Latin brotherhood grows thanks to many
The Brotherhood of the Lord of the Miracles of Baltimore would like to express our appreciation for The Sun's extensive coverage of Sunday's procession ("Carrying on a Peruvian tradition," Oct. 4).
We wish to respond, however, to the article's suggestion that Maria Casella "spearheaded" the brotherhood's formation.
While Ms. Casella organized informal processions in the vicinity of Saint Michael's Roman Catholic Church in previous years, many members of the Peruvian community expressed a desire to hold a more elaborate procession.
To this end, they asked the Rev. John Lavin, then pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Michael and St. Patrick, to help form the brotherhood. Under his auspices, an organizing committee was established.
Ms. Casella was offered a position on the committee, but declined. The organizing committee formally established the brotherhood during its first general assembly in January.
Ms. Casella attended this assembly but withdrew, saying that she wouldn't recognize the committee's legitimacy.
Due credit for founding the brotherhood goes to Father Lavin -- for his spiritual support and for placing the facilities of his parish at our disposal.
Credit also belongs to Victor Rosas, secretary general and captain of the carriers, for his untiring efforts to enlist support from the community and from other Brotherhoods in the United States and to the other members of the organizing committee, including Juan Fernandez, William Coronado, Jane Arias, David and Magaly Brantley and Maria Elena Arias.
Other brotherhoods have worked for years to carry out their first procession.
We were able to do this in only nine months.
We owe this success to the faith and persistence of Baltimore's growing Latin community.
Victor Rosas David Brantley Baltimore
The writers are, respectively, secretary general and secretary of public relations for the Brotherhood of the Lord of Miracles.
King-making is not goal of city ministerial group
Pundits are pontificating about Baltimore's mayoral election. Some are proclaiming that black political power is entering a new phase.
Some are proclaiming the defeat and diminished influence of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA), which endorsed Carl Stokes for mayor.
As a past president of the IMA, I believe it is important to state that the IMA embraces vastly more than political endorsements or king-making.
Winning elections must be secondary to principle. Our primary principle has been to give voice to black and minority needs and concerns, which have too frequently been ignored or glossed over with political rhetoric.
The IMA endorsed Mr. Stokes because we believed he would be the best mayor.
We perceived Mr. Stokes as a person who would lead African-Americans to further organize to solve their own problems -- not to exclude whites -- a goal for which the IMA has worked across racial lines for many years.
However, the blunders Mr. Stokes and City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III committed during the campaign were never forgiven by many of Baltimore's voters.
Thus, continuing a long tradition of blacks voting for white candidates, strong black support combined with overwhelming white backing made Martin O'Malley a big winner in the city's Democratic mayoral primary.
If Mr. O'Malley becomes mayor, we shall not be losers -- if he works in a way that respects diversity for a much better Baltimore.
Mr. O'Malley must rally and organize the city's best talents. And we must overcome political animosity and divisions and work for a better Baltimore.
The Sandtown-Winchester housing project and the Child First authority are examples of what we can accomplish with leaders working together.
For the IMA's part, we will continue to be in the forefront of the struggle for equity in employment, education, housing, health and many other areas.
The limelight of political approval must not beguile us and lure clergy from the calling of justice for all.
We shall continue to be advocates for African-Americans, other minorities and the poor.
The Rev. Sidney Daniels Baltimore
The writer is a past president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.
F-22's high cost raises questions
The Pentagon provides few incentives for contractors to operate efficiently. The longer it takes to develop a weapon . . . the more that firm is paid.
The Sun's courageous reporting on the F-22 fighter aircraft contributed to the debate over whether it is affordable and essential to U.S. security. But a key question has yet to be asked: Why does this airplane cost so much?
Until this question is answered, and appropriate corrective measures are taken, we have no assurance that the next fighter plane will be more affordable, or that the taxpayer will not recoil as the bills arrive for future weapons.
The F-22 is only a symptom of the excessive costs, unnecessary delays and performance shortfalls experienced by many major arms programs. The underlying problem is a systemic one about how the Pentagon develops, produces and buys arms.
The Pentagon price of succeeding weapons.
The unit price of the F-22 has rocketed over the prices of other recent fighter aircraft. It is more than three times that of the F-15, about nine times that of the F-16 and nearly five times the price for the current version of the F-18.
While some of the price increase can be attributed to the F-22's more sophisticated technology, much of it is a result of inefficiency at LockheedMartin, the plane's prime contractor.
In a series of reports to Congress, the Gec earlier this year found that assembly of just the midsection of the F-22's fuselage takes 60,000 man hours. In 1984, assembly of the entire F-16 aircraft, built in the same factory, required only 29,000 hours.
The F-22 stands as an example of military asset inflation, but it is hardly the only one. It is now common for military programs to cost tens of billions of dollars.
It may be argued that price increases for more advanced products are a fact of life in the commercial as well as the militte industry and pressure political leaders to pay for arms expenses.
But we cannot afford $200 million fighter planes, or the unjustifiably high costs of a number of other weapons.
The politicians and the Pentagon need to get serious about reforming procurement.
Richard F. Kaufman Bethesda
Dispelling myths on drug treatment
Recent Sun editorials have implied that the city's drug treatment providers lack accountability and quality and are not responsive to the needs of the community and the criminal system justice system ("$4 million loss puts city drug plan at risk," Sept. 22).
As representatives of the city's front-line drug treatment providers, we think it's time to address such myths about treatment.
The treatment community has long served people involved in the criminal justice system. Providers have long been concerned about the justice system's nonexistent or inconsistent sanctions for those who do not complete legally mandated treatment.
But if the goal is to improve service for clients involved in both the legal system and drug treatment, blaming drug treatment providers for the system's failures needs to end. Treatment providers are much more part of the solution than part of the problem.
It is also a serious misrepresentation to suggest that treatment providers face no accountability or standards for client care.
In addition to monitoring from funding sources such as Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems (BSAS), all treatment programs are reviewed by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's licensing and certification division. Some are further reviewed by agencies such as the Joint Commission of Health Care Organizations and the Food and Drug Administration.
We are also legally obligated to serve clients in accordance with federal confidentiality statutes governing drug treatment.
If recent data does not reflect the accountability, standards of care and the successes that occur in treatment, there is a data interpretation problem.
The debate over whether treatment providers should serve those referred by criminal justice or clients who have voluntarily sought treatment misses the point.
Is it better to treat a 14-year-old who just started using marijuana whose parents brought him to treatment, or the 30-year old mother who voluntarily sought treatment for her alcohol problem, or the 40-year old whose employer told him to go to treatment or lose his job or the client with a criminal justice history?
If we fail to treat any of these people, huge social and economic costs to the city may result. Today's voluntary client may be tomorrow's criminal justice client.
The issue should not be whom to treat, but rather how to create a comprehensive treatment system that serves those whose lives are ravaged by addiction.
To suggest that treatment providers are not interested in having our clients achieve successful outcomes flies in the face of reality.
We look into the faces of people whose lives and families have been devastated by addiction every day. The staff of the city's treatment centers strive to make a difference in our clients' lives.
Treatment providers know firsthand how the lack of resources and coordination impacts our service delivery.
But many success stories also exist in the city's treatment programs. Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction prevents many of our clients from telling their stories.
BSAS has aggressively sought and secured funds to expand the treatment system.
The result has been funding for new initiatives, expansion of treatment capacity and efforts to direct resources to increase the quality of existing programs.
Patricia Quinn Stabile Baltimore
Ms. Stabile is chairwoman of the Baltimore City Substance Abuse Directorate (BCSAD). The letter was also signed by three other BCSAD officials.
Mission to save market
In response to The Sun's Opinion Commentary piece "Saving Avenue Market" (Sept. 30), I am pleased to say that an energetic and dedicated group has come together as the Pennsylvania Avenue Task Force to address the commercial corridor's needs.
As a lifelong resident of the area, I have had the honor and privilege to serve as the chairperson of the task force, which was convened by city housing director Daniel P. Henson III in April.
Its mission is to forge collaborative efforts to revive the Pennsylvania Avenue commercial corridor from West Fulton Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The task force seeks to build upon the past, as well as implement new strategies to rebuild the rich history of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Our efforts are already blending with those of older organizations and individuals to improve the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor.
Security has been increased around the market. Technical assistance is being provided to merchants to improve their facades and stores. The services of a private, community-based "Sweep and Clean" crew have begun to address sanitation problems on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The state and the city are now moving toward naming Pennsylvania Avenue an official Maryland Heritage area.
This designation will bring additional redevelopment resources to the area.
These accomplishments come at the same time that truly exciting changes are taking place along Pennsylvania Avenue and in surrounding communities.
Beautiful new homes and developments are being constructed in Druid Heights and Upton. In Penn-North, the Helen Bradford and Thomas Wilson Park is being constructed nd to preserve the Avenue's rich history.
Obviously, the Avenue Market cannot be the only anchor for the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue. Therefore we aim to take more comprehensive actions throughout the neighborhood.
The task force is convinced that our results over the next six to 18 months will please and astonish even the most hardened skeptics.
Del. Verna L. Jones Baltimore
The writer represents the 44th Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Following through on Wye funds
As Congress works to put together a budget for the coming year, it must remember the commitments the United States has made to the world community and appropriate funds for the aid package we promised Israel during the Wye River peace talks.
The U.S. pledged $1.9 billion for Israel, $400 million for the Palestinians and $300 million for Jordan. These funds, however, have not yet found a place in the federal budget for fiscal year 2000.
But Israel is already implementing the promises it made at Wye River and at the more recent Sharm el-Sheikh talks.
Israel has released 199 Palestinian prisoners and transferred an additional 7 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians. These timely actions prompted even Yasser Arafat to declare that Israel has fulfilled its commitments to the letter.
These actions, however, are enormously expensive to the Israeli government.
Withdrawing from the West Bank requires the transfer of military bases and personnel. Relocating a single military base can cost upward of $100 million.
As Israel's withdrawal also means that it will sacrifice some of its strategic depth, Prime Minister Ehud Barak has begun a modernization of the Israel Defense Forces that includes development and purchase of quick-response weapons. The price tag will be billions of dollars.
Since the IDF will no longer operate in several areas of Palestinian occupation, Israel also must purchase new technology, such as x-ray and thermal inspection equipment, along with miles of barriers to deter terrorist attacks.
Although this year's congressional budget proceedings have been difficult, it is imperative that the funds to support Israel make their way into the budget. Without them, Israel would be unable to afford the redeployment and withdrawals -- steps critical to the peace process.
The United States has traditionally supported the Middle East peace process. From the talks at Camp David to the Wye River Accords, the United States has always been a full partner.
As Israel and the other participants in the peace process fulfill their obligations and make sacrifices in the name of peace, the United States must hold up its end of the bargain.
Geoffrey Reed Baltimore
The writer is Johns Hopkins University liaison for the American-Israeli Political Action Committee.