Data is available on how contributions to charities are used
A Nov. 30 letter to the editor ("Putting the right goods in Bags of Plenty") expressed concern about how the cash raised by the Bags of Plenty is used. It seemed unfair to raise the question without attempting to answer it.
In Maryland, charities raising more than $25,000 in public support must register with the state. You may obtain basic financial information on registered charities at: http: //www.sos.state.md.us/sos/charity/
You can also obtain detailed financial reports directly from the charity.
In 1997, the Maryland Food Bank spent $17,371,349 on charitable programs; $333,922 on management and general expenses, and $141,044 on fund raising. This places charitable program expenditures for the overall organization at more than 97 percent of the support raised, an extraordinarily efficient use of funds. While this doesn't directly answer the question of how Bags of Plenty cash is used, it does reflect an efficient organization with very low overhead.
It is a natural tendency for contributors to want their entire gift applied to the charitable cause, and Bags of Plenty makes it easy to make a 100 percent restricted contribution. But we shouldn't hesitate to support charities that are conscientious about maintaining low overhead.
Contributors giving general cash gifts to the Maryland Food Bank should feel very good. The charity would not exist without cash support, and every dollar spent on overhead is leveraged into many dollars of contributions.
In response to Jack Johnson's suggestions (Letter to the editor, Nov. 30) for our Bags of Plenty campaign, we welcome his ideas and will include them in our planning meetings for next year.
Thank you to everyone who donated much-needed food and financial support this year.
The food items go to the Maryland Food Bank and are then distributed to pantries and soup kitchens that provide free food to disadvantaged people.
The funds we receive are used to buy nutritional food (especially canned meats, which are always in short supply), to supplement donated items and to support programs of the Center for Poverty Solutions (formerly the Maryland Food Committee and Action for the Homeless). Grants specifically for food are given to emergency food providers throughout the state. Together, our agencies provide food for more than 20,000 hungry people every day.
We keep our administrative and development expenses to a minimum, and most of the expenses for Bags of Plenty are underwritten by our corporate sponsors. Financial statements for both organizations are available to the public; just call and ask for a copy.
Nearly 500,000 Marylanders are living in poverty today, and half of them are impoverished senior citizens or children. The cutback in federal food stamps leaves many unable to provide adequate food and shelter for their families. We depend on campaigns like Bags of Plenty and are deeply grateful for the generosity of Marylanders willing to share with their neighbors.
Robert V. Hess
The writers are president of the Center for Poverty Solutions an executive director of the Maryland Food Bank, respectively.
Chavez's commentary on poverty is 'naive'
Not wishing to deny that this generation indeed has much to be thankful for, I still found Linda Chavez's Nov. 26 Opinion Commentary article, "Poverty isn't what it used to be," quite naive. She mentions her father not being able to purchase substantial Thanksgiving food and requesting his bologna be wrapped in paper with butchers string so that he might use the string for his shoelaces. I suspect this generation would just pull out a plastic card and end up with the full Thanksgiving fare and new shoes to go with the laces.
The poor by all appearances may look prosperous, but if the incredible use of credit cards and a 300 percent rise in personal bankruptcies means anything, these folks are just as poor as they ever were. Try living without credit, and you will find life far less bountiful.
Joyce C. Robinson
Starr's investigative tactics undermine system of justice
Kenneth Starr's testimony disturbed me deeply as a perversion of that very justice that he used to so sanctimoniously justify his actions.
Mr. Starr was true to his name with his use of Star Chamber tactics, including punishment by inference rather than facts and half-truths, such as the leak of a partial quote of Webster Hubbell's jail-house conversation when the remainder of the statement exculpated Hillary Clinton. Perhaps even more disturbing is Mr. Starr's characterization of President Clinton's valid legal privilege as "abuse of power."
The bedrock of our legal system is for individuals or organizations to request judicial interpretation of legislative and constitutional questions.
Mr. Starr's interpretation wields a chilling effect on the constitutional rights of each citizen. That Mr. Clinton's requests for Supreme Court rulings were far from frivolous is evidenced by the divergent legal opinion of many legal scholars on each issue that the president raised.
Taken together, Mr. Starr's abuses represent a far greater threat to our legal system and to the value of justice than the alleged perjury at issue.
To date, the only results of the independent counsel's Machiavellian investigative tactics are a dilution of the impeachment standard, thus threatening our electoral process, and a validation of prosecutorial tactics that are inimical to the American system of law.
Public will pay tobacco tab while others reap benefits
There is one person missing from the Nov. 21 picture of the two grinning politicians, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. The missing person is Peter Angelos.
The scam perpetrated on the citizens of this country by the lawyers and politicians should earn them all a place in history. This recent fleecing of the citizens, laughingly referred to as the "tobacco settlement," outdoes even the S&L; fiasco, which the politicians legislated. The politicians then bailed out before the crash and stuck the bill on the taxpayers.
What kind of men can, under the guise of saving lives, extort billions of dollars to fill their own pockets knowing full well that the general public will have to pay the bill? They say the tobacco companies will have to pay. Ah yes, the tobacco companies will pay after they collect from the public the increased prices they put on their products.
Tobacco companies will prosper, their CEOs will prosper, their stockholders will prosper. Mr. Angelos will have more millions to DTC pay his people for throwing and batting balls, and our governor and legislators will have more millions to waste.
William D. MacAleese
Conservatives use Bible as a tool of oppression
In response to the article "Meeting examines racism in South today" (Nov. 15), I believe that racism is a religious experience for many white Southerners.
I believe that many white people living in the South have a built-in desire to use racism as a tool of oppression to justify their biblical notion that there are no differences among us "confessed" or "born again" Christians. Yet, they live the falsehood daily with their political agenda of conservatism.
Larnell Custis Butler
Parking spaces vacant because they're expensive
Your Nov. 23 editorial ("Parking shortage is bad for business") about parking downtown stated that there were lots of unused spaces at Lexington Market and Camden Yards. I think that you are missing the reason these spaces are not used: They cost too much.
I guess compared with New York City or Boston we are very reasonable, but drivers here don't think so. That's why you see cars circling the area in search of an open meter. Garages close to Harborplace can cost $6 plus for just two hours. That's a little steep.
Building garages and charging the same prices is not going to fill them up.
Louis J. Piasecki