Regional Waste Plan NeededI must commend the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Regional Waste Plan Needed

I must commend the editors of The Sun for the recent shift in attitudes toward municipal affairs. Your June 9 editorial, "Trashing Regionalism," mirrored the testimony presented to the Baltimore City Planning Commission by the Commission on Resource Conservation and Recycling.

This represents a significant change from your editorial of this past winter, when you touted Willard Hackerman's proposal to build a new waste-to-energy facility in place of the existing Pulaski incinerator as a welcome initiative for promoting regionalism.

This editorial represents an excellent follow-up to Tim Wheeler and Eric Siegel's article in the June 1 edition of The Sun.

That article represented a significantly larger and in-depth look at this issue than the space you dedicated to the enactment of the incinerator moratorium two years ago.

There is no other issue that demonstrates everything positive and negative in municipal decision making as this.

Just as we could not support a moratorium two years ago, we cannot support the fast-track to its reversal . . .

Whether or not our region needs the incineration capacity of the existing Pulaski facility or the proposed expanded capacity of a new facility is not the issue. If this capacity is justified by regional goals and collective regional planning, then so be it.

However, Baltimore City and its neighbors are facing significant solid-waste dilemmas in the not-distant future, such as where regional landfill needs will be met as the existing landfills of Anne Arundel and Howard counties and Baltimore City all close within the next 8 years, and with Baltimore County not far behind.

The needs of Baltimore City with regards to landfill capacity are not likely to be met within the city's boundaries in the future.

Why, then, would we unilaterally give away the only bargaining chip that we have, namely the Pulaski site, without something firm in return?

Regionalism in solid waste is no longer a fantasy; nor should it be considered political suicide. It's an absolute necessity.

It is important for all the executives of the Baltimore metropolitan jurisdictions to come to a meeting of the minds on this issue. The long-awaited Baltimore Metropolitan Council disposal strategy needs to be a priority for completion.

Then maybe Baltimore City can consider lifting its incinerator moratorium. It's time for all of the BMC members to put their cards on the table and derive a rational regional solid waste disposal strategy that is fair to all of the region's citizens.

Howard B. Weisberg

Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of the Baltimore City Commission on Resource Conservation and Recycling.

Gutty

Our president has guts. It took a lot of nerve for him to appear before all those veterans who fought so bravely on D-Day. Not only did he show up, but he spoke the platitudes to them that he chose to ignore when it suited him 20-some years ago. Yes, that takes guts.

Kathryn Newkirk

Woodlawn

Officer Education

Morris Freedman's Opinion * Commentary article, "An Officer and a Scholar," (June. 16) addresses several interesting points, but fails to present answers.

For example, he asks why all career officers can't attend civilian colleges and universities. An appropriate response might be, "Why should they?"

More than half of today's Air Force line officers are ROTC graduates and another 28 percent obtained degrees at civilian universities before attending Officer Training School. Only one of five Air Force officers is an Air Force Academy graduate.

This blend of commissioning sources and educational experiences brings a broad and diverse perspective to the senior staff at any Air Force installation, and the American public is better served by this diversity.

Why shouldn't the great universities influence the military leadership of our country? They do.

The academy does not produce only engineers. The 93-semester-hour core curriculum ensures a balance of social, behavioral and physical sciences as well as engineering. Cadets earn degrees in English, political science, economics, biology, history, etc.

Rather than a narrowly focused field of study, academy graduates must demonstrate competence in a broad variety of academic specialties.

The value of the core curriculum is evidenced in the results of a recent civil engineering exercise. The team developing the best solution to this complex engineering problem comprised four political science majors.

If it is true, as Professor Freedman alleges, that academies fail in many of the same ways as civilian institutions do, how will sending officer candidates to these civilian universities rectify the problem?

Presently, Air Force Academy graduates average 93 points above the mean in the Graduate Record Exams.

Finally, I had to smile when I read that Professor Freedman's colleague lamented the time spent on American poets of the 19th century.

L I heard that joke 25 years ago, and it wasn't original then.

Col. Joseph W. Purka, Jr.

USAF Academy, Colo.

The writer is director of public affairs for the U. S. Air Force Academy.

Extreme Right-Wing a Threat to Liberty

It is tempting to think Cal Thomas is at last unmasked in his June 15 column as a closet rationalist who's been putting us on. Surely he's now tuned to lampooning the bankruptcy and hypocrisy of religious fundamentalism's political agenda.

No other reading serves to explain his implied aggregation of prominent libertarian conservatives like Barry Goldwater, progressives, atheists, liberal religionists, rationalists, humanists and probably Montessori teachers -- all under the contemptuous pejorative "pagan left," presumably from their common vocal disagreement with the cynical histrionics of people like Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Dan Quayle and Oliver North.

Further, Mr. Thomas deftly slips into the absurdity of equating basic morality with adherence to supernatural religion, while blanketing those daring to protest with a charge of bigotry.

Could this be a satirical slap at, say, Dan Quayle's piously intoning at every opportunity that the only acceptable form of bigotry in the country is that directed at fundamentalist Christians?

Unfortunately, Mr. Thomas is deadly serious and, in the process, resorts to what he rightly describes as excess in the statements of some of his more extreme adversaries.

The patent buncombe of this column may rightly be read as a panegyric for arson in the name of burning trash: a political jihad of teaching religious fiction as science in public schools, imposing as law one (and only one) religious view on when human life begins, and re-instituting prescribed prayer in public schools -- all ostensibly for moral reclamation of the republic.

If anyone doubts that the Christian coalition and its allies are serious about taking over power and that they constitute a potent, well-heeled political bloc confronting a notoriously amorphous left, I suggest a quick reading of recent wire service stories from Virginia, Washington D.C., Texas, Iowa and assorted school districts across the land.

The threat to individual liberty lies not in archaic and arcane theology but in the neo-populist political agenda cloaked in piety.

This movement is fueled by demagogic exploitation, like Thomas', of the genuine urgency in recovering our ethical and moral bearings at a time of radical social and economic transition.

This last is a goal quite attainable without the imposition of supernatural religion by law in a quest for political power by a few.

Men and women of strong religious belief have, indeed, as Mr. Thomas reminds us, made contributions to our national life out of their spiritual convictions, deserving our respect.

Zealots have also murdered suspected witches, "infidels," and lately one physician in the name of God. We'd do well to keep that in mind.

Anthony Cobb

Baltimore

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