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Young Leaders Stand Up!

Posted 8/23/2006

I would first like to thank the staff of City Paper for boldly taking the initiative to finally recognize positive young leaders and highlighting their efforts. In your recent article ("Nation Building," Aug. 16), you recognize an up-and-coming rising star among young people, Farajii Muhammad. However, you failed to acknowledge a larger generation of existing young leaders throughout the city of Baltimore.

Since 2002, weíve had young political rising stars, such as C.D. Witherspoon and Antonio Hayes, running for higher office when they were barely old enough to drink. Instead of fitting the stereotype of young, black, and burdensome, they were aspiring to become leaders without the assistance of many of the "older establishment."

At the same time, you have had young leaders establish strongholds of youth involvement and participation at various organizational levels: Chantel Clea and the Baltimore City Youth Commissioners, who are the youth City Council representatives in all 14 districts; Heber Brown and the Young Clergy for Social Change, who seek to instill spirituality back in the hearts and minds of young people through social development; Chris Goodman, Ryan Mason, and the Baltimore Algebra Project members, who consistently fight for a better educational system deserving for all young people across this city; Ezekiel Jackson with Health Care for All; and the list goes on and on.

From politics to ministry to civil and human rights, a new generation of young leadership is emerging from the ashes to take hold of their destiny. You better watch out!

Hassan Allen-Giordano

The writer is the minister of Defense of the Youth Liberation Movement.

Buck(et)ing the System

My name is Thomas Pisciotta, aka Tommy Buckets. I have been busking in Baltimore for four years, and I am a member of the Harborplace street performance program. I was disheartened to learn about the new license for all other Baltimore venues ("Dumb Show," Mobtown Beat, Aug. 9). It is a shock to me that we street performers would need to pay to play, as opposed to cities like Virginia Beach, which actually pay their street performers. Though my sense of personal freedom tells me not to capitulate, my empty wallet tells me otherwise.

Having missed word of the audition, I arrived at Fells Point to play. I set up and the usual cops, cabbies, and fire and rescue were intermingled in the crowd. All but one person seemed entertained. A bicycle cop had been watching me. Not with a smile or a rhythmic twirl of the night stick, but with an open ticket book. The moment I was dreading came as he cycled up. "Time to go!" came his brusk command.

Time to leave? I thought, as the jovial sounds of music and laughter resounded through the night air. Itís only 11:30. Sensing my bewilderment he explained, "Itís past noise ordinance." This was something I am unfortunately becoming familiar with.

Four years ago I played Fells until there were no more tips coming in, which usually meant 2:15 a.m. I would ask officers to tell me if there were any complaints so that I could leave promptly. I donít want to be a pest or keep people up at night. I just want to entertain a good crowd. When thatís done we can all go home.

Then last year the bicycle cops appeared, threatening tickets. I put forth the system that had worked so well for so long--the "if anyone complains tell me and Iíll leave promptly" system. The officer inducted me into the new system--the "you leave when I say"í system. Needless to say I didnít adjust well. On my first run-in I was issued a $100 fine for "playing in a park after noise ordinance." When I expressed my displeasure the officer challenged, "Oh, you just keep right on going and Iíll give you a ticket for $200."

I decided to cut my losses and leave things at that. For a year, I avoided playing Fells Point. I returned to the scene of nocturnal Broadway and Thames Street and found the same drama unfolding, as though frozen in time awaiting my return. I carried my role a little differently this time, namely, hightailing it out of there without acquiring another ticket.

I am at a crossroads here. You are going to see me at street festivals, parks, anywhere a crowd gathers. I wonít stop performing. But will I be the guy being escorted out, fine in hand? Or will I be the guy with a pass in his pocket but missing peace of mind? Freedom doesnít come without a price. In this instance itís a $25 price. Many people have given much more than that to get us to where we are now. But to bow to some newly invented authority seems ludicrous to me. I love my gritty blue-collar Baltimore. Iíve successfully eked out a living here for the past four years. I heard we had some money in the budget for arts and entertainment. Is there an urgent need for more funds, or is it the art we are short on here? Playing in other cities I donít mind paying my dues, but at home in Baltimore I feel like the gallons of sweat and thousands of tourists who go back to their towns saying "Oh, you should see this guy play on his buckets" ought to be equivalent to a receipt of dues paid.

Tommy Buckets

Verna Łber Alles

Your recent excellent articles in Campaign Beat are worthy of the highest journalism award available for such a newspaper as City Paper.

In "Regime Change: Candidates Challenge Incumbents on Their Records in the 44th" (Campaign Beat, Aug. 9), I was very angry at the portrayal of state Sen. Verna Jones as a political candidate who has not done very much for the people living in poverty in the 44th District. A vulgar statement of false information.

I have voted for Sen. Jones ever since she has been an elected official, and I shall continue to vote to keep her in office because Sen. Jones is working to encourage all of us citizens to work for our own communities. Her leadership role will guide us to victory.

As an Afrocentric feminist, I know it is very important for me to support women in politics. Women in politics are good role models for all women who have ambitions for leadership, or power for women. We women want to make sure that there will be no absence of women in government--local, state, and federal.

In my opinion, I dislike the way that Larry Young is using people to promote his "sick" political agendas. As I see it, Larry Young had his chance in the General Assembly, and his arrogance and greed got him expelled. God does not like people who believe they can take his place of supremacy.

In my opinion, Larry Young is a sneaky liar who never gets his hands dirty doing a wrongful deed and is never caught in err of a criminal offense or intent. Young indulges, in my opinion, in gangster political dictatorship campaigning.

It is amazing to me that a male politician can do nothing while in office and voters will keep the "man" in office. Let a woman become a politician and the males will want to run her out of office to be in a kitchen or have a baby while wearing no shoes.

Women are the voters all politicians should worry about. We women vote most of the time.

I plan to vote again for Sen. Verna Jones for the 44th District. Her record is honorable. Verna Jones goes to work every day for the people of the 44th District. She is not stealing from anybody and she is not promoting agendas to make money under the table. Sen. Verna Jones will not do anything to be expelled from the General Assembly. She has good "Big Mama" moral "in the church" judgment. Praise the Lord.

Larnell Custis Butler

Editorís note: It has come to our attention that Dallas-based freelance writer Gary Dowell plagiarized significant passages of his review of Rick Veitchís graphic novel Canít Get No (Imprints, July 5) from a review by British writer Matthew Craig for the web site Mr. Craig e-mailed us on Aug. 22 to point out the similarities; when confronted, Gary acknowledged the plagiarism. As a result, Gary no longer writes for City Paper. His past articles and reviews have been removed from, although we are in the process of launching an investigation into whether more pieces were plagiarized. Our sincere and abject apologies go out to Mr. Craig.

Correction: In last weekís Quick and Dirty on alleged police harassment of peace protesters ("Thou Doth Protest Too Much," Aug. 16) the name of Baltimore police officer Taras Hnatyshyn was misspelled. City Paper regrets the error.

Also, the students pictured in photographs accompanying our article on youth activist Farajii Muhammad ("Nation Building," Aug. 16) were attending a seminar put on by Muhammadís New Light Leadership Coalition, not the Youth Empowerment Movement, as mistakenly identified the in captions. In addition, the Youth Empowerment Movement is a coalition of people and organizations, not a non-profit organization itself, as was mistakenly noted in the story.

In other news, the deadline for submissions for our annual Comics Contest has been extended to Sept. 15; the winner (and placers and selected also-rans) will get some inky love in our Comics Issue, which will now hit the streets Oct. 27. Please click here for more details.

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