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Fans On StrikeLike Sun sports columnist Ken...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fans On Strike

Like Sun sports columnist Ken Rosenthal, I am dumbfounded by the Orioles' discontinuance of its ticket exchange policy.

The more restrictive ticket policy may appear to be a sound business move, but it is far from it. In addition to the Orioles fans already abandoning the game of baseball because of the strike, even more fans will be heading south to Bowie and west to Frederick after this less than admirable policy call from Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

If anyone in the Orioles organization believes that the fans eating the cost of these non-refundable tickets will return again to the Camden Yard ticket booth to buy more tickets, they are sadly mistaken.

Unlike my husband, I was willing to forgive and forget and return to Camden Yards this season.

However, after this shortsighted and greedy call by the Orioles, I am now joining my husband as another "fan on strike."

hristine Hinds

Elkridge

Look Within

Reading C. Fraser Smith's article "How Can the Mayor End the Violence" (May 21) was an interesting but painful experience.

The immediate area in which I live has experienced two drug-related murders within the past year.

On any day and every night scores of young males, many of middle school age, are openly and energetically engaged in the business of drug sales.

In looking for ways to help kids stay in school and not be seduced by the false path to success offered by the drug market, our community association in partnership with the Maryland State Teachers Association, worked hard and creatively to acquire the use of a vacant neighborhood storefront as a site for a neighborhood tutoring center and meeting space.

The outcome of our efforts -- 63 hours of neighborhood volunteer labor in plumbing, carpentry, painting, drywall finishing together with the purchase of some additional labor and supplies (paint, rollers and brushes, drywall, joint compound, a sink, vinyl floor covering, etc.) with hard-earned dollars from a neighborhood block party -- came to nothing when our appeal for an exception to the existing R-8 residential zoning was arbitrarily denied by the Zoning Board.

This was clearly a case where the desires and needs of the majority were overridden by the narrow interests of a powerful minority.

We went before the board with petitions of support signed by more than 100 residents, letters of support from all major institutions in the area, including two churches with over 250 combined years of roots here, and the pastor of another congregation preparing to move into the community, the director for 20 years of a state work-release program, a city councilman and letters from two neighboring community associations.

Offered in opposition were only 18 form letters with signatures of members of a community association which, itself, had provided a letter to the board indicating it was not opposed.

In looking for solutions to the problems of violence in the city, Mayor Kurt Schmoke might look within his own house to see how some of the obstacles to progress on this issue might be removed.

Anne Ames

Baltimore

Veterans' Hospitals

The Veterans Administration has had a long, honorable history of responding to the medical needs of those men and women who served in the nation's armed forces as a prepared vanguard in times of peace and by putting their lives on the line in times of war.

In 1987 an effort by the Reagan White House to make a significant portion of this nation's honorably discharged veterans completely ineligible for VA medical care was stymied by a Democratic Congress.

How incongruous then that today's conservative Republican Congress, which has gotten great political mileage for their claims of more genuine patriotic learnings than their more liberal predecessors, has set in motion a much more likely to come to fruition plan to effectively close dozens of veterans' hospitals while making millions of veterans ineligible for care.

What is particularly lacking in consistency is that these Republican champions of real, abiding American values are promoting this agenda just when these who 50 years ago nearly drowned on Normandy beachheads and burned with malaria yet fought on bravely through savage South Pacific jungles are reaching peak numbers and need for the VA's services in their aged, infirm years.

And how blatant is the hypocrisy of those most strident, vociferous advocates of this ungrateful, calloused plan to balance the budget partly on the backs of the now aged, deserving men whose very sweat, blood and youth was sacrificed to preserve this nation's freedom -- Phil Gramm, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh -- when one realizes that despite their current, self-anointed "super-patriots" public personas, all three adroitly avoided serving in the military for reasons far more nebulous than our pro-veteran current president.

Bill Canter

Lutherville

Glendening Dealt City's Disabled a Bad Hand

On July 1 some 16,000 disabled citizens of Baltimore City will have their dignity and independence yanked from under them as they become penniless under an ill-conceived program called TEMHA (Temporary Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance).

Gov. Parris N. Glendening dreamed up this program to replace DALP, the Disability Assistance Loan Program, which he axed in a budget-cutting move in January.

Under TEMHA disabled persons who now receive $157 cash monthly will no longer receive any cash. Their basic non-food needs are expected to be handled under a voucher system administered by the city's Department of Social Services.

When an eligible person needs toilet paper, for example, that person will first have to visit a caseworker at DSS, explain the need, get a voucher, go to a collaborating vendor and get the toilet paper.

One significant problem with this system is that the disabled person will have no money for transportation to DSS. It can be a long trip in a wheelchair or on crutches.

Incredibly, no determination has been made as to the number of rolls of toilet paper, tubes of toothpaste, bars of soap, sanitary napkins or other necessities a person may receive.

If all 16,000 eligible city recipients manage to get to DSS they will find the lines very long because neither the state nor the city has allocated any money to administer TEMHA.

The current caseload of 200 for a DSS Adult Services caseworker is projected to double since no new workers can be hired.

The new system is fraught with opportunities for waste, fraud and mismanagement, yet here is no money for additional audits or oversight.

Under TEMHA the number of homeless in Baltimore could immediately double since there will be no cash to pay for rent, and not all landlords will accept the $50 vouchers the city will offer.

In addition to the chaos at DSS, consider the measurable economic impact on the city.

Beginning July 1 $30 million in cash will disappear from the city's annual economy, to be replaced by $7,500,000 in vouchers, the city's share of the state's largess for the program.

Added to the city's burden is the increased cost of the inevitable rise in crime caused by having additional thousands of very sick and vulnerable people on the streets.

No one knows what will happen come July. Maryland has the distinction of being the first state to disallow cash benefits to disabled citizens.

A clear understanding of what TEMHA will cost in social and economic terms is lacking. At a time when welfare reform calls for courageous leaders with far-reaching vision, we are forced to accept a decision made by a self-serving governor content to shoot blindly, hoping he'll hit the target and not his foot before the next election.

In your editorial "Baltimore in Decline" (June 4), you state, "Managing resources -- playing the hand dealt -- is the greatest challenge" facing the next mayor of Baltimore.

How ironic that the TEMHA hand was dealt by a governor to the city that was instrumental in making him the dealer! In the same editorial you state that "all over America, city governments are not masters of their fate."

This is true as far as it goes, but the voters can still control their fate as far as TEMHA is concerned. Governor Glendening has the power to change the situation. The voters of Baltimore City can throw back the hand he dealt them by telling him to restore DALP before July 1.

Kenneth R. Carter

Baltimore

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