The recent shooting of Julie A. Lombardi, a teacher at the Malcolm X Elementary School in Baltimore, is an occasion for profound sadness and revulsion.
The shooting, to be sure, was totally senseless, dastardly and unconscionable. Our school district and Monumental City have been diminished to have Mrs. Lombardi, teacher of long standing, dedicated and able, immobilized and forced to endure a painful and long period of recovery.
In a recent telephone conversation with Mr. Lombardi, I was fortunate to have the opportunity, in the midst of his personal travail, anger and pain, to convey prayerful and heartfelt best wishes to him for a full recovery for Mrs. Lombardi and surcease for him and his family.
It is heartening that the Police Department has moved with alacrity and precision in identifying the alleged assailant.
The reign of terror and violence in and around schools and within the larger community must end in order to ensure the safety and comfort of Monumental City's most precious investment -- its children and youths.
Samuel L. Banks
The writer is director of compensatory education and funded programs for Baltimore schools.
In response to the movement to eliminate city scholarships to the Maryland Institute, College of Art, I say: Don't throw out the baby with the bath-water.
From my childhood in the Thirties, at weekend and summer courses, through my teen years and later as a young mother and full time student at the institute, I was always on scholarships. We were never in position to pay even the modest fees required in these earlier years.
Thanks to the extensive training I was thus able to receive I have had a very rewarding life as an artist.
Now I am in position to help my grandson take many of those same courses, for which we gladly pay the fees.
However, some of his fellow students, very much in need of these courses, can only attend because of their city grants. As was my case half a century ago: No money, no school.
If something is wrong with the system, fix it, don't kill it.
As winter continues to grind forward, so does the consistently biased anti-hunting attitude of the Sunpapers. Heaven forbid that The Sun miss an opportunity to take another shot at hunters in order to "sweeten" their story. Your blood-thirsty approach to reporting about hunting-related themes never fails to end in sarcasm, ridicule and disfavor.
Your most recent shot came out of nowhere from your article about "Honey," the dog who survived for 25 days without food and water after falling into a goose pit (Feb. 16). As an outdoorsman and pet owner, I read William Thompson's accounting of this story with sadness and concern. The training, companionship and time spent with our pets is evidence of how much hunters love their dogs. I'm sure that all pet owners felt the same relief about Honey's survival.
After a well-written documentation of the facts, the author then pulled the trigger. In quoting Cleveland Amory of the anti-hunting Fund for Animals, Inc., The Sun took its usual thoughtless and mis-aimed shot at the "hearts of even the deadliest hunters."
How would the rescue of a starving dog and the end of her awful experience not "gladden the hearts" of any pet owner?
What possible relevance does this added tidbit have to an otherwise well written article? If The Sun's attempt was to be fair, then how about getting a statement from Ducks Unlimited or the American Kennel Club? Both of these fine organizations would certainly comment on the remarkable will of Honey and how she was finally found by a hunter collecting goose decoys.
The loss of a pet is especially tragic to hunters whose dogs are often their best hunting companions. Had Honey not been an active and well-exercised pet, the story may have had a different ending. I'm sure that Roger Simon would have reported that the hunters had donated the meat to a soup kitchen.
Grant D. Soukup
A letter to The Sun (Feb. 7) compliments the newspaper deliverers for their successful perseverance during the recent "Ice Age," so opposed to the postal deliveries.
I second that comment, but do want to come to the defense of those mailmen who make their deliveries in those square mail trucks which have neither four-wheel drive or even front-wheel drive. In spite of the continued increase in the cost of postage to cover the improvement of equipment, I blame the U.S. Postal Service for the lack thereof . . .
Rebecca T. Orrick
Clarke as Culprit
I was more than a little taken aback to read Bruce Bortz's Feb. 9 analysis of the problems in the Baltimore City Police Department as revealed in the recent Sun series.
Mr. Bortz suggests that City Council President Mary Pat Clarke is well positioned to take advantage of these revelations in the upcoming mayoral elections by positioning herself as the "public safety" candidate. I don't think so, unless voter gullibility has been rising in inverse proportions to public safety.
Ms. Clarke, by such stratagems as last year's attempt to force Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's administration to accept a property tax cut, is heavily implicated in the public policies that have led to the current crisis in the police department.
Politicians like Ms. Clarke (and Mr. Schmoke's predecessors) have encouraged the public in the idea that it can have its cake and eat it too; i.e., that we can have effective policing and a lower tax rate.
Mr. Schmoke's only flaw, as I see it, is that he has been reluctant to invite the public to read his lips and tell the voters that it ain't so. Hopefully, comments like that of Mr. Bortz will inspire the mayor to take off the gloves and engage in some blunt truth-telling.
Stephen H. Johnson
Before the Scream
John Dorsey's article concerning Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" (Feb. 15), stolen from Oslo's National Art Museum on the eve of the Winter Olympics in Norway, states convincingly the present-day relevance of the nightmarish composition.
But, like virtually all art, "The Scream" was born of the artist's personal experiences, in this case the tortured, agonizing existence of his first 30 years.
This included the death of his mother, age 30, from tuberculosis when he was five; the death of his 15-year-old sister when he was 13; his own near-death experience from tuberculosis at age 13 with its accompanying feverish delirium; and the death of his father in 1889, when the artist was 25.
In 1893, the year of "The Scream," Edvard Munch's brother, 30, died of pneumonia, leaving a pregnant wife and Edvard, the only remaining male in the family, responsible for her and three other unmarried women.
Little wonder that he was driven to create this cry of anguish, of despair, of seeming hopelessness, just as he had once written: "Illness, insanity and death were the black angels that hovered over my cradle and have followed me ever since through my life."
In one version of "The Scream," a sentence in Munch's own handwriting, painted across the flaming sky, reads: "Only a madman could have painted this."
Bennard B. Perlman
The Peril of an Anti-Serbian Policy
It is easy to get caught up in the emotional response to the siege of Sarajevo and to react with anti-Serbian policies, even to pose direct military intervention to reverse the balance of power on the battlefield. This is the path apparently chosen by the Clinton administration.
But I have yet to see a single credible Western analysis -- either journalistic or academic -- that even tries to explain the political and historical realities that started this destructive war, and that continue to sustain its hatred.
That seems to be a bit too much for the Western politicians, diplomats, journalists, activists, and assorted pundits who feel qualified to make definitive judgments on a society that they know almost nothing about.
Apparently under German prodding, Western observers simply issued a political blank check to secession and to the new, comic opera regimes that arose in the former Yugoslavia, led by corrupt elites whose only interest is the maintenance of their own power.
Virtually nothing about these new "countries" is legitimate or stable, and yet the West is perfectly willing to declare them new, sovereign states. Centuries of history and of bitter ethnic rivalry were reduced to the simplest concepts of "aggression." A few high-tech bombing raids should do the trick, we're told.
So be it. The sternest of military warnings and the best-reasoned judgments cannot seem to persuade Western policy-makers and opinion-makers into thinking this issue through before irreversible actions take place.
One artillery shell -- possible even fired by the Muslims themselves -- and Western governments are ready to follow the television cameras straight into war.
But someone should say something about the inevitable consequences of Western actions in the former Yugoslavia.
If,indeed, there is major success against the Serbs, and the U.N. embargo continues to strangle Serbia and Montenegro, are the Western powers prepared to deal with the collapse of Serbia?
Why don't we ask the historians what has happened in this century to that part of the Balkans when Belgrade's authority has declined or been destroyed?
Are we prepared to see Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary go to war over the geopolitical remains of a dead Serbia?
Or in simpler terms, would the West rather see a tiny war in isolated Bosnia replaced by a massive clash over Southeast Europe?