Proposal for reparations raises more than a few questions; sculpture finalists don’t represent Annapolis

Reverend should be trying to unite us, not divide us

I read with interest Rev. Rickey Nelson Jones justification for reparations. Jones says, “The correctness of reparations is evident in the following acts which recognized the need to ‘make whole:’ payment to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II; payment to victims of the Nazi Holocaust by Germany; post-Civil War legislation activated in1865 providing 40 acres and a mule for formally (sp) enslaved Africans.”

Notice that these reparations were made to those who suffered actual loss. There are no continuing reparations to the subsequent generations of Japanese-Americans, victims of the Holocaust and to the dependents of African slaves.

Jones’ proposal is nothing more than a scam perpetrated on the American people because we all feel remorse for that ugly past and a touch of guilt from the stain on America. It is a black mark that cannot be removed, but 2,672,341 Union soldiers (including 178,975 African American soldiers) ended slavery, with 642,427 Union deaths. Reparations for their descendants as well?

He talks about justice, but his proposal for reparations raise more than a few questions. Should those whose families arrived in America after the Emancipation be punished by paying reparations? Should the the dependents of people from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa be subject to paying reparations?

Should Jews, the most-maligned people in history be on the paying side or the receiving side? Native Americans? People of mixed ancestry? Asian-American students are discriminated against in colleges and university admissions. They are not asking for special treatment — they want equal treatment based on meritocracy.

I am willing to bet that while most African slaves thought freedom was reward enough, and 40 acres and a mule was considered fair compensation. They were happy to trade slavery for opportunity. Jones’ proposal of reparations more than century and a half after the end of slavery for those who have received the countless blessing of living in the United States is a bit offensive to me.

Instead of promoting divisiveness, Jones should be extolling the virtues of living in the freest country in the world, offering the greatest opportunities for everyone. Jones should be seeking to unite us not divide us.

Peter Tutini, Annapolis

Reparation compensation should be long-term commitment

Rev. Rickey Nelson Jones makes an excellent argument that African Americans should be compensated for the unheralded efforts their ancestors made toward the world’s most-vibrant economy. The per capita toll based on the current number of slave descendants is also probably accurate. The fairest and most-productive way to disburse these funds must be considered.

A lump sum payment doesn’t seem economically or politically viable. And compensation shouldn’t just apply to the current generation of African Americans. Access to capital, home ownership, medical outcome disparities, gun violence victimization, food deserts, addiction and many other issues continue to disproportionately impact Black neighborhoods.

Reparation compensation should be a long-term commitment to addressing these issues so future slave descendants can proudly contribute to our country’s success.

Eric Greene, Annapolis

Just report the facts on high water and flooding

Why is high water historic this time? During Isabel, my brother’s home on the Magothy was profoundly flooded. This time it just barely came within 50 feet of the home. Please don’t play into the climate panic and just report the facts.

Thomas Shaw, Crownsville

Glad Schallheim is running again for board of education

I was pleased to see that Dana Schallheim is running for a second term on the board of education. (“Who is Running for Anne Arundel County School Board?,” The Capital, Jan. 8)

As a resident of Schallheim’s district, I’m proud to support her for a second term. She’s responsive to her constituents, forward-thinking and data-driven in the way she makes decisions, and honest and ethical in everything she does.

As a parent of a child with special needs, I especially appreciate her advocacy for students like him. Schallheim has worked hard to improve policies related to special education to make our schools more inclusive, and ensures there are resources for all children — including my own — to get the education they deserve.

I was disappointed The Capital did not mention that Schallheim has been endorsed by the Teachers’ Association of Anne Arundel County. As a parent, I always consider the recommendation of our teachers as a factor when deciding my vote, especially for school board candidates.

The fact that teachers agree Schallheim is the right choice in this race speaks volumes about her hard work, ability to listen and commitment to making decisions in the best interest of our kids.

I hope my neighbors will join me in voting to re-elect Schallheim as our representative on the board of education. We need her leadership.

Sara Koslow, Severna Park

Why the mandate to charge for paper bags?

The county’s legislation concerning shopping bags is now in effect. Citizens can experience another instance of intrusive government micromanagement of their everyday activities.

The plastic bag ban can certainly be justified by the need to address the trashing of the landscape and waters with discarded plastic. Action to decrease the use of these bags definitely falls into the purview of local government. The mandate that stores charge customers for paper bags, however, cannot be justified by environmental or resource economics.

The easiest explanation is that members of county council and the county executive didn’t bother to do the homework needed to understand basic principles of conservation and environmental protection. Instead, the reasoning behind the paper bag mandate relied on bumper-sticker slogans and ideas picked up from internet discussions.

But another explanation is possible: the council and county executive wanted to get buy-in from retailers for the plastic bag ban. In general, stores have been unable to get customers to pay individually for bags in a highly competitive retail market.

Collectively agreeing among themselves to do so violates federal law. By enacting the paper-bag mandate, our local lawmakers helped retailers get around anti-trust regulations. The mandate enables stores to impose a charge they wanted to impose all along but could not get consumer acceptance for.

It’s hard to decide which of these explanations is more reprehensible: lawmakers who are too ignorant to do their jobs properly or those who are willing to use local ordinances to circumvent restrictions designed to protect consumers from collusion.

Thomas Woodward, Arnold

Raising property taxes prices people out of their homes

County Executive Steuart Pittman talks of affordable housing, but he seems to be trying to defeat himself. Many in the county are getting new property assessments that will increase their tax and the county’s bank account, yet he is proposing a property tax increase.

This raises mortgages, the cost of buying a home and rent. He claims to recognize these are tough economic times and he’s trying to make housing affordable.

Raising property taxes prices people out of their homes. Prices out first-time buyers and raises rents on those who can least afford. What is Pittman’s real goal here?

William Kraus, Edgewater

More community input needed in sculpture selection process

The proposed sculpture for Westgate Circle should represent the historical and maritime traditions of Annapolis. I see no connection to these traditions in the three finalists’ entries. The selection process should be transparent and directly involve the community.

Further, local artists should be highly encouraged to submit entries. Without The Capital article last month, few of us would have known such a competition was even underway.

Glenn Wright, Annapolis

Three sculpture finalists are ‘terrible’

With the proposed “art work” for the Park Place circle, it is beyond me how the committee that oversees this would select the three entries shown in your newspaper. All three are ugly and nothing but “artsy” with no saving grace.

It is hard to read any meaning into the hands on the statues. We should have artwork with a nautical theme, such as boats, marine life, or anything but these terrible structures.

Gordon Schaaf, Annapolis

Reducing reading problem is solution to budget deficit

I hope that the General Assembly will look at more solutions to the projected budget deficit than increasing taxes on high-earners (which will send them out of Maryland) or reducing benefits for the poor, or both.

One of the big drivers in the deficit is the increased cost of social services for low-income persons. The costs of Medicaid, SNAP, child care support, etc. are growing because of inflation and the growth in the population that needs them.

In the meantime, according to the Maryland Center for Economic Policy, 70% of Maryland students are below proficiency in reading and within that 70% , 44% are below the basic level.

Students who are not proficient readers become adults who cannot read well enough to get further education or employment sufficient to support themselves and their families. They become adults who need social services for themselves and their families. As it goes on for generations, the population needing services only increases as does the cost to taxpayers.

I think that a huge part of the solution to our long-term projected budget deficit is to greatly reduce the reading deficit. This would also reduce the achievement gap. It would increase the number of taxpayers, positively impact future costs of social services and, more importantly, improve the lives of many Marylanders for generations to come.

Fully funding and implementing the Blueprint for Education is a significant start. But to avoid further increasing the education spending beyond what is needed to fund the blueprint, we could do more within the funding of the blueprint.

We need to ask ourselves what is more important in our spending on education: producing proficient readers who will become self-supporting citizens or spending millions of education dollars on ancillary subjects and extra curricular activities, including the sacred cow of sports, that do not support reading proficiency?

How much could we improve the lives of many Marylanders if we diverted the millions we spend on ancillary subjects and extracurricular activities to more intense reading education for the 70%  of Maryland students who are not proficient readers? Do we care?

Anita Heygster, Pasadena

Are local U.S. House members fighting for us?

I would like to focus my thoughts on Maryland’s U.S. House of Representative members.  Do our elected politicians care about us, our families, our country and our future?  If our house members cared about us, would they:

  • Accumulate a $34 trillion deficit with no plan to pay down the debt? In early January 2024, the U.S. national debt reached $34 trillion.
  • Promote open borders where drugs, firearms, human and sex trafficking, and terrorists infiltrate our county? In 2023, Custom Border Patrol recorded more than 2.4 million encounters at the Southwest border and more than 3.2 million encounters nationwide.
  • Have no plan to reform our failing educational system? In 2023, 40% of Baltimore City high schools did not have a single math-proficient student, and 13 Baltimore City high schools did not have a single student that achieved grade-level proficiency in math.
  • Print trillions of dollars and pass multiple trillion-dollar spending packages, like the Inflation Reduction Act, that did nothing to curve inflation? In August 2019, the U.S. had $14.9 trillion in total circulation, and by January 2022, there was $21.6 trillion in circulation. Printing currency, whether it’s paper or digital currency, is a contributing factor to inflation. During a 2022 interview, Rep. Jamie Raskin responded “next question” when a reporter asked what part of the Inflation Reduction Act helps reduce inflation.
  • Vote against crime bills that would help make our communities safe? In 2023, seven of the eight Maryland U.S. House members voted against H.J.Res.26, disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Revised Criminal
    Code Act of 2022.

Some of our politicians are activists, working for a cause or their political party. Others are interested in power, control and gaining financial wealth. How many are fighting for you, your family, your country and your future?

Bob Drocella, Pasadena

Finally seeing a future at The Village at Providence Point

We want to express our most sincere gratitude to President and CEO Cyndi Walters and the staff at National Lutheran Communities & Services for their endless patience and unwavering commitment to seeing the approval process for The Village at Providence Point in Annapolis through to its appropriate conclusion — building our future homes.

There are currently more than 200 of us waiting, perhaps not so patiently, to move into our residences at Providence Point, the Life Plan community we have chosen as our preferred senior living destination.

With the unanimous approval given by the Planning and Zoning Commission in April 2023, excitement built and we hoped that the years of delays were over. But alas, the so-called Crab Creek Conservancy, a small but vocal “environmental” group continues to throw obstacles in the way of this needed and desired project. This is long after the concerns from local citizens over the development of this truly special property have been met and exceed by NLCS, including a Conservation Trust preserving the largest portion of the forested area in perpetuity.

We are grateful for the efforts that have been made over the years to design a community of which Annapolis can be proud. We are also thankful for the sense of real community that has developed among the future residents of The Village at Providence Point, through numerous activities and affinity groups facilitated by the NLCS staff.  We are hopeful that we can look ahead without further delays to actually bringing our community together at The Village at Providence Point.

Richard and Heather Click, Alexandria, Virginia

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