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False AlarmsEditor: Has anyone else noted that...

False Alarms

Editor: Has anyone else noted that the metal detectors at our Baltimore-Washington International Airport must be among the most supersensitive in the world?

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In no other airport am I stopped with such regularity, and nothing is ever found except the metal buttons on my blazer or the metal clips in my boxer shorts.

The detection process is time-consuming and annoying. The supersensitive metal detector setting has spawned a growth industry.

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There are now more men and women required for the frisking procedure that follows the metal detector alarm.

Can't something be done to improve our small town image?

Frank A. Oski.

Baltimore.

Sondheim's Work

Editor: One can only feel surprise and disappointment in reading the Opinion * Commentary article June 20 by David W. Barton Jr., entitled "Planned Arrogance."

If any citizen in Baltimore takes time to read the strategy for the downtown area of Baltimore for the next 20 years, it is only possible to look at the document and the report as thoughtful and constructive.

The challenges in our city are significant, but any program of this magnitude will require the patience and hard work of a large number of citizens -- from business and government leaders to all Baltimoreans, working together.

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What was particularly surprising in Mr. Barton's article was the lack of recognition of the thoughtful analysis that Walter Sondheim has given to city planning and development.

Mr. Barton should have known better. When he served as chairman of the Planning Commission, Walter Sondheim was hard at work leading the Charles Center/Inner Harbor program and development projects for Baltimore.

No civic or business leader in Baltimore has spent more time and given more of a commitment to downtown redevelopment and future planning than Walter Sondheim.

Mr. Sondheim is now policy adviser for the Greater Baltimore Committee. Without his leadership, and the public-private partnership between the city administration and the private sector, Baltimore would not be in as strong a position as it is today to plan for our future.

In part, that future has been creatively identified for biotech/life sciences, as a core element of Baltimore's future, by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

All of us should take the option of constructive, not destructive, analysis as we evaluate these important initiatives for the Baltimore region.

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Walter Sondheim has done just that and, again, David Barton should know better.

George S. Wills.

Baltimore.

Sickly Bay Tags

Editor: I laud the fund-raising efforts to save the bay with the sale of the Chesapeake Bay license plates. I have one myself. But I take exception to your editorial (July 19) that the plates are more attractive than the regular black-and-white ones.

The sickly green hues in the heron plate are not becoming and they clash with most car colors.

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But more important, from a law-enforcement point of view, the special plates are far less visible and the placement of the marsh grass in the lower right corner tends to confuse or obfuscate the last digit or letter.

So cut the grass and make the colors bolder.

Carlos P. Avery.

Rockville.

Computer Talk

Editor: I was offended by Joel Myerberg's comments in your July 11 article on computer bulletin boards and the disabled, "Opening window on world."

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Mr. Myerberg seems to think the physically challenged should spend their time sitting around discussing their disabilities. A computer bulletin board offers a chance for people to exchange ideas and communicate without some of the problems physical disability brings.

I am the moderator of a PC technical conference on EchoNet, an international network in which computer bulletin boards participate.

We can have a spirited discussion on the pros and cons of a particular piece of software or hardware without anyone being able to tell if the participant just came in from playing sports or is using a touch stick, a speech synthesizer or a Braille printer.

There are discussion areas on disabilities, but probably the best thing bulletin boards offer is not only a much more level playing field but a chance to be a leader.

Theodore W. Rosenberg.

Baltimore.

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Vassar's Mission

Editor: Richard Reeves' May 29 column on Vassar's commencement contained some serious factual errors that need to be corrected.

First of all, Vassar had one commencement for all graduating seniors at which Dr. Mathilde Krim was guest speaker. There was not a separate event for black students nor was such an idea discussed.

Where Mr. Reeves saw "determined separatism" and "division," those of us on campus experienced mutual respect. Mr. Reeves took my word "challenging" out of its warm and happy context. My words were, "You have been energetic, challenging, interesting, and a lot of fun. . . I shall miss you." Other speakers detailed their love for Vassar and, indeed, the senior class gift was the largest in over a decade.

If Mr. Reeves found the graduation speakers "bewildering," then I recommend that he spend more time on college campuses. The issues with which we are wrestling are the same ones that our society must learn to reconcile if it is not only going to survive but thrive.

In a country bound by ideas and values -- and not by common origin -- it is our hope that we have instilled within our graduating seniors a dynamic capacity for change and an embracing interest in and respect for all cultures.

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Frances D. Fergusson.

Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The writer is president of Vassar College.

Overpaid

Editor: How typical it is to learn that the U.S. Senate has slipped through another pay raise when it thought no one was looking. This is just one of hundreds of gutless acts taken by these "paragons of quality government."

I'd be happy for them all to get even another $23,200 a year, if they promised to resign at the end of their terms and leave the rest of us alone forever.

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It would be worth it to get rid of this unbelievably incompetent group of hypocrites.

Donald Klein.

Baltimore.

AIDS Risk

Editor: As a health care worker, I find all of this hysteria regarding the issue of mandatory HIV testing to be somewhat confusing. For 10 years now my colleagues and I have been exposed on an almost daily basis to the HIV virus.

High risk patients such as IV drug abusers often present a variety of medical emergencies. During the sometimes hectic initial stages of their care it is common, despite precautions, to inadvertently be exposed to their bodily fluids.

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Yet despite our confirmed exposure to a high risk patient, we are unable to test these patients for the HIV infection against their wishes. It is felt to be a violation of their rights. The right of the health care worker to know if he or she has been exposed, and will therefore be exposing spouse and family, is ignored.

Now we have a single case where an HIV infected health care worker has transmitted the disease to five of his patients. The mechanism remains a mystery despite exhaustive investigation by the CDC.

The risk of an infected health care worker transmitting the virus to a patient is uniformly regarded to be minimal, and clearly less than the reverse.

Yet the result is a public uproar demanding that all health care workers receive mandatory HIV testing and that the result of this testing be made public knowledge. Somehow, the public feels a right to know about potential exposure in a very low risk setting, while health care workers do not have a right to know about confirmed exposure in a high risk setting.

To my knowledge, we health care workers are members of the public also. We have a right to the same protection of our privacy, our careers and our lives as anyone else.

To try to impose mandatory testing on us but not on patients is unfair and hypocritical, and should our legislators attempt to do so, we health care workers should refuse en masse to participate in such a system.

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Thomas S. Trinchetto, M.D.

Joppa.


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