Time for government to invest in jobs

In his op-ed "Democrats need to focus on jobs" (Nov 17), John Nichols cites the very disheartening unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, but his analysis would be more complete if he offered more specific strategies and principles for growing jobs and getting Americans back to worth. Here are a few that federal and state policymakers ought to target:

First, jobs that are created via public investment must meet our nation's and Maryland's critical needs for energy efficiency, infrastructure, child care, rebuilding schools, affordable housing and other priorities that will provide multiple benefits to our economy.

Second, federal leadership and action to create jobs is urgently needed now, and in all likelihood will still be needed a year from now.

Third, these jobs and opportunities need to be directed to low-income communities, individuals and vulnerable populations such as military veterans, people with disabilities, school dropouts and others. We already have cost-effective examples like Baltimore's Civic Works to use as models for other communities.

I'm proud to serve on the board of directors of the Coalition on Human Needs, a national, nonprofit advocacy group consisting of more than 100 organizations. Our most recent message to elected officials, foundation executives and business leaders is, "If it's jobless, it's not a recovery."

America needs a major jobs program now.

Don Mathis, Havre de GraceThe writer is president and CEO of the Community Action Partnership, an organization representing 1,100 anti-poverty agencies.

Stabbing shows center doesn't belong in Fells Point

The Sun's reporting of a stabbing at Beans & Bread ("Homeless center worker charged in stabbing," Nov. 18) illustrates the difficulties we in the Fell's Point area have endured as a result of the operation of St. Vincent de Paul's soup kitchen.

During protracted zoning hearings and negotiations, the management of St. Vincent de Paul repeatedly has assured us that their ever-expanding soup kitchen and homeless shelter polices the behavior of its clients.

During this latest incident, as reported in The Sun, one of St. Vincent de Paul's own employees is accused of following a homeless client outside of the facility and stabbing him in the back. The suspected assailant was a convicted drug dealer, according to court records. So much for screening employees, and so much for policing the Beans & Bread operation.

St. Vincent de Paul's publicity machine quickly responded to the stabbing incident with a press release that said, "This was an isolated incident. During the 32 years that Beans & Bread has been in operation, there has not been a single incident of this nature."

In truth, the East Baltimore Guide newspaper reported a similar incident on March 24 of this year, when a patron of the soup kitchen was arrested after threatening another man with a knife.

This latest incident is tragic, but it is highly representative of St. Vincent de Paul's management of the facility it maintains in our residential neighborhood. And to make matters worse, the stabbing occurred on the eve of St. Vincent de Paul's demolition, which has torn up a small, historic alley, scarring it with a vacant lot.

St. Vincent de Paul's sponsoring organization may be named after a saint, but Beans & Bread has acted unrighteously and does not belong in a residentially zoned neighborhood.

Deirdre Hammer, BaltimoreThe writer is president of the Douglass Place Neighborhood Association.

With ICC, we're paying for a road we'll never use

The ICC is intended to be a highway for rich people ("ICC was always intended to exclude most people," Nov. 2) and is supposed to be paid for with exorbitant tolls. Now we are told that we will all have to pay for it via increased tolls on all roads ("Jump in Md. tolls likely after 2010," Nov. 16).

You don't have to read between the lines to conclude that all of us will be paying for a highway intended for rich people. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

My suggestion: Sell ICC toll subscriptions to pay for it now rather than issuing bonds. If not enough people are willing to pay, then pull the plug before any more money is wasted on this road that no one wants.

David Plaut, Reisterstown

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