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Dixon deserves support

As an African-American woman and someone who cares deeply about the health of the city of Baltimore, I am asking for your presence to be felt and your voice to be heard during the trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Of course, it is to be expected that The Baltimore Sun (which engages in biased reporting) as well as other media are trying the mayor in the court of public opinion. I am not so naive as to think that they will be objective and provide balanced reporting because that does not improve TV ratings or increase the Sunpaper readership.

While they have their job to do, albeit in aslanted way, it's tough to see the mayor so maligned when we know they are merely attempting to create a story without all the facts. Yet, the danger is that some of our friends and neighbors in our community may believe what is being said without the mayor having had her day in court. The state prosecutor, with the help of the media, appears to want to dehumanize her so that we the public can believe that she intentionally stole from the poor.

I simply cannot believe that the mayor, who has made public service her life's aspiration, would so willingly give it all up for $1,500 in gift cards. She has worked too hard over the past 20 years in public service to totally destroy her well-earned career and personal reputation.

The mayor has done an extraordinary job and has numerous accomplishments within her very short tenure. Her commitment to the city is unquestionable. Her results speak for themselves.

Please be vigilant during this trial and vocal in your support for the mayor. For those of us who don't agree with how this is playing out, we must make our dissatisfaction more public. She needs to know and feel our support. And, when this trial is over and she is found not guilty, she will still need our support.

Let the court of justice take its course, and in the meantime let's pray that Mayor Sheila Dixon will not be distracted from continuing to be the highly effective mayor of Baltimore City.

B.J. Sykes, Baltimore

Afghan government's corruption not our concern

In your editorial "Questions for Mr. Karzai" (Nov. 9) you make the case that if corruption isn't purged from the Afghan government, the United States should discontinue the war there against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Frankly, I don't understand how one has anything to do with the other.

If what we're doing there is making certain the people of Afghanistan have a stable government, and building the instrumentalities and infrastructure of a free and open society, then the corruption of the Karzai government would obviously need to be mitigated. But if our military involvement is to ensure that the barbarians are destroyed and the country is no longer used as a terrorist staging ground, then raising the issue of Karzai-style corruption just confuses the issue.

Should we be leaving national security decisions to the internal politics of another country? If our concern is that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are destroyed so our own people are safe, do we count pennies in waging our defense? If the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity, as was claimed by President Obama just a few moths ago, do we withhold the additional troops his hand-picked field commander requested?

The answer to those questions is a resounding no. The national self-interest and security of the United States takes precedence over every other decision our leaders make, and Karzai administration corruption means nothing to our efforts to destroy the enemies of our country.

And that's something President Obama should be exclaiming for all to hear. Unfortunately I don't believe he's up to that task.

Joel Rosenberg, Baltimore

We must prevent more deaths among the homeless

Saturday's article "Place a homeless man called home" (Nov. 7) highlights one community's remembrance of its neighbor, Andre Haney. Unfortunately, premature death among individuals experiencing homelessness is all too common, at a rate three to four times higher than those with stable housing. Even in a kindly neighborhood such as 26th Street, homelessness is hazardous to one's health.

According to a study released by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the average age of death for homeless individuals is 47 - strikingly, the age of Mr. Haney upon his untimely passing. Chronic and acute illnesses, violence and exposure to the elements all take a toll. Over the past five years, at least 280 people known by service providers to have experienced homelessness died in Baltimore City alone.

On Dec. 21 - the first day of winter and longest night of the year - service providers will honor Mr. Haney and others during a local commemoration of National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day at 5 p.m. at Baltimore's Inner Harbor Amphitheatre. We will join communities across the country in remembering our homeless neighbors while at the same time redoubling our work to end homelessness. Investments in housing, health care, incomes and support services are the proven combination to get people off the street and back on their feet. This holiday season, let's give dignity and honor to those who have passed by preventing future unnecessary deaths.

Barbara DiPietro and Adam Schneider, BaltimoreThe writers are director of policy and community relations coordinator for Health Care for the Homeless.

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