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I'll Miss Russ

Posted 5/23/2007

I was disappointed to read that City Paper is no longer publishing Russ Smith's Right Field column. Like those of Brian Morton, Smith's arguments were always cogent and clearly articulated. It's a shame that he won't be around to lend a degree of balance to your political offerings. I'll miss you, Russ.

Robert Edward Lewand

Pooch Priority

I had to laugh upon reading Katie Wainwright's letter about being cited for allowing her nine-pound Jack Russell off leash at Riverside Park ("Cop Pleas," The Mail, May 16).

Over the course of the last month, I have made no fewer than four complaints to Animal Control about a pair of large, aggressive dogs that escape from a construction site and run around my Pigtown neighborhood at night. I have personally witnessed them attack a dog being walked on a leash and kill two pet cats. I made the latest call after my neighbor's eviscerated cat died in my arms, and was told Animal Control would respond in two hours. At 48 hours and counting, they still haven't responded, because "they've got a large backlog of cases," the 311 operators tell me.

I guess those terrifying Jack Russells in the park get moved to the front of the queue in the interest of public safety.

Erin Harty

Et Tu, Josh?

It was most disconcerting to see Joe Hill, Mother Jones, and Big Bill Haywood listed in your article describing Josh Keogh's union organizing at Joe's Bike Shop (Quick and Dirty, Mobtown Beat, May 9). The contrasts are simply too great. These heroes must be spinning in their graves seeing how a sniveling rich kid is perverting their accomplishments and sacrifices in order to indulge his self-serving desire to see how much money his boss makes.

Josh was silent in your article regarding the existence of any meaningful problems with the management of Joe's Bike Shop. There were no allegations of discrimination, favoritism, below-market wages, unsafe working conditions, worker exploitation--no sound reasons whatsoever for organizing a union. In fact, it sounded like Joe Traill runs a decent place to work.

Josh's quotes and the union's request that Joe opens his books because "we really don't know what he can pay us" clearly shows that Josh has not used the college education his family paid for in order to master labor law, economics, or American government. That's not how the system works. Joe is only required to open his books to his partners, his bank, and the IRS. Joe is within his rights to tell Josh and the union to go pound sand as long as he simply says no to wage demands and doesn't maintain that the business is financially unable to pay. Joe, if you did say you couldn't afford it, you need to retract that statement and simply state that you feel current rates are sufficient--period.

Josh, I cannot imagine a crueler betrayal than bringing a union to Joe's Bike Shop when you say Joe has been your mentor for seven years. You should be ashamed. You deserve some leather goods--a boot in the ass and a belt in the face.

Joe, get some good legal and professional assistance before this situation destroys the business for which you worked so hard and risked so much. Contact me and I'll happily give you some referrals.

Neal Bashor

Cool = Uncut

Violet Glaze may be right that for a hipster mother, deciding whether to circumcise her son offers an exquisite "paradox" ("The Cool of Birth," Feature, April 25). But remember, Violet: While you choose to get a piercing or tattoo, your infant cannot consent to genital mutilation.

Circumcision is painful and traumatic. It always wounds--physically and psychically--and can even kill. (While that doesn't happen often, it's not much consolation if it's your boy it happens to.) Once thought to prevent epilepsy and the formerly disapproved masturbation, now touted as an AIDS preventative, in fact it confers no medical benefit whatever. And you need not take my word for this: Several fine books on the topic, such as Ronald Goldman's Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma, are available.

Circumcision has continued in the United States for three major reasons. First, it's part of the Jewish tradition (although Jews, like other American parents, increasingly reject it). Second, admitting that generations of American men and their partners were cruelly and needlessly deprived of a satisfying sex life makes us understandably uneasy. Third, it's lucrative--leave your son uncut and some doctor won't get his hundred bucks. But won't it be worth it to have a healthy, happy kid who'll thank you later for leaving him intact?

Jon Swift

More on Lamdin

I read with great interest Van Smith's article about the antics of Judge Bruce Lamdin ("Bench Talk," Mobtown Beat, April 18, 2007). As a peace activist who has been arrested some 70 times, I have appeared as a defendant in courtrooms in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Prince George's County, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. I always appear as a pro se defendant, and have represented myself in both bench and jury trials.

The Pledge of Resistance--Baltimore has long protested this awful war in Iraq. On March 1, 2003, as Bush and Cheney were beating the war drums, eight Pledge members went to Towson Town Center to hand out leaflets against the war. Despite our First Amendment rights, we were arrested and banned for life from the mall. As part of the legal process, we came before Judge Lamdin on Feb. 10, 2004.

The government, presumably on the orders of Towson Town Center representatives, placed our case on the inactive docket. I suspect it was recognized that taking us to trial would have presented us with a stage to condemn the war.

So the proceeding before Lamdin was a simple exercise of placing our case on the stet docket. However, he became verbally belligerent and said there will be no statements "in my courtroom." He threatened to arrest us or to place us on trial. There was no reason for his threats, and two of us filed letters of complaint with the administrative judge. While we received no response, it was good to read in Smith's article that Lamdin is scheduled for a hearing before the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

What was not great to read in the article was that some lawyers defended the judge. And another attorney wrote a letter of support to City Paper ("Lamdin Knows the Law," The Mail, May 2). A judge does best when he or she is fair and does not treat those who appear before him with disrespect. There is no rational reason to deny defendants the right to speak in court, so I will look forward to what is decided on in the hearing on judicial conduct. Let us hope that Judge Bruce Lamdin will no longer make flippant comments in court.

Max Obuszewski

À la Cart

The fact that carts are left out in the middle of parking lots left unattended should not be the problem of customers (Mr. Wrong, April 18). Actually, when you think about it . . . promoting hazard-free and safer environments should be a key for marketeering giants such as Wal-Mart or Target to follow up on.

Yes, our cars get hit by carts, but why do we have to move them? Why can't the stores hire people to specifically act as "cart boys"? Not trying to be sexist here, so for my feminist women out there . . . "cart women."

I realize that some stores have people who have a side job of gathering carts, but they could also hire people to safely place the carts into their respected areas. The only thing this will do is allow for more people to shop at your store, because their cars won't get hit and it will allow for the growth of the free-marketed economy. This will give people more opportunities to work, and you don't really need a B.A. degree to move carts around, so this job could be available to all sorts of people in any economic status.

Think about it logically: More jobs = more people working. More people working = more people buying things. More people buying things = economy up. Thus more jobs = economy going up. That is why the most logical solution to this cart problem would be to make "cart" jobs. Hell, why not clean the carts, too? That will promote better baby environments . . . no one wants their kid to eat gum that was just chewed by someone else, some stranger. These "cart" jobs would not only make the carts better for the people to use but they would also attract customers.

Ricky Khatkar

Editor's note: Two City Paper staffers were among those recently named finalists for the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) Awards. Among papers with circulations greater than 60,000, staff writer Edward Ericson Jr. is a finalist in the Investigative Reporting category for his "Collapse" series (Feature, July 26, 2006, and Aug. 2, 2006), and online editor Tim Hill is a finalist in the Web Site Content Feature for No Cover, CP's online local-music guide. The winners will be announced at the annual AAN convention on June 15.

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