Editor: After reading your July 10 article reporting on the further regulation of street vendors, I am sick at heart. Sidewalk hucksters will now have to comply with a uniform code or fold their tents. And absolutely no more selling from tables, thank you!
The Baltimore City Council and the other powers that be feel the image of our city's commerce can no longer afford the "rag tag" carts and tables. The new regulating statutes were enacted in the interests of "aesthetics." The "ultimate goal," says one vendor-licensing potentate, "is to have something visually pleasing, nice and clean . . ."
For my money this is yet another step toward the white-breading of America. The most visible local thrust in that direction was the replacement of trees and grass around our harbor with that celebration of glitz, glass and gelt known as Harborplace. The shining monument of the vendor requirements are dismal examples of how the "vision" of our city fathers is relentlessly rendering Charm City less charming.
Shopping malls across the country are already interchangeably bloodless. Must our downtown streets be the same?
White bread is smooth, uniform and colorless. Jewish rye with seeds has texture, color, guts!
Richard G. Berman.
Editor: Far from "overcharging" readers, as Richard Fogg claims in his July 15 letter, the Pratt Library lends its books, magazines, videos and other materials entirely free of charge.
The consideration in levying fines for overdue materials is to encourage users to behave responsibly and return borrowed items on time so that others may use them. Mr. Fogg's concern for the negative impact this may have on children is misplaced since Baltimore's library system, unlike its sister institutions in many other jurisdictions, charges no fines at all on children's books.
Always eager to improve the library's responsiveness to its clientele, however, we are reviewing our lending policies so as to continue to assure an appropriate balance between access to our collections and fairness to readers.
In the meantime, we would like to remind our readers that the book drop boxes are always available for the return of books when the library is closed.
On the subject of the recent increase in the charge for photocopies, the facts are these: As a service to the public, the library makes space available for these copiers, specifying the number of machines and type of equipment needed. The contract is competitively bid, the copying fee is set by the vendor and the library receives none of the revenue. As with other services, we will review our options when this contract expires. As to the destructive behavior described by Mr. Fogg, we are happy to say that it is not typical of our readers.
The writer is the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Labor Woes in Maryland
Editor: It comes as no surprise to me and many others that General Dynamics chose Northern Virginia over Maryland for its new headquarters. This is especially interesting since Maryland offered General Dynamics a $2.5-million incentive package versus Virginia only offering a $500,000 package. General Dynamics is a $10-billion corporation and would have been the largest corporation headquartered in Maryland, as well as providing hundreds of jobs.
I have great respect and admiration for Gov. William Donald Schaefer's efforts to woo business to our state, as well as to the Port of Baltimore. But time and time again our state loses clients and corporations to Virginia. A stunning example is the rapid growth of shipping in Norfolk vs. the labor strife-ridden Port of Baltimore.
To many people the reason is obvious. The labor climate in this state, which is reinforced by its elected officials, is seen as stifling. Virginia is a right-to-work state and much more conducive to doing business than Maryland is. For instance, in the Congress today is the "striker replacement bill," which is being pushed aggressively by labor and is clearly anti-business. Even prior to the bill's formal introduction President Bush made it clear it would be vetoed.
In spite of this opposition, most of our elected congressmen, including Benjamin Cardin, Kweisi Mfume, Steny Hoyer and Tom McMillen, are in favor of the bill. Representative Cardin is a sponsor of this bill in the House. Both Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes are co-sponsors of the Senate version. This is just a small example of how many of our state's elected politicians help create an anti-business, anti-growth climate.
So long as this climate continues and we elect officials who support this climate, Maryland will never experience the kind of economic growth Virginia experiences. My hat goes off to Governor Schaefer for his attempts to economically strengthen Maryland and the Port of Baltimore. I believe his valiant attempts will only be undermined by many of his elected peers. I believe everyone should look at this situation objectively and next time vote for those who want to strengthen Maryland, not hamper its growth.
The writer is president of Valu Food.
Not Telling the Truth
Editor: It is significant that the University of Maryland College Park chooses to ignore two important reasons for the high dropout rate: (1) Kids have not been prepared by the public school system for rigorous study and (2) they are neither smart enough nor interested enough in academic pursuits.
While it is not the university's fault that the public schools do such a poor job and that society urges kids to go to college when they really should not, I do fault the university for not being bold enough to tell the truth. To do so, it would have to admit that fewer students should really be accepted for college and that the university should be downsized.
The university, however, does not want its "business" to shrink and create layoffs and smaller budgets. Instead it will do all it can to keep students that should not be in college.
An inevitable consequence is that courses will be made easier. This actually is already occurring. College degrees become meaningless. And society loses.
Carl J. Oppenheim.
Editor: Since I had read with great discourgement The Sun's illinformed editorial in support of the new Severn River bridge, it was most heartening to read Edward Gunt's views on "The Proposed Severn Span"(The Sun,July 14.)
Mr.Gunts' article is well-written and well-researched. He has carefully delineated the many dangers and disadvantages that make the proposed monster on the Severn undesirable to so many.
I suggest that the Sun's editorial page take a page from Mr.Gunts journalistic notebook and reconsider its posture in support of a struckture that is being rammed down our collective throats by the State Highway Administration and the governor, and whose design is satisfactory to so few.
Editor: I was appalled by The Evening Sun article on July 2 by Marina Sarris outlining the expenditure of over $650,000 for the "decorative lighting" at the Key Bridge.
The comments to the reporter, if accurate, attempting to justify this expenditure because "toll money, not tax dollars, paid for the project" shows that Thomas Freburger's understanding of the entire budget system is exceeded only by his extreme naivete and arrogance. Obviously, he has learned his lines from our esteemed governor and his "buddy," transportation secretary O. James Lighthizer.
They don't seem to have a clue that the public pays either way. It doesn't matter what you call it -- a toll or a tax. It's levied by the government to pay certain expenses.
The issue is whether or not the government is spending these monies responsibly. In this case, and many others, the facts show that it isn't.
When the governor starts laying off state employees, I'm hopeful that the list includes individuals who think, speak and act like Mr. Freburger. I know, however, that it will not, because the governor will want to keep all his yes men around.
Isn't the government bureaucracy in our state wonderful? There are never any surprises.
& I'm an angry taxpayer.