Editor: There are two times during the day that I hate to be out on the road driving -- dawn and dusk.
Drivers will not turn their lights on. I know they can see me, but it sure is hard for me to see them.
Please turn your lights on at dawn and dusk. And please use your turn signals.
Raymond S. Burnett.
Kudos on Boots
Editor: The Boots for Baltimore Committee was delighted with the article by Liz Bowie in The Sun of Jan. 11. We were particularly pleased that she explained the importance of boots to men without jobs; not only do boots help to keep them warm and healthy, but having boots increases their chance to obtain work.
We also liked the photograph which captured the recipients' excitement. Reader response to the article has been prompt and generous.
The story gave due credit to the Church of the Redeemer. The congregation began this program; the committee is made up of church members; and the church provides us with a base for operations. But we would like to emphasize that fully half of the contributors and half of our funds come from outside the church. Without the help of the greater Baltimore community, 340 men would not have received boots this year.
Mary H. Bready.
Editor: "They made me feel like I was special!" "They treated me like I was somebody." These and other comments followed the lunch for the homeless sponsored by the Hyatt Regency on Jan. 13. For the more than 200 homeless men, women and children who enjoyed the sumptuous buffet with all the trimmings, the hospitality of the staff in making them feel welcome was the best part.
Along with the delicious meal, the linen tablecloths and attractive centerpieces on each table came personal service -- staff bringing beverages and desserts to the tables, bringing seconds to take home, holding babies so mothers could relax and enjoy the food. One mother was delighted to find that she could bring juices and milk back to the shelter where she was staying for all the kids. Another mother took two plates of food back for her children in school. The atmosphere was festive and relaxing.
The outreach nurses at Health Care for the Homeless were invited to the lunch to give health services to the guests. As we checked blood pressures and chatted with the guests, we were warmed by the hospitality, too.
In an era when many people begrudge anything to those who are less fortunate than themselves, or who blame the victims for their plight, it is good to see an organization that shares its services with those less fortunate in such a compassionate manner.
The writer is outreach coordinator for Health Care for the Homeless.
Loss for Baltimore City Police
Editor: I was saddened to read in The Sun (Jan. 18) that Dennis S. Hill's job as public information director for the Baltimore Police Department was being abolished.
As a former director of public information for the Maryland State Police, I had the experience of working closely with Dennis.
During his 21-year tenure, Dennis earned the trust and respect of both the media and his colleagues for doing a difficult and sometimes thankless job.
Day and night, Dennis was always on call and often responded to the scene of major incidents to personally work with the media.
As the city police spokesman, Dennis was always able to maintain the balance between the competing goals of maintaining a free press while ensuring a fair trial.
I do not understand why Dennis is being fired just nine months short of retirement when he apparently has done nothing wrong and the public information function is being continued.
Dennis Hill's departure will be a real loss to both the public and the police.
Severna Park. Editor: I am deeply concerned about Richard E. Vatz's and Lee S. Weinberg's article, "Insuring the 'Mentally Ill'," Jan. 11.
Several of the points made are particularly troublesome.
Mr. Vatz and Mr. Weinberg begin by stating that certain people "hide" behind mental illness. This may be true, but does not mean that all mental illness is bogus. Certain people also hide behind physical injuries and other chronic illness. This does not mean those are not a source of pain and suffering for many people.
How are Mr. Vatz and Mr. Weinberg in a position to evaluate pain and suffering? According to their article, illness is only present if you can measure it or run a test. A pretty antiquated view at best when you consider that AIDS existed prior to 1984, yet we had no test for HIV.
One of our real problems in modern society is that we expect quick and definitive answers. Despite our technological advances, this rarely exists in any medicine.
The fact that no biological basis has been proven does not mean that mental illness does not exist. It is well documented in the medical literature that certain medications and therapies do alleviate the disabling symptoms of many mental illnesses.
Mr. Vatz and Mr. Weinberg may also be interested in the fact that biological changes are now found not only in schizophrenia but in other psychiatric disorders as well. For example, on the cutting edge of medical research, physiologic changes in the brain have been demonstrated in depressive disorders utilizing PET scanning, a brain imaging technique.
I think a close examination of the way we interpret our problems in living goes way beyond whether psychiatric illness "deserves" insurance coverages. Mental illness is not just a product of "unavoidable problems of life in a modern, complex society." It has been around for a long time and in all cultures, both primitive and industrialized.
As with all medical illness, the culture in part determines the form it takes.
With this in mind, we need to deal with our political and socio-economic ills for what they are instead of making scapegoats out of those who suffer.
Judith A. Feld, M.D.
Editor: In response to your recently published article and editorial regarding recycling in Baltimore and the Mid-Atlantic Recycling Corp. (MARC), we'd like to offer some new insights.
Your editorial, "No Free Lunch for Recyclers," asserted that MARC, as "the only game in town," should be allowed to charge counties tipping fees for accepting the household mixed paper which it contracted in good faith some months ago to accept at zero dollars per ton.
You encouraged counties to "swallow" these unforeseen tipping fees to help recycling in the region by helping MARC, an innocent victim of its own inexperience.
MARC is by no means the only game in town, though it is the only recycling enterprise in town that is heavily state-subsidized.
Capitol Fiber Inc., a joint venture of the Washington Post Co. and Baltimore-based recycler Canusa Corp., opened a large-scale paper recycling facility in Dundalk in July and bid on municipal waste.
The business went to MARC, presumably because Capitol's bids were not as attractive as MARC's or because Capitol Fiber would not agree to accept household mixed paper.
Six months into its commitment, however, MARC, pressed to tidy up its balance sheet, begins to cry "tipping fee" as it figures out what other area recyclers already knew: There is no way to make a profit accepting household mixed paper because the cost of sorting it is far greater than what it will bring as a commodity.
Households and other generators of waste paper must take responsibility for sorting their own paper. Cereal boxes, frozen food boxes and junk mail ruin the value of the other commodities.
Recycling programs all over the country recognize this and these communities recycle successfully without any great burden to the citizens.
Perhaps the biggest blow MARC has dealt recycling in Baltimore is to mistakenly lead households, businesses and municipalities to believe that someone else will do the work of sorting and separating -- and do it for free.
Bruce W. Fleming.
The writer is president of the Carusa Corp. Fiber Group.
A Selling Point
Editor: If the car companies want to drastically improve car sales, why don't they eliminate car salesmen?