Spending money like the Cold War is still on
Did you catch the congressional "spending" act of January 1996? Maybe you watched the blizzard instead. While congressional leaders were hotly debating federal budget "cuts" and "deficit reduction" in the media, they were forging ahead with a National Defense Authorization Act that depicts a deep Cold War mentality.
The 1996 National Defense Authorization Act includes:
$264.7 billion for national defense, $7 billion more than the president (and the Pentagon) requested.
$821 million for national missile defense, an increase of $450 million from the request.
$493 million more than requested for the B-2 bomber program, to retain the option of producing additional B-2s in the future.
$828 million for 18 more F/A-18C/Ds for the Navy, six more than requested.
An increase of $361 million in procurement and advanced procurement for additional F-15s.
$159 million more for procuring additional F-16s.
I want to know. Just who are we fighting?
' Richard E. Ullrich
The writer is director of the Marianist Office of Justice and Peace.
Task force wants good development
I read with interest Tom Horton's Feb. 23 article on Worcester County, "In Worcester, endless variances." At no time did he bother to talk to the president of our County Commission or to me, the chairman of the Task Force on Planning, Permits and Inspections. Nor did he attend a single meeting. The task force is not on a "witch hunt" as he states, but is attempting to streamline permit processing and make the process more user-friendly.
The task force has met each Thursday since Jan. 11, investigating things such as computers, computer programs, telephone systems, floor space utilization, department locations, processing procedures, code requirements, department personnel organization and personnel attitudes. We are conducting a mailed citizens survey of each person who received a building permit in 1995. The task force has traveled to and met with officials of Harford and Wicomico counties regarding their permitting procedures. We have had telephone conversations with Charles County officials. The task force has diligently pursued the mission given it in an intelligent and organized manner.
Be it publicly known that Mr. Horton's environmental idol, Ron Cascio, recently constructed (as a contractor) a home with piling in the Sinepuxent Bay, a mechanical boat lift over the bay and on filled wetlands just 300 yards from the protected nesting area of the piping plover.
The writer is chairman of the Worcester County Task Force on
Planning, Permits and Inspections.
Why give academics golden parachute?
After only five years on the job and at the beginning of a $900 million fund-raising drive, Johns Hopkins University President William C. Richardson left the school last June to head the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
He was rewarded with a parting gift of $250,000 by the board of trustees whose then chairman, Morris W. Offit, said, "We wished to express in the strongest way our respect and gratitude for the services rendered to the university."
The bonus was accepted by Dr. Richardson, who said it came at a good time because "we were having trouble selling the house."
But what about the students who have trouble paying their bills and do not have a hefty six-figure salary upon which to draw?
Would it not have been more fitting for the board to establish a scholarship fund for needy students in Dr. Richardson's name?
And, since that was not the case, one would have hoped that Dr. Richardson would have requested that the money be used for such a purpose.
Golden parachutes for executives in the corporate arena are a fact of life; golden parachutes for academic administrators should not be.
Car insurance premiums too high
Automobile insurance premiums in Baltimore are much higher than those in suburban and rural areas. Legislation should be passed that would require insurers to base their premiums on a person's driving record -- not on the zip code.
The "po folks" of Baltimore are upset with the insurance rip-off that has been going on for decades.
City housing needs inspection
Housing inspection is a difficult, totally thankless job, but one that is essential for protection of the city and its many residents who rent their dwellings.
I agree that housing inspectors probably should not themselves be property owners, and in the days of Commissioners Robert C. Embry Jr. and M. J. Brodie, owning a property that was in violation of the Housing Code was a firing offense.
My recollection is that at least once, an HCD employee (not an inspector) was in fact discharged for that reason.
Housing inspection was changed during the 1970s from a catch-as-catch-can, training-by-buddy, disorganized process into an operation conducted by a truly professional cadre that approached an impossible task in the most effective way it could.
People like the late Charles A. Noon Jr., John Huppert and the excellent incumbent chief, Robert Dengler, deserve a lot of credit for these changes.
I do not suppose they will ever get that credit, for inspection is a matter that evokes criticism but never praise. Instead, housing inspectors are caricatured as rats and as foxes in chicken coops. I recognize the words "a modest proposal" in Peter Jay's column "A sonnet for a catfish" (Feb. 8), but I confess to being unsure whether he was truly imitating the irony of Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal" when he (The Sun's Havre de Grace farmer-expert on Baltimore City matters) proposes deregulation of housing.
That is, I wish I could believe he didn't mean it, but I fear that he does. It does not seem to me worthwhile to dispute Mr. Jay's arguments point by point, but I do wonder about someone who views residential property owners (landlords?) as a group which "as a class represent [the city's] last hope for survival as a healthy community." The depths of housing problems in Baltimore go well beyond the question of the improper ownership of rental property by a few HCD inspectors or administrators.
Proposals for dismantling federal housing programs can certainly expected if the people in present control of the Congress extend their control.
To those who think that might be a good idea, be warned that if you think money spent for housing programs is a bad idea, just see what happens to cities like Baltimore if you do not spend it.
Richard P. Davis
The writer was director of information for the Department of Housing and Community Development from 1969 to 1984.
Pub Date: 3/08/96