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Squeegee Action Plan long overdue in Baltimore | READER COMMENTARY

Editor’s note: The Sun received more responses to our recent editorial about calls for a boycott of the city because of ‘squeegee kids’ than it could print last week; here’s Part 2.

Youth joblessness the real problem with ‘squeegee kids’

Instead of defending the city’s so-called “squeegee kids” (many of whom are not “kids,’) from criticism by suburban yahoos, The Sun editorial writers might more appropriately focus on the failures of the mayor and the city government — until now, through an action plan announced last week — to address the problem of youth joblessness when employers are begging for workers, and to move begging children and adults to safety out of our traffic intersections. (“‘Squeegee kids’ are a symptom of Baltimore’s problems, not the cause,” Nov. 16)

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There is no more dignity in begging for money with a wiper in your hand than with a tattered cardboard “homeless” sign. That’s not entrepreneurship; it’s desperation. Unaddressed, this desperation leads toward human failure, injury or death on the streets, and crime.

I want my city government to finally focus on quality-of-life issues that will make people want to live and work in Baltimore, not move to the county and poke fun at our continuing failures. Cleaner streets, an end to graffiti, sensible support for our businesses and institutions, fair and consistent law enforcement and thoughtful programs to get people off the streets and into school, work or medical care as needed: that’s what I want my mayor and council — and The Sun — to promote.

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Bill Hamilton, Baltimore

Squeegee kids give impression of Baltimore as ‘lawless town’

I would like to respond to your editorial opinion on the Squeegee Kid controversy, and hopefully from a less biased point of view.

No visitor (or resident for that matter) to the city wants see crime, let alone be greeted with illegal activity from the moment they arrive. It gives the impression right from the start that one has entered a lawless town with little oversight.

And conducting “squeegee” operations in the roadway is against the law. Citing Maryland Transportation law 21-507, “a person may not stand in a roadway to solicit a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle.” It may not be a serious infraction, but it is still illegal. So, unless one condones breaking the law, it should be discouraged, regardless of who it is committing the infraction. The situation should have never progressed to the point of threatening a boycott of the city by outsiders, but it looks like that motivated the powers that be in Baltimore City to offer alternatives to this illegal activity.

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Perhaps we should have less pointing fingers and focus on one reason for the law: protecting our children from harm. Pedestrian and vehicle traffic is never a good mix; even if confrontations never occurred. A young squeegee boy in Baltimore was seriously injured by a vehicle a couple of years ago. Does he matter? Looking the other way may seem to show compassion for kids just trying to make a buck, but it puts our youth at risk and teaches them a harmful lesson in a city that already has too much crime: that they can break the rules and no one cares.

Besides being dangerous in itself, that the squeegee operation foments confrontation and sometimes violence, just adds another reason to enforce this rule. While the firefighters and Girl Scouts The Sun refers to should not be allowed to solicit donations in the roadway either, you can bet there would be the same public outcry if there were reports that they were accosting drivers for refusing to give donations.

We should be advocating for and not objecting to the enforcement of a law designed to keep our children out of harms way and shows we care about their safety. As a bonus, travelers and commuters might feel more welcome in the city.

Scott Richardson, Westminster

Baltimore’s problems do not stop at the city-county line

Although former state Sen. Jim Brochin rightly cited Baltimore’s long standing difficulties with its educational and legal systems (“Sun wrongly labels my opposition to ‘squeegee kids’ as racist,” 11-19-21), his recommendation that county residents should boycott the city is counterproductive and mean-spirited. Indeed depriving Baltimore merchants, sports venues and cultural institutions of needed revenue would significantly hamper the city’s efforts to “fix their own problems,” as the former state senator admonished. Whether or not Mr. Brochin’s comments are “racist” remains a matter of debate. However they are consistent with institutional racist policies that perpetuate second class citizenship status to urban Black people and reinforce chronic “us versus them” attitudes. Like it or not Baltimore’s problems do not stop at the city-county line, and deserve cooperative efforts rather than Mr. Brochin’s animosity.

Irwin Fried, Baltimore

Girl Scouts are not attacking motorists

After reading the recent editorial in The Sun, I did an exhaustive search, and for the life of me, couldn’t find one article about a Girl Scout attacking a motorist for not buying a box of tag-a-longs or Thin Mints … just sayin’

Reid Hill, Catonsville

Nor are they banging on cars

In my 40 plus years of driving in the city and county, I have been approached at intersections by any number of individuals or organizations for money or food. Only one person has ever banged on my car when I declined. Care to guess what service that person was offering? I’ll give you a hint, it was not “the Girl Scouts, the local volunteer firefighters or the various other predominantly white groups who have been known to approach stopped vehicles for donations at suburban intersections.”

And unless they changed the rules in the eight years since I was last involved in Girl Scouts, they do not even solicit at intersections.

Patricia Turlington, Cockeysville

What do I owe the city? Nothing.

Apparently Carrie Montague has not encountered a “squeegee child” who got angry at her not wanting her windshield cleaned (Let’s be clear: We’re talking about children with squirt bottles,” Nov. 16). A lot of those children are bigger than me, and that squeegee is a nasty little weapon, which can do damage to a car when used in anger. As for her idea that those of us who live in quiet neighborhoods around the city need to commit to supporting downtown, I have one question: Why? I owe nothing to the city, and there is nothing in the city I want or need that I cannot obtain in my quiet neighborhood.

Bob Eberwein, Middle River

Squeegee kids ‘must have some get up and go’

This ranks with the “Post Office” hit job (”USPS failed Baltimore: Accountability starts at the top,” Nov. 10) as among the worst editorials I have read in The Sun. I feel sorry for squeegee kids, mostly because they are poorly parented. But they are a menace to law abiding citizens who shouldn’t have to deal with juvenile extortionists. What’s their career path from being a squeegee kid? Who needs a squeegee clean up?

Before the mayor’s plan was announced, I recommended they should be rounded up and immediately entered into Hire Up and Train Up programs listed in an regarding federal aid to Baltimore. They must have some “get up and go” to them; make them productive citizens in spite of their parents.

Lyle Rescott, Marriottsville

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Squeegee kids de facto toll booth operators

Bill Hennick’s Letter to the editor about his experience with window washers is correct (”Presence of squeegee kids deters city visitors,” Nov. 4). Cars have windshield wipers, and they work well. He says he has not been back downtown in a year. He is not alone; many others have followed suit, as well as businesses, including T. Rowe Price, Bank of America, Pandora, Barnes & Noble, the Gallery at Harborplace shops and others. Downtown has, in effect, toll booths to enter, with not so friendly toll booth operators. It’s intimidation and a shakedown operation. The damage has been done.

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Harvey Schwartz, Baltimore

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