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Leaders urged to attend meeting

A newsletter editor is encouraging leaders of the city's black community to show up at a Tuesday City Council work session.

A newsletter editor is encouraging leaders of the city's black community to show up at a Tuesday City Council work session.

August 05, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

While the editor of a self-described "black publication" has encouraged leaders of Hagerstown's black community to attend Tuesday's City Council work session to discuss some concerns, the mayor said he won't allow them to speak because the matter is not on the agenda.

The group's concerns, including the allegation that the city government is ignoring the black community, can be aired at a future meeting, Mayor William M. Breichner said.

A monthly newsletter, "Speak Up," urged representatives of more than 20 churches and businesses to attend the meeting. The newsletter's editor is Andy Smith, president of Brothers United Who Dare To Care.

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The newsletter goes to 500 homes, as well as to businesses and City Hall, Smith said.

Smith said he expects 20 to 40 members of the black community to attend Tuesday.

The newsletter said the meeting is at 7 p.m. at Hagerstown City Hall; it is actually at 4 p.m.

Since members of the group can't speak at the meeting, Smith said there will probably be a press conference before the meeting and a rally at 7 p.m., both at City Hall or outside the building.

Among the expected speakers is the Rev. James Irvin, president of the Washington County NAACP, Smith said.

At a NAACP Family Celebration at Wheaton Park on July 20, Irvin and Del. Joanne C. Benson, D-Prince George's, told a crowd of about 100 people that the local government is ignoring the black community.

Benson, who grew up in Hagerstown, said state, county and city officials have written off the community, putting it in deep neglect and allowing it to be "swamped in drugs."

"I'm surprised they would take that position. They have not contacted this office or this council," Breichner said Friday.

At the July 23 Hagerstown City Council meeting, Councilmen N. Linn Hendershot and Kristin B. Aleshire said they objected to and disagreed with the July 20 remarks. Aleshire called the remarks "completely uncalled for" and "a slap in the face."

Smith said that when he wrote the newsletter he thought he and others from the Jonathan Street area would be able to speak at Tuesday's meeting. They have since learned the only related matter on the agenda is a proposal for a computer literacy training program at the city-owned Hagerstown Telework Center for low- to moderate-income community residents.

Smith said he supports the proposal but probably will not attend the meeting if he is not allowed to speak.

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