Kim Clark's front page story of May 5 begins by calling the Baltimore-built Chevrolet Astro van "one of the most dangerous, according to federal crash tests."
Twenty paragraphs later, on the back page, she writes, "In fact, the Highway Loss Data Institute, a private insurance research group that compiles insurance claims, has found the Astro. . .vans to be among the safest vehicles on the road."
So, whom do you believe? The insurance companies whose data are derived from vans driven by real people on real roads? Or the government, whose "data" come from vans driven into walls by dummies? Or is it dumbies?
Perhaps the federal government would like us Marylanders to test the sea-worthiness of our motorboats by running them into the sides of aircraft carriers.
Thanks, Barry Rascovar, for all the compliments in the April 29 column. He used phrases like "anti-tax crazies," "fanatical anti-tax crowd of Baltimore County" and "anti-tax know nothings."
At no time has he ever mentioned any of the real areas of fat in the budgets, such as:
* The state pension fund and its incorrect, irrational and unrealistic assumptions for determining the amount to be contributed. Appropriate changes could save $150 million.
* The APEX formula for education -- $184 million for fiscal 1993 could be spread over the next three years.
* The number of teachers across the state is sufficient to maintain a class size of 16, whereas the physical average is nearer 25. How much time do teachers spend in the classroom? Why should a curriculum cover seven classes per day? All this simply drives up the cost of education without any real results in raising the level of accomplishment.
* Why didn't the governor seek federal aid for the light-rail line? Such aid could have amounted to up to $300 million, filled our transportation coffers and precluded the need for a gas tax increase?
These are a few of the rational issues we brought to the table. We applaud Delegates Ellen Sauerbrey and John Arnick and Senators Nancy Murphy and Paula Hollinger as well as the other members of the bi-partisan group of legislators that fought so hard to bring reason and common sense to the budget process.
John D. O'Neill
The writer is president of the Maryland Taxpayers Association.
Why is columnist George Will bashing the Public Broadcasting System when it is the only source of television that is left with some values, respect for the viewer and quality programming?
It sounds like George Will has completely lost touch with people and has no idea that many working class people watch PBS and, yes, we like to think also.
Programs on nature and the ecology are widely watched and the news program "MacNeil/Lehrer" gives viewers a chance to hear both sides of an issue so that they can make up their own minds. Dramas are excellent and are free from the constant barrage of noisy, demanding commercials.
What does Mr. Will know about children and what influences them? Children from all income brackets watch "Sesame Street." The designers of the series work hard not only to prepare young kids for school but to teach them respect for all races and each other. There are other good children's programming aired as well.
Mr. Will wields a lot of power in his position but he should get to know the average American in the work place before he bashes something they happen to value.
Doreen A. Griffin
Your article "HCFA: Suspense Is Building" (May 3) about plans for the Health Care Financing Administration supposes that the only choices are $100 million in new buildings in either Baltimore or Woodlawn. This is not true.
About three-quarters of HCFA employees are housed in the East Buildings connected to the Social Security complex in Woodlawn. These buildings are on a beautiful campus.
HCFA also rents space in several buildings nearby. Urgent needs are renovating the closed cafeteria and the circulation system. These tasks, costing some $5 million, should be completed.
Employee morale and efficiency are suffering. Despite this, most HCFA employees want to stay where they are.
Blunders by Republican administrations over the past decade have led to this $100 million boondoggle. Spending this huge sum for unneeded space is folly.
Social Security already has more space than it needs in several other Woodlawn buildings. HCFA could rent some of this excess space later, if needed.
Mason Olcott Jr.
James R. Cook's insightful letter May 9 stated that "Black people shouldn't have been offended because a black man was beaten by white policemen. They should be offended because an American citizen was beaten by men entrusted to uphold and enforce the law." He is close to the heart of the matter.
Edit "black motorist Rodney King," and substitute "Rodney King, Everyman."
There must come a day when white people, all peoples, are truly outraged when any human being is savaged and abused by another human being. Then there will be hope. Then there can be justice and peace.
Steven W. Newell
The Crimea Was Never Russian
Misconceptions have been created by recent reports that some Russian politicians are demanding the return of the Crimea from Ukraine.
By a decree of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., the Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine Feb. 19, 1954.
At the time, Soviet Marshal Kliment Voroshilov hailed the decree as "a just settlement of a territorial problem."
The renewed Russian demands give rise to the current tensiobetween Ukraine and Russia. The territorial claims are without any justification. Geographically, economically and historically the Crimea was always a part of Ukraine, even though -- like the rest of divided Ukraine -- it was for long times under foreign domination.
In ancient times the Crimea was the easternmost outpost of the Roman Empire. In the 10th and 11th centuries, it was a part of the medieval Ukrainian state of Kievan Rus. (The term "Rus" -- in Latin "Ruthenia" -- is the historical name of present day Ukraine).
In 1223, the Crimea was taken over by Tatars who came from Asia. They ruled over it until 1774 when they were defeated by the expanding Russian empire, which annexed the Crimea.
There is a difference between the terms "Russia" and "Russian Empire." The Crimea was never "Russian" but only "subject of the Russian empire."
It is true that as a result of the long and intense Russification, Russians in the Crimea make up 67 percent of the population and and Ukrainians only 25.8 percent. But current Russian territorial claims on the Crimea are nothing else but old imperial desires to bring the young and independent Ukrainian nation back under the Russian heel.
Wolodymyr C. Sushko