First-time buyers need Maryland mortgages
Your Feb. 17 article on a mortgage broker's fiduciary responsibility to one's client is of utmost importance to Maryland's consumers, especially minority and inexperienced home buyers.
Discrimination in mortgage lending today remains an enigma. People say it still exists but no one can find the smoking gun. Maryland lenders say minority home-buyers shun them; real estate agents say Maryland bankers discriminate against minorities.
Most minority and other first-time home-buyers use mortgage brokers to secure their mortgages. There always exists in Maryland a class of mortgage brokers who bring unsophisticated home-buyers to lenders, mostly from out of state, who charge higher than average interest rates and offer real estate agents incentives to bring in mortgages.
Consumer advocates in other states have brought class-action lawsuits to protest these practices, stating that mortgage brokers have a fiduciary relationship to their clients.
Maryland's mortgage brokers are trying to pass a law denying this relationship in exchange for a written disclaimer.
The bill would make sense if the broker had to say to the buyer: "I'm going to get you the rottenest deal I can for the biggest commission I can make." But the truth gets lost in big words like "fiduciary" and "disclaimer."
A fiduciary relationship between mortgage broker and mortgage borrower in Maryland is essential.
No less important, first-time home-buyers, particularly minority home-buyers, belong with Maryland's banks and savings and loans. Real estate agents do an injustice to their clients by saying these local lenders do not want their business.
Vincent P. Quayle
The writer is executive director of St. Ambrose Housing Aid center.
Suburbs need to appreciate city
"A tale of two cities" is right (Feb. 19, "Children's lives near bottom in Baltimore"). Baltimore lacks unity and identity, and we all suffer because of it.
The city has been disowned by its neighbors and is in a full-blown identity crisis. "Who are we?" is a question we must all ask ourselves. "What do we want to be?" may be more productive.
Traveling often into the city to shop, sight-see and enrich my children's education, I see no dividing line, but you can bet that many suburbanites do. We would all do well to remember that the city line is not a semi-permeable membrane; life flows in and out indiscriminately and our social and economic prospects are linked.
The governor, county executives and mayor must get beyond empty rhetoric and take action to shore up the slow, fragile progress made on Baltimore's troubled streets. A two-pronged attack would address poverty, crime and hopelessness and get the word out that our city is packed with world-class culture, educational institutions and historical sights.
Apparently, people need to be told that they are sitting on a gold mine. With a clearer identity, money and talent for social solutions would not only come to Baltimore but surface right here.
Cartoon comment on doctors accurate
Tom Wilson, who draws the "Ziggy" newspaper comic strip, should be nominated for a Nobel Prize for medical economics.
BSO's future is in good hands
Our foundation, which seeks to identify and support American talent in classical music, was proud to underwrite the recent performances of conductor Daniel Hege and pianist Terrence Wilson's with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
It was therefore rewarding to read Sun music critic Stephen Wigler's account of the all-Tchaikovsky program (Feb. 3, "Young BSO hands take good care of masterworks"). Too much negativism surrounds "the state of American orchestras," especially when such instances of artistic excellence shine before us.
Bravo to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for once again demonstrating that the future is indeed in good hands, especially when the hands are so skilled and insightful.
And bravo to Mr. Wigler for calling attention to the special synergy that youth and outstanding talent can produce.
The writer is president of the California-based Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation.
School children paid homage to rebel flag
Your Feb. 18 article about the Virginia legislature "retiring" the state song, "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginie," brought back memories of Alma Spitzer, my fifth-grade teacher in Charlottesville, Va.
Miss Spitzer, who in 1945 was old enough to be the daughter of a Confederate veteran, was an ardent supporter of the Confederate cause. On her desk the two opposing flags, the Stars and Stripes and the Stars and Bars, were intertwined.
Each morning, we children said the usual Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, followed by a brief homage to the Confederate flag and the cause it represented. "The War Between the States was fought over states' rights," Miss Spitzer would teach us.
After the pledges, we would all sing the state song, "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginie," a capella and with as much fervor as our young voices could muster.
This ceremony provided a nostalgia-laden beginning to the school day, and I think we students recognized the deep-seated affection for her lost cause that was behind our teacher's curious ritual.
Judges must not bend with winds of opinion
Domestic violence deserves the serious attention of the community, police, attorneys and judges.
Beginning in 1971, I worked to raise public consciousness about chronic abuse of women by their husbands and boyfriends. One significant result was the creation of the House of Ruth, a shelter for battered women and their children.
Recent clamor about the insensitivity to victims of such abuse shown by a Circuit Court judge highlights the growing public intolerance of domestic violence. This increased public awareness is heartening. But important as it is for people to understand that abuse must not be tolerated, we must not VTC sacrifice the independence of the judiciary in our efforts to protect victims of abuse.
Judges must not follow the public will. The public and victims are entitled to their outrage and desire for revenge, but judges must be objective and represent justice, even if it means the risk of losing an increase in judicial compensation.
Of course judges must be accountable -- accountable to the principles of justice and mercy. A distinguished Oregon jurist said to an audience at the National Judicial College last August that a judge is not aligned with the state or part of the law enforcement system; the judge stands between the state and the individual whom the community puts on trial.
An independent judiciary, the cornerstone of our democracy, preserves justice and secures our liberty. We must cherish and protect it to remain free.
Kathleen O'Ferrall Friedman
The writer is president of the Maryland Circuit Judges Association.
Pub Date: 2/26/97