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Star in SpaceI read with interest the...


Star in Space

I read with interest the Associated Press story (Aug. 5) covering the Atlantis hook-up with a satellite in orbit and was both elated and very disappointed.

One thing was sadly missing. The project manager of this remarkable accomplishment in space was Donald S. Crouch, born on Kent Island, and graduated from the Stevensville High School and Johns Hopkins University before his steady climb in space technology.

I am saddened The Sun has not given recognition to Mr. Crouch for the leading role he had in this outstanding breakthrough in space technology.

Gil Dunn


Doubtful Loans

Your editorial, "Loans Aren't Gifts," Aug. 4, suggests that future [Baltimore City trustee] loans should be arranged so that the likelihood of repayment may be more assured. Although you did not state the amount of uncollectible or "doubtful" loans involved in this city project, the earlier news article set the amount at approximately $25 million.

It occurs to me that in the same spirit that stimulates attorneys and law firms to devote non-compensatory professional services to pro bono causes, it may be appropriate that another group -- the public accountants -- be likewise recruited for such pro bono work, in this case, however, with the objective of possible recovery of some of the principal and interest on these otherwise "bad debts."

An appropriate committee of the Maryland Association of Certified Accountants may well be solicited for assistance in setting up such a project.

This would be a worthy cause since any recoveries could be devoted to a revolving fund for new development-type loans to stimulate business and employment opportunities, hopefully with improved oversight by both the accounting group and also retired executives who could be recruited for this endeavor.

Such an experienced review group could screen applicants for new loans and set forth guidelines for improved loan security, reporting and periodic audit to better assure future repayment, with overall oversight by the Board of Estimates or a duly authorized executive committee.

Alternatively, and as is presently being done in the savings and loan area for recovery of defaulted loans among other things, it may be appropriate to consider a form of fee compensation based on the amount of recovery realized from this accumulation of "bad debts" or "non-performing" loans.

Samuel L. Silber


The writer is an attorney and certified public accountant.

Bureaucratic Folly

Regarding your article "State eyes purchase of emissions-test stations" (July 28), I am a firm believer in emission control and in protecting our environment.

However, every motorist and taxpayer knows from past experience that it would be cheaper to support the private owner who secured this contract on the French Riviera than to add more jobs to the state bureaucracy.

It is ironic that after we proved to the Soviets it doesn't work, we are still increasing government employment even in this recession.

Forrest Gessewin


Community Service

I've watched and read about the State Board of Education's new community service requirement for high school graduates with trepidation.

Then I read the editorial "Service is Also Education" in The Sun (Aug. 2) praising the board's vote in the face of opposition from local school boards, superintendents, teachers and parents -- the people who should be making such decisions.

If we still live here when my three small kids are in high school, and if I cannot find a way to avoid the requirement, my kids will not go to school here.

For a place that tries to pride itself on the quality of its public education, Maryland is already failing miserably.

What better way to enforce learning the fundamentals of reading, writing, math, history and literature, and the newer "fundamentals" of computer skills, than to force kids to spend time out of the classroom satisfying some bureaucrat's idea of political correctness?

For you and the Board of Education to make the judgment that "students also ought to graduate with a better understanding of what it means to be responsible for others" is the height of arrogance. It is certainly not what high school education is or should be all about.

Responsible for what others? I get the impression that you do not mean one's own family, but society at large and those in it who live irresponsibly. That sort of material is properly the subject of a debate in a class on persuasion or public speaking.

For the Board of Education to force this agenda on high school students, in the face of opposition from those of us who pay their salaries, is precisely the reason why education in this country has been going to hell for the last 30 years.

Stephen M. Kranz


I congratulate the Maryland State Board of Education and the administrative leadership of Nancy Grasmick for their action to require community service as a condition for graduation.

As a psychologist who has worked with children and their families for 30 years, I believe that the outcome of this requirement will be more beneficial to the students and the state community than continuing without it.

Unfortunately, too few people in the mental health fields are outspoken about the value of such a project.

More often than not, with the prevailing theoretical winds in the field of psychology blowing from the direction of self-satisfaction (read self-pleasure), the conflict between self-denial (of pleasure) which incorporates the higher value of joy as an active participant in the community, and self-centered expression (which speaks of pleasurable indulgence) prevents some from seeing the value of community service.

Everywhere in our culture, one can see the influence of this conflict at the source of our woes.

Patriotism, the pride in being a member of a national community, is perceived with disdain. In sports, hot-dogging is more desirable than being a team player. Family life and responsibility are significantly less prized than in the past.

The protectors of our cultural heritage as articulated by law (policemen) and the teachers of our cultural heritage (educators and education) are targets of significant attack.

With those who would argue that such activity is servitude because it doesn't permit choice, I strongly disagree. Choice can still be taught by permitting a variety of settings and circumstances wherein the student could perform.

To hold the overall objective that community service is an essential component to the success of a democratic culture (more essential, I would argue, than mathematics) is a statement which this requirement makes.

Cornelius J. Feehley


The writer is coordinator of the Baltimore County public schools Office of Psychological Services.

No Switzerland

Robert Totten's letter (June 18) in support of unrestricted private ownership of firearms deserves comment.

He said, "Switzerland has a true militia system with 600,000 assault weapons sitting in private homes. Yet, Switzerland's murder rate is 85 percent lower than ours."

He failed to mention that every able-bodied Swiss male spends the major part of his adult life in the active reserve and is on call to defend his country 24 hours a day.

This system in a small peace-loving and law-abiding country has not only prevented invasion from without, but from within, has established the ultimate in gun control.

I have no problem with a well trained reservist having such a weapon in his house, for a purpose, and sanctioned by his government.

Two hundred-plus years ago, we, too, were a small nation emerging from the defeat of British occupation. Our forefathers envisioned a similar system for defense. That explains the Second Amendment to our Constitution that calls for the establishment of a militia.

This is not Switzerland. The only place for an assault weapon in this country is in a locked gun rack in an Army, Marine, special forces, FBI, or police barracks. What purpose can private ownership of such a weapon serve?

Unlike Mr. Totten, I have no plan to become a one-man army. Hiding in one's personal fox hole can be a very lonely experience.

If our national, state and local law enforcement agencies fall short in performance now and then, let's give them more support. To send them out on the street at an armed disadvantage, as the gun lobby would have us do, is unthinkable.

R. Moore


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