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What is Vince On?

Posted 6/14/2006

Now I enjoy reading Vince Williams’ rants because he’s like one of my favorite Sun writers, Rashod Ollison, witty and funny. Speaking of Rashod, I have to make sure he didn’t get homesick and leave The Sun for Arkansas. Back to Vince. Were you drinking, Mr. Williams? Because your piece on the agreeably canceled horrible shows on UPN (“Rerun,” Social Studies, June 7) made me wonder.

This is how you sounded, Vince: “I don’t watch UPN because the shows were just simply awful, but I wanted the choice to watch my horrible shows because they were, let’s say, ‘black horrible’ shows, and though I may not like Countess Vaughn’s Amos and Andy routines, which will never win an Oscar, at least I had the choice of watching horrible shows, but maybe Roc will come back, although I doubt it because Charles Dutton is enjoying going from jail to Yale, but maybe What’s Happening!!
will step up to the level of Two and a Half Men, which I don’t watch because white people seem to be more supportive and funny, or will my need for more blackness make me write Will Smith and beg for All of Us to get together and hire better writers. Oops, I said ‘black’ earlier when I meant ‘African-American,’ because I must have the right to ignore African-American bad TV. Hey, am I the only one or does Everybody Hates Chris . . . ”

Get my point, Vince? Put the gin down and stop vegging. But then I wouldn’t read your laughable observations anymore! Never mind.

Sharon Wright

Bobby Smoov is Going Down

In his most recent Political Animal column (“Still Good to Be You,” June 7), Brian Morton waxes far too positive about Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s re-election chances in the fall. In fact, not only will he lose, but he will be thoroughly thrashed in a historic landslide, defeated by our next governor, Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan, who will best Mayor Martin O’Malley handily in the September Democratic primary.

O’Malley will lose because Duncan is competent, and O’Malley simply is not. The governor will lose for many reasons, chief among them that he hired a political gangster named Joseph Steffen (and many more like him) beginning in 1994—if not earlier—and thus tried to sabotage the most precious right of all Americans: that of honest elections and electoral processes. The second major reason that he will lose is that that the average voter is not as stupid as Slick Bobby and all his other behind-the-scenes GOP thugs think they might be. They are smart enough to recognize a con job when they see one, and to put two and two together to equal four—specifically, that the projected BGE 72 percent electricity rate increase, plus Mayo Shattuck’s salary, equals Bobby is owned by the fat cats.

We may be peasants, but we’re not fools. The governor made his first mistake (after hiring Steffen) in believing that his election victory over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002 was an historic shift by Marylanders toward the GOP and the fascist right; it was not. Rather, it was the defeat of the most incompetent Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Maryland history before Mayor O’Malley. Any other Democratic nominee for governor would’ve defeated Ehrlich.

After both the governor and lieutenant governor are defeated handily this fall, the GOP will return to its role of the party in exile for the next 36 years. When the Steffen case finally blows—and it will, too—there may be people going to prison, as happened back in the days of Spiro Agnew et al., 1973-’76, which I well remember. Thus, what I call “the Richard Nixon Moment” will justly befall a trio of people who richly deserve to have it: the mayor and the governor—who both have mistaken their naked ambition for talent and statesmanship—and Mrs. Ehrlich, who struts down GOP fashion-show runways when she’s not busy “admonishing” judges about their own duties.

This time next year, the mayor will still be mayor, while the Ehrlichs will be just two more practicing lawyers in the political wilderness, just like the late President Nixon was during the years 1961-’69. Unlike him, maybe they will then learn something. Then, and only then, will we see of what fiber they are truly made. Can they make a comeback like Nixon did after 1962, and President Bill Clinton did after losing re-election as governor of Arkansas? We shall see. Stay tuned!

Blaine Taylor

The Plan for St. Stan’s

In your article Father Robert Twele says that there are not enough friars to staff St. Stan’s (“Holy Mess,” Feature, June 7). There are plenty of priests in Poland who would be willing to come over and staff the church. While the St. Stan’s site is a valuable “piece of dirt” ready to be cashed in on, I wonder if the diocese also wanted the 400 parishioners and their talents for raising funds to beef up St. Casmir’s parish in Canton. No, parish finances and staffing St. Stan’s was never really a problem.

Dan Kuc

Is Price Right?

G. Jefferson Price III is one of the straightest arrows I ever worked for in my many years as a foreign correspondent, and I can’t believe that he would deliberately mislead any editor about his relationship to the subjects of his columns (“A Matter of Opinion,” Media Circus, June 7). Perhaps a simpler explanation for the fact that it took Ms. Dianne Donovan so long to notice the link is that she was not a regular reader of Mr. Price’s columns.

Peter Green
New York

The writer is an editor at the New York Post

As I got into this story, I was ready to give Jeff Price a thumbs-down. Then the story laid out more details. The Sun, right down to the editors who oversaw editorial page columnists, knew Price had a connection with a Catholic advocacy group. According to Sun editorial page editor Dianne Donovan, as quoted in City Paper: “It was our understanding he [Price] would be traveling for Catholic Relief Services, but that he would not be writing about Catholic Relief Services-related entities, you know, because they’re paying him. I thought that it would be OK for him to travel on their dime, if while he was traveling he would find other things to write about for the op-ed page.”

Donovan’s story is either utterly preposterous or it reveals that she doesn’t know how to make the most basic editorial decisions.

How could Donovan not know that what Price wrote would be influenced by his relationship with Catholic Relief Services? The issue is not whether Catholic Relief Services is a “bad” group—I think it does a lot of admirable, unsung work. The issue is what The Sun should have said about the context of Price’s columns. If The Sun had prominently identified Price’s CRS connections, that would have got the paper off the hook. It also would have given Sun readers a window onto the huge crises and injustices that undercut progress in the developing world. Instead, The Sun tried to maintain the fiction that Price could write articles that would be totally removed from his sponsor’s interests, even though Price’s travels were totally paid for by Catholic Relief Services.

Finally, Price was paid $100 per column. Even if The Sun, as Donovan said, allowed Catholic Relief Services to pick up the “dime” for Price’s travels, how could the paper conscionably pay its former foreign editor a measly $100 per column?

Tom Grubisich
Santa Monica, Calif.

This letter was originally posted in the feedback section of Jim Romenesko’s Media News web site.

Don’t Slum Your Nose At It

Although “ghetto tourism” (“Wish You Weren’t Here,” Feature, May 24) may inspire guilt in some, for others it is a long and useful tradition. This seems especially true in my own Jewish community. Many times I have heard the story of a father driving his young children into a ghetto and asking what it means, how it came to be, and how it might be changed. Jello Biafra speaks memorably of taking such a tour with his father on his spoken-word recording Beyond the Valley of the Gift Police. Or consider the impact of the tours once taken there by visitors as various as Friedrich Engels, Mahatma Gandhi, and our own Mayor Martin O’Malley, who is reported in The New York Times as often parking outside the east-side site of the Dawson murders on his way home from City Hall.

I myself for years have taken visitors and new residents in Baltimore on just such tours of the east and west sides, stopping at many of the sites on City Paper’s list. You might add to your east-side travels the Dawson home; the Frederick Douglass biography mural; Supermax, where the prisoners will shout down to you; and the charmingly archaic Gay Kiddie Land toy store in the former Old Town Mall, its storefront sign with drawings of big clowns chasing kids around.

Erik Kestler

Respect the Death Metal

As my girlfriend flipped through the most recent issue of City Paper next to me on our couch, I noticed a picture of one of the more successful bands from Baltimore (“Fresh Blood,” No Cover, June 7). I anxiously dove into the article expecting to get an earful about what Misery Index is up to and what listeners should expect from the band’s new album. I was instead given a dose of snobbery, mockery, and apparent disdain for the group that is helping Baltimore “stay on the map” on an international level. The full-page write-up could have been packed with info or more comments from the band members, but was alas scarcely more than an exercise on the columnist’s part to try to do some “witty” creative writing. Mention was made of the show in Pittsburgh a few nights earlier, but the most recent European tour, stints in Puerto Rico and Japan, and the upcoming tours through Japan, Australia, and Europe were all overlooked. Jason Netherton has received several degrees at a university level and displays this in his lyrics. A man who quotes Karl Marx and writes songs about the horrors and apathy that surrounded Hurricane Katrina can hardly be described as “political without being cause-oriented.” I would like to think that the columnist didn’t write this article out of spite or malice, but rather that it’s a display of poor research and little to no conviction about his position as a “journalist.”

I ask that you place higher standards on your columnists. As of late I’ve noticed that much of what I read in City Paper is fluff and ego-stroking for the writers, offering little or no real value to readers who are not looking for sarcasm and obscure “hipness”-laden analogies.

Theorn Campbell

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