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Ill WindEditor: Peter Jay questioned whether the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ill Wind

Editor: Peter Jay questioned whether the victims of Hurricane Bob in the Northeast should be bailed out by taxpayers. He then uses this example to make a point that taxpayers should not be required to loan several million dollars to the Wisp ski area in Western Maryland.

Mr. Jay conveniently overlooked the sacred cow of Ocean City.

State and federal governments have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars to pump sand onto the beaches of Ocean City which Mother Nature is promptly removing. Why should taxpayers in Garrett County or Idaho or Massachusetts pay to put sand on these beaches?

Pumping sand at Ocean City or blowing snow at Wisp are both ill wind for the taxpayer.

Roy C. Albert.

Edgewood.

Avenging Angels

Editor: There is something disturbing happening on Smith Island. A handful of State Police troopers, who apparently have nothing better to do, are using very harsh and intimidating tactics to solve a relatively insignificant crime.

While I cannot condone vandalizing a State Police vehicle, I can understand the motive behind it.

Several weeks ago troopers descended on Smith Island like self-appointed avenging angels, handing out severe penalties for minor traffic infractions in a community where the roads are deplorable, traffic signs are nonexistent and motorists face a near impossible task keeping their cars maintained to state inspection standards.

The behavior of these officers was inexcusable. Instead of trying to win the support and confidence of residents, they chose to antagonize and alienate us by ignoring our basic constitutional rights. On Sept. 7, these intrepid troopers set up a speed trap on roads that have had no posted speed limit in living memory.

Not only are these officers not wanted, they are not needed. In an era of state budget deficits and escalating violent street crime in Maryland's largest cities, the brain trust of the Maryland State Police has seen fit to assign two of its troopers to patrol a mile and a half of the most crime-free streets in America.

The officers in question have accomplished nothing in the way of serving and protecting residents here. The time for their departure is long overdue.

Chris Parks.

Ewell.

Housing Money

Editor: Your news story, "'Mayor touts East Baltimore developments," should read, "Mayor touts Kurt Schmoke."

This is just what the city taxpayers need -- to use $103,000 to build two bars, lounges and meeting rooms for a non-profit fraternal organization.

The project for 80 new and rehabilitated houses is excellent. However, unless the existing housing codes are enforced in the neighborhoods where the work is done the life span of these efforts will be short.

Better to spend this money in enforcing current housing codes and saving existing housing.

Charles D. Connelly.

Baltimore.

It's PROSE!

Editor:

Should you decide to set

This letter into lines,

It's still not poetry --

It's prose.

@A skylark painted red

Is not a cardinal;

Tho' passing thought be set

In broken lengths

(Flush left and random right)

An idea well-perceived

Is not a poem --

Lord love us all, it's PROSE!

Fresh thoughts set forth

And well described

Once put aright

(Not stupidly cut up like this)

Are PROSE!

By Edgar Allan's grave, (more, ad tedium)

Words posed in severed lines

Do not a poem make!

If printed so,

You foist a fraud

Upon the populace who read.

Alvin H. Levin.

Baltimore.

Minimalist

Editor: I was appalled to learn that state Sen. Julian A. Lapides is opposed to spending more money for the expansion of the Convention Center.

I must say this is just like him. He has always been an agitator, a trouble-maker, a little man and a classic minimalist. He is against everything that smacks of growth.

He has no vision and thinks small as opposed to our strong governor, who thinks big and has plenty of vision -- although the governor is a bit clumsy in getting his point across.

G. Denmead LeViness.

Baltimore.

Customers, TQM

Editor: As a total quality management consultant, I was naturally defensive reading "TQM is Yet Another Trend that Ignores Business Problems," Tom Peters' Sept. 9 column in The Sun's MBW. Yet I found myself nodding agreement. Mr. Peters raises important questions.

Fifty years ago, Walter A. Shewhart wrote in his classic book that provided the foundation for TQM: "The consumer is the most important part of the production line. Without the consumer, production ceases."

Mr. Peters suggests we are misguided if we don't apply TQM to customer needs. He is correct.

So then, how does TQM address the customer voice? Traditional Western approaches to customer research are based upon data reduction. Typically, we do surveys of various types and distill a thousand responses into a one-page executive summary. Top managers presumably read and discuss these summaries and make business decisions.

Our friends in the East take a far different approach. A 1987 "Harvard Business Review" article on "Market Research the Japanese Way" described how a team of executives from Canon toured America and visited camera shops every day for six weeks. They personally gathered enough consumer intelligence to successfully introduce the AE-1 in a market niche just below Nikon's targeted segment.

What is unique is that senior management did the research themselves. We call this "hands-on research applied to TQM."

So Mr. Peters is right. TQM must include the customer. And senior managers committed to TQM must learn to go directly to their customers in a systematic way, with an open mind, and then use the information to achieve a breakthrough. To be successful, TQM cannot be delegated.

David M. Saunders.

Baltimore.

Nickel is Needed

Editor: I read with interest your Aug. 28 editorial, "Highway Porkers in the House," about the federal transportation bill.

I think we can all agree that there should be no "pork" or special (read "unneeded") projects in the House or Senate transportation bill now making its way through Congress.

History demonstrates that many of these projects don't get past the Senate/House conference committee, and of those that do, most are never started because of a lack of state matching funds.

However, you are wrong in linking the 5-cent increase in the federal gas tax, the "Nickel for America," if you will, to the "pork" in the House bill.

The fact is, most of the new revenue derived from the nickel would go to support the "National Highway System," which is the centerpiece of the Bush administration's highway initiative. The NHS also figures prominently in the Senate bill you indicate you favor.

The need for this nickel increase is a result of the poor condition of the nation's federal-aid highways and bridges. The U.S. Department of Transportation stated in July that on the 43,000-mile interstate highway system alone -- the nation's economic lifeline -- more than 3,800 bridges are "structurally deficient." Approximately 42 percent of the pavement mileage is in "poor" or "fair" condition. In addition, merely to "maintain 1989 conditions" on the federal-aid system will require an annual federal/state investment of $45.7 billion -- about double the current level of investment. Improving conditions, the report says, could cost up to $74.9 billion per year!

On July 25, House Resolution 2950 was approved by the House Public Works and Transportation Committee. This legislation would authorize $153.5 billion in federal aid for surface transportation programs through 1996. The bill would provide $120 billion for highways and bridges and $33.5 billion for transit projects. This funding level can only be achieved through a nickel-per-gallon increase in the federal motor fuels tax.

When the facts are revealed, it is clear that the "Nickel for America" is needed to prevent further deterioration of our transportation system.

Robert E. Latham.

Glen Burnie.

The writer is executive director of Marylanders for Efficient & Safe Highways, a lobbying group of contractors, engineers and others in the highway business.

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