Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Recycling ProblemsEditor: As Baltimore's new curbside recycling...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Recycling Problems

Editor: As Baltimore's new curbside recycling program gets started, there are several points that need to be made. First of all, the use of the "blue bags" may be a problem.

So far, these bags are not readily available. But they may prove unpopular. Citizens may dislike having to buy them. Many people would rather have one re-usable recycling container.

The recycling program may only be supported by those who can afford or choose to purchase the special bags. Lower income families may not be able to take advantage of the program.

The second point is the variety of materials accepted. The bags may contain glass containers, metal cans, milk jugs and plastic soda bottles. What about other plastic containers?

Throughout my home are dozens of products in plastic bottles or containers. Most bear the recyclable material symbol. What do we do with these materials, just dispose of them in the regular garbage? If we do that, then I do not feel that we are recycling. What, then, is the goal of the program?

The third point that I would like to address is collection. I have witnessed the recyclable paper being placed in the same truck as the other garbage. I have talked to others who have seen the same thing.

This would not be a problem if someone separated the paper from the garbage at the incinerator. But we all know that this is not the case.

Was the recyclable paper truck full? If so, why not leave the paper and pick it up on the next recycling date?

If these concerns are worked out, Baltimore's recycling program could become the model for other large cities.

David Getz. Baltimore.

Dimmock Rapped

Editor: T. Herbert Dimmock's Jan. 29, letter, "Ugly Rap is No Bach," greatly upset me. It perpetuates my concern that the number of open-minded people in the world is rapidly declining. Furthermore, I am upset that this kind of letter could come from someone with a musical background.

The way Mr. Dimmock compares rap music to "music worthy of our attention and understanding" is absolutely abhorrent. Different types of people like different types of music; I'm sure not everyone considers choir orchestrations to be the pick of the crop.

Being a student at Pikesville High School and a musician myself -- I have performed with the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra and with numerous Baltimore County All-County Bands and Orchestras -- I try to listen to and appreciate a wide range of musical styles. I have been inspired, motivated, challenged and even changed while playing in or listening to symphonies, jazz groups, heavy metal bands and percussion ensembles. Even though I am not a big rap fan myself, I am sure someone, somewhere, has felt this same way listening to rap music.

What Mr. Dimmock should understand is that it doesn't take a great musician to make great music; what it takes is just one person to listen to it and feel it. Whether it be Poe or Public Enemy, beauty is in the ear of the listener.

$ Scott Eisenberg. Pikesville.

End Oil Hysteria

Editor: The high-decibel resistance to a proposed oil and natural gas exploratory drilling in Charles County reflects a misbegotten hysteria, clearly based on fear spawned by misinformation, much of it deliberate.

An Earth First spokesman declared that the proposed drilling would threaten endangered species, including the bald eagle. Up to January 1991, 3,136,570 exploratory and development wells have been drilled by the domestic petroleum industry. I do not believe Earth First can cite a single instance of a bald eagle having been harmed by a drilling rig.

Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th, calls the idea "(playing) oil Russian Roulette with the Chesapeake Bay." Surely, the congressman knows that millions of the gallons of crude oil and petroleum products move on the bay continuously. Were this not so, traffic no doubt would be stalled in the streets and byways of his district. A little checking would reveal to him that 95 percent of the troublesome oil spills in America resulted from transportation (barge and tanker) accidents, not production activity.

I have the highest regard for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and share its values very personally, because I own a riverfront home on the lower Potomac that I'm making my permanent residence. However, if the foundation truly believes, given today's incredibly sophisticated petroleum exploration technology which is envied worldwide, that one dubious onshore drilling venture is a threat to the bay, its leadership really needs to acquire a little knowledge in this field.

Such unnecessarily aroused organizations and individuals might consider the oil history of a very beautiful neighboring state, Pennsylvania, which has tributaries of the bay. A railroad conductor named Edwin Drake drilled the world's first oil well near Titusville in 1859. Since then, more than 322,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania -- 453 in 1990 -- and a quarter million wells have produced crude oil in that state.

Over time, some 228,000 Pennsylvania oil wells have been depleted, plugged under rigid state laws and abandoned. I doubt that Earth First or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation could TC locate a single one of these former oil wells, much less any environmental damage attributable to them.

As of January 1991, Pennsylvania still had more than 22,000 wells producing crude oil and 30,000 producing natural gas, in 33 counties covering almost two thirds of its geographic area. If this widespread production activity has caused environmental damage, nobody in Pennsylvania has bothered to report it. In fact, that state widely advertises its natural beauty and culture, inviting Americans everywhere to come see for themselves. This writer has personally fished glistening Pennsylvania trout streams, some running right through oil-producing areas.

Since World War II, Georgia has had a standing law offering a bonus of $250,000 for the first oil discovery inside its borders. Hundreds of wells have been drilled there but no one has yet claimed the prize. As an importer of all the petroleum products it consumes, Maryland ought to consider such strategy. At the very least, Marylanders should remain calm; one well, no doubt destined to be another "dry hole," certainly doesn't mean the end of the Earth.

$ Lloyd N. Unsell. Colton's Point.

Dedication

Editor: Your editorial, "City Pay, City Residence," is an insult to every Baltimore City public safety employee.

To accuse firefighters and police officers of not caring simply because they live outside Baltimore City's political boundaries is absurd. Obviously, The Sun's editorial staff either does not or chooses not to understand the reason people elect public safety employment in the first place.

It certainly isn't the pay -- Baltimore's salaries for firefighters are lagging 25 percent behind Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington and 22 percent behind Maryland's major subdivisions.

Is it for benefits or employment security? No, in the case of benefits, we're about average and job security is now all but gone considering the constant threat of layoffs. Then why? Why would a firefighter, for example, choose employment in a field that enjoys the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest death and injury rates in the country. Or why did half of Baltimore's firefighters leave higher paying jobs to become members of the department?

The reason: firefighters are dedicated and caring people. They put their calling above all else, with the exception of their family.

Public safety employees want the best for their loved ones just like everyone else. Maybe, just maybe, after fighting fires, crime and attending to medical emergencies (Baltimore is second in the country in total fire and rescue alarms per square mile), an employee has the right to retire to the place of residence he or she chooses.

Why should public employees be held up to a condition of employment greater than those who work in the private sector? Does The Sun's editorial staff live in Baltimore City?

' Jeffrey A. DeLisle. Baltimore.

The writer is president of the Baltimore City Fire Fighters Local No. 734.

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