Mayor's failures show in trip to community...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Mayor's failures show in trip to community that's gone 0) downhill

I hate to interrupt the hosannas that are raining upon the soon-to-be-departing mayor, Kurt L. Schmoke, but the Baltimore resided in from 1969 to 1987 and the Baltimore of 1998 are very different cities.

By taking a visit to my former neighborhood in Southeast Baltimore, I can witness the horrific condition of what was formerly a working class neighborhood. The fact that the city is experiencing urban decay is not surprising, but the rapidity of this decay is utterly astounding.

There is no resemblance to the neighborhood in which I lived. An eastbound drive on Orleans Street, from Dunbar High toward the Baltimore County line, reveals trash-filled streets and vacant houses. There are no businesses, and the police cruisers at virtually every corner are the only signs of government involvement.

Granted, Mr. Schmoke did not create the problems that have overtaken this community, and I'm sure areas in the city have improved. No one questions Mr. Schmoke's intellect or his sincerity. But as the highest-ranking political official in the city for the past 15 years, he must be held accountable for the continuing decline of Baltimore City.

Robert W. Pfaff

Westminster

Garages not answer to parking shortage

The editorial "Parking shortage is bad for business" (Nov. 23) recommends that Baltimore spend $70 million dollars to build parking garages even while "spaces in Lexington Market-area garages, for example, stand empty" and "state-operated lots at Camden Yards have 2,700 vacancies."

Our business leaders tell us repeatedly that government should get off their backs and let them be self-reliant entrepreneurs. Now these scions of laissez-faire want the city to subsidize $70 million worth of parking when existing lots are underused. The only sensible person in this debacle was Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who questions this expenditure for commuters who don't pay city taxes and are too lazy to walk.

Your editorial concludes that walking is not an option and that downtown's "true competitors are Owings Mills and White Marsh, which provide convenient parking." How else does one negotiate seas of suburban parking and the length of strip malls?

We already have too many parking lots downtown. These are uninhabitable single-use buildings that sabotage our nascent mass transit systems, snarl traffic and are utterly without architectural or civic merit.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

Traveling in circles over Towson roundabout

I cannot believe there is so much commotion about the Towson roundabout ("Encircled by confusion," Dec. 8). Washington drivers have had circles for years. New Jersey has them in suburban and rural areas.

Surely arrogant Baltimore County drivers can figure out how to navigate that little circle. European cities and tiny villages use them with great pride. The key is courtesy.

Maybe using the romantic sounding words the French use for their signs might solve the problem. Cedez la passage looks much better than yield, and vous n'avez pas la priorite sounds wonderful.

Actually, I simply treat that roundabout as a tiny beltway. You join the circle just as you join the the Baltimore Beltway and look for an opportunity to get into the right lane to exit. If you don't have the chance at the moment you want to exit, just go around one more time.

Alice Anderson

Towson

Sedan services belong on equal footing with cabs

Robin Miller fails to mention in his Opinion Commentary article "Taxi-fare rise won't help riders" (Dec. 3) that after extensive research the Public Service Commission of Maryland recently issued 25 taxicab permits in Baltimore County to improve service to the public.

The high cost of vehicles, insurance, repairs and maintenance determine the dispatch service fee that drivers pay. A tremendous amount of overhead is involved in the taxicab industry. This is not greed, as Mr. Miller claims, but survival.

If sedan services, which often operate as illegal taxicabs, want to compete with legitimate taxicabs, they should do so on an equal basis. Lobbying for legislation that sedan drivers be subject to the same licensing and background checks as taxi drivers is not to stifle competition. Competition is a good thing, but it should be in a legal manner, on a level playing field.

The taxicab permit system in Baltimore works quite well for everyone involved. The public is served, and the drivers make a comfortable living. Most drivers have no desire to own a permit, with its accompanying headaches and expenses.

Clayton L. Seeley

Owings Mills

The writer is president of Reisterstown Cab Inc.

Italian, German cupability in war in different range

The article "Film awakens Italy to its Holocaust" (Dec. 9) needs to be put in perspective. Although Mussolini aligned himself with Hitler, in no way can the regimes be put on the same level.

While the Germans embraced Hitler and his ideology, by no means can we say the same thing of the Italians. Having sensed a lack of faith in fascism among the large segment of the Italian population, Hitler sent his storm troopers into Italy to clamp down on anti-fascists, and rounded up groups of partisans who were fighting the system. None of those measures were needed in Germany, for the Germans were totally subservient to their Fuhrer.

While I was incarcerated in German camps, a group of Italian soldiers were been brought to our camp in Jaworzmo-Polish Silesia. These soldiers were not deserters; they had simply laid down their arms and told their superiors they did not want to fight anymore for this evil cause.

My friends were unable to communicate with those Italians, but I still remember after 54 years their yelling to us: "guerra fini, guerra fini."

These patriotic Italians, who were still in good physical shape, looked at us as we were almost dead, and they shared food with us. Their pity on us had no limits. To equate the Italians to the

Germans during the war is to equate Wagner with Rossini or Puccini.

Joseph Kryszpel

Pikesville

Will out of line in comments on liberals, school choice

George Will is out in rightfield in his piece on school choice ("School choice gets needed support from Supreme Court," Nov. 29).

To wit, on the Supreme Court's refusal to review, and therefore let stand, Wisconsin's school voucher program, Mr. Will says, "By such steps liberals are losing their protracted war against poor children." And, this little gem: "It takes a village of vigilant liberals to keep poor children chained on the plantation of public education."

The Clinton administration has opposed school vouchers because they are likely to undermine the public school system, which serves the vast majority of middle- and upper-class children, as well as poor children.

In large measure, the public education system has fostered the development of the middle class in this country. Without the benefit of public schools, millions of Americans who are civic leaders and productive members of our society would otherwise have been illiterate instead of college-trained.

But I suppose Mr. Will doesn't see much benefit in that. If millions of Americans were illiterate, they could be put to work in factories and at manual labor for dirt wages.

James B. Fortier

Baltimore

Regular column needed on Year 2000 bug

Congratulations of your article of substance on Y2K ("America's warrior against Y2K menace," Dec. 7). We have an urgent need for a regular column on this subject. How about it?

David F. Thompson

Elkton

Pub Date: 12/12/98

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