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The Baltimore Sun

City Charter changes won't curb council

John Fritze's article on the amendments to the City Charter proposed by the Department of Finance turned into an article full of political spin and editorializing ("Mayor seeks spending changes," June 20).

I think reporting on such legislation should deal with the substance of the legislation rather than seek to connect it with "criticisms of the spending practices" of the mayor when she was City Council president.

This proposed legislation is in no way connected to that issue.

Trying to connect that issue with the charter changes creates an unwarranted and negative portrayal of our proposed amendments - one which could mislead Sun readers.

In fact, in an effort to improve the city's purchasing practices, the procurement amendments would simply give the City Council control over the threshold level of the value of contracts which must be approved by the city's Board of Estimates.

They would also allow the city to advertise its contracts in new and different venues and reduce the cost of the bonds small businesses must obtain to fulfill multi-year city contracts.

The charter changes regarding amendments to the city's annual budget are based on the simple idea that if it only takes a majority vote of the members of the City Council to pass the original budget, then why should it require a super-majority to pass an amendment to that budget?

That change certainly would not take away or minimize the power of the City Council; the council would still have the power to pass or reject amendments to the budget.

It simply brings a measure of logic to that portion of the legislative process.

I would recommend that The Sun's reporters and news editors focus on factual reporting and leave the editorializing to the editorial writers.

Edward J. Gallagher


The writer is director of finance for the city of Baltimore.

A citywide strategy to cut prostitution

As the director of an outreach program for homeless women, I wholeheartedly support the idea of a citywide strategy that addresses the complex social issues that give rise to street prostitution in Baltimore ("Getting off the street," editorial, June 20).

The prevalence of prostitution as a means of survival among the women my group serves as a barometer for the extreme marginalization, health concerns and violence that they face.

I am anxious for the day when it will no longer be routine for us to have to memorialize women who lost their lives while they were homeless and addicted.

Public policy that seeks to reduce suffering and known health risks and increase access to housing, drug treatment and health care could not only help many women and girls get off the streets but transform Baltimore into a more compassionate and healthy city.

Jacqueline Robarge


The writer is director of Power Inside.

One-sided account of energy-rate filing

Jay Hancock's column "Power pressure" (June 20) takes at face value a filing by Joseph E. Bowring, PJM's market monitor, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as evidence that my company silenced him in his role as a market watchdog.

However, PJM responded to the same queries from FERC Mr. Bowring did - with our own filing which rebutted many of the allegations. But our filing received barely a mention in Mr. Hancock's column.

There has been no finding by FERC or anyone else as to any interference with the activities of the market monitor.

Opinions which take into consideration only one side of the story may be a reality of the news business. But that isn't fair commentary.

My company will wait for FERC's conclusions and for the results of the independent investigation by our board.

We hope that others will do so, too.

Terry A. Williamson

Valley Forge, Pa.

The writer is chief communications officer for PJM Interconnection.

Israeli intransigence divides Palestinians

I think Mike Ramirez's cartoon depicting a victorious Hamas leader standing on the rubble of a failed Palestinian state is highly misleading ("Another View," June 21).

While the fighting between Hamas and Fatah has certainly hurt the cause of a unified Palestinian state, it is the government of Israel which has, since its creation in 1948, done everything in its power to prevent a Palestinian state.

Israel has, for these 59 years, stolen more and more land (and natural resources such as precious water) from the Palestinians, making the possibility of a viable state less and less likely.

The apartheid-style wall Israel is building around the West Bank is a blatant attempt to steal more Palestinian land.

The wall is, for the most part, being constructed inside the occupied territories rather than along the Green Line separating those territories from Israel proper.

This ongoing grab of land and resources by Israel is despicable (not to mention illegal) and is the real cause of the failure of a viable Palestinian state to materialize.

Joanne Heisel


Don't blame Israel for refugees' woes

The Sun's article "Split bodes ill for Palestinians" (June 21) perpetuates the myth that most of the people in Gaza and the Palestinian "refugee camps" are refugees created by Israel who were displaced from their homes in 1948.

In fact, the majority of that population is in its second, third and even fourth generation living in its current locale.

The failure of the Arab states to absorb these refugees into their national populations is a stain upon their honor.

This is a horrible, senseless waste of valuable human talent.

Lawrence Silberman


Replace Mechanic with new city park

Instead of making the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre a historic landmark, let's tear it down and turn the site into a park ("Theater testing the boundaries of preservation," June 18).

Wouldn't it be great to have some green space a little north of the Inner Harbor?

The park could be named Morris A. Mechanic Park and could have some small monument or plaque describing the theater and the effort to revitalize the area.

William Henderson

Ellicott City

Embryo represents innocent human life

It's strange that the writer of the letter "What of lawmakers who back execution?" (June 13) questions Monsignor James P. Farmer's stand on legislators who back stem cell research, and wonders about his attitude toward those who support the death penalty.

Capital punishment is reserved for those who have committed and been found guilty of very serious crimes against society.

Destroying the stem cells of an embryo is destroying an innocent human life.

There is a difference.

Virginia Haley


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