Settlement of Artscape Suit WelcomedWhen I came...


Settlement of Artscape Suit Welcomed

When I came to Baltimore 15 years ago as president of the Maryland Institute, College of Art, one of the factors that appealed to me most about both this city and the position was the incredible amount of cooperation between the state, city and private sector -- how these groups together rebuilt the city of Baltimore and worked to create a vital arts community that serves and educates the public.

Baltimore is now known nationally as a great city for the arts. However, Baltimore's position can not continue without continued cooperation between the state, city and private sector.

Recently, the city of Baltimore went to trial to regain funds from the Baltimore Arts Festival, a corporation created to initiate and administer the activities of Artscape.

The trial represented a potentially devastating end to the era marked by cooperation that allowed the arts to thrive. It also represented the ego and will of a few individuals being placed against the greater good of the community and the arts, of which the community is so rightfully proud.

A settlement in the case has now been negotiated, and some of the funds in Baltimore Arts Festival are being turned over to the city. The balance of the funds will be used to support future Artscapes.

Even though the money has been divided among a few parties and there may be some debate over who won, in this case, everyone involved is a loser.

The non-profit institutions in the city, and especially those of us in the arts, depend on the city, state and private sector to back our activities. We are supported because people recognize that we provide a valuable service to the community.

The donors, whom we rely on, trust us to do our job and have confidence that we will use the funds in the manner in which we have said we would use them.

The donors who testified at this trial all believed the money they gave was intended for an arts festival to be given in a particular year. They were not told that any of the funds would be carried over or accumulated to be used by a board at some future date for some unspecified purpose.

We can only hope that the donors' experience in being dragged through this controversy does not discourage their philanthropic activity in the future, their commitment to the arts, their commitment to working with the city and their faith in all of us who are running the arts institutions.

The trial has also created a new friction between the governor's office and the city and the mayor. Although we are all aware that the governor and the mayor have not always cooperated, one area where there has always been consensus in the past is in the arts between these two leaders.

However, because Jody Albright, who is a member of the governor's staff and has provided leadership for the Baltimore Arts Festival, is on one side of the suit and the mayor and his administration on the other side, for the first time the city and state are pitted against each other in an arts-related effort.

We all hope that this suit does not permanently scar the long tradition of cooperation that has been so vital to the development of the arts and arts institutions in Maryland and, particularly, in Baltimore City.

Next weekend, there will again be an Artscape festival in the Mount Royal Center. Since much of Artscape takes place in our buildings and on our property, the Maryland Institute will again be the primary host for the event. We will cooperate with the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture and the new non-profit organization it has created to carry out Artscape.

We hope that the private philanthropic community will not give up its support of Artscape or other initiatives in the city as a result of this suit. Baltimore needs Artscape and it needs the arts.

One of the real and unique strengths of Artscape is that it brings together a wonderful, broad spectrum of the community in the celebration of the arts.

It provides small arts organizations with a forum to present their work to a large and diverse audience. It also provides visual artists an opportunity to have their work seen by people who otherwise would never see it.

More importantly, perhaps, it provides the community the opportunity to learn more about the arts and the arts organizations and artists in Baltimore.

All of these are important objectives and factors which make Baltimore such a wonderful and supportive city for the arts, and we all hope that this controversy does not interfere with the objectives being met in the years to come.

Fred Lazarus IV


Alien Status

I am aghast at the recent decision of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to grant permanent residency to Chinese nationals who have been in the United States from June 5, 1989 to April 11, 1990.

From the press release of Attorney General Janet Reno, she vowed that she would intensify stringent rules in our current immigration laws. This is a fallacy in the current administration's goals.

I am a former INS employee who served as an adjudicator in the last Immigration Reform and Control Act program and am familiar with the plight of other nationals who were granted amnesty.

Why do we have to play favorites all the time with our immigration laws? Why can't other nationals be given the same umbrella benefit that the Chinese are getting? Why do we have to send thousands of Haitians back home and other nationals who have claimed political asylum?

Do Chinese have an edge from other countries? I have often ignored the dictum that has been well known to all familiar with the immigration saying, "INS does what INS wants."

Let us be fair and give other worthy nationals an equal chance and equal opportunities such as the Chinese are getting. What is good for the goose ought to be good for the gander.

We should throw nepotism out the window, and let us make America really a place wherein everyone should be able to enjoy equal chances to improve one's lot in life.

Olga Miller


Math Problem

In the June 24 article "Math Mystery Solved?" your statement of Fermat's last theorem is incorrect.

The statement should read, "If n represents any whole number larger than two, there is no solution to the Equation 'x' to the nth power + 'y' to the nth power equals 'z' to the nth power if 'x', 'y', and 'z' are constrained only to the set of all integers."

For the set of all rational numbers and the set of all imaginary numbers, there is an infinite set of solutions in 'z'.

J. Edward Johnston Jr.


Hate Speech

Your June 27 editorial, "Hate Is Not Speech," is confusing to me.

I can certainly sympathize with the idea of punishing hate-related crime to the fullest extent, but I do also believe that it is extremely dangerous to equate speech (no matter how offensive) with the action of crime and violence.

This is what you appear to do when you mix up references to "hate speech" and "hate-inspired violence."

There is no way that one can legislate against and punish the emotion of hate until it is given expression. And there is a big difference as to whether this expression is in speech or in violence. Expression by speech has many times been found to defuse expression by violence. "Letting off steam" is a recognized form of control over one's emotions.

Your editorial is unclear as to under what circumstances you consider speech itself to be punishable, or even if you do think so at all. You begin by stating that you believe that "hate speech" should not be protected by the First Amendment, and yet the rest of the editorial deals primarily with hate-inspired violence, which is, of course, universally agreed to be punishable.

I am one of the "absolutists and purists" who say the First Amendment does and should protect all speech, even "hate speech." I fear we may be on a very slippery slope to losing more than our First Amendment rights when we begin to tolerate any curtailment of our freedom of speech.

Doris Rausch


Maybe the News

The conclusion that television and societal violence are correlated does not lead to the easy deduction that violent programs are the cause. Maybe it's the news in which the murders of the day are bloodlessly reported and sometimes re-enacted; these reports are immediately followed by some sadness about the rain forecast or the dreadful concern that the Orioles are trailing.

Maybe the rules for broadcasting ought to be rethought; possibly it is during the news reports that we become increasingly inured to the presence of brutality. Perhaps we would be better off if the real violence that has become part of our communal life were treated passionately. Children hear the news.

+ Dorothy G. Siegel Baltimore

Held Hostage

I read in The Sun (July 1) of the carnage to our young lives that exists in the city of Baltimore. A councilman suggested that Mayor Kurt Schmoke was somewhat responsible.

Nonsense! Mayor Schmoke suggested when he first came into office that some of the reasons for our unrest and crime are due to drugs. Drugs offer an easy way out of the sad, dismal lives experienced by many of the drug users. Hence, there is a danger that lurks in legal denial.

Mayor Schmoke suggested treating drug addiction as a public health problem. Prohibition against anything encourages the breaking of a law intended for the protection of the many.

Laws are important, but our children are more important. Make drugs legally available to the weaklings in our midst.

In the meantime, open up more YMCAs for young people. In a decent atmosphere they may be encouraged to enjoy life. We should not be held hostage to only one point of view.

Sara M. Medford


Avoid Meat

While it is nice to see Beth Johnson, food policy analyst for the National Cattleman's Association, admit that Americans need to cut back on fat and to eat more fruits and vegetables, her letter defending the consumption of meat (June 22) misses the point. Meat is inherently unhealthy.

A meat-based diet is, by nature, high in fat, low in fiber and loaded with cholesterol. Even so-called "lean" meat contains much more fat than the body needs, and it is still dripping with cholesterol.

Clinical and epidemiological evidence suggests that we would live longer, healthier lives if we were to shift our culinary focus toward plant-based diets. There is nothing nutritionally unique about meat. What it does add to the diet -- too much fat and too much cholesterol -- is directly linked to several common forms of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast cancers, as well as heart disease.

Ms. Johnson recommends a balanced diet, which is of course good. A balanced diet, based on whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits, is the best diet one could follow. If meat is added to such a diet, there is no way to "counterbalance" its load of fat and cholesterol.

Neal D. Barnard, M.D.

Washington, D.C.

The writer is president of Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Doctors' Work

Having read the June 26 letter of nurse practitioner Richard Troy I felt compelled to respond. Mr. Troy states that nurse practitioners are highly trained individuals capable of "easily handling 80 to 90 percent of doctors' work."

I have no intention to demean or underestimate the role of nurse practitioners; however, the public should be made aware of the limitations of their qualifications.

To begin with, the average training period for a nurse often given in community colleges with minimal bedside teaching is two years. A third year might be spent in obtaining a B.A. or equivalent, although the great majority of nurses do not obtain this additional qualification.

The I.Q. required for nursing school is considerably less than that for medical school and the curriculum bears little resemblance (rightly so) to that of their medical counterparts.

It is true that some token courses in anatomy, physiology and other basic sciences are included in nursing school programs. It is also true that nurse practitioners are capable of handling minor health problems such as the common cold or minor injuries.

To go beyond this as Mr. Troy states and have nurses treating some conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes without close physician supervision is, to say the least, dangerous.

I doubt very much that any of your readers would opt for a nurse practitioner in the treatment of these conditions if involving their immediate family. The manifold presentations and consequences of both of these diseases necessitating various forms of management are far beyond the qualifications of a nurse.

There is, however, no question that under supervision of the appropriate physician, nurses perform very valuable functions. To go beyond this role and call upon physicians when they deem it appropriate is dangerous. Many physicians would be hesitant to assume management of a patient in which a misdiagnosis or botched treatment was apparent, knowing the medical-legal climate of today.

One can assume that the public in circumstances of ill health expects optimal diagnosis and management of their condition and thereafter would accept management by a nurse practitioner under the guidance of their physician.

I am afraid that the recent tendency of the nursing profession to assume responsibility beyond their scope is status-driven. The bottom line is, of course, qualifications.

Brian D. Briscoe, M.D.


Spreading of AIDS

An Opinion * Commentary article appeared in The Sun (June 6) dealing with a recent Maryland Court of Appeals decision concerning HIV-infected surgeons.

This article was reviewed in a letter to the editor on June 27 from Robert Barton, who corrected an apparent misstatement that the court had shown "irrational fear" in deciding the surgeon must inform a patient of his/her HIV infection. The corrected version is that such disclosure is an issue for the jury to decide under the circumstances presented.

Support for the decision was added by quoting the American Medical Association policy that "forbids physicians to engage in activities which create a risk of transmission."

At the time when the HIV epidemic looms large in Baltimore, it is important that the methods of HIV transmission are understood in order to implement appropriate strategies for disease prevention.

Current estimates are that approximately 1 million Americans are infected with HIV. Data from the Center for Disease Control indicates that sexual intercourse accounts for approximately 700,000 cases, intravenous drug abuse accounts for 235,000 cases, blood transfusions prior to 1985 account for 40,000, hemophiliacs receiving clotting factors before 1985 account for about 10,000 and perinatal transmissions (passage from an infected mother to the baby) account for about 4,000 cases.

The year 1985 is relevant because the testing of blood donors was started that year. Since 1985, there have been 15 HIV transmissions with screened blood (an estimated incidence of one per 235,000 units) and 19 transmissions to hemophiliacs (one per 1,000).

Other methods of transmission that are confirmed account for approximately 172 cases. These include 33 health care workers who acquired this from exposure in the workplace, usually in the context of a needle-stick injury.

There are an additional 101 health care workers infected by this mechanism, but confirmation is less secure. There are 31 patients who have acquired HIV infection in the course of organ transplantation -- including seven people, all who received organs from one donor who acquired HIV after the screening of donors began. There are six patients infected from the dentist in Florida.

The possibility that dental care or even surgical care might account for additional cases has been investigated by "look backs" at approximately 20,000 patients who receive dental or surgical procedures from HIV-infected care providers. No cases have been detected.

Alternative possible mechanisms of transmission that may apply the Florida dentist have been reviewed in the New York Times (June 6) and do not require reiteration here.

There is one mother who apparently acquired HIV infection during the care of her infant with transfusion-associated AIDS, although breast feeding is an alternative explanation.

Studies of over 1,000 family members and friends who have provided home care to seriously ill AIDS patients have failed to show any who became infected.

Records from the CDC, the repository of transmission data on all reported cases of AIDS, show that no transmission category was reported in 18,424 cases.

However, further scrutiny of these cases show that over 90 percent actually belong in the category of sexual transmission or intravenous drug abuse when a more rigorous review was done or the patient had such an advanced stage of illness that no reliable history could be obtained.

This leaves 584 or about 0.2 percent of the 290,000 reported cases of AIDS that are unexplained. This figure of 2 per 1,000 cases is quite incredible considering the highly personal nature of necessary inquiries involving gay lifestyle and the illegal use of drugs.

To date, there are no cases of patients who have acquired HIV infection from infected surgeons so there is no scientific basis for a judgment about "activities which create a risk of transmission."

The real purpose of this review is to document the mechanisms by which HIV infection is known to be transmitted so that efforts in disease control can be approached with logic and appropriate priorities.

To my knowledge, every established mechanism of HIV infection known to apply in cases in the U.S. are included in the above summary. Also important is the observation that the mechanisms which account for over 99.8 percent of all cases were described before 1983, when HIV was discovered.

HIV transmission is not complicated nor mysterious. This epidemic would disappear if we could prevent transmission by sex and use of illegal drugs.

John G. Bartlett, M.D.


The writer is chief of the Johns Hopkins Hospital's Division of Infectious Diseases.

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