That Federal Hill Pylon
Editor: I want to correct some of the statements made in a letter to you by Richard Leitch concerning the pylon on the rooftop of 210 E. Montgomery Street. I share in the community efforts of the Federal Hill Association, and it is my belief that all neighborhood associations should devote their efforts to performing civic activities. I think it is very commendable that the association is living up to its responsibilities. However, this is part and parcel of the activities of a neighborhood association, and it should not require any special accolades. I think also that this is an irrelevant issue concerning the sculpture.
More important is the fact that only 22 voted against the pylon, which indicates that the association membership is very small or that a negligible number of persons participated in the vote considering the large number of residents in the area.
It would seem apparent to me that the entire city can benefit by the interesting contribution of the sculpture, especially since it has been made available by a private citizen. In my opinion, it is a part of Baltimore's history. History has no stopping point.
I am aware of very few objections by the Federal Hill Association to the many decks of absolute contemporary design in antennas, aerials and air conditioners in contradiction to the beauty of the art work on 210 E. Montgomery Street, which cannot even be seen unless you are aware that it is there. The pylon on 210 E. Montgomery is a model consistent with urban renewal while many of the facades are of unattractive, odd colors which adversely affect the facades of the properties.
I think that Mr. Leitch's innuendoes attributing collusions with city officials involving the Lane Berk case are not worthy of refuting. Mr. Leitch's suggestion that the owner of a property being rehabilitated live within the property and not elsewhere during the period of rehabilitation is certainly not realistic or practical. Ms. Lane, who is designing her home with an artistic concept, is to be a resident and not an investor. I urge that those of the Federal Hill Association who oppose the pylon review their posture.
The Challenges Facing the Pratt
Editor: I wish to applaud The Sun for the valuable public service your articles on the Pratt library represents. Your series exemplifies your commitment to the citizens of Baltimore and the state as you have used your pages to advance discussion on such an important public policy issue.
The articles provide the public vital information about the Pratt. By including the perspectives of library directors from the
Sunbelt, the Pacific Northwest and from the Midwest, you place our library within the wider perspective of other libraries. You are right to do this. Other perspectives of other libraries are useful and informative.
However, I believe a still broader perspective is needed, such as comments from library directors of other embattled Eastern cities more like Baltimore, such as Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., or Philadelphia.
The challenges facing Pratt confront libraries across the country in varying degrees, depending upon the economic strength of the geographic region. I agree with your editorial conclusion that funding is the truly salient issue in analyzing the Pratt's problems.
Another issue that requires broader perspective and more analysis is regionalism as a solution to Pratt's problems. Pratt is already regionalized. Since 1971 it has served as the State Resource Library. This relieves the newer county systems of the need to create collections of the scope and depth of Pratt's 106-year-old collection. SInce by law their users have access to the Pratt collection, county systems are able to invest more heavily in books and serials for popular mass market collections.
As city funding in constant dollars declined, we sought additional funding sources. The trustees raised $3 million and won a $1 million "challenge grant" from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The city agreed to a $200,000 increase in its annual appropriation from interest income earned from Enoch Pratt's gift to the city. In 1987 we won a $2 million budget increase from the city.
Library efforts initiated while Gov. William Donald Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore led to his recommending in 1990 an extra $1.5 million in a three-phase state process to fund fully Pratt Central. The current budget crisis has interrupted this full funding plan.
In 1991, the Pratt received $500,000 in city funding to upgrade our computer system that provides Baltimore and state users greater electronic access to Pratt Central's books and materials. Finally, since 1986 we have spent more than $4 million to renovate our branch and central facilities.
Pratt serves the most diverse population in the state. In the midst of the widespread efforts to reduce illiteracy and inadequate job preparation, I welcome your scrutiny and recommendations for more funding. I am confident that we can find solutions that will honor the spirit and letter of Enoch Pratt's original gift of an outstanding library to the city he loved.
The writer is director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Editor: Brian Sullam's Jan. 12 Perspective article, "If U.S. Auto Execs Want to Know Why Their Cars Don't Sell in Japan," claiming that U.S.-made cars don't sell in Japan because steering wheels aren't on the right side of the car is overly simplistic.
Mr. Sullam quickly dismissed the fact that "the Japanese have erected a number of non-tariff barriers, such as unrealistic inspection and certification requirements for foreign-made cars." Yet it is those inspection and certification requirements that are causing our uneven trade balance with Japan.
U.S. products sold in Japan aren't given a fair shot to compete. By the time they are ready to be sold, our products cost much more than their Japanese counterparts, due to Japan's high inspection and certification fees.
With U.S. car costs significantly more than the Japanese, not many buy U.S. cars, steering wheel on the right side or not. If Japan's trade barriers are removed, U.S. car makers will make appropriate cars for Japan, but until then, car makers just want a fair chance to be competitive.
Editor: Reading the recipe for wiener schnitzel in your Food & Home Section almost made my blood curl.
The recipe no doubt will lead to a fine-tasting dish, but a wiener schnitzel it is not. In addition to the meat and salt, only flour, eggs, milk and bread crumbs are needed.
Many Viennese believe that the best tasting schnitzels are obtained by frying or sauteeing in lard but butter, with some oil added, is also widely used.
Never put the breaded meat in the refrigerator, as this will lead to a higher absorption of fat when frying, but let the breaded meat sit on a rack or board for 15-20 minutes before frying.
And do not tamper with the recipe. True Viennese consider this blasphemous.
Incidentally, it is unlikely that Mozart tasted wiener schnitzel when he lived in Vienna.
Editor: How can state legislators moan that they have a budget problem when they voted for an airport museum for College Park and the indoor equestrian center for Prince George's County?
It appears that changing legislators and maybe limiting terms is warranted, among Republicans as well as Democrats.
George B. Breeden.
Editor: There were two articles in the Maryland section of the Jan. 19 Sunday Sun, which deserve the special attention of politicians and all taxpayers and voters.
The first explained the peril to Al Redmer and Jim Ports, Republican delegates from Baltimore County, who have the audacity to try to eliminate some of the fat from our state budget.
The second article dealt with the attempt to cut some of the fat out of the top level of the bureaucracy of the Baltimore County police department. I think most of us would agree, it is better to eliminate one top-level bean counter instead of two workers.
Seizing on these initiatives, the people now have a golden opportunity to demand more responsible government.