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A Rap on The Nose

Posted 6/30/2004

In response to your Nose article (“Three Ring Council,” June 23) regarding the street performers bill introduced on behalf of 90 arts and cultural groups in our city, in which you felt compelled to either attempt to define my legacy as a city councilperson or just be hateful:

My legacy in Baltimore City did not begin as a city councilperson and certainly won’t end as a city councilperson. As the former owner of African American News and World Report, a weekly newspaper that promoted a positive image of the African-American community for seven years; as an independent editor of the Sunpapers who created the first of several supplements over a five-year period introducing the community to positive African-Americans in our community; as the head of the city’s Crime Prevention Program under William Donald Schaefer, starting neighborhood-watch and operation-identification programs that still exist in neighborhoods today; as a former banker, assistant professor of business and economics at Morgan State University, dean and director of Strayer Business College (which changed the lives of hundreds of women and men who found themselves on the welfare roles or struggling to change their lives and were able to do so after completing our programs and getting jobs with our assistance); as vice president of Brunson Communications, owner of several radio stations and a television station; as a councilperson who cast over 700 votes in City Council and abstained on two, and who introduced at least 78 pieces of legislation in my tenure; as the person who started the Baltimore Marathon, which thus far has had a $24 million impact on the city and provides thousands of dollars for local charities; as implementer of the Fish Out of Water project that raised nearly a million dollars to provide community grants, wire public-school classrooms, and provide instruments for children in our schools; as creator of the Need to Read campaign that each year raises thousands of dollars for adult literacy programs; as a person who still sits on 12 volunteer boards including the Hampden Family Center, Maryland Center for Arts and Technology, Parks and People, Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development (to name a few); as the administrator for the NAACP/NASA Saturday Academy that holds math, science, and technology classes for nearly 200 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students each Saturday for 22 weeks on four different college campuses; as a continuous advocate to raise our drop-out age from 16 to 18, to expand charter schools in our city to challenge our present system to do better and to create alternatives for our community to educate our children; and an advocate for the use of college campuses for summer school for city students, and for building middle- and upper-income housing in our city and senior-living communities to expand our tax base, I’ll remind you that while my road has been long traveled, the introduction of one bill and the loss of one election won’t define my future or my legacy in Baltimore. It strengthens me for what lies ahead.

Best wishes to you.

Catherine E. Pugh,

Councilperson, 4th District

Ya Big Corporate Jerk!

Not one to usually care, I was especially disgusted by the article “Counted Out” (Mobtown Beat, June 23). To the seven people who were terminated as a result of Provident Bank’s incompetence, I wish them the best of luck in winning their case. It’s a shame that these worthy individuals were used as scapegoats so that Provident can go about its business, which is, apparently, screwing people over. Why is it that managers, who should be checking and double-checking every suspicious transaction every day, get to keep their jobs and the poor tellers who were just following orders get canned? Because some big corporate jerk says so. I, for one, won’t be keeping my accounts with Provident. I hope I’m not the only person who found this situation incredibly unfair.

Carrie Price

Baltimore

Shi’ite For Brains

In “Calling Baghdad,” Tom Chalkey allows a grievous misrepresentation to stand (June 16). The interviewee believes that the Jewish dream is to occupy the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers and sketches the Israeli flag as proof. The blue stripes on the flag represent the stripes of the tallit, or prayer shawl. The Star of David in between represents Jewish unity, and the white background represents spiritual purity.

While I agree that there are many Likudniks (those who agree with the political party presently in power in Israel) who wrongly covet some of the land in the West Bank, the Israeli flag is not proof of this, and it is no more a “Jewish dream” than occupying Iraq is an “American dream.”

Jews and Americans must strongly oppose those leaders who support these occupations. I hope and pray that your interviewee will witness, this November, how we can peacefully overthrow through the ballot box the leaders bent on occupation of Arab lands and oil.

Allyson Mattanah

Baltimore

In your otherwise fascinating profile of Iraqi expats in Baltimore, I was dismayed at your choice to highlight a comment by Ahmed Aziz about the supposed imperialist goals of Israel. The quote, a restatement of age-old anti-Semitic propaganda about Jewish world domination, had little to do with the reality of the situation, and only adds fuel to growing anti-Israel sentiment. The two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Jewish striped prayer shawl, or tallit, and nothing more. As a critical supporter of the Israeli government and a denouncer of the war in Iraq, I found that Aziz’s pointed remarks about the “Jewish dream” went over the line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. Aziz, of course, is free to believe what he wishes, but City Paper allowing these statements to be emphasized without any form of qualification (in a sympathetic article) renders them legitimate. Come on, you guys are better than this.

DeDe Jacobs

Baltimore

Sun Down

Congratulations to Brendan Coyne for his unbiased search into the inner sanctum of the Baltimore Sunpapers newsroom and its problems (“All the News That Fits,” Mobtown Beat, June 16). I find it especially interesting to read the opinions of those remaining reporters passing on such high praise of The Sun as “a terrific paper” and all such matching kudos. Looking at the loss of readership over the years since its only real competition (Baltimore News American) folded, I question (strongly) their ability to judge. I am old enough to remember when The Sun was a “terrific” paper, winning award piled upon award annually. “I knew the Sunpapers, and that rag, sir, is no Sunpaper.”

I now read The Washington Post and still wish someone would come up with a statewide daily worth what The Sun once was.

Bettye Speed

Stevensville

Your article on the cost cutting at The Sun left out a couple of important points. Although it makes glancing reference to less-than-expected profits, the piece fails to say what they were. Tribune Co., owner of The Sun and the source of the budget cuts, wanted a whopping 29 percent profit from its newspapers this year. But it is on target to make only 20 percent. Most businesses would be delighted with that profit margin. But not Wall Street, which demands greater profits each quarter. That’s the real issue—Tribune’s stock price has been slipping. (Disclosure note: I own some Tribune Co. stock.) Cost cutting is an acceptable device when a company is losing money or is otherwise shaky. Dragooning longtime employees into early retirement in order to prop up the stock price is obscene.

And how could you pass up the comment, reported in The Sun June 10, by Dale Cohen, its vice president for human resources and legal affairs? He called federal labor regulations governing buyouts “arcane legal niceties” and criticized union officials for paying attention to them. Even from a labor lawyer, that’s unprofessional, to say the least. I was an editor at The Sun during its first buyout, when it was still owned by the Times Mirror Co. The department Mr. Cohen now heads went to extreme lengths to follow those regulations he disdains. His comment displays a corporate arrogance that bodes ill for the Sun’s remaining staff, the paper’s readers, and the community it serves.

Jim Keat

Baltimore

The writer is a retired Sun reporter and editor.

Clarification: In our June 16 story on cost, job, and space cutting at The Sun, city editor Howard Libit’s estimate that the paper would lose 10 percent of the space previously allotted for copy, gathered from an internal e-mail, specifically addressed cuts in his own metro section, not necessarily cuts across all sections or the paper as a whole.

 

 

Editor’s note: The Maryland Society of Professional Journalists recently announced the winners of its 2004 SPJ Awards, and CP staffers and freelancers took home several certificates.

News editor Erin Sullivan won First Place in Feature Reporting for “True Believers” (Jan. 29, 2003); arts editor Blake de Pastino won honorable mention for “In His Words” (Dec. 10, 2003) in the same category. Staff writer Van Smith won First Place in Investigative Reporting for “Believe It . . . or Not” (Aug. 27, 2003), his examination of measurable progress made during Martin O’Malley’s first term as mayor. In the category of Breaking News Reporting, contributing writer Terrie Snyder won First Place for “Out of Control” (Mobtown Beat, Sept. 17, 2003), while freelancer Jeffr÷y Anderson took Second Place for “California Scheming” (Mobtown Beat, Oct. 29, 2003). Staff writer Brennen Jensen won First Place in Business Reporting for “The Last Neighborhood” (Nov. 12, 2003). Music editor Bret McCabe won First and Second Place in Music Criticism for “Bigger and Deffer” and “Sects Appeal” (April 16, 2003 and June 4, 2003),respectively.

On the art side of things, contributing artist Sam Holden, calendar editor Wendy Ward, and intern Karma Ward won First Place in Photography—Fashion category for the shots accompanying our “Chick Lit” feature package (Sept. 10, 2003), while CP won First Place in Photography—Feature for “The Kids Stay in the Picture,” which reprinted shots taken by the kids of the Youthlight photography program (Nov. 5, 2003). Contributing artist M. Wartella won First Place in Illustration for his work on last year’s Best of Baltimore issue (Sept. 17, 2003), and contributing writer/artist Tom Chalkley won First Place in the Cartooning category for “The Great Go-Goop War” (March 19, 2003). Congratulations to all.

 

Yet another editor’s note: You may have noticed that his issue of CP is a little smaller than last week’s—an inch shorter to be precise. This new size is an adaptation to the most common size of newsprint rolls and to the needs of our printer. The upshot: Same great CP, and maybe a few more trees left standing for now.

Address letters to The Mail, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail: letters@citypaper.com. Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer’s name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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