Disturbed on S&Ls;Editor: I have been following...


Disturbed on S&Ls;

Editor: I have been following closely the Senate Ethics Committee hearings on the "Keating Five." I was especially interested in the information given by Edwin Gray.

It is disturbing that he testified that his efforts as former chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to curb practices of "high-flying" S&Ls; and prevent the $500-billion debacle which resulted were not only largely ignored but actually obstructed by the Congress.

It is ironic that hearings to determine the guilt or innocence of five senators should provide a forum through which the American public learned how the entire Congress failed to recognize the need to correct rules which permitted S&L; owners and officers to take unprecedented profits at the expense of so many taxpayers.

It is not merely the intervention by Congress on behalf of major contributors on particular matters that condemns it.

I believe the public generally recognizes that this kind of favoritism is part of the political scene and tolerates it. But when such favoritism creates an enormous burden for the constituency as a whole, it becomes clear that the Congress has failed to represent the public's interest.

Amazingly, efforts by senators' counsels to discredit Mr. Gray only gave him further opportunity to indict the whole Congress on live television.

Individual senators were apparently so concerned with protecting themselves that they gave no thought to the damage being done to the entire body by the proceedings.

The accuracy of Mr. Gray's expense account, for example, was not really pertinent. What senator's expense account could bear the same scrutiny?

The bottom line is that this man, whatever his faults, repeatedly predicted S&L; failures which did indeed occur and the Congress paid no heed, or at least took no action. We, the American taxpayers -- not the S&L; profiteers -- will be paying for this most serious error in judgment for years to come.

All of this should only reinforce the growing level of voter dissatisfaction and motivate voters to replace current members of both the House and the Senate with individuals who have at least not already demonstrated their lack of concern for the general public.

Donald J. Bruns

Ellicott City.

Common Sense

Editor: Sometimes I wonder about common sense. I think it is rarer than gold.

I am referring to the new area code for Maryland proposed by the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. From what I see portrayed on the state map, approximately 80 percent of Maryland's population will change from 301 to 410.

This will necessitate thousands of multiple changes for this 80 percent. Doesn't it make more sense to disrupt only 20 percent of the people rather than 80 percent?

C&P;, supposedly a profit-making company, is beginning to look like the politicians and bureaucrats who seem capable of only enacting variations of Murphy's Law.

Edward H. Taubman


Safety First

Editor: The recent accident at the Detroit airport makes me wonder who is in charge. The airport should have been closed. In the papers visibility is reported variously to have been either 800 feet, or by a passenger coming out of the accident to be about 100 feet. In either case, the airport should have been closed.

I flew airplanes in the Navy for 22 years and during that time we were permitted to make a radar approach with visibility of a quarter of a mile, or 1,320 feet. The airlines were only permitted to land with half-mile visibility. These are very close minimums.

If the visibility is really only a quarter of a mile, you see the runway and feel the bump as you land at about the same time. Planes taking off and landing at 135 knots travel a quarter-mile in 5.8 seconds, which is not time enough to think about anything, much less avoid another aircraft on the runway.

The old Navy rule was that if the weather was too bad to land, it was too bad to take off. This obviously was not the rule at Detroit. The field was closed for landings but permitting take-offs -- at a field where there is no ground-control radar and people were getting lost on the runway.

Is this the way to run an airport? It seems to me that the FAA needs airport managers who have the authority and will to close an airport when the weather is bad. This not happening. The airport manager at Detroit should be disciplined and the FAA should issue some real rules about how airports should be run.

Robert Schulze.


Young Fathers Need Help

Editor: Your Nov. 24 editorial on the importance of including pTC teen-age males in pregnancy prevention and parenting programs was well taken. It is encouraging that groups such as the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy and the Baltimore Urban League have developed programs to help young fathers assume their parenting responsibilities. It is also heartening that community efforts such as school-based pregnancy prevention programs include a male focus.

Unfortunately, teen-age pregnancy initiatives that are limited to males who are teen-agers will reach only a fraction of those in need. Our adolescent pregnancy studies in Baltimore show that two-thirds of fathers of children born to adolescent girls 17 and younger in Baltimore are themselves 18 or older; one-third are 20 or older. Thus, school-based prevention and education efforts will not reach many of these fathers. Clearly, other innovative community-based strategies must be found.

Our citywide surveys of adolescent mothers have also shown that although only 6 percent are married, nearly all receive material, instrumental and emotional support from their children's fathers. However, more than half judge the support inadequate. This is not surprising. To begin with, fathers of children born to adolescent mothers are less equipped for parenting responsibilities than are fathers of children born to adult mothers. This pertains to the adult as well as teen-age fathers.

Where both parents are adults, one-sixth of fathers lack high school education. Where the father is an adult but the mother is an adolescent, one-third of the fathers have not finished high school, and one year following their child's birth, one-third are neither in school nor working. These fathers need employment, but they also need training.

Teen pregnancy programs in particular, and parenting programs in general, have long neglected the role of fathers. Every week we read reports of new initiatives to help young mothers be independent. Especially where mothers are unmarried, programs focus on ways to improve the mother's ability to meet parenting responsibilities without paternal support. Young men are equally in need of training, jobs and parenting education in order to share parenting responsibilities.

Studies have shown that fathers have a key role in child development. Even so, programs and policies tend to focus on mothers alone, excluding fathers. Has not this approach negatively influenced both maternal and paternal expectations of fathers? Has it not indirectly minimized expectations of the male's role in pregnancy prevention?

We need to shift emphasis in our programs and policies to reinforce the unique and essential role that fathers can play. Given the patterns of the past, initiatives to enlist males in pregnancy prevention and to empower fathers to assume parenting responsibilities face many challenges. On the other hand, the potential payoff for mothers, children, fathers and the community as a whole can be enormous.

Anne K. Duggan.

Janet B. Hardy.


The writers are, respectively, assistant professor and professor emeritus in the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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