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No PicnicAs a 25-year employee of Prince...


No Picnic

As a 25-year employee of Prince George's County government, I feel compelled to tell how it really is to work for P.G. County.

Yes, we have nice perks such as the supplemental pension plan Gov. Parris Glendening and his staff put together and the leave payouts available upon leaving the county government.

However, I don't believe concern for the work force was his primary objective when he added the new language regarding 15-year employees in 1993. And don't let him fool you: he knew what he was doing. His signature appears on the last page of the published pension plan.

Shame on him, if he signed something into law without reading it. And now that this has come under close scrutiny, I probably won't benefit from it.

However, the actual work day is no picnic.

Forced to pick up the slack after many of our co-workers were laid off in 1990 and 1991, we do not have state-of-the-art equipment and technology to make our jobs more efficient.

Work loads did not diminish as was anticipated. Some divisions have 25-year-old equipment that has been patched to continue its slow, manual operation.

As other pieces of equipment have failed, there has been no money to replace them. Money for routine supplies is scarce, and participation in professional organizations is discouraged unless the individual pays his own membership dues. Morale is low.

Our careers are at stake as Wayne Curry struggles to fix the mess that Mr. Glendening left. Doesn't anyone wonder why Prince George's County's financial despair was kept so quiet until after the election?

Lee Hunter

West River

Diversity Cherished

I read Michael K. Burns' Feb. 1 commentary, "The Not-So-Uniqueness of Public Television," with interest but with little agreement beyond his Yanni bashing. If Mr. Burns is looking for "fresh faces," I suggest he look at Teen magazine or check out MTV.

If he really wants to know why personalities from commercial radio and television stations also work for public broadcasting, the answer is obvious.

They are willing to work for less pay and be seen by smaller viewing audiences because public broadcasting productions generally afford them the opportunity to dig below the surface and to do higher level work than would be possible on commercial television or radio productions.

Profit is the motive for commercial television and radio; to educate, enlighten, inform and/or entertain is the goal of public broadcasting.

What makes public broadcasting unique? It's the "public" part . . . it's in the name . . . it's an integral aspect of its existence. It && exists for the public good and is responsible to public reaction.

It is different in every community, because it reflects the community it serves. It is a necessary component of a democratic, free society.

Public broadcasting currently receives $1.09 per person annually from the federal government. I challenge you to name another service that offers as much for a buck.

It's not elitist. Public broadcasting belongs to you and to me and even to Michael K. Burns.

I cherish its diversity, Yanni and all.

usan Baukhages


Movies Nightmare

What Ed Brandt's article, "$33 million face lift set for Towson Marketplace" and the accompanying map (Feb. 11) failed to show was that James Schlesinger's proposed 20-screen, 4,000-seat movie stadium will be situated in the center of a large residential area -- a Baltimore County-designated Community Conservation Area, as a matter of fact.

To the north are Towson Estates, Towson Gardens, Goucher Woods, Campus Hills and Cromwell Valley; to the east are Loch Raven Village and Knettishall; to the south are Fellowship Forest and Friendship Forest, as well as Calvert Hall College and two county schools; to the west are Courthouse Square and Greenbrier.

Mr. Schlesinger and his backers would have us believe this is a "good deal for the area," when, in fact, this enormous theater will be a great deal for Mr. Schlesinger and nothing less then a nightmare for many local residents.

Based on information from law enforcement personnel, security professionals and people living near existing theater complexes (none as large or as centrally situated in a residential area as the proposed one), neighbors can expect not only "increased traffic and late-night noise" but also increased crime (vandalism, loitering, et. al.) and litter.

Quality of life in the surrounding community, as well as property values, will come tumbling down.

Finally, the article claims "there are no zoning barriers," when actually Mr. Schlesinger's plan requires a special exception to proceed. A public hearing must be held.

Hopefully our public servants will take a thorough, far-sighted look at this plan, consider its implications for the communities and then send it back to the drawing board for serious revisions.

Don Vovakes


Ironic Tragedy

On April 14, 1994, our son, Spc. Jeffrey C. Colbert, along with 14 other Americans, was shot down over Northern Iraq by the U.S. Air Force.

These Americans were flying Blackhawk helicopters with foreign passengers on board when they were mistaken for enemy aircraft by two F-15 pilots. As a result of this tragedy, all 26 people on board the Blackhawks were killed.

The Department of Defense chose to give $100,000 as a "humanitarian gesture," only to the foreign families.

They said Americans would receive benefits of at least $100,000. Those benefits were paid for out of the Americans' paychecks every month; not one American has been "given" anything for the unique circumstances which took our loved ones' lives.

They did not die in an aircraft accident. They died as the result of over 60 documented incidents of human error. The American families feel that giving an ex-gratia payment to foreign families and not Americans is both insulting and is in violation of civil rights laws passed by Congress.

Isn't it ironic that the Department of Defense would discriminate against the very Americans who gave their lives trying to provide humanitarian aid to a foreign country?

As the families of those Americans, we feel we deserve an immediate response to this issue from the Department of Defense. We are committed to using every opportunity to show the Department of Defense that we are not going to quietly go away. Together we are going to fight this issue for as long as we need to.

Butch Colbert

Cindy Colbert


Female Intelligence

The article (Feb. 17) that cited a neurological study that found physical proof that women think differently from men deserves comment.

Assuming that this thinking can at times be intelligent and productive, one practical application that leaps to mind is a solution to the baseball strike.

Where men's minds have thus far failed, alternatively, women's minds must be brought to bear. The appointment of arbitrators from the female sports world would be welcome indeed. Let's get it done!

Virginia L. Bennett


Unsubstantiated Charges of Corruption

Recently, several articles and editorials (Jan. 3, Jan. 16) have appeared in your newspaper with regard to the Liquor Board of Baltimore City.

Unfortunately, the articles attempt to paint the Liquor Board with a broad brush of corruption and ineffectiveness.

Of more importance, however, is the fact that your editorials give erroneous and faulty information.

Additionally, the reputations of the many fine men and women who work tirelessly for this agency and for the citizens of this state have been crushed by the assertion of unsubstantiated and uncorroborated inferences.

This does not mean to suggest that we have not had personnel-related problems.

When such instances occur, they are dealt with. Further, the current administrative staff has done an effective job in bringing the administrative practices of this agency in line with other city and state agencies as evidenced by yearly audits and managerial summaries of the agency.

While we applaud the efforts of the task force appointed to review the operations of this agency, time did not permit this panel to immerse itself into the operations of this office in order that panel members had a more complete understanding of the board's operations.

It is our understanding that the panel met as a body on no more than six occasions, three of which were to receive public testimony from various community groups and organizations.

Interestingly, none of the newspapers or other forms of media deemed it significant enough to cover the panel's public forums.

Had The Sun covered these public forums, it would have become most clear that the hundreds of community groups and organizations around this city did not find it either necessary or in their best interest to appear before the panel as they deliberated regarding the operations of this agency. . . .

The enforcement of the alcoholic beverage laws in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland is a politically energized issue.

The operation of alcoholic beverage establishments impact greatly the quality of life in any community. The board has made an earnest attempt to work collaboratively and responsibly with community groups and organizations and to diligently enforce the board's rules and regulations and other statutes and ordinances which apply to the operation of licensed establishments.

No one on the board's staff has been charged with any improprieties regarding their official functions as a member or employee of this board, the Block investigation notwithstanding.

The assertions of corruption as implied in your articles and editorials have not been substantiated by any weight of evidence or testimony to that effect.

The Block raid occurred over one year ago, and it would seem appropriate to conclude that if corruption by operatives of this agency were widespread, it would have been evidenced through the appropriate legal channels by this juncture.

As the task force panel was advised, the inspection division is in fact appointed through the patronage system as are the members constituting the board.

This is a fact. Why would this system, which has been in place for 60 years, suddenly become news to The Sun in 1994? Notwithstanding that fact, to inform and suggest to the public that there are no requirements for appointment is both misleading and inappropriate.

State law sets forth qualifications for the board and members of its staff, and job descriptions have been in place for members of the staff. . . .

Additionally, members of the staff are subjected to job training and staff meetings are routinely held to alert staff of new legislation and other areas of job requirements and performance expectations.

Prior to the publication of the panel's report, the board felt it incumbent to respond to the task force before it completed its assignment and made certain recommendations. It was suggested to this panel that the board be given the complete authority to determine the duties and qualifications of inspectors and hire the same independently or through contracts with other departments and agencies of the state.

The intent of that recommendation was to remove any appearance of political allegiance and to insureenforcement integrity.

While this was not a recommendation of the panel, the legislative and executive branches of state government have final authority over these issues.

PTC The enforcement of the alcoholic beverage laws in Baltimore City requires the utmost of public confidence. Unsubstantiated charges of corruption serve the interest of none of us.

It is time to move forward and to address alcoholic beverage issues which impact our communities. To the extent that adjustments may be required on the part of this agency, let those who have authority over these matters join with us in

moving forward.

eorge G. Brown

Curtis H. Baer

Charles E. Thompson


The writers are, respectively, chairman, commissioner and commissioner of the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City.

Public Housing Repairs and the Mayor's 'Arrogance'

We see now how the $24 million in federal housing money to provide good housing for the poor was mismanaged, with some of the repair contracts going to Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's brother-in-law and cronies.

We wonder if the same suspect scenario will prevail with the bigger and sweeter $100 million recently granted to Baltimore by the federal government . . .

Mr. Schmoke is curiously inept as mayor, and now that his ethics are under serious doubt, isn't it time to shuffle him off?

Charles N. Valenti

Upper Falls

I do not have $12,300 of the people's money with which to present my viewpoint on Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's recent advertisements.

I must rely on The Sun to publish my letter, and let him, and his cronies in Baltimore, know how disappointed I am in his unethical behavior.

Whether he was unfairly criticized for his part in the housing fiasco or not, his use of the people's money to tell his side of the story is wrong.

Let me list three areas in which he personally, and as leader of the Baltimore government, is wrong.

First, he misused our money to pay for these self-serving advertisements. He could easily have gone on radio or television to respond to critics.

True, he would probably have had to answer some tough questions, but if he is as sure as his advertisements say he is that no wrong was done, this should have been no problem.

Second, he insults the citizens of Baltimore. He implies, through his use of the "no federal funds" ploy, that the citizens of this city are not concerned with federal spending, but are so provincial as to care only about their own city.

He compounds this insult when he acts as if the citizens of Baltimore are gullible enough to accept his reasoning.

Finally, although not specifically mentioned in his advertisement, his administration has withheld from us information gained in a review of the housing agency by Claude E. Hitchcock, newly appointed director of the Baltimore Empowerment Zone, citing "attorney-client privilege."

Unless the mayor personally paid Mr. Hitchcock's fee, he works for the people who paid that fee -- the people of Baltimore. The people -- not Mr. Schmoke or his top cronies -- are Mr. Hitchcock's clients, and we want the results of his investigation into this fiasco made public.

Do the right thing, Mr. Mayor. Open the books, allow the guilty to be punished and let the people know what happened to their money. Make amends for your arrogance. Now.

Lawrence E. Foster

Linthicum Heights

I'm glad Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke assured us that "only federal funds, not local tax dollars" were used for the no-bid housing renovation contracts, and that "these funds would have gone back to Washington if they had not been used."

If I were a Baltimore taxpayer, would I have been relieved that the funds were coming from Washington, where, presumably, there's lots to spare?

(It must be that generous taxpayers from Ellicott City and elsewhere are all too happy to help stuff the pockets of a very select group of contractors who just happen to be lucky enough to be on first-name basis with certain Baltimore City officials.)

Does the mayor really have such little respect for Baltimore's taxpaying citizens (they also pay federal taxes) and the rest of us (including regional native Baltimoreans who still care an awful lot about our city) to dare to offer such blatant insult added to injury?

History is filled with examples of such arrogance.

Marie Antoinette's comes to mind.

Paul S. Bridge

Ellicott City

I can't believe it. If a private landlord repaired a rental property the way the "hand-picked contractors" for the city did, they would be in Housing Court in a heartbeat.

And the mayor says it's great. Well, they say, "It pays to know the right people."

Albert R. Hogarth


Baltimore taxpayers should be outraged at the continuing antics of the Housing Authority of Baltimore. Housing Commissioner Daniel Henson should have resigned in disgrace long ago, and the mayor should have publicly apologized.

Now we have the FBI investigating irregularities in a "good ole boy" network that makes the old days of Maryland politics look tame . . .

The real unsettling thought is that some of these people have been given $100 million with which to play.

We can only hope that such an outcry can be raised that they will be especially careful as to how that money is spent.

Even in Maryland, there is a limit as to how long these outrages can be justified by the perpetrators.

C. D. Wilmer


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