Leadership must come from the top
Holly Selby's June 15 article "Talking through the pain oracial dissonance," quotes Rep. Kweisi Mfume as replying to one woman's plea for politicians to "lead the way toward better racial understanding between races" as follows:
"Let me suggest to you -- and remind myself -- that leadership comes from the bottom up. If we wait for our leaders, [including the members of Congress present] then we are doing ourselves a disservice."
Representative Mfume surely knows better than that. He usually makes good sense and he has demonstrated a capacity to grow from the time he first entered the public service.
I don't always agree with him but I do respect him and what he has to say. But if the above is accurate and not a distortion and if he did not, as they say, "misspeak," he spoke gibberish.
Representatives are supposed to lead. The jobs pay well enough to attract the best and the brightest of those of us who have a desire to make their own contributions to the world about us.
A representative's election supports a general presumption that he was elected because the voters have confidence in his or her intelligence, abilities, values, vision -- to act in their interest better than they can themselves.
Further, representatives can devote themselves full-time to their work and are furnished able, salaried staffs and appropriate facilities to help them do their work.
The congressman knows full well that leadership should come from the top down, not "from the bottom up."
Leadership should not be confused with advocating popular whims or even firmly held views of constituents if the representative's best judgment is that the public interest lies in a different direction.
The representative's job then is to inform the electorate and to try to persuade it to share his or her view.
Idealistic? Yes! Far better to go down in defeat with integrity intact than to follow the all-too-common practice of voting what pollsters determine is the temporal majority wish of the constituents.
The former would be real leadership. It might get to be a habit and rub off on others.
What Mr. Mfume should strive for and work for "from the bottom up" is a well-informed electorate anxious to find optimum solutions to our common problems and able to discriminate wisely between unworthy candidates who cater to its biases and emotions and those who will serve their and their neighbors' long-term interests.
Jack S. Futterman
HUD is wrong
All of us working to improve Baltimore's neighborhoods welcome HUD's new national effort to increase home ownership. But one simple way for HUD to do that would be to revamp its current foreclosure policy, which is inflicting great damage on dozens of neighborhoods throughout Baltimore.
HUD winds up with the house when families that received FHA loans lose their homes to foreclosure, which happens hundreds of times a year in metropolitan Baltimore. The problem arises when HUD resells the house "as is," rather than fixing it up to make it attractive to a new homeowner. Local HUD officials admit that 50 percent of the time the houses are sold to absentee investors thus undermining resident ownership in the neighborhoods.
The philosophy driving HUD's "Property Disposition Department," which is responsible for reselling the houses, says: "Sell the house as fast as possible for as much as you can and get the cash back into the kitty." There is literally no concern for the neighborhoods where these houses are located nor for the damage that is done to these neighborhoods when residential ownership declines.
The irony is that HUD's single-family operation actually makes money. There is no compelling financial reason for HUD to behave the way it does. If HUD is serious about increasing home ownership, it should first clean out its own house.
Vincent P. Quayle
The writer is director of St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.
Blacks in the GOP
In a June 15 article, "I'm a lonely brother in the GOP," Robert C. Gumbs asserted that, as a black Republican, he is one of a kind.
From Victor Clerk, the second vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and a member of the Baltimore City Republican Central Committee, to Mary Jackson, who was elected to serve as judge of the Anne Arundel Orphan's Court, to Michael Steele, chairman of the Prince George's County Republican Central Committee, not only are there many black Republicans in Maryland, but many of them serve in leadership positions.
In addition, some of our 1994 Republican candidates were black, as are several Baltimore City candidates this year.
The philosophy of the Republican Party, advocating limited government and lower taxes, is often echoed by Baltimore City residents (Democrats and Republicans alike) seeking to empower themselves and take back their city.
We must stop talking about it and start taking action. Baltimore City has not elected a Republican mayor since 1963 and has not had a Republican City Council member since 1939. Clearly, the Republicans are not responsible for the problems in Baltimore City.
Joyce Lyons Terhes
The writer is chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
Jealous of Salk
Dr. Jonas Salk, like Rodney Dangerfield, never received much respect for his vaccine to prevent polio. Dr. Albert Sabin termed it pure "kitchen chemistry."
Dr. John Enders of Harvard received the Nobel Prize for research on polio viruses, while Dr. Salk was ignored. Dr. Salk's research on AIDS also had more skeptics than supporters.
It seems that professional jealously in science is more prevalent than actual truthful research results.
The good work of Promise Keepers
I greatly appreciated your June 25 article on the Promise Keeper's Conference at RFK Stadium. I felt that the article was as accurate and objective as one can expect from the secular media.
I must confess that I was very disappointed that The Sun had given little coverage of this major happening a few miles to the south of Baltimore. But the delay in coverage was well worth the quality of its content.
More than likely there was varied reaction to your article, ranging from a confirming "amen" from the thousands of men in your area who attended the conference, or skepticism and and disdain by those who are anti-Christian or anti-religious, to fear and hostility by those who are suspicious of what they see as a major "right wing" Christian fundamentalist movement or a "rabid" anti-feminist thing.
As a card carrying Promise Keeper and an attendant at Promise Keeper's conferences since the very first national conference in Boulder, Colo. in July 1991 where 22,000 men gathered, I would like to provide both reassurance to those who doubt or fear and support for men whose lives are being impacted and in some cases radically changed as a result of Promise Keepers.
At the RFK conference, Tony Evans likened the current domestic problems of this nation to that he personally experienced in his home when cracks started to appear on a wall in his bedroom.
After having a painter patch and repaint the cracks two times only to have them reappear with a whole extended family of additional cracks, he decided to hire another painter.
After analyzing the situation, the new painter indicated he could not fix the cracks because the problem was not with cracks but with his house's foundation. Fix the foundation, then, more than likely, no more cracks.
Working with men to help them understand the criticality of their role in the family and that there is a need for godly men of strong morals and integrity in this nation is foundation-fixing stuff.
Foundation fixing that needs to occur if many of the cracks and even holes we now see in the fabric of our society, which have to be a matter of concern to any discerning American citizen, stand a chance of being fixed.
Case in point: In 1992, several men went with me to the second Promise Keeper's Conference in Boulder. Approximately six weeks after we returned, an eight-year-old boy came up to me one Sunday after the morning service.
He put his arms around my waist, gave me a hug and thanked me for taking his dad to Promise Keepers, because things were different at home now.
His dad didn't yell and scream like he used to, and he's started to do lots of things with the family, and talk to them.
About two weeks later, his wife hugged me and said simply, "My prayers have been answered. Thank you and Promise Keepers."
Cecil E. Bray