Cheers to New LawEditor: Thank you for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cheers to New Law

Editor: Thank you for your article in the July 3 Sun entitled, "Wholesalers reveal beer's alcohol content -- to retailers."

For years I have wondered why the federal government doesn't require the amount of alcohol to be shown on the labels of beer bottles along with the other ingredients. It seems rather incongruous that our sometimes paternalistic lawmakers require that alcohol content be divulged on whiskey and wine bottle labels, but do not allow it for beer.

Also, I would like to thank Sen. F. Vernon Boozer for helping beer-drinking Marylanders gain access to this helpful information.

Robert D. Schnick.

Baltimore.

Keep the Trees

Editor: Well, Roland Park has had its centennial.

The Lord apparently decided against a hard rain, probably out of respect for the real and the imaginary eminence of the park's past and present residents. So antique cars and their antique occupants mingled with Boumi Temple Shriners and Roland Park Country School students in a two-hour parade down Roland Avenue. And Saturday night there was a picnic with children, family dogs and band music on the grounds of the Gilman School. The entire weekend was a happy reflection of community life as it should be.

There is an important lesson to be learned from this event. In spite of a tendency to appear smug, insular and expensive, Roland Park has survived 100 years with its real estate values intact and consistent with the local market. Sure, there are new kitchens, laundries, and bathrooms in the old houses plus some patios and porches, but the external appearance of the park has not changed much with the years.

This is because its creators -- Edward Bouton and Frederick L. Olmsted Jr. -- were careful with the natural assets of the land, and they put rigid self-protective covenants into every property deed. What a pity that other suburban areas of the same period, such as Catonsville, Waverly and Forest Park, were not so blessed. It's no secret that city dwellers and politicians are famous for their unconcern for restlessness and waste.

I'd like to suggest that your readers take a look at the latter three neighborhoods, then drive through Roland Park, asking themselves what the past can tell us about the present. Now cruise on out to Seminary Avenue or Reisterstown Road and McDonough Lane and see two examples of the sort of real estate developers are promoting today.

Notice how once glorious trees have been uprooted and verdant hills stripped nude. Well, your readers may think about throwing themselves in front of the nearest bulldozer, but I suggest that they go home and get to work putting some strength into the laws for natural conservation and for architectural and historic preservation.

In the name of Bouton and of Olmsted let's keep our countryside the way the Lord intended it to be.

Priscilla Miles.

Baltimore.

Touting Thomas

Editor: Before black leaders team up with a liberal/activist coalition to defeat Judge Clarence Thomas' nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, they should ask: would Judge Thomas be in position to be considered for this exalted post if he did not possess the moral values, work ethic and legal acumen President Bush perceives he embodies? It would not be too difficult to defeat Judge Thomas' nomination, but then what?

Joseph L. Johnson.

Towson.

Policy on Iraq

Editor: Just at the point when serious pressure is mounting to lift the sanctions against Iraq that are directly responsible for VTC killing approximately 500 of that nation's children every day -- presto! A miraculously timed "incident" at an Iraqi storage site hands the Bush administration just the pretext it needs for maintaining the economic stranglehold and even restarting the air strikes under the guise of suppressing the much-dreaded "Saddam bomb."

What a murderous charade! Even taking reports of the Iraqi "nuclear threat" at face value -- discounting the obvious possibility that this is another made-to-order hoax, like the completely phony pre-war allegations of Iraqi troops disconnecting baby incubators -- the unavoidable question remains: Exactly how does stopping milk and vaccines from getting to dying Iraqi three-year-olds prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring atomic weapons?

Lately, the president's Middle East policy has been taking some well-deserved lumps. The Kurdish fiasco, the even bigger embarrassment of the restored Kuwaiti monarchy dripping with blood and, worst of all, the slowly emerging truth about the scope of the calculated destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iraq all add up to a huge political headache for Mr. Bush.

U.S. Representative Henry Gonzalez, D.-Texas, has even introduced a resolution calling for the lifting of sanctions. The White House policy of making the entire Iraqi people "pay the price" (Marlin Fitzwater) for not overthrowing Saddam is smelling more and more like genocide.

But now the president has his "Gulf of Tonkin" and he can barely conceal his glee at the prospect of finishing the destruction of Iraq. For the American people to let him do it would be an act of moral suicide.

Marsha Roark.

Baltimore.

Dump Truck Him

Editor: It's about time that we read George Bush's lips saying "No, No, Sununu," loud and clear.

The "appearance of impropriety" is typical of political jargon used as a cover-up for some of this government's high-level and overpaid leaders' lying and cheating habits.

Before President Bush is allowed to continue his blind loyalty to his self-indulgent chief of staff, he should read the lips of other administration officials who would like to see Sununu ride a dump truck out of Washington.

Kay McMahon.

Havre de Grace.

Merchant Marine in Wartime

Editor: Willis Case Rowe (letter, June 29) need not worry that veterans of World War II Merchant Marine may ever have the same benefits as other veterans. Many of those benefits no longer exist, nor do half of the veterans. Most never expected, sought or intended to seek any. Nor did they serve for that purpose.

To say that merchant seamen were typical "draft-dodgers" is not only ignorant and insulting but idiotic, since statistics show that they would have been much safer in the Army or Navy.

The death rate in the Merchant Marine was so disproportionally high that it was only equaled in the closing days of the war by the Marine Corps. Can one imagine a draft dodger putting himself in greater peril?

For example, I entered the Merchant Marine in 1942 at age 16 and lost two ships under enemy action before I was eligible for the draft, and remained in through the war. Many others were too old for the draft but felt the need to serve anyway.

As for "armed services," our ships were indeed armed and at all times under the control of the Coast Guard, Navy or Army depending on jurisdiction or theater of operation. We did indeed man the guns. Alone, before we had Navy armed guards, and along with them afterward.

My first ship with Navy armed guard aboard was in July, 1942 -- eight months after Pearl Harbor. Every crewman had a battle station throughout the war, be it at the guns, fire and damage control or ship handling -- exactly the same as every other "service" ship.

Our "fantastic" pay was, in fact, comparable to other armed services and their benefits. No man was forced into service by the draft, every one a volunteer.

I agree with Mr. Rowe's last paragraph, "ignorant people like me need more information." It can be found in our excellent Catonsville library, just to name one source.

Hercules P. Esibill.

Catonsville.

Fault Car Owners

Editor: I thought it was interesting to read about the complaints of Motor Vehicle Administration customers at Mondawmin Mall receiving parking tickets for expired tags when they were there buying new ones.

Your editorial blasting the police for giving tickets suggests you concur with lawbreakers. One question I have: how did the customers get their cars to the MVA? They obviously drove there -- on expired tags. This is a more serious violation of state law and subject to a moving citation and a $35 fine.

MVA sends out tag renewals in plenty of time for motorists to renew by mail or in person before the expiration date. That is unless the renewal was held up because the owner failed to pay tickets, pass emission testing, properly insure the auto or waited until the last minute.

Faulting the police for doing their jobs sounds backwards when it seems that the receiver of the ticket committed a state law violation in order to park illegally.

J.M. Kingsbury.

Baltimore.

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Editor: Your July 5 editorial entitled "Ticket Fever" leads me to believe you disagree with the Police Department's policy of ticketing tardy motorists going to pick up their tags.

Why didn't the motorists pick them up on Friday, June 28, so that they weren't violating the law? Or at least be smart enough to park a block away and walk to the Motor Vehicle Administration?

Maybe if the police did more of this type of ticketing, my property tax rate could have been reduced more than the token nickel with which I was blessed.

Howard Evans.

Baltimore.

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