Question of MeritsMany thanks to Bruce L....


Question of Merits

Many thanks to Bruce L. Bortz for pointing out in his Oct. 20 column, "The Shtetl Politician," that Sen. Paula Hollinger seems to use her religion as a political issue.

I, as a Jewish citizen from the 11th District, resent the fact that she throws her Jewishness around as an excuse as to why she has been slighted by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Although I haven't always agreed with the governor, I do not feel he is anti-Semitic. Yes, I agree that anti-Semitism continues in Maryland, but I do not feel it is the reason Ms. Hollinger does not have the support of the governor.

Moreover, the more she cries "anti-Semitism" the more she encourages it.

I, for one, will base my vote on a politician's merits and accomplishments, not on religious beliefs.

Maybe Senator Hollinger should resign herself to the fact that Governor Schaefer chose to support Sen. Janice Piccinini because of her merits and accomplishments. He obviously feels that Senator Piccinini is better for the people of the 11th District.

Judy Schwartz


Chaotic Station

To improve the level of service for our Baltimore passengers, Amtrak is currently undergoing a massive construction project at Penn Station. When completed in late 1994, there will be a parking garage for 550 automobiles and an attractive plaza welcoming visitors to your city.

Your Oct. 18 editorial, "Blockade around Penn Station," emphasizes the traffic problems that have resulted from the project.

Amtrak closely monitors the construction to minimize any inconvenience and insure safe traffic flow around the station.

A Baltimore City traffic officer has been assigned to control parking and traffic patterns during peak travel periods. The city has agreed to remove the parking meters on the west side of Charles Street and to convert those spaces to 10-minute parking only.

Similarly, the parking time on the east side of Charles Street has been reduced from 10 minutes to three minutes. Also, Amtrak is working to explore the possibility of relocating the MTA bus stop on the Charles Street bridge to provide additional parking spaces.

In order to prevent the chaos that can happen at an open cab stand, Amtrak has had an exclusive contract with Yellow Cab Service for over 16 years. We believe this contract enables us to provide better service to our passengers through the use of one cab company.

Amtrak apologizes for the inconvenience to our customers and the community. These temporary inconveniences will lead to a better level of service for everyone.

Howard W. Robertson


The writer is a public affairs officer for Amtrak.

Women's Guns

For years I have studied sexual assault and domestic violence due to its presence in my own family and in the lives of my friends. I have taken various self-defense classes, volunteered at two domestic abuse shelters and at a very comprehensive rape prevention and counseling program in Illinois.

In Roger Simon's Oct. 17 column on women and guns, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a congressional delegate from the District of Columbia, states, "Women are virgins when it comes to guns. The safest course is to remain that way."

Do you recall when it was a popular thought that women should not be well educated -- "for their own good," of course?

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., adds, "We're not down here to make women passive, but there are approaches other than guns.

"There is the Domestic Violence Act. There is better street lighting and better lighted parking lots. There are a whole lot of sensible things." These naive comments are from congresswomen who gathered to protest the National Rifle Association's marketing directed toward women.

Do these women realize that many rapes are committed in the home, where it is presumed with a flip of the switch "good lighting" is available? If a girlfriend of mine is savagely beaten by her husband should I give her a copy of the Domestic Violence Act and tell her to flip it out the next time he pulls a rifle on her? Is that possible?

These congresswomen are patronizing women, like myself, who want choice in how we keep ourselves safe.

They say the NRA's ads are exploiting fear to sell a product. Well, ladies, they are actually reminding us of what we already know. Due to their size, most women are simply more vulnerable than men when it comes to self defense.

A gun with proper training is a great equalizer. Or do these congresswomen think my brain is too small and weak to make a wise decision?

ary Gasparotto


Misplaced Nile, Ancestors

In his letter of Oct. 29 entitled "Black Egyptians", M. Olatunji Mwamba states that the ancient Egyptians were black.

In the course of citing authority for his convictions, he quotes a translation from an ancient Egyptian document: "We came from the sources of the two Niles (Hapi), at the foothills of the mountains of the moon, where the Attribute of God (Hapi) dwells."

Your correspondent then tells us where the two Niles rise and plays havoc with geography. The Mountains of the Moon are not in Kenya. They are west of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Mount Kilamanjaro is not in Kenya but in Tanzania and doesn't come close to being a source of the Nile.

Two rivers meet at Khartoum in the Sudan to form the Nile. One, the White Nile, rises in the highlands west of Lake Victoria. The other, the Blue Nile, rises in Lake Tana in Ethiopia. The two sources are about 900 miles apart.

Frederick T. Wehr


I have been misinterpreted by your most recencorrespondent, M. Olatunji Mwamba of Baltimore. I never denied that the ancient Egyptians might have been black. I said it didn't matter much.

Culture is everything; race is nothing. None of us should look to our ancestry as positive proof of our worth or lack thereof. . . .

John R. Culleton Jr.


Skewed Costs, Rationale for Commuter Plan

I am writing to correct two factual errors in your lead editorial of Oct. 30, "Equity and Air Pollution."

In discussing Maryland's proposed Employee Commute Options program (ECO) for the Baltimore metropolitan region, you made the following erroneous statement: "Business people claim the complicated program will cut air pollution by only 2 percent."

In fact, the figures being quoted by the business community in the debate over the merits of the proposed program are the state's own figures, and are substantially lower than 2 percent.

The figures published by the Maryland Department of the Environment indicate that the reduction in ozone-forming volatile organic compound emissions from the ECO program will be initially less than half a percent, and that the benefit will finally decrease to less than one quarter of a percent when the upcoming vehicle emission controls are in place.

This minute improvement is expected to come at an enormous cost -- estimated at between $350 and $700 million per year for year-round implementation in the Baltimore region.

At these cost levels, the ECO program will be the most cost-inefficient air pollution program on record and will serve as a huge disincentive to businesses considering location or expansion in the region.

The biggest issue before the state with respect to the ECO program is whether it will require the Baltimore area to spend $175 million to $350 million each year to implement these costly controls during the winter when they will produce absolutely no reduction in the ozone air pollution violations that the program is intended to address.

In the Baltimore region, ozone violations do not occur outside the "ozone season" of May 1 to Sept. 30. Therefore, eliminating the ECO requirements from Oct. 1 through April 30 would save the Baltimore economy billions of dollars over time, and its citizens millions of cold, wet commuting hours, without losing any of the environment benefits the program is intended to achieve. The Sun is correct that "the state's program needs to be refined." We are hopeful that MDE will assist the Baltimore region in obtaining EPA approval for an ECO program allowing the utilization of commuting controls only when they are necessary -- during the summertime "ozone season."

obert G. Smith


Your Oct. 30 editorial "Equity and Air Pollution" is well thoughout in some ways but illogical in others. The concept of one zone for all of Metro Baltimore presents terrible inequities for many employers, particularly those with locations outside of the Beltway.

At first blush, The Sun's thoughts about city-county rivalries does make some sense. But the reality is that mass transit and other alternatives are available to a far greater degree in Baltimore City than in the suburbs or edge cities.

More than 100,000 people arrive at work sites in Greater BWI each day, and our association represents organizations that employ the vast majority of these workers. We do not object at all to bearing our fair share of responsibility under the regulations that will eventually emerge.

We do object to being subject to penalties for noncompliance with standards that are wholly unrealistic. Many of our members (and other employers throughout Maryland) have in place aggressive ride-sharing and mass transit promotion programs.

These efforts will be intensified as private and public sector employers all strive to comply.

Sound public policy calls for programs which are well-designed, workable, and enforceable. The single zone plan fails by these standards.

The Clean Air Act and its amendments were passed by Congress to address specific problems. Land use planning was not a focus of this legislation, and it makes a sham of the law to write regulations now that declare such as the intention.

We recognize that densities will not allow the levels of mass transit service here that a central business district warrants, but available and effective mass transit are key components of any successful program to reduce the number of single-occupancy cars on the road during the morning rush hour.

Another issue which cannot be ignored is that the suburban counties are already affected in terms of economic development by the fact that Metro Baltimore will be under mandate while Metro Washington is not.

We therefore start with this competitive disincentive to a firm considering location or expansion in the area and then exacerbate the problem by imposing artificially high compliance barriers because of an ill-thought scheme to assist a few in downtown Baltimore.

We at in the Greater BWI area have been working closely with other associations and with senior staff at the Maryland Department of the Environment and at The Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development.

There are ways to ease the burdens on suburban employers who not enjoy the urban infrastructure, and, hopefully, we shall successfully negotiate a comfortable compromise with which we can all live.

eil M. Shpritz


The writer is executive director of the BWI Partnership, Inc.

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