Like many of us, I have come to dread approaching downtown intersections of President Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and elsewhere where you can expect to have to ward off the unwelcome attention of the squeegee kids. At best, I emerge with an unblemished windshield but a guilty conscience. At worst, I’ve been threatened and told not to return. Like most of us, I have no easy answers, or complicated ones either, to this persistent problem, which is why I’d like to tip my hat to the folks at the Downtown Partnership for their Ambassadors program (“Baltimore’s squeegee monitors from Downtown Partnership have been deployed,” Nov. 29).
It’s creative, un-hurtful and seems a workable compromise that allows me (and my employees) to approach these intersections with less concern. So many times we see ham-fisted solutions to intractable urban problems, it’s truly refreshing to see an enlightened approach that recognizes chronic unemployment not as a crime but as a condition, and facilitates civil interaction between those of us with few prospects and little to lose and those of us who have a home, job, perhaps a spouse and kids.
It’s costing $3,000 a week to do this. That’s a lot for one organization to shoulder, and I’m certain they can’t keep it up forever, but I’m grateful for their effort and appreciative of the opportunity to have a pleasant interaction where previously only fear and animosity was possible.
Mark Thistel, Baltimore
The writer is owner of FreedomCar.
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