Battle of Britain
As an Englishman happily resident in Maryland's delightful foreign fields, I much appreciate the writing of Richard O'Mara from London.
But tut, tut, Mr. O'Mara. Contrary to your June 24 dispatch, England has yet to be eliminated from the World Soccer Cup. Its chances of qualifying for the final rounds are still 50-50, and such odds proved surmountable at Waterloo and during the Battle of Britain.
Actually it is not England which is having difficulty on New Zealand's rugby fields but the British Lions, whose touring party is made up of players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
As did Nelson in his famous signal, we English make a distinction between members of the so-called United Kingdom.
Clearing the Air
The Employee Commute Options (ECO) regulations, proposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment, will effectively reduce the number of personal vehicles used for commuting in the Baltimore region through the use of car pools, bicycles and mass transit and will encourage use of low and zero emission vehicles such as electric cars.
While the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated this program, the justification for this and other clean air )R programs is the protection of public health.
The Baltimore metropolitan region has the sixth worst air pollution in the nation. Ozone air pollution is harmful to all Marylanders, especially the 500,000 Marylanders who suffer from lung disease.
At this writing, the region has experienced four days during which our federal standards for ground level ozone were exceeded.
The ECO program is significant in that ordinary citizens will be asked to change their commuting behavior in the interest of cleaning up the air.
Collectively automobiles are the single largest source of air pollution in our region. If we are to restore the quality of our air, we must each accept responsibility for the pollution we create.
The ECO program places more of that responsibility on the driving public by requiring employers with 100 or more employees to offer incentives to find alternative means of getting to work.
Just like other public health mandates, such as childhood immunizations, the ECO program is directed at real health risks. As in other clean air initiatives, the ECO program requires personal sacrifice. This sacrifice is not only for our health, but also to benefit the health of future generations.
John B. Slaughter II
The writer is president of the American Lung Association of Maryland.
The June 17 editorial in support of the space station suggested that if necessary the Superconducting Super Collider SSC) might be cut. But cutting the SSC is a big mistake, for it is a top priority science project midway in construction.
About two-thirds of the 54-mile tunnel is already under contract, with four massive tunnel boring machines operating.
The sophisticated superconducting magnets and other major technical components of the collider are under contract. Over 45,000 SSC procurement awards have been made in 48 states.
All major milestones have been met on or ahead of schedule. Over 2,000 scientists and engineers at more than 100 universities and many laboratories are working to prepare the first experiments.
Of course, the deficit must be reduced, but it should not be by cutting the most important project in the most fundamental field of science.
Already, President Clinton has cut many other areas in order to maintain the top priorities, and his full request for science deserves your editorial support.
John S. Toll
The writer is professor of physics and chancellor emeritus at the University of Maryland.
The title of your June 19 editorial, "City Council's Penny-Foolish Budget," was misleading. I agree with your concluding sentence: "But they simply did not have faith that the mayor or the police commissioner would spend the funds properly." That should make it a "Pound-Wise Budget."
Yes, the city needs better police protection for property owners. However, an increase in the piggyback income tax may pay for more police but not necessarily better policing.
Remember when the Harborplace merchants closed early Easter Sunday because they feared marauding bands of youths who swarmed through the pavilions? It was in the newspapers. Mayor Kurt Schmoke called WBAL radio to discuss the issue, on the air, with angry merchants who claimed it was an annual problem.
So, the following Sunday I noticed five police officers stationed at the apex of the pavilions in Harborplace. I walked over to three of them and inquired if their presence was inspired by the activities of the previous week.
"No, we're here because there was a baseball game earlier today. What activities are you talking about?"
I explained to them what had happened and that it was reported widely in the media.
L "I don't read the newspapers, and I don't listen to WBAL."
I continued the conversation pleasantly; long enough to determine that none of them knew anything at all about recent events and the merchants' fears.
Now, I have watched enough "Hill Street Blues" on TV to know that a "watch commander" is supposed to brief police officers before they begin their shift. That does not appear to be happening in Baltimore.
Better police protection is not just a matter of increasing the quantity of police officers; it is a question of improving the quality of police information and deployment. "Pound for pound" that will yield the best results.
Hope and Despair on Greenmount
The article on the East Baltimore community surrounding North and Greenmount avenues (" 'Miss Lottie' fights gunfire with gentleness," June 21) is a reminder that there is hope among despair.
I travel up and down Greenmount Avenue nearly every day and notice a rather odd pattern. It seems that the less greenery there is the more sadness there is.
Around 42nd Street there are stretches of grass, modest and well-tended houses and occasional pedestrians strolling on the streets.
As I approach 33rd Street, a congestion of cars and people appears. There are clusters of small shops and restaurants, and customers and window shoppers strolling.
An occasional loner tries to catch my eye if I gaze too long at him, but mostly I observe folks in the common quest of putting food on the table, clothes on their backs.
Greenery is less at this location except for the easterly and westerly patches of grass that divide 33rd Street. There begins, also, scattered debris in the gutters and on the sidewalks,
though not much.
Just a few blocks south, and poverty becomes visible. Some buildings are boarded up. Desperate men slowly drift toward a place that will buy their blood. Now I see little grass except for a barren field to the east, covered mostly with scraps of weeds and broken glass.
Toward St. Anne's, an oasis of sorts, are lifeless groups of men, as if in a frieze, waiting and watching. More active groups are huddled watching the bounce of dice.
Single men, or men in pairs, are pacing, and if they catch my eye, chances are they'll nod or just yell out, "What're ya' lookin' for?"
They lean, not against leafy trees, but against street signs or walls. Sometimes I glance down a street of ramshackle houses and see young men leaning inquisitively over a sleek sports car, incongruous in its stark surroundings.
Greenmount Cemetery, greenery filled with the dead, is aptly placed in the center of heartbreak at North Avenue. Just a few blocks further down the road is the expected end of this road: the prisons.
Greenmount Avenue is, to me, a metaphor for Baltimore. There is hope, as shown by Miss Lottie and others like her, but it is hard to see. These optimists help their neighbors, plant flowers in window boxes, tend to small grassy lawns and rid the streets of trash. Unfortunately, the grim side of life is more obvious.
Most folks on Greenmount long for safety and peace, but instead lock themselves up at night, imprisoned, and listen for gunfire. Politicians offer rhetoric but, practically speaking, little changes over the years. To many city residents, things are getting worse.
As the City Council and mayor argue over the latest budget or whatever, are they hearing the voice of the citizen who, like Miss Lottie, offers a helping hand yet is witness to gun fights and drug abuse?
And what of those faint voices of citizens who, unlike Miss Lottie, have given up and are retreating to the suburbs? Is it not time to understand what the citizens want and need, and to stop politicking once and for all?
Lindsay Schlottman Waite