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Focus on failings of the city schools

I read with incredulity The Sun's editorial "Shortchanging schools" (April 7).

This is one in a series of editorials in which The Sun begins by attacking the state's plan to take over some Baltimore public schools because of their poor performance and asserts that it is politically motivated.

However, buried in these diatribes is the acknowledgement, almost hidden, that the performance of these schools has not improved in a number of years.

In fact, one of the editorials noted that their performance had not improved in the past nine years, which exceeds the entire term of the current Baltimore mayor and his schools chief ("Fundamentally wrong," March 30).

I ask The Sun's editors to consider the facts in this case as if they were shareholders of a company.

In this case, management has not improved poor performance for almost a decade.

Furthermore, management shows no viable plan for improvement, even if it had more funds, and the problems are more systematic than financial-resource issues.

Would you give that management more of your money?

Even if you answer yes, then in what time frame should results be shown - 15 years, 20 years, a century?

The Sun's editorials show that the paper is shortchanging the schools and citizenry of Baltimore by not zooming in on the key operational management problems plaguing the schools.

Joseph F. Weiss


Poor merger timing put BGE in spotlight

As a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.-Constellation Energy retiree, shareholder and ratepayer, it seems to me that the biggest mistake Constellation Energy has made is the timing of the end of the electricity rate freeze and the proposed merger with Florida's FPL Group ("BGE rate talks down to the wire," April 10).

And if this weren't an election year, I wonder how many of our self-serving elected geniuses in Annapolis - many of whom voted for deregulation and the rate freeze - would have been grandstanding for votes in this debate.

Since Moody's has now downgraded BGE's credit rating, the price of electricity will now increase for ratepayers, regardless of what legislation is or isn't enacted ("Wall Street weighs in on BGE rate fight," April 7).

Constellation Energy has always been a tremendous local employer, corporate presence and community benefactor.

I wouldn't blame CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III if, after all this ballyhoo, he seeks to move the company's headquarters to Florida or Delaware.

Meanwhile, I wish there had been an oil price freeze for the past six-plus years.

Despite documented record profits for the oil companies, gasoline prices have risen about 50 cents a gallon in the past couple of months.

What are our beloved civic leaders proposing to do about that?

Tom Edel


Kicking Boutin when he's down?

The Sun's recent articles regarding Public Service Commission member Charles R. Boutin are of questionable news value (e.g., "In e-mail, prostitute told friend she met with PSC member," April 8).

The story seems like a personal matter and rings more of gossip than of news. And its timing smells of politics, especially given the controversy over the bill to fire the current PSC members.

And, news or not, Laura Vozzella's little parody at Mr. Boutin's expense in her Sunday column was unnecessary and served no purpose ("Not now, I'm on the phone," April 9).

I don't know Mr. Boutin, but I am certain that the recent news articles regarding his e-mail exchanges have caused him disgrace and embarrassment.

Mr. Boutin, like the rest of us, is guilty of imperfection, weakness and stumbling and falling.

But it's a basic tenet of human decency not to kick someone when that person is down.

Michael Ziegler


Partisan Democrats stymie the governor

A letter writer who attacked Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s record left out a very important part of the equation when he wrote, "Mr. Ehrlich's locked door is symbolic of his first term as our governor" ("Locked door evokes Ehrlich's sad legacy," letters, April 8).

What the writer left out is the fact that the Democratic-dominated legislature has been determined not to work with the governor to make a better Maryland.

Indeed, more often than not, it has acted to stymie Mr. Ehrlich's efforts.

Richard T. Seymour


Politics motivates critic of the council

I would like to respond to the letter "Interest in schools relates to election" (April 9) by Chris Cavey.

First, I am concerned that the letter did not disclose that Mr. Cavey is chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee.

Mr. Cavey has been a mouthpiece for this group and continually follows its tactic of misinformation and distortion of the facts.

Second, I and my County Council colleagues have been trying to persuade the Baltimore County Board of Education to investigate nonresident students for more than two years, not just in an election year.

Third, crowded schools in Baltimore County are the result of many issues, including changing demographics, illegal students and the area's growth.

And Mr. Cavey failed to mention that I have limited development in my district and that I have supported every school budget during my tenure.

So it is surely an election year when Mr. Cavey writes such a vitriolic diatribe full of misleading information.

Vince Gardina

Perry Hall

The writer is a member of the Baltimore County Council.

Too much data now kept classified

If the president may, on his own and without expert knowledge of the possible security ramifications, declassify intelligence reports, I suppose he can do the same thing with other classified information whenever he feels like doing so ("White House defends right to declassify," April 8).

To me, this implies that there is, in general, too much material being classified, and that this classification is being done by people who don't have the expertise to determine whether the material really does have national security implications.

And also that there is material that is staying classified much longer than necessary.

Reuben Dagold


Jazz greats outclass Miss Peggy Lee

Jonathan Bor's review of Peter Richmond's book Fever: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee ("Adoring tribute to the pop diva who sang it 'softly with feeling,'" April 9) quotes Mr. Richmond to the effect that Ella Fitzgerald (who was discovered by Baltimore's Chick Webb) "was never sure what it was she was singing," and that Billie Holiday (from Baltimore), Sarah Vaughan and Anita O'Day were "limited."

Either Ms. Holiday, Ms. Vaughn or Ms. O'Day could sing Ms. Lee under the table with one tune.

And don't get me started on Ella.

James D. Dilts


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