Editor: Your editorial, "Debating War, Debating Peace," questions the right and wisdom of our Congress to debate the executive department's high-stakes diplomacy in the Gulf. Shouldn't we debate now rather than after the fact, when we are already mired in the mud?
We have witnessed Korea, Panama, Vietnam and Grenada. In those cases Congress either abrogated its responsibility or rubber-stamped the executive's assumption of illegal action.
The Congress certainly represents us more closely with its 535 members and 435 legislative districts than does the executive department with its two elected officials.
Editor: The Sun article of Dec. 10 discussing the plight of the once-thriving Pikesville business community was very sad. The merchants who spoke in the article expressed anguish and the hint of desperation as a once-flush retail center dissolves into empty stores.
Some 21 years ago the observation was made that Pikesville's merchants should join in an effort to environmentally beautify the area, provide accessible and adequate parking facilities and persuade the county to divert heavy traffic from Reisterstown Road. Otherwise they were insuring the disappearance of their affluent clientele once that population moved past the Beltway. This pearl of wisdom did not emanate from an urban planning expert; it came from me, a 21-year-old kid.
One need only look at the hodge-podge of assorted structures that line Pikesville's main commercial route to know why it is dying. The buildings are ugly and unimaginative. Converted from odd assortments of old wooden houses, in various states of repair, are shops that lend no charm or distinction to their neighborhood.
Interspersed are several strips of anonymous concrete buildings which house the ubiquitous strip center stores, none distinguishable from the other. Their garish signs and incongruous appearance is in loud contrast to the pleasing aesthetics emphasized by newer retail centers beyond the Beltway.
Zoning is not the issue here. Pride in appearance is, and the attitude that travels with it.
The arrogance and indifference of past and present Pikesville merchants have caused the dilemma they today face. Older retail communities can survive and prosper. Thought and planning must be employed to establish aesthetic guidelines, provide parking and promote shopper-friendly atmospheres to maintain the consumer's loyalty. It is not impossible. One only need look at 25-year-old Cross Keys to be convinced.
Restoring Pikesville's retail center to its bygone glory is, perhaps, beyond the pale of probability; one hears in current community business leaders echoes of past remedies: Band-Aid approaches to transfusion solutions.
Marlane R. Buckner.
Editor: Watching many of today's drivers concentrating on other activities while driving has raised a question in my mind.
When will the Motor Vehicles Administration change driving tests to include drinking hot or cold beverages, smoking, using the telephone and listening to blaring radios, discs and tapes drowning out ambulance, fire and police sirens while behind the wheel of fast moving vehicles?
!Joyce Diskin Levy. Baltimore.
Hunger Knows No Season
Editor: Your comments regarding the Bags of Plenty Campaign are apt. Filling bags with food for the hungry "will not save the world." It is, however, a glimmer of hope for those at war with poverty.
To sustain the fight we must replenish our commitment daily. Hunger knows no season.
Michael D. Eckhardt.
Baltimore. Editor: Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall never set foot in Booker T. Washington Middle School as stated in The Sun Nov. 18. This school was turned over to blacks in April 1929. I am among that first group attending classes there. In 1929 Chief Justice Marshall, born in 1908, was graduated from Lincoln (Pa.) University. The facts speak for themselves!
Louise K. Hines.
Out of Touch
Editor: The federal, state and county governments are all talking deficit, recession and raising taxes.
However, within the past year, pay raises have been approved for judges, court clerks, governors, heads of departments, university presidents and congressmen. These representatives of the people have increased their economic status until they no longer represent the average wage earner.
They have no idea what a financial burden they place on a family earning less than $25,000 a year just to keep its gas tanks filled go to work and not collect welfare. Yet there seems to be no qualms about accepting hefty pay raises and increasing taxes on gasoline, property, and anything else that might be considered "luxury."
Much of the public is unaware of the many benefits our congressional representatives receive in addition to salaries. These include medical care, funds for entertainment, housing, transportation, automobiles, free or reduced gasoline prices and liberal retirement systems to name a few.
In addition, I understand congressman defeated in an election may keep any leftover campaign contributions. Perhaps a detailed published list of "perks" would be educational and enlightening to the general public.
Those deserving pay raises should receive them -- within reason. However, it is not reasonable to over-tax those who can least afford to pay while approving exorbitant salary increases. Our elected officials are very quick to point out deficit, recession and the threat of a cutback of services should we balk at increased taxes.
They seem to have lost touch with the people they represent. Meanwhile, their salaries go up, waste goes on and the poor become poorer.
acob H. Smith.
In Lew's Memory
Editor: We'll miss Lewellen Masenior. When TV announced, "pregnant woman found slain in Timonium shop," I stopped my work to listen. The lady killed was my friend from Print Shack, Lew Masenior.
What a shocking difference between a sterile headline in a newspaper and a tragedy touching one personally! Lew's cheerful, smiling, cooperative, friendly nature made her a unique merchant. I pray for comfort for her family and that, perhaps, this horrible sobering event might help all of us to prioritize the values in our lives. We're only here for a short time. Perhaps in Lew's memory, we can all add more caring and more smiling in our daily lives.