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Good Points

Posted 7/13/2005

Regarding “Family Album,” your photo essay by Frank Klein (June 29), I just finished reading Five Points by Tyler Anbinder, about how people lived in 19th-century New York City’s most notorious slum—along with photos of same by the famous Jacob Riis. The similarities are striking, especially the shot of Southwest Baltimore rooftops—it really looked like an 1800s slum.

Alcohol was the plague of Five Points Irish, Chinese, Jewish, and German immigrants, and it led to horrific things like overcrowding, orphans walking the streets, and worse. The city eventually started a “house of industry” as a refuge for destitute women and children.

I think the people in Mr. Klein’s photos are beautiful, especially the children. Good work, City Paper.

Gretchen Groff

Pan of Steele

In his column “Steele Strategy” (Right Field, June 29), Russ Smith cited numerous examples where previously winning some form of elective office did not serve as a prerequisite for running for high office.

There is one extraordinary difference, however, between the cases he cites and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele: The individuals in question had already achieved success/distinction in their chosen professions before entering politics: Jon Corzine (financial services), Michael Bloomberg (communications), Jim Bunning (sports), Arnold Schwarzenegger (show business).

What previous record of accomplishment does Steele have to point to? Answer: none. Although a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown Law Center, he has not passed the Maryland Bar exam. Though he has worked as a “consultant,” he had to be paid by the Republican Party while running in the last election. Indeed, the primary steady income he has had in decades is the salary he draws on the public dole in the do-nothing job of lieutenant governor.

As for being a “man of principle,” in the last election Steele emphasized his opposition to the death penalty—yet was deafeningly silent in the Steven Okun case.

The record that he has to run on is that of a deadbeat and a hypocrite. All Mr. Steele has going for him is his height and his gift of gab. In light of these facts, why is the Republican Party interested in having him run for any elective office, let alone a national one? Would the party similarly tout a Caucasian or Oriental with the same record of nonachievement? I doubt it.

The GOP is playing the race card, pure and simple.

S. Rex Cohen

The City That Needs

I’m writing this letter as a commentary, and in hopes that someone is listening. My brother Samuel Richardson was profiled in Murder Ink on June 8, as he was a homicide victim. My question is, how is it that we can take the time to get details and factoids about what happened in these crimes but that we, as neighbors and human beings, can’t get together and catch these people?

The community that my brother lived in is a very social one, and I know that many people know what happened but are scared to speak out, because of the stigma of being a “snitch” or breaking that “code of silence.” My question is: Should you be scared to speak up against the criminals or more scared to live among them? I hope that someone besides myself, my friends, and family realize how wrong this is.

Baltimoreans wonder why we have so many homicides each year. It’s not just the drug problem or arguments or neighborhood beef, it’s people sitting around not taking a stand, not protecting themselves or their community, and not trying to empower themselves as people and as a community. The only way these homicides will be curbed is if neighbors stand together, instead of gossiping about it on their front stoops and porches, protecting the guilty and ignoring the innocent. As long as there is the “code of silence” in neighborhoods, many more families will grieve and many more criminals will go free.

Elizabeth Richardson

Correction: In our coverage of the 1st District City Council race on Oct. 27, 2004 (“Who’s on 1st,” Mobtown Beat), we reported that George Perez had sworn out a criminal complaint in December 2003 regarding an assault/robbery allegedly committed against Perez by Darren Petty, the political director for the state chapter of the United Auto Workers labor union. Our story stated that charges against Petty “were later dropped when Perez failed to show up for trial.” In fact, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office never pursued the charges against Petty. Petty was not tried or convicted of any crime in regard to the incident.

In the same story, we reported that on May 3, 2004, Baltimore police officers entered Canton Station, a bar co-owned by Petty and fellow UAW official Charles Alfred, and seized three handguns and approximately $4,000, which the city filed court papers to keep as illegal gambling money in August 2004. The information about handguns came from a court docket pertaining to the case that read “forfeit guns and money”; an attorney for the Baltimore Police Department later described guns allegedly seized at Canton Station to a City Paper reporter. Regardless, the information pertaining to guns was later discovered to be incorrect. No guns were found on the premises by police. More than $1,000 of the money seized by police was later returned. Neither Petty nor Alfred was ever tried or convicted of any crime connected to the incident.

City Paper regrets these errors and any misapprehensions they may have caused.

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