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

No More, MurphyAm I the only person...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

No More, Murphy

Am I the only person in the country who agrees with Vice President Quayle?

Perhaps it is not just the Murphy Brown incident. But television has become the disclosure of violence fed to many unbalanced people, and they try to live up to it.

And, let's face it. Illegitimacy is so prevalent in so many women and girls, why must we be the ones burdened with it?

We need to escape today's cruel, dirty world for a few hours a day.

In the days of the Great Depression, we saw movies of grace, glamour and gentle life. It gave our parents a few hours of beauty and the will to survive.

We need it today.

N. H. Buchar

Baltimore

Live with It?

This is in response to the article printed in The Sun April 14, "Lifting weight of 'failure' from dieters' shoulder."

As members of a clinic dedicated to the multi-disciplinary treatment of overweight people, we agree that many persons have unrealistic and unnecessary expectations for their body weight. But what about individuals who are dangerously overweight?

Is "learn to live with it" the best treatment medical science has to offer? We are aware of what a "consensus panel" of our peers has reported, but it has neglected to address the medical needs for weight reduction. Some seven years experience leads us to different conclusions on weight management:

* While causes of overweight are complex and not completely understood, they are far from unknown. They involve genetics, physiology, lifestyle/environmental factors, psychology, nutrition and exercise -- and managing these influences can be a big job for even the most motivated, overweight-prone individual.

* The fact that lost weight is often regained only demands that all emphasis be placed on behavioral change. Weight loss is easy, maintenance of weight loss is the enduring challenge, but it is a critical component of health and longevity.

* In a recent study of our long-term maintenance patients, an average of 95.7 percent of weight lost during active weight reduction has been maintained for 18 months after initiation of therapy. These individuals are faithful attendees of professionally run maintenance classes and are committed to long-term behavioral and lifestyle changes.

* Repeated and failed attempts to control weight can be psychologically and physically damaging. The public is being gulled by quick-fix slogans for cosmetic weight reduction. This must not detract from the medical focus on a morbid but treatable disease.

Another professional consensus committee met in February 1985 and defined serious overweight as a morbid disease. This has not been changed or challenged. There are too few professionals doing quality work in this medical illness. This will not improve until the complexities of weight management are taken seriously by both the patient and the health-care industry.

Patricia Morgan, R.D.

Thaddeus E. Prout, M.D.

Towson

School Music

The May 20 letter, "A Mockery," criticized The Sun researchers as shallow and the Baltimore City public schools music department budget as bloated. The writer's characterization of the music department is horribly off key. He should know better.

Howard H. Conaway Jr. has simply misread the city's budget document and made wrong conclusions. Mr. Conaway wrongly states that in 1990 the city school budget included three secretaries and an office assistant to support two piano tuners.

He should have correctly read that there were a total of five secretaries or office assistants to support 32 field instructional specialists. The specialists assist teachers in classrooms all over the city.

The four piano and instrument helper technicians have no secretaries. They have always been responsible for their own office activities in addition to repairing and maintaining, not 100 pianos as Mr. Conaway wrongly states, but more than 1,100 pianos and 2,500 band instruments in 179 schools.

In the new budget, after the budget cuts, there are fewer personnel: four secretaries or office assistants and 21 instructional specialists. There are still no secretaries for the instrument repair shop.

This is not the first time The Sun has carried erroneous information on this aspect of the schools, but we hope it is the last. The cumulative effect of this kind of misleading information is harmful to our city and our children.

The Sun has some responsibility in trying to verify the accuracy of information carried even in letters to the editor. It is simply good judgment.

Nat Harrington

Baltimore

The writer is public relations director of the Baltimore City school system.

NAACP Redistricting Suit

The article May 20 concerning the NAACP redistricting suit contained inaccuracies.

Specifically, the NAACP is troubled by the incorrect assertions found in the headline and the first two paragraphs stating that the NAACP and the Republican Party are a "new team," or "became partners," or have "join[ed] to fight redistricting" with the filing of our lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan for the state of Maryland.

Not only was the article erroneous in these statements, but it also failed to mention the real organization "team" announced at the press conference.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has joined with the NAACP general counsel's office to try this important case and will play a key role as it continues. Our efforts will also be assisted by attorneys from the Washington office of Morrison and Foerster.

These assertions concerning the GOP are particularly troublesome because of the intense effort that the NAACP Redistricting Project and the Maryland NAACP have made to maintain a nonpartisan position in our efforts to see that the promises of the Voting Rights Act become a reality in Maryland.

The statements are even more troublesome because the direct answers to questions asked of me at the press conference made it clear that the NAACP was not working with the GOP in this matter.

(I was asked if we would be working with the GOP on this case and my answer was simply "No." In response to another question, I also stated that some issues raised in the GOP suit were contradictory to the issues that we are pursuing.)

After the press conference, I was called by a reporter for The Sun whose purpose was to explore further what relationship, if any, existed between the NAACP and the GOP both locally and nationally.

He called with the presumption that there was a relationship between the two groups on the national level with regard to redistricting issues and that joint legal efforts had taken place in other states.

The discussion that took place made it perfectly clear that the NAACP has had no ongoing relationship with either major political party and that we have at times been critical of what both parties were advocating in jurisdictions that were undergoing redistricting.

Substantial details of the effort that the NAACP has made to maintain a nonpartisan relationship across the country and in Maryland were explained.

It is true that both the GOP and NAACP lawsuits charge that the recently adopted redistricting plan dilutes the voting strength of the minority citizens of the state of Maryland and is violative of both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

It is also correct that the NAACP has moved to have our case consolidated with the Marylanders for Fair Representation case. Our request for consolidation only means that we think that the cases involve some of the same basic issues and that the resources of the court would be conserved by having two cases challenging the legislative plan heard at the same time.

It does not in any way imply that the NAACP and the GOP will litigate the voting rights claims in the same way, ask for the same relief from the court, or necessarily work together on these or other issues. All of this was explained to your reporter.

The NAACP and the ACLU will litigate these issues in the manner that we deem most appropriate for our clients and constituents and will do so independent of any other groups.

We hope in the future that those writing articles and headlines for The Sun will pay more attention to the facts than to their preconceptions before putting items into print.

Samuel L. Walters

Baltimore

The writer is assistant general counsel of the NAACP.

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