Frank Capra and His Films
Editor: I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation for the contributions made by Frank Capra to our society.
Frank Capra, who died in his sleep at age 94 recently, successfully carried much of his Italian heritage into his filmmaking. His critics over the years paid little attention to the fact the he came to the United States from his native Sicily in 1903 at age six. He was very clever in the manner in which he used non-ethnic people in his works to convey his intensely Italian vision of his adopted country.
As a small child, he was with his mother as she put in long hours in a cannery -- a strong introduction to the social conditions in those times. His father worked long hours at a bottling plant at the same time. Mr. Capra learned, by modeling after his father, how to become a mediator of conflicts, a strategy he employed in his own profession later on. The happy family and positive father figures so prominent in many of his films likely came from his own childhood experiences.
He often celebrated the American community made up of various ethnic groups. Mr. Capra expressed pride in going to school with people from various races and ethnic backgrounds and even made friendships with European intellectuals. There was no doubt that he was a cultured person, and I think it showed in his much of his filmmaking.
Although we mourn his death, we can be thankful that his excellent films are still extant and, hopefully, we will have the chance to see them from time to time.
He will be missed, but his work won't be forgotten for a very long time.
Angelo C. Gilli Sr.
Pasadena. Editor: A Sept. 2 article disappointed me very much. It's bad enough that the story, "Man Arrested After Freeing Dogs," was an inaccurate account of the actual situation. Even worse was the article's tone. The hero is not, as The Sun would have you believe, the "Pied Piper of Hampden" but the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
For 122 years the SPCA has given food, water and shelter to the community's unwanted animals. And contrary to popular belief, the animals do not have a limit on the number of days they can stay at the shelter. Additionally, our kennels are spotless and our animals well fed.
The writer is assistant to the president of the city SPCA.
Make It Official
Editor: The article Aug. 15 addressing the GOP's willingness to share the cost of voter registration forms was enlightening. However, the GOP should refrain from efforts to enroll new party members randomly through mailing to new homeowners and state residents.
Joyce Terhes should simply stand outside of state agencies and merely hand out the forms and collect them at the end of the day, save the mailing cost.
Remember the old saying, a Democrat in state employment is worth a GOP in the booth. Why not register them and make it official.
Editor: I'm surprised the United States isn't taking this opportunity to suggest that Soviet Union nuclear weapons be destroyed rather than redeployed to Russia.
Even more ominous than redeployment is the specter of newly formed governments having at their disposal doomsday weapons. The proliferation of nuclear arsenals should be avoided for the safety of the world.
Perhaps a middle ground for negotiations could be worked linking reductions, foreign aid, and further U.S. reductions.
Editor: Jack Fruchtman's Sept. 8 column, "Judicial Mediocrity," is the last straw in the media efforts to canonize Justice Thurgood Marshall and to compare our current Supreme Court unfavorably with past courts.
Justice Marshall was undoubtedly a great and talented advocate for racial and social justice -- as an attorney. As a justice, his view point became so one-dimensional and didactic as to be predictably monotonous and frequently wrong. Evidence for this the testimony of his own law clerks, one of whom has recently completed a book that emphasizes Justice Marshall's gaffes and lapses.
I cheered for him at his testimonial dinner in the 1960s, but increasingly despaired of seeing an acceptable judicial product come from his deliberations.
I will predict that Judge Clarence Thomas will be confirmed, and that 40 years down the road, his record as a justice will be universally recognized as superior to Justice Marshall's, in terms of what it accomplishes for the American people, both black and white.
As for Professor Fruchtman's contention that a Supreme Court justice should have had some other "big job" to qualify him for the court, I find this laughable and beside the point. Look at the products of the justices he lauds: invoking invisible rights, implied rights, "penumbra" and other such liberal clap-trap in playing fast and loose with the Constitution diminishes them in ,, stature regardless of the past titles they brought to the court.
Franklin W. Littleton
Editor: What kind of county do we live in when members of the Baltimore County Fire Department are harassed for collecting for the Muscular Dystrophy Association?
These men and women are out there every year collecting. What is so sad is this might be the last year unless they get more support from County Executive Roger Hayden. Where was he when the Labor Day weekend telethon was in progress? Why didn't he step in and help?
Fire Department personnel decided to cease collecting early because of all the hassles they encountered.
Who is at fault here? Not the police; the officers are only doing their jobs. The fault lies with the people who felt it necessary to call 911 to cry and complain and had nothing better to do. I hope these people have healthy children and never need help from MDA.
I also hope these people feel like they accomplished something by complaining about fire personnel being in the street. I do know the firefighters should be proud. They accomplished a lot and should feel good.
Editor: A political candidates' forum and demonstration recently at the Pulaski incinerator has called attention to the need to reduce waste at the source, recycle and to do away with that dinosaur, the Pulaski garbage incinerator.
Both the city and county take trash to Pulaski, but citywide curbside recycling has begun, and within a year citizen pressure will force the county to offer curbside recycling as well. Aggressive waste reduction and recycling will shrink the volume of waste, and according to a 1990 Gannett Flemming report, will completely end the need for the Pulaski incinerator.
The Pulaski incinerator is costing the city over $10 million each year to operate, and to bring the plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act will cost city taxpayers another $42 million. Unfortunately, the city has an ironclad contract with the owner of Pulaski to keep using it until 1996. It could cost the city millions to end the contract early, a tough pill to swallow, but most likely, the cost will be less than the $42 million bill for Clean Air Act compliance.
Pollution is also an issue with incinerators. At the very least, Baltimore's two incinerators produce 1,000 tons of ash per day. This ash, which contains toxic metals like lead and cadmium, gets buried in the city's Quarantine landfill. Is the city opening itself to future Superfund liability if (or when) these heavy metals start leaching out of the landfill?
Some people in the waste disposal business apparently think the answer to the Pulaski problem is to build another "waste-to-energy" trash incinerator, like BRESCO, on the Pulaski site. Many citizens, if they have not thoroughly informed themselves on waste issues, might accept this proposed solution. A big "waste-to-energy" incinerator is visually impressive -- even dedicated recyclers taking a tour may be taken in by its intimidating, engineered, technological massiveness. It is also true that these modern incinerators produce a little energy as a by-product of burning a whole lot of trash, but recycling conserves much more energy than any trash incinerator can produce. It also reduces pollution and costs less.
In sum, Baltimore does not need two incinerators, and building a new one anywhere in the Baltimore area would only harm recycling efforts. As for closing Pulaski, assistance from the state could make the difference.
In particular, Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who has strongly backed recycling and environmental protection efforts in recent years, was mayor when the Pulaski contract was inked. Perhaps the governor's influence could bring about the closing of the incinerator, and a guarantee of no new one, in a manner less costly to the City and satisfactory to Pulaski's owner.