Let city voters, not residency rules, determine...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Let city voters, not residency rules, determine next mayor

The voters of Baltimore will elect our next mayor. Whether a candidate has lived in the city for the 12 months immediately prior to the election is a factor that they can consider. It should not be an absolute bar to seeking the office.

We are sponsoring legislation that would reduce the residency requirement for mayor of Baltimore from 12 months to six. The bill further provides that the City Council could enact an ordinance reaffirming the one-year standard, provided it does so no later than four weeks prior to the filing deadline for mayor.

Since the Maryland Constitution requires that legislation on home rule matters may not affect only Baltimore City, the bill would similarly affect Montgomery County, where the existing residency requirement is also one year.

"Most people understand that residency requirements are important," wrote Kay Dellinger in a recent op-ed article. "A candidate needs to have knowledge of, and be committed to, the people and issues of a given locale."

Having lived in the city for virtually his entire life and represented it in both the City Council and the Congress of the United States, Kweisi Mfume has an extraordinary knowledge of and commitment to the people and the issues of Baltimore City. He is no carpetbagger.

Moreover, residency requirements are closely scrutinized by the courts because they burden "two different, although overlapping, kinds of rights: the right of individuals to associate for the advancement of political beliefs and the right of qualified voters, regardless of their political persuasion, to cast their votes effectively. Both of these rights, of course, rank among our most precious freedoms."

Perhaps it was best stated by the Supreme Court: "In approaching candidate restrictions, it is essential to examine in a realistic light the extent and nature of their impact on voters."

Concern has been raised that our legislation damages the relationship between state and local governments. That is not the case. The Home Rule Amendment of the Maryland Constitution expressly sanctions this type of legislation, the attorney general's office has advised us.

The General Assembly passes a number of bi-county bills each session, and we have previously acted in the area of residency requirements. A 1995 law prohibits a county or municipal corporation from requiring that an employee reside within the county or municipal corporation as a condition of employment.

Kweisi Mfume's record as a city councilman, member of Congress and president of the NAACP uniquely qualifies him for the challenge of governing Baltimore City. Whether or not he becomes mayor is a question the voters should be able to answer. Our legislation would give them the opportunity to do so.

Nathaniel McFadden

Salima Siler Marriott

Howard P. Rawlings

Samuel I. Rosenberg

Annapolis

The letters writers are members of the Maryland General Assembly.

Why does the governor ignore parochial schools?

As a taxpayer minutely responsible for the grand surplus our governor is seeking to so gleefully spend, I find it infuriating that he has again given the back of his hand to those seeking a miniscule amount of financial assistance for parochial school parents.

Does he really think that parochial schools are not really schools because they operate at no cost to the taxpayer? Would he deny that they provide the same public service as government schools in terms of educating children? If he wants to be the "education governor," how can he ignore a whole class of children and parents, especially when they're doing what he clearly considers to be the state's job at no cost to the state? Does he dispute the fact that the state has benefited for years from the products of these schools without contributing one red cent to their operation or maintenance? Where does he get the idea that the only parents the state should help (by providing a totally free education) are those who use government schools?

Perhaps the governor would prefer to see such schools disappear. He could then spend 15 times the amount of taxpayer money now being requested to educate current parochial school children in government schools.

In the face of this kind of obstinate injustice, I personally think it's time the parents of parochial school children should consider registering their children to attend their local public school next year. Maybe that would get the governor's attention.

John D. Schiavone, Kingsville

'Disturbed' by comments about United States, Iraq

I was deeply disturbed by the comments of Syed H. Ashruf ("Bitterness marks end of Ramadan," Jan. 20). Dr. Ashruf asserted, "At the slightest provocation, you're bombing Iraq. Why not bomb Serbian targets?"

It would appear that Dr. Ashruf has a very short memory. The United States waited and waited and waited before bombing Iraq on numerous occasions. Dr. Ashruf should recall that there was a crisis in November 1997 during which the U.S. took no military action. There was another provocation in February 1998 and another in November 1998. It was only in December that the United States finally took action.

Dr. Ashruf also seems to forget that the United States intervened militarily against Serbia by bombing Serbian military positions in 1995 to help the Bosnian Muslims. While I strongly support the need for American action to help the Muslims of Kosovo, gratuitous claims against the United States and blaming the United States for a double standard is neither historically true nor helpful to the Kosovo Muslims.

Robert O. Freedman, Baltimore

Shaw's death deprives world of music giant

The death of Robert Shaw deprives the world of music of ones of its true giants. His 55-year career has been chronicled many times, but it is the essence of the man which lingers. When he led the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Brahms' "Ein deutsches requiem," ("A German Requiem"), he began the first rehearsal by telling us that the sustained opening phrase lasted as long as a sprinter could cover 50 yards, and we should expend an equal amount of effort in making the music live.

Before the first performance, he came to the ready room and told us that Brahms had written this piece with a non-traditional text to celebrate life rather than lament death, that he wrote it in German rather than Latin to make it accessible to all, and that we had a kinship with everyone who had ever sung it before and would ever sing it in the future. On that evening, each of us had a genuine glimpse of the extraordinary man and musical genius who was Robert Shaw.

William Caltrider, Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra chorus.

New competition on page for KAL and Mike Lane

Competition for KAL and Mike Lane. It was refreshing to view the recent political cartoon drawn by Palden Hamilton. Palden captured Gov. Parris Glendening opening the door to his second term. A former Gilman School student, Palden was recognized for his artistic talents as well as his academic achievements. You can be sure that this is not the last time you will hear from Palden Hamilton.

Sonia G. Obstler, Baltimore

Editor's note: Palden Hamilton came to The Sun in connection with his senior project at Gilman. He is now a student at the Art Institute of Chicago.

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 2/02/99

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