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Bring Down the Homicide Rate With Corporate Tax Breaks

Posted 1/30/2008

Anna Ditkoff, I want to thank you for this article ("Bloodletting," Feature, Jan. 23). This type of information that you provide needs to be in the news more often, as it really makes people think about what is really going on here in Baltimore. I think that you are doing the city and its residents a great service.

I lived through a very similar situation in Chicago during the late '70s and early '80s. Chicago had the same problems, but then the rough areas began to transition from rough to "not so bad," and then eventually good. In looking at both cities, I see many similar characteristics. Chicago and Baltimore both have a waterfront, they both have multiethnic areas, and they both have residents that are committed to seeing a positive change. But in the case of Chicago, it all started with the economy. Mayor Richard Daley made a large investment in the city's infrastructure so that businesses would want to call Chicago headquarters. Much like Baltimore, Chicago had experienced a mass exodus of businesses that ended up setting up shop in the surrounding suburbs, leaving the city high and dry. The mayor decided to make Chicago an attractive city where one wanted to conduct business. He did this in a number of ways, one of which was to provide tax credits and or breaks for those companies that wanted to try to do business in Chicago. It was a win-win situation: The businesses saved money on taxes and in turn hired locals to work in the businesses. I do understand that taxes provide the revenue for many programs designed to help the city and its residents. So instead of losing all of the tax revenue, the city solicited the businesses for help. Many businesses were responsive and took some ownership and helped in many ways.

I do not know that the current administration would ever consider such an approach. But I can attest to the fact that it has worked, and you or anybody else who has visited Chicago recently can view the results.

Sorry for the long rant. Again thank you for your article.

Mike Moran

Living in Denial

I'm not going to pretend to know how to fix the crime problem facing Baltimore City. I've lived here my entire life, having grown up in Pigtown. I went to public schools, graduating from Poly back in '99. After all these years, I keep coming back to the same conclusion. A lot of the people living in the city have a bizarre outlook on what's right and what's wrong, and they are living in denial. Take this passage from the "Bloodletting" article, for example:

"Beale's son Harold Robinson was part of the 87 percent who had criminal records. 'Yes, he had a record, I ain't ashamed to say it, but, thank you Jesus, he changed his life,' Beale says."

How many times have we watched mothers on the evening news shouting to Jesus, swearing that their son was a good kid only to discover a list of priors their son had committed? The news shows vigils and candle-lit stoops surrounded by young black men with solemn faces. Where were these feelings of remorse while they were dealing drugs? It's all a hoax! Most of the people living in these areas don't care enough to change a thing. How can a mother cry for her dead child when she never did a thing to help him out? How can a community weep for a lost member whose presence won't be missed as soon as the news cameras stop rolling? Baltimore's biggest problem is that its communities are without leaders and its residents are in denial.

We've all read about the decline in small businesses in Baltimore. It's a contributing factor in the demise of many neighborhoods. Well, what business would set up shop in an area rife with violence? My old neighborhood of Pigtown is a good example. The entire time I was growing up, the city was supposed to fix up the neighborhood. They were going to rebuild Carroll Park and fill in Washington Boulevard with retail shops and restaurants. The reason I moved to Canton is because Pigtown is no different today than it was when I was a kid. Sure, they cleaned up the park some, and the Montgomery Ward building is renovated. So now the parents have freshly manicured ball fields to throw punches over during the summer months and county residents can swing in and out of the city for work. I can't blame shop owners for not wanting to open a store here! The residents aren't even demanding new stores. The only people who actually care are the new residents who were naive enough to buy into the hype generated when Camden Crossing was built.

I want to end this by taking one more quote from today's front-page article. If this doesn't sum up the denial that Baltimore's residents are in, then I don't know what will.

"Beale doesn't feel that her son's murder is less important because he did time. 'I don't care whether they were selling drugs, what they were doing. You had no business killing nobody.'"

Joel Perry

Stop Spoilin'

As someone who does not have HBO and must wait for the DVDs of The Wire to come out a year or more later, I would appreciate it if you didn't put headlines like "RIP Butchie" on your home page (The S/Hitlist,, Jan. 22). Thanks for ruining at least one episode of the fifth season for me long before I get to see it.

At least put a "spoiler alert" warning or something on these posts so people like me can still enjoy the show when we get to see it. Sequestering these posts on a Wire section of your site would help.

Ryan Sniatecki

For Violet Glaze

. . . (or, Harpie vs Gorgeous, made in Japan) ("Our Corsets, Our Selves," Feature, Jan. 2)

Dear Violet;
It is hard
(I know)
to feel beautiful when
your main accessory is
baby spit-up
and your fragrance
is poo.

Hard to remember your
in stained sweatpants
accidentally decorated with
a used
diaper, accidentally left
on the sofa, tapes unclosed

Your Gorgeous will often
refuse to make an entrance
to hair unbrushed
for the fourth day running.
I know.
Your Harpie, nourished by
long nights
unanswerable cries
and a world that dictates
that THE BABY is the most
important being ever created,
ought to feel guilty
even contemplating
scented moisturizer or
a manicure: Harpie vs Gorgeous,
a battle worthy of
bug-eyed costumes and
badly-synced dialogue.

No one mentions
(I know)
that also The Baby
does better when
feels beautiful.

Cybele Pomeroy

The Cure for Chicken Ennui

Henry Hong, have you ever thought of buying a grill pan? A good cast-iron one costs less than $30 ("Roast Story," Eat Me, Jan. 2). With it you can eat a wide variety of modestly priced foods and avoid "chicken ennui." A package of pork tenderloins contains two pieces of meat-each of which can provide two meals-so cook one and freeze the other. Ditto marinated turkey tenderloins. Heck, you can even eat healthy burgers if you use ground bison (available in 1-pound packages at many Giant Food stores). Just a few thoughts to help you eat better, hopefully without the boredom. Best wishes.

Dottie Doepke

Don't Blame Dixon

The photograph by John Ellsberry of a broken-down sign or a park bench with the words BALTIMORE: THE GREATEST CITY IN AMERICA (Untitled, Dec. 26, 2007) might have given some of your readers the impression that the city of Baltimore is in a sad state of affairs.

As a black woman, I am excited that Mayor Sheila Dixon is working hard to solve problems in Baltimore City that affect all neighbors. Women can do any job that a man can do. People allow men to do jobs with poor work records for years. People are impatient when women cannot show results in their jobs.

In the Oct. 15, 2007, issue of Newsweek, Shirley Franklin, the black female mayor of Atlanta, said, "the key is to find your own comfort level with taking the risk of leadership . . . I encourage young women to find what their passion is and to work hard. They should not seen any limits . . . I enjoy it because it's a challenge. It's a challenge emotionally, it's a challenge intellectually, and it's a challenge to find new ways to do what needs to be done to make this a great city." Finally, this is the part that I like: "And frankly, the public in Atlanta had not counted on Atlanta-on the city being in such bad shape, and I had to give them the bad news that we were close to bankruptcy, and that we would all have to really take a step back and reorder our priorities if we were to get through it. So I knew I had to stay the course-we couldn't turn the corner by creeping. We had to take a big step to turn the corner."

As an Afrocentric feminist, I hope people in Baltimore are not looking at abandoned buildings or broken-down property and blaming our black female mayor for the problem. Mayor Sheila Dixon did not come into anybody's neighborhood to trash property, to drop paper in the streets, or to leave garbage cans on the street without a lid. It's the people of Baltimore's fault for not keeping their own houses, neighborhoods, and anything else they own fixed up. No, you didn't drop the paper on the ground, but can't you pick it up?

I am proud of Shirley Franklin and Sheila Dixon. They are demanding respect from people in the cities who do not like them, but they go to work every day in their cities to make a difference. Change takes effort by all of us. Barack Obama knows that! Eleanor Roosevelt has said, "You learn by living." Baltimore has a lot of people who do not want to learn anything. All of us should "try a little tenderness" (thank you, Otis Redding) in living in Baltimore. Stop pushing your negative impulses to destroy yourself and anything you don't understand.

Larnell Custis Butler

Correction: Last week's Mobtown Beat on a state bill calling for videotaped confessions ("Fess Up," Jan. 23) incorrectly stated that Andre Haskins was indicted in August 2007 for the murder of Neil Rather. In fact, Haskins was arrested for the crime in August, but was not indicted by a grand jury until September.

In Part 1 of "The Dealer" (Feature, Jan. 9), our series about the rise and fall of local narcotics trafficker Fred Brooks, we reported that evangelist James E. Roberts Sr. owns three adjoining houses on West. North Avenue that serve as homeless men's shelters. The houses at 1928, 1930 and 1932 W. North Ave. are actually owned by Mission Possible Ministries, which was founded by Roberts, who has brown eyes, not blue, as we reported. City Paper regrets the errors.

Editor's note: You only have until Feb. 7-Thursday, the day after this issue comes out-Use this form to send in your valentines or snail mail them to us in care of Free Valentines at the CP address listed at right. The deadline is 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7. C'mon, show us your heart(s).

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