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No AnswersAs a longtime volunteer at the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

No Answers

As a longtime volunteer at the Top of the World observatory floor, I am particularly interested in Baltimore and Maryland tourism.

However, I am greatly disappointed and concerned about the poor rating earned by the Office of Tourism Development. Two years ago the New York Times conducted a national tourism department survey. The Maryland office was one of a few that did not even answer the inquiry for more than six weeks.

At that time I wrote to the office and received a lame-excuse reply and a hope for improvement. Now, two years later the Times has completed a follow-up survey (The Sun, April 11) and again Maryland is one (of ten) out of 63 tourist offices that did not respond at all in six weeks. In other words -- no improvement after two years.

How can we overcome such apathy? Is this typical of our state operations? Isn't there any supervisory management to oversee and correct such short-sightedness?

Perhaps the Office of Tourism needs some of us dedicated volunteers.

Robert K. Odenheimer

Baltimore

Catonsville Nine

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the incident involving the Catonsville Nine.

Who remembers that unique group? Phil and Dan Berrigan, Tom Lewis and the six others broke into that draft board in Catonsville, removed the "files of conscription," then proceeded ceremoniously and symbolically through a ritual of burning those hated papers.

They used napalm, that chemical known for its cruel uses in war, to make the fire. Their trial was well publicized then. Many hoped the Vietnam war could from there be brought to trial.

Years later, our nation still keeps getting involved in wars. Recalling the lessons of Catonsville, some of us will again resist our wars and military blockades with such symbolic acts. From ** that I hope more people will question the empires' wars and the murderous oppression of the status quo.

Frank Kasper

Baltimore

For 1,000 Years

Douglas R. McLean (letter, May 6) believes that this country can return to greatness by finding its "roots" as a Christian nation led by public officials who profess the Christian faith.

Presumably various pesky atheists, Jews, Hindus, Bahais, Muslims, Buddhists and agnostics (and Papists too?) would be barred from public office under the McLean regime.

But beyond this, should these ethnic and religious deviants, unsuited for public office, be allowed to contaminate the liberal professions of law, medicine and above all education?

Should they be allowed positions in the ever more influential public media of movies, television and newspapers? The McLean position indicates that some final solution must be found to rid America of these corrupting influences.

And what might our "roots" tell Mr. McLean about dealing with the ever more troublesome African-Americans? Perhaps transport them back to the plantations, or an ocean shipment back to their roots?

It appears that Mr. McLean has been learning many valuable lessons from contemporary politics in Bosnia. His formula would

make America great for 1,000 years.

Philip Carl Salzman

Baltimore

Not His Dream

The next time Judge Thomas J. Bollinger chooses to abuse his position and perpetrate a miscarriage of justice, leave me and the majority of the male population out of it.

5) He should keep his dreams to himself.

Richard Hammond

Baltimore

Gay Issues

Though the contrary is clearly stated elsewhere, Ann LoLordo's opening sentences in her story on the recent March on Washington (April 26) clearly imply that the marchers were all (or mostly) gay or lesbian, which is untrue.

Many people only read the first sentence or two.

Many need no encouragement to overestimate gay numbers or to minimize the support of "straight" sympathizers.

Unfortunately, President Clinton chose to treat the march as a "protest," instead of the legitimate request for overdue rights that it is. It surely would be interesting, for example, if our society treated persons dying of cancer due to choosing to smoke, as we do, like those who have AIDS as a result of ("immoral") choices.

Regardless of his need to "moderate," Mr. Clinton's decision not to be at home, when such a significant percentage of those who elected him called to request his attention to a clear campaign promise, is unfortunate. The words were right but the "busy" signals low priority.

As a searcher and interpreter of scripture, I have a question for straight critics who use the Bible to bolster their frail cause: Why is it that "Christians" (note the name, please) put such emphasis on passages from Old Testament law on the one side, and Pauline preferences on the other, while ignoring the fact that Christ mentions not such a weighty issue?

The one by whom we name ourselves above all stresses (1) love of all people, (2) nonjudgment and, particularly, (3) never labeling ourselves more righteous than others.

And has anyone noticed that we almost totally disregard every other Levitical law and Pauline requisite that surrounds the "abomination" passages, for the obvious reasons that they are clearly stupid to most thinking minds, and extremely demeaning to women as well?

Alan Kieffaber

Denton

When Page Fails

Clarence Page's column on Chicago schools, ("When Schools Fail," May 11) is eloquent in describing the horrendous conditions in the public schools in Chicago.

He describes efforts by John Jenkins to protect and nurture his daughter under conditions no American citizen should have to tolerate. He eloquently makes the case for allowing parents a meaningful voice in education of their children.

He leads us to the top of the hill with expectations of finding a way out of the mess behind us. And then he stops, and states that parental choice of schools is not the way to go, and what we need to do is listen to what the teachers unions and others are proposing to strengthen our public schools.

In other words, let's trust those who created the mess to clean it up.

Just before we reach the summit, all Mr. Page's ideological baggage takes its effect, and he goes back the way he came.

When Mr. Jenkins, who one doubts is a neo-conservative, asks for the right to educate his child as his child deserves, Mr. Page launches an attack on those who would use the courts to obtain change, because "they" were opposed to court action in the past, and how dare they use them to "their" own ends.

Mr. Page brings forward all the lame approaches which have been designed to head off real parental choice, such as competition between public schools. He even mentions the popular pilot voucher program in Milwaukee.

Regarding competition, does one really think that teachers unions and bureaucracies, which control all public schools, are going to make or allow the necessary changes in public schools?

The voucher program in Milwaukee was only allowed through the state legislature with the provision that religiously affiliated schools were to be excluded.

Since a great many quality private schools have religious affiliations, Milwaukee's pilot program was designed to fail. If it hasn't, that speaks volumes about the state of public schools in Milwaukee.

If parents are ever going to have the right to decide where their children should be educated, they will have to overcome an impressive special interest apparatus which includes politically active PTAs, teachers unions and public school bureaucracies.

They may even have to overcome the shakiness of some religious organizations, who apparently envision parental choice of schools as somehow disadvantaging their particular sects.

When an aggrieved group, like parents throughout this country, find they cannot overcome these forces, and their cause has the strength that it does, the courts offer the greatest hope.

Absent favorable court rulings, let's hope that Mr. Page is right and legislatures are really fed up with stagnating public schools.

Let's hope they see the simple wisdom of giving public schools a wake-up call by allowing parents real power to determine how their children will be educated. That would be real competition, and public schools would improve or perish.

If we don't challenge public school bureaucracies and unions, we are forever going to be wringing our hands about the education our children are receiving.

Herm Schmidt

Bradshaw

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