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'Mayor's 11 years characterized by broken promises'I...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

'Mayor's 11 years characterized by broken promises'

I was really pleased to read that Kurt Schmoke would not seek another four-year term. Mr. Schmoke's 11 years have been years of failed expectations and broken promises.

As a native of Baltimore, I have been pained to see how Baltimore has foundered in areas that Mr. Schmoke had promised to be a positive influence on -- housing, education and crime. Anyone who says the Schmoke administration is doing its job well must not be taking the same drives I take into communities that seem to have more boarded-up than occupied houses.

The mayor gave up direction of the city's schools to the state. Is that what his intention was when he took the oath in 1987? The school system that I attended from 1960 to 1972 is not the school system that currently exists.

Crime is out of control; drugs have taken over the city and continue to place great stress on a crumbling system. City residents are being run over in the streets by out-of-control police cars. Police are shooting first and asking questions later.

Fingers of blame have to be pointed at City Hall, and Mr. Schmoke is no where to be found.

The only population that seemingly grew under Mr. Schmoke's administration is the rat population, which is threatening to take over even previously affluent areas of Baltimore.

So when I heard the news that Mr. Schmoke is not going to run for a fourth term, I wondered why he ever ran for the first term.

Joseph S. Hall

Baltimore

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With Mayor Schmoke not seeking another term, will Department of Public Works chief George Balog and Housing chief Daniel Hensen resign since their protector from corruption charges will be gone?

Donald Holland

Baltimore

Kirschbaum photo is 'truly a work of art'

Jed Kirschbaum's Dec. 2 photograph of a child's compassion in the face of tragedy is truly a work of art. Bravo!

Ruth T. Boggs

Baltimore The older I get, the more silly things I see people objecting to. For example, last week the Rev. Jesse Jackson disparaged George Washington's presidency because "he owned slaves."

Now, I read that Madeleine Albright, our secretary of state, is joining some Holocaust victims in wanting to punish General Motors and Ford because their subsidiaries in Germany were taken over by the Nazi government and forced to support the German war effort and to use slave labor in some cases.

My wife's uncle, who died last year, was a middle-level manager in the Opel (General Motors) main plant in Russelsheim, near Frankfurt, at the time. I flew on a B-24 that bombed that plant repeatedly.

A few years ago, many years after he retired, we discussed wartime conditions, including the takeover of the plant by the Nazi war machine. He described how the SS (Hitler's elite troops) marched into the plant one afternoon and, at rifle point, informed the management that the plant was being commandeered for the war effort and proceeded to shoot summarily several managers in front of their fellow employees.

Uncle Wilhelm and his fellow managers had no choice but to build cars and trucks for the war effort using the labor the Nazis supplied. It is doubtful either GM or Ford were ever paid, much less profited on anything they built for the Nazis.

To hold the two companies responsible for anything that happened in their plants during World War II is ridiculous.

Chuck Frainie

Woodlawn

It's far-fetched that a jury could acquit Espy

Mike Espy was found not guilty of accepting illegal gratuities despite the fact that he and his girlfriend received $35,000 in gifts from companies he regulated as secretary of Agriculture. Some of the companies were found guilty of giving illegal gratuities and paid fines in the millions for these illegal acts.

Mr. Espy accepted sports tickets, plane trips, luggage and a scholarship for his girlfriend's daughter from food companies that he regulated. But there was no evidence that Mr. Espy had made decisions favorable to the companies because of the gratuities he received.

Federal statutes that prohibit government officials from accepting gifts do not require any quid pro quo.

How is it possible for companies to be found guilty of giving illegal gifts, yet for the acceptance of these gifts not to be illegal?

Espy did not testify, nor did his attorney call any witnesses in his defense. Was jury nullification at work here?

So Bill Clifton's defense that he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky although she may have had sex with him is not so far fetched after all.

Murray Spear

Baltimore

A politically correct look at misadventures in office

If anyone had harbored doubts that the "politically correct" have taken over our centers of higher learning, look no further. Crispin Sartwell's Opinion Commentary article of Nov. 27 ("A time for scandal figures to reflect") minimizes the seriousness of sexual misadventures in high office despite the price paid by others, such as former Sen. Robert Packwood, for less serious, similar deviations from the law. Even more importantly, he doesn't even consider perjury and obstruction of justice.

Somehow I have missed those sections of our law that enumerate exceptions to enforcement of our perjury and obstruction of justice laws. Somehow I have failed to read that portion of our laws that stipulate two levels of justice -- one for us poor slobs and another for those entrenched in the seats of high office.

Marion Friedman

Baltimore

2012 Olympic bid means more costs for taxpayers

Baltimore and Washington want to jointly host the 2012 Olympics. How many more stadiums and related facilities will Maryland taxpayers have to pay for?

Joseph W. Doughney

Parkville

Inspiring story should help people to fulfill dreams

I would like to thank Dana Hedgpeth for the article about

Kathy Nine, the 38-year-old woman with cancer ("Making the moments count," Nov. 16). I believe this article will motivate people to fulfill all their dreams and aspirations while they can.

Julia N. Kimani

Baltimore

Musicians determine an orchestra's quality

Jacob Weisberg's Nov. 27 Opinion Commentary article "Moonlighting maestros not good for orchestras," while informative, was essentially pointless.

Other than a vague reference (in his final paragraph) to an idea that in symphonic music, great achievement requires "teamwork" over a long "time frame," he never once defended his premise that it is a bad thing that conductors now spend

much less time with the orchestras of which they are the music directors.

Mr. Weisberg concluded his article by saying, "the moonlighting maestro is moving too fast," then he abruptly stopped. If the "moonlighting" of "maestros" is a bad thing, then there must be a negative consequence of this for symphony orchestras. What is it? Has the performance standard in today's orchestras fallen?

Of course not. Symphony orchestras are getting better and better.

Hero worship is a part of society, and in this context, the arts, especially music, are rife with mystique, pseudo-sophistication, pretentiousness and essentially meaningless (though perhaps interesting) writing. The reality is that major symphony orchestras play better now than they ever have, regardless of conductors' presence or absence. A conductor's influence on an orchestra's performance standards is far less important than the public has always been led to believe.

By canonizing conductors and marketing them as geniuses, the symphonic industry panders to what it believes is a public lust for heroes. But the many private and candid discussions I have had with concert-goers over the years has convinced me that the public deserves more credit that that.

Mr. Weisberg's failure, in a lengthy commentary bemoaning conductors' absence from "their" orchestras, to tell readers why a conductor's absence is a bad thing demonstrates once again the superficiality and pretentiousness of so much of what is written about the performing arts.

It also demonstrates what critics, journalists, pundits and symphony managers are loath to admit: That the level of playing in the major symphony orchestras is what it is not because of the conductors, but because of the musicians.

Charles Underwood

Baltimore

The writer is a violinist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

'If I lied under oath, I would be punished; President Clinton should be, too'

I believe that if I lied under oath, I would be punished. President Clinton betrayed his oath of office and should be punished.

Being a fair-minded person, I read that punishment as impeachment. I hope that those who are charged with voting on this matter will be loyal to their oaths as opposed to loyal to an individual.

Charles D. White Jr.

Glenelg

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My wife and I have been watching the Lewinsky investigation for some time now and since we never seem to get a call from a pollster, we decided it's time to write.

We were outside the country when Bill Clinton went on TV in August and admitted to "misleading" people. We felt ashamed to be recognized as Americans in a foreign country. We feel violated by his systematic assault on the judicial branch of our government. We are appalled at his defacement of public property by having sex in the Oval Office complex. Most of all, we're just plain mad at Bill Clinton because his perjury, public lying and the "apology" that wasn't, all add up to show that he doesn't respect his office and certainly doesn't respect us.

To add insult to injury, many commentators and members of Congress have come out saying this is "a private matter" or "it was just lying about sex in a civil case" or that somehow it's Ken Starr's vendetta." It is really disturbing to see so many influential people making these rationalizations in Bill Clinton's defense.

During Ken Starr's recent testimony no one on the House Judiciary Committee disputed the charges against the President not even Bill Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall. This only seems to solidify the independent counsel's case against the president.

If someone asked, "Don't you just want to get this behind us?" we would say, "Yes!"

However, we want the credibility of the judicial system to be assured and our self-respect as American citizens restored in the process.

Brian Scrivens

Colora

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Whatever we do with Mr. Clinton (editorial, "What to do with Mr. Clinton", Nov. 28), please don't throw him into that briar patch.

I hope President Clinton soon tells those spineless Republicans how he would like to be punished. At the rate the GOP is backing down from any real consequences, before you know it they'll be amending the Constitution to allow him to serve another term.

Dave Reich

Timonium

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It is quite obvious that Congress does not have enough votes to impeach the president. As always, the president engages in disreputable behavior, deceiving the entire nation as well as his own family and friends, and comes out clean in the end. People like Clinton always end up being rewarded for their behavior rather than punished.

Once the impeachment vote is held and fails, Congress should censure the President for his actions. Whether he committed perjury or not, he deliberately deceived the American people, as well as a federal grand jury.

Personally, I believe this is letting the President off easy, but what do you expect in a nation where Democrats can lie and be rewarded and Republicans are punished for wanting to take action against the liars?

Censure is what the people want, and whether or not it is real justice, it is our only option. Let's hope that future presidents can take a hint from the situation and never dream of engaging in this type of behavior.

Dylan Valente

Catonsville

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President Clinton's apologists continually accuse his critics of concentrating excessively on his sexual misdeeds. Their objective obviously is to draw attention away from the greater issue -- his propensity and talent for lying.

The Nov. 27 Opinion Commentary article ("A time for scandal figures to reflect") by Crispin Sartwell is a vivid illustration of this. Mr. Sartwell's gentle criticism of Clinton, asking whether he is an addict (sexual, I assume) and questioning whether he wants some treatment, is followed by a lengthy, severely biased attack on Kenneth Starr, the Republicans in Congress and the media -- and their unethical emphasis on sex.

It amazes me that Mr. Sartwell, a professor of ethics, can completely ignore Mr. Clinton's other ethical failings. By lying in the Paula Jones deposition, to the grand jury, to his friends and staff and to the nation on TV, Clinton demonstrated that he has a much larger problem than sexual addiction.

Two respected senior Democratic senators, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York had the courage to publicly criticize the president for his lack of truthfulness. Why can't more Democrats accept that this untruthfulness is the root cause of the quagmire that has plagued our nation and have the courage to publicly place the blame where it belongs?

Robert J. Williams

Lutherville

Pub Date: 12/05/98

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