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Dis-United WayThe plans by the United Way...

Dis-United Way

The plans by the United Way to restructure and consolidate its fund-raising efforts in Central Maryland are extremely distressing as described in The Sun.

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The plan would funnel most of the funds to the seven affiliate agencies and drastically reduce the choices donors have for designating their money to the agencies they choose.

Indeed, many donors support the United Way only because they are permitted to designate a specific agency to receive their money.

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The United Way's track record for addressing critical health and social problems is not a good one, which may be a significant reason for its declining community support.

For example, in AIDS, the Central Maryland United Way has hardly addressed the problem. Yet, through designated donations, many people concerned about AIDS have been able to support the non-affiliated agencies offering advocacy and assistance to people with AIDS.

A great many patients depend upon these designated donations. Now they are to be dropped.

The United Way would do much better if it responded more to the desperate needs of its constituent community, and less to its predisposition to keep all the money.

In short, the current restructuring plan looks more like avarice than charity. It does not deserve the community's support.

Garey Lambert

Baltimore

The writer is with AIDS Action Baltimore

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Clinton's Plan

I am glad Dr. Adrian E. Long and 23 other physicians from Kaiser Permanente have publicly voiced their concerns about the Clinton mandated health-care plan (Letters, June 11). Every citizen should start thinking about the rights we will be forced to give up.

A National Health Board appointed by politicians will decide what plans are allowed in each region, what prices can be charged, what benefits are allowed and who provides services. The boards also will control private fee-for-service charges and benefits.

The power this small group will have over individuals' health needs is offensive because we citizens have always had the power to make those decisions independently. If we aren't satisfied with any aspect of our care we always had plenty of other choices. But these alternatives will not be plentiful if the free market is curtailed as mandated in current health reform programs.

The proposal to limit the number of medical students allowed into specialty fields denies students the right to pursue their desire. Where is the spirit of opportunity that is America's creed? Also, the secretary of health and human services will be too powerful if he or she ends up choosing such candidates.

A national health plan will have a computer system that will allow others to access our health records. There was an incident recently at the IRS in which employees were looking-up the records of their neighbors, friends and celebrities. My health records should be more confidential than my tax records.

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Congress doesn't even have all the financial answers to the plans they have prepared. But isn't it obvious that when we cut down a privately owned industry we are going to cut tax revenues from profitable businesses? We also are going to pay unemployment to their employees as well as subsidize their mandated health plan.

Helen Schmidt

Baltimore

Religious

In their commentary of June 23, Jack Germond and Jules Witcover decry the "new and disturbing" rise of religious activists in politics.

Inexplicably, they overlook a very prominent example of a Christian radical taking an active role in political discourse -- the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

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We may all be thankful that Messrs. Germond and Witcover's standards for the separation of religion and politics were not in force forty years ago!

Terrence C. Casey

Baltimore

Stadium Escalators

In response to the editorial June 23 concerning the unfortunate escalator incident of June 18, it should be recognized that the Maryland Stadium Authority, not the Orioles, owns the escalators at Oriole Park and has the responsibility for the inspection, maintenance and upkeep of those escalators.

The Stadium Authority performs these functions in concert with the manufacturer of the escalators.

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While these obligations rest with the Stadium Authority, the Orioles have nevertheless responded to this situation in an aggressive and fully involved manner.

In order to ensure the safety and well being of our fans, we have insisted on a detailed and complete investigation in order to determine the cause of the escalator accident and to prevent any further occurrence of this type.

The Orioles have worked hand-in-hand with the Stadium

Authority to achieve these goals and are pleased to acknowledge the exemplary cooperation of Stadium Authority officials in furthering that effort.

Reflective of the Orioles commitment to fan safety was the decision to suspend all escalator operations within minutes of the June 18 incident until a thorough and detailed inspection of all stadium escalators could be conducted.

Contrary to your assertion that the Orioles did not properly pursue the May 17 incident, the fact is that this matter was reported by the Orioles in an appropriate and timely fashion to the Stadium Authority, which then conducted an inspection of that particular escalator and determined there was no problem.

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Indeed a thorough professional inspection and analysis of all escalators is presently being conducted by the Stadium Authority and the escalator manufacturer. There is no reason to believe any problems exist with any of the other escalators, but we want to be certain.

Hopefully, these thorough safety inspections can be concluded and all escalators, save possibly the one involved in the accident of June 18, can be in full operation when the Orioles resume the next home stand on July 1.

We will not, however, do anything that is not consistent with our strongly enunciated policy to make Oriole Park at Camden Yards an absolutely safe and enjoyable experience for our legion of loyal fans, their families and friends.

Peter Angelos

Baltimore

The writer owns the Baltimore Orioles.

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Domestic Violence Before the Simpsons

What is unfortunate is that it required celebrity involvement to bring attention to the problem and consequences of domestic violence.

In Annapolis this past session, state Sen. Mary Boergers led a coalition of advocacy groups in an attempt to pass comprehensive domestic violence legislation for the first time in our state.

Sadly, many provisions of this bill were removed because legislators lacked the courage to stand up and recognize that even though domestic violence often occurs outside of the public view, it can be viewed as the root of violence in our society, with the home serving as a breeding ground for future criminals who witnessed how parents deal with problems in a violent manner.

Though revelations of O. J. Simpson's wife-beating seem to have sent shock waves through our nation, Mary Boergers and the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence were sounding wake-up calls to the citizens of our state for years.

The statistics are staggering: Domestic violence cases jumped 48 percent in Maryland in the past year with a total of 9,114 protective order petitions being filed.

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Prince George's County experienced the largest increase in the state, up 139 percent from last year. If these numbers indicate reporting trends, and many more instances of abuse occur and go unreported, then the domestic violence problem in Maryland isvery large indeed, and has been before O. J. Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife.

At a recent conference held by Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor, experts revealed that domestic violence is the leading cause of women's visits to emergency rooms and causes four deaths per day in the United States.

Moreover, battering of pregnant women causes more birth defects than all diseases combined. And, as we've learned, when women attempt to flee the home as a result of domestic violence, it ends in death for them 75 percent of the time.

In fact, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds in our country, and as a result domestic violence incidents consume more police time than all other major felonies involving violence combined.

The recent attention being lavished on the problem of domestic violence will only heighten awareness of the problem and hopefully give some the courage to find a safe way out of a dangerous situation.

It is unfortunate, however, that it took the death of Nicole Brown Simpson for the media to realize the epidemic of violence within the home that is sweeping and undermining our country. Senator Boergers should be commended for her leadership on this highly charged issue when it wasn't the most politically correct game in town.

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Claire S. Cohen

Baltimore


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