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The Commish

Posted 8/7/2002

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding an article that appeared in the July 17 edition of City Paper in reference to recent command changes in the Baltimore Police Department (The Nose).

Although I did speak with Ms. Terrie Snyder at length for her story, I resent very much having words placed into my mouth. At no time during my interview did I imply that I am unsatisfied with my deputy commissioner of the Administration Bureau, Kenneth Blackwell, or that "he is no Norris favorite." The statements couldn't be more inaccurate and are simply not true. Deputy Commissioner Blackwell is well respected among troops and by commanders, particularly myself.

In addition to those statements, Ms. Snyder also suggested that I timed Deputy Blackwell's promotion to coincide with my biannual hearing before the City Council, stating, "Some council members were ready to grill the commissioner about why Blackwell hadn't been formally given the job." In fact, Deputy Blackwell was promoted several days before the hearing, as that was when I had been given the approved Employee Action Report from the Department of Finance to make the promotion official.

I am committed to being honest and accessible to the press, as is my public-affairs office; however, I expect that same integrity from members of the media.

Edward Norris
Baltimore City Police Commissioner

Editor Andy Markowitz responds: In fairness to Terrie Snyder, the phrase "he is no Norris favorite" was inserted into the story by me. The original draft read that Blackwell "is apparently not as highly regarded by Norris" as by the rank-and-file. In either case, no words were placed in the commissioner's mouth. It is clear in the story that the phrase was not a quotation or even a paraphrase from Norris, but the reporter's own assessment, based on information from sources and her 11 years experience covering the city police department. As such, we stand by it.

Regarding Blackwell's promotion itself: Terrie Snyder wishes to note that when the promotion became official in April Blackwell had already spent two months as "acting" deputy commissioner, having replaced Elbert Shirey in February. As the position and the money for it already existed in the police-department budget, the Department of Finance paperwork was a formality that should not have taken two months. By contrast, the promotions Norris announced July 9 took effect immediately. And as of press time, Blackwell--unlike some of those promoted after him--still had not gotten his pay raise.

Peace Offering
I want to respond to some of the points made in Baltimore Jewish Times publisher Andrew Buerger's July 24 letter in defense of his editor, Phil Jacobs (The Mail). It's true that in his editorial criticizing our group Mr. Jacobs supported our right to free speech. It's also true that the Jewish Times has published recent articles on an Israeli soldier's refusal to serve in the West Bank, an Israeli group that combats discrimination against Israeli Arabs, and the activities of our group.

Referring to Palestinian suicide (or homicide) bombings, Mr. Buerger stated, "Like us all, Mr. Jacobs has been pained by watching these inhuman acts." So have we. That's specifically why we advocate Israel's ending its occupation, which we believe is the primary reason for the frustration and hatred that breeds such acts. Our concern extends to the dehumanization and violence done to both Jews and Palestinians.

Mr. Buerger states that the Jewish Times' mission is to "advocate positions that strengthen the Jewish community." I suggest that the Jewish community would be strengthened by promoting tolerance for others' perspectives and a civil discussion of all viewpoints. Unfortunately, Mr. Jacobs' editorial went the opposite way. His article also seems to have emboldened some representatives of the "mainstream" Jewish community, who have since refused to appear with us publicly to discuss the critical issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The speakers we have sponsored--the director of Israel's Rabbis for Human Rights and the Arab and Jewish co-directors of Israel's Beyond Words--have attracted between 40 and 60 people, many sympathetic, all willing to listen. Perhaps we are not as "tiny" or "fringe" as Mr. Buerger characterizes us. I would remind him that such descriptions were once applied to the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam War movements--even to the Zionist movement.

Bob Jacobson
Member, Baltimore Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Disorderly Conduct
I just finished reading the July 24 feature "Misery Loves Company" written by Natalie Davis. I am a law student and have been anorexic since I was 12 (I am 25 now). Having been through the supposed treatment programs and therapists, counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, and dieticians, I can honestly say they have not helped, only hindered my life.

One of the pro-ana Web sites I visit regularly, and I find to be the best, is a great source of support and comfort. The other women and men that I chat with understand where I am coming from and what I am going through. We are a support system for each other because there is no support in the medical community.

Many people who have eating disorders do not recover. These pro-ana Web sites help those who do not want to recover (those such as myself). We keep tabs on each other and make sure we do not go too far. I am 5-foot-4 and I weigh 90 pounds. I am not happy with my weight. When I was in high school I was the same height but only 70-75 pounds. I wish I could be thinner, but the other anas on the Web site help me to maintain at 90 pounds. I maintain a healthy diet (vegetarian), take my vitamins, have my monthly period, I still have my hair, and I still have muscle. I am not skin and bones. You cannot see my ribs. Technically, my doctor still calls me anorexic. She wants me to gain at least 25 pounds. I refuse to do so. The Web site I visit is great because we keep each other in check.

Despite what many people say, we do not advocate people "becoming" ana. We actively discourage it. We get numerous young girls who come in wanting to lose weight so they can look skinny in a bathing suit and wanting tips on how to get skinny. Frequently we tell them to go to a Web site on how to eat healthfully. We do not want more young women and men stuck in the cycle that is anorexia or bulimia.

There are Web sites for almost anything nowadays. People in chat rooms and on message boards can say they are a BBW (big, beautiful woman), but for those of us who cling to our anorexia, we are forbidden to speak out. Our Web sites are shut down and discussed on television as being "evil" and wrong. People who are obese can go to Web sites that are made just for them, and they aren't preached at to lose weight (even though obesity causes more deaths than cigarette smoking). Yet anas are not allowed to have support Web sites. We are being censored because we follow the media-driven view of women as thin, petite, and waifish.

I can only hope that the members of pro-ana Web sites that were shut down have found new Web sites for support.

Barb Smith
Maryville, Tenn.

No Sex Until You Push Kathleen's Button
I know Wiley Hall III is a good writer. His wisdom is instructional and historical. His article "Black Hole" was a tight piece of information that the urban black poor needs to know right now (Urban Rhythms, July 24).

As an Afrocentric feminist who will be voting for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for governor, I am very disturbed that Michael Steele--a figurehead for Maryland's Republican Party--is being used by the neoconservative Robert Ehrlich to win an election for governor. What will the master Ehrlich have for Steele to perform to get out the black votes and keep black voters "happy" until Election Day?

Michael Steele is being used as a tool to divide the black voters and to confuse black voters into thinking Steele understands the plight of poor black folks who are his kin and skin folk.

I am sick of this crap. Not long ago I heard black men and women in my urban neighborhood saying, "Let the black brother Clarence Thomas sit on the Supreme Court bench--he'll change and help black folks once he's on the Supreme Court." Thomas is a shame and a pain to black folks.

Time out! The social and political problems in Maryland have been made by men, for the most part. The political boundaries of influence have been controlled by white men and a few delusional black male leaders. It is time for a woman to be governor of this state. It is time that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was governor of this state.

Where are the white feminists? Where are the white, progressive, thinking women? Where are the black feminists and progressive women? If we want change, we have to believe in each other.

I encourage all my sisters to vote for female political leaders who are Democrats or independents. Do not give any sex to your man until after Sept. 10, when he will vote for all liberal-to-moderate female politicians. Hold the sex. Save the ballot for female power for all people.

Larnell Custis Butler

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