old people are spending their retirement funds?
Fact: Social Security is a self-supporting program and has nothing to do with the deficit.
Why is everyone out to tax the rich or take away their Social Security? After all, they deposited their share in the fund just as the rest of us.
Since I retired, I am classified either as poor or very low middle class, according to figures quoted by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Thomas S. Foley.
But I still firmly believe that taxing the rich is ludicrous. Fact is the rich don't normally pay taxes, because the rich senators have made enough loopholes.
If they do pay, and they own a corporation or some other type business, they just add the tax to the price of their product, and we the poor and middle class end up paying their taxes.
This is so obvious I cannot understand how the average person in this country cannot see it.
James C. Woolley