RejoinderThe March 26 Rejoinder column, "Rookie of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Rejoinder

The March 26 Rejoinder column, "Rookie of the Year," by Gov. Parris Glendening, is nothing more than a series of lies and distortions.

First, he says he cut the state budget by $235 million. In fact, general spending went up 4.5 percent. The only thing that was cut was Gov. William Donald Schaefer's unrealistic 8 percent spending increase proposal.

Second, he brags about a $200 million reserve. It is absurd for government to hold taxpayer dollars in reserve. This money should be returned to its rightful owners.

Third, his welfare reform is a sham. Without family caps on welfare women having more children, the state will spend more money on welfare with less results.

Finally, he states that leadership needs to be effective. What kind of effective leader stuffs his own pockets with phony pension benefits, and then says that he didn't know he would benefit, when in fact he directed the changes to the plan?

In summary, Parris Glendening continues to say one thing while doing just the opposite. I don't want him doing to our state what he did to Prince George's County.

Ray Gordon

Baltimore

A Bad Program

It's quite a stretch for one of your vaunted columnists to say that a hard look at wasteful spending by Republicans is the equivalent of any serious redress.

Sara Engram's March 26 column, "Pay-Back Time," is yet another example of how poor her grasp is of the real issues before us.

AmeriCorps is not being "pilloried for political reason" by those attempting change.

Instead, it is the critics of change who are howling "politics" and offering no solutions to the budget or social problems besetting this country.

A real look at the program will show that it is not receiving such widespread support as Ms. Engram might think, despite her meager attempt to illustrate her point with her "convert's" story from Montgomery County.

In many areas, AmeriCorps has been recognized as a bureaucratic and wasteful plan, running counter to the true nature of American volunteerism.

These accounts are from those organizations that have used AmeriCorps volunteers over the past year. Many are located in The Sun's readership area.

Real national service is a shining example of how answers can be found to the problems we face.

But we have huge levels of volunteerism in this country, and this program is a disservice to the true volunteers in this country, something the president should look at.

It might be useful as well for your columnists to leave their desks once in a while and see how church and other civic organizations are helping people without government largess.

Most Americans know how to be of service to their fellow man and don't need the intrusive guidance of government or newspapers to make a difference.

President Clinton's program is a bad one and deserves to be terminated. Much the same can be said for your columnists.

Danny Devine

Crofton

Join Unions

I read with general agreement Thomas Carroll's letter of April 3, "Buy American." It prompted me to address a similar concern.

Just as supporting American-made products would improve many economic problems, another private-sector action would help resolve many others.

Health care, welfare reform, poverty, taxation and minimum wage could all be greatly improved by labor law reform that actually promoted organizing workers into unions.

Such reform was recommended last year through the Dunlop commission. Unfortunately, the current Congress has pursued the pro-company aspects of the commission and discarded the pro-union reform.

A typical union employee has health coverage paid by the employer and wages well above the minimum wage or the poverty line. This removes union employees from the welfare rolls and reduces the tax burden from government assistance.

However, union wages and benefits cut into company profit margins in order to give the employees their fair share. This is unacceptable to the power-brokers in the Republican Party, who primarily represent the interests of administrative, managerial and ownership people.

The Sun's readers should take note of the recent announcement by Polk Electronics of its impending move to Mexico. Even though the company states that the employees were good workers, profits were way up and labor-management relations were also good, it needed more profit. However, the administrative jobs will remain here.

The Republican-initiated North American Free Trade Association has shown its true self. Most production moves to Mexico while upper-management stays here and reaps the benefits of sub-standard wages.

American workers go on unemployment and welfare waiting for a low-wage, part-time job to open up. Meanwhile, government services are cut, forcing the disenfranchised lower class to accept any meager wage offered.

If the long-term impact of the Republican strategy weren't so devastating to American society, I would call it brilliant. Squeeze the work force from both sides, keep the unions out of the picture, and create a pool of low-wage, insecure workers to produce the fat profits for the upper class to feed on.

Even so, my main concern is that the working middle class, who will be pushed downward by this agenda, has actually supported it.

Keith Biddle

Baltimore

PD The writer is recording secretary for Teamsters Union Local 355.

letter

An Error

Rafael Alvarez's article on the Orthodox Judaism phenomenon in Baltimore (March 5) did contain one factual error: The synagogue built in 1845 on Lloyd Street that he mentions has not held worship services since the 1950s.

Built by the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, which of course is now located in Pikesville, the synagogue was restored by the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland and is maintained by us purely as a historic site and is open for tours during our public hours.

B'nai Israel is the Orthodox congregation, which occupies the other historic synagogue on Lloyd Street.

Its building was constructed in 1876 by the Chizuk Amuno Congregation. The congregation holds Shabbat, holiday and Sunday shacharis services.

Barry Kessler

Baltimore

The writer is the assistant director and curator of the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland.

Computer Junk

I read with interest Kate Shatzkin's March 12 article in The Sun on the Maryland Department of Human Resources' child support computer system and the response from Lois Whitaker of DHR saying that it works well in 19 counties.

I am the state's attorney in one of those 19 counties -- Harford. My office was one of the first in the state to go up on this system as a "pilot" project.

Sixteen months ago, the state forced us to accept this new system, which still does not work properly and is without exception despised by every employee of the state's attorney's office unlucky enough to have to work with it.

Over a year ago, I wrote to then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer to tell him that the Client Information System was a disaster and that no one in DHR was listening to the users who had been doing this work for 20 years when they were designing this system.

He politely wrote back to me and told me that the system was being fine-tuned and I should be patient.

The system is not better. The system will never be better. If the state spends another $40 million, the system will not be as good as the old system the state told us it was replacing.

The new system suffers not just from a few hundred programming glitches but, more basically, terrible design, which can never be fixed.

Seven years ago, I acquired a computer program for child support enforcement from Montgomery County at no cost. This system has been developed, tested and running in Montgomery for almost 20 years.

It was installed and adapted to meet Harford County's need within three months. It continues to run well even today to enable us to track older cases.

A number of other large counties also have systems that work very well. Which leads me to ask why are we re-inventing the wheel?

After spending $60 million on this computer system, it is time to recognize that the emperor has no clothes, and that if we continue to work and invest in this system we will still have a naked emperor.

I have been told that the employees at DHR have been instructed not to be critical of the system, but it is interesting to note how many of their own people have bailed out of this project.

If the other 18 counties were polled, the majority would agree the taxpayers have been asked to buy junk.

Joseph I. Cassilly

Bel Air

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