The Baltimore Sun

World Bank protects its whistleblowers

The writers of the column "Protect whistleblowers at World Bank" (Opinion * Commentary, May 23) assert that the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity should have played a role in investigating allegations about World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz when they first surfaced.

However, the president of the World Bank and its board members are not actually "staff" members, as defined by the World Bank, and therefore are not within the jurisdiction of the integrity department.

When allegations concerning the bank's president were received by the integrity department in early 2006, we followed proper procedures and immediately referred the complaints to the Ethics Committee of the bank's board, which is responsible for responding to allegations of possible misconduct regarding board members and the bank president.

Moreover, at no time has the integrity department ever attempted to "identify and punish" those who "leaked" or allegedly leaked internal information to outside organizations or the media.

To the contrary, we have been working over the past year to develop the strongest possible protections for whistleblowers at the World Bank, because we depend on these people having faith that the institution will protect them.

Since its inception, our department has handled literally hundreds of cases in which bank staff members "blew the whistle" on suspected fraud, corruption and other misconduct.

In fact, we have been a true haven in terms of protecting these staff from retaliation - there has never been a case where a person who reported to us first has come back to complain that he or she was retaliated against.

Furthermore, I would like to state for the record that, contrary to the writers' assertions, I came to the World Bank under its previous president after a career as an ethics attorney.

Mr. Wolfowitz asked me to direct this department after a period in which the department had been marginalized in some of its anti-corruption work.

Suzanne Rich Folsom


The writer is director of the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity.

Cave-in on war funds betrays the public

Thanks to this administration and its minions, we have squandered the world's empathy and whatever moral authority we had after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Many of what I had respected as American values have been ignored or defiled by lies, torture, rendition, war profiteering - the list goes on. Mendacity, arrogance, incompetence and cronyism have been the hallmarks of this regime.

But, sadly, the so-called opposition has shown no courage or resolve ("Anti-war activists attack Democrats over Iraq bill," May 24).

The public is overwhelmingly opposed to this war (among other administration policies), yet the Democrats, after being returned to power in Congress in the last election, caved in on troop withdrawal timetables under the threat of a veto.

Like it or not, we know where the Republicans stand.

Too bad the same can't be said for the Democrats.

Neither major party represents the ordinary people anymore.

Small wonder that the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that "independent" is our largest "party" label.

Unfortunately, "independent" doesn't elect anyone.

But maybe it's time to look outside of the usual box.

Craig Herud


Sucking all the fun out of city schools

After reading Sara Neufeld's article about North Avenue ripping away the highly anticipated end-of-year trip from Dunbar Middle School students, who are now filled with frustration, I thought how appalling it is to realize that school administrator Marilyn Perez, the person in charge of city middle schools, seems to know so little about these young people ("Kids, parents angry over canceled trips," May 23).

Whose idea was it to suck all the fun out of Baltimore schools? And why do we leave such people in charge of our children?

Peter French


The writer is a middle school teacher for Baltimore's City Neighbors Charter School.

Notifying tenants just isn't enough

It is good that the Property Owners Association of Greater Baltimore supports notifying tenants facing eviction of the date they will be locked out and keeping the belongings of evicted tenants off our streets ("Let tenants dispose of property," letters, May 14).

It is disappointing, however, that the board member who wrote the letter does not support a provision in the City Council proposal that would require landlords to store their belongings after eviction - a rule that benefits tenants in more than 20 states and other cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles.

All of these jurisdictions recognize the need to provide secure storage for tenants' belongings after eviction, many for as long as 30 to 60 days.

Such a storage period enables tenant households facing financial crises and possible homelessness to make arrangements to move or store their things.

Not a single one of these states or localities requires the tenant to request the storage, as the letter writer suggests Baltimore should do.

One can only imagine, on top of the stress of eviction, having to remember to write or type out such a letter, which could then get lost or be ignored, leading to all kinds of confusion and disputes and possibly, even after all that, the loss of a tenants' belongings anyway.

Ricardo Flores Daniel Pontious Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the public policy director for the Public Justice Center and the regional policy director for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

Old infrastructure holds back Westport

Lorraine Mirabella's article "Westport looks to line up retail" (May 23) details the grandiose plans of developer Patrick Turner for the area, which include a "65-story mixed-use skyscraper" complete with office, retail and hotel space.

As someone who takes the light rail through this area on a daily basis as part of my commute, I can't help but wonder how such a plan can succeed in an area boasting a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. power station, a solid waste incinerator, Interstate 95 overpasses and scores of dilapidated rowhomes.

These significant physical obstacles to development were overlooked in this article.

I hope future articles on Westport will address how, if at all, these structures fit into Mr. Turner's plans.

Jason Weber


Fire the Duke leaders who convicted players

While the players on the Duke University men's lacrosse team deserve another year of eligibility, the university's request that they be granted that eligibility should be denied by the NCAA unless the university president and the faculty members who prematurely tried and convicted the three accused players are fired ("Duke wants to restart clock," May 23).

In that case, the waiver should be granted.

Dennis Sirman

Selbyville, Del.

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