Overdue Reforms at the Pratt
Editor: The mayor really should stop the Pratt Library from snitching pennies unjustly and have it start using a sound financing system.
The price of photocopying at the Pratt has just gone up to 20 cents. According to two librarians there, the result is patrons tearing pages out of books rather than paying a price so high and so much more than a regularly used machine costs to operate. In the end, they say, the library has to replace some of the damaged books, thus decreasing some of the revenue the photo copy price increase brings in.
Also, when charging for overdue books, the library includes Sundays. But you can't return the books on Sundays because the library is closed. Someone, please take the library to small claims court over this; there's not justification for it.
To make this the city that reads, it would be wise to stop overcharging readers -- particularly young ones whose values are partly formed by their experience with books.
Editor: Notwithstanding the interest with which I read Barbara H. Smith's article on the game of bocce in Baltimore, I am sorry to see that neither she nor your editors took the time to check the correct spelling of the Italian word bocce before going to print. The misspelled word appears not only in the title but several times throughout the article.
In Italian, the singular form of the noun is boccia. It denotes only the small wooden ball which the players throw. The smaller ball which the players try to hit is the boccino. The game is called bocce. There is no such thing as boccie in Italian.
The grammatical rule is based on the stress of the word. The "o" in boccia carries the stress, hence in the plural form the "o" will still carry the stress, the final -cia becomes a final -ce.
If, hypothetically speaking, in the singular form boccia the penultimate vowel "i" were to carry the stress, then the plural would be formed with a final -cie, in order to enable the same penultimate vowel to continue to carry the stress, as in the singular form of the noun (again, this is only hypothetical, because the stress is not on the penultimate letter).
The writer is an assistant professor of Italian at Loyola College.
Editor: Your correspondent James R. Considine (letter, July 2) takes issue with the mayor and city government about "lack of cooperation" with the Baltimore Road Runners Club.
The mayor and the responsible agencies are to be commended for exercising sound judgment on how the city's limited resources are used and selecting for support those events which are most favorable for both the people and the economics of the city.
The cost of accommodating marathons and other large races is far from nominal when all factors are considered. A major race requires the assignment of scores of police officers, the closing of miles of city streets for as much as half a day, the assignment of public works and transportation personnel to erect and
remove signs, barricades and cones, clean up and remove trash, and the redirection of a large part of the public transit system. Such assignments obviously remove key personnel from other demands.
In addition to the direct and indirect expense to city taxpayers, many businesses and individuals are inconvenienced or adversely affected by such events. Ambulances and fire protection must be made available and rerouted. Residents of the immediate areas of the event can be immersed in rerouted traffic for long periods.
Mr. Considine seems to believe that it is better to inconvenience north-south traveling motorists than east-west types. In any case, the impact is much greater than described.
The city is fortunate to enjoy many fine celebrations in its downtown, including parades, fireworks and other events with broad public appeal. They add to the city in many ways. The spectator appeal of distance races and marathons, however, lies somewhere between apple bobbing and watching the grass grow.
These races are primarily of interest to the participants. They contribute little to the life and texture of the city's heart. They can be held at many other locations.
The Road Runners' charitable contributions to worthy causes are obviously appreciated. But it is unfair of them to expect the city, at taxpayer expense, to accommodate their every demand.
Perhaps someone should tell them that most of those people along the curb are not watching the race. They're just waiting to cross the street.
W. Scott Ditch.
Editor: It has been amusing to watch over the years Maryland state officials scramble to secure corporations that announce their intention to move into the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. A bidding war usually ensues between Maryland and Virginia. Lists of incentives, offers and counter-offers are exchanged, and typically Maryland is the loser, as was the case with the General Dynamics Corp.
State officials scratch their collective heads and ponder why, especially when Maryland's incentive package exceeds Virginia's.
Well, folks, could it just possibly be Maryland's tax structure? A leading national magazine in an issue this spring labeled Maryland as "Tax Hell." That is, a state in which politicians just cannot seem to say no to constituent groups. Program after program is added year after year, and guess who pays? In fact, when was the last time a politician campaigned on the theme of actually eliminating unneeded or outdated programs? Not in my lifetime.
Just possibly, General Dynamic's officials, in scouting out the pluses and minuses of the two states, realized that Maryland's high taxes were not an incentive they could afford.
I would suggest to our state officials that you address the reality of Maryland as "Tax Hell" and just maybe the next big one won't get away.
Stop the Labels
Editor: The Sun's July 2 headline, "Bush picks black judge for court," sends a confusing message to its readers. The word "black" is used to qualify the word "judge." Does this mean that a "black" judge is somehow different from other judges, or does The Sun perceive Clarence Thomas' master status to be "black" rather than "judge?"
The mass media is a significant force in molding society's values and beliefs. As the major newspaper for the Baltimore area. The Sun should strive to reduce racial labeling in its reporting.
$ Betty Jane Schueler.
Editor: I've seen a lot of cynical rationalizations in my quarter century in politics, but none shocked me more than your recent editorial cautioning against the creation of a new majority black congressional district in Maryland. If I understand the logic of your argument, it suggests that complying with the Voting Rights Act and court rulings by creating a black majority congressional district in Prince George's County, a majority black county where such a district is both feasible and much anticipated, is not a good idea because it would make it easier for Republican candidates to unseat incumbent Democrats in nearby districts.
You rightly point out that black voters are the most reliable and consistent members of the Democratic Party coalition, but then suggest that they should not be rewarded for their loyalty with the chance to elect one of their own to Congress. Instead, their voting power should be carefully split up and apportioned so as to increase the chances that white Democratic politicians would retain their seats.
You suggest that white working class voters, the elderly poor and other elements of the Democratic coalition -- all groups whose support for the party has increasingly been called into question -- would get upset by such a move and decide to vote Republican even though this is not in their best interests. This is a problem, but the solution is not to hold black voters hostage in hopes of overcoming the consequences of the defection of white voters from the Democratic Party. The solution is for white politicians to figure out how to win back popular support within their own communities. If they can't do that, they -- and the Democratic Party -- are in trouble.
# Decatur W. Trotter.
The writer is a state senator from Prince George's County.
Editor: Your editorial, "Press versus Pentagon," is wrong o several counts.
Americans were happy with the media coverage of Desert Storm. We trust the military. We don't trust the media. The military wants to do what's best for America. The media want to exercise "thought control" over our American people.
In reporting the news the press is dishonest. Media outlets publish lies, exaggerate and are inaccurate. The military puts out the facts as they are known and keep then updated.
The pool system is a good system. The press agreed to use it. It worked well in Desert Storm. It kept the free-roaming press under control which is the way it should be.
John G. Wallace.