Clean Up Attitudes
Charles McMillion, a supervisor in the Western District office of Baltimore's Bureau of Solid Waste Collection, says that the problem with addressing sanitation in our neighborhoods is one of education ("A cleaner city may rely on cleaning up attitudes," Aug. 30).
Why, then, is the city fighting back with code violation notices and tickets for trash that don't work? Smart violators know that the city is unlikely to enforce the notices against them. Therefore, they ignore the notices.
If the city does prosecute, the judges, weary of drug and theft cases, slap the offenders on the wrist and send them home.
Two years ago, I suggested that the city develop a sanitation education program much like the drivers rehab classes that the Motor Vehicle Administration offers.
Rather than fine offenders, they could be required to complete an education program on sanitation, refuse disposal, recycling and rats.
The City Council apparently agreed with my idea and passed a resolution to that effect, requesting then-Housing Commissioner Robert Hearn and the director of public works to develop such a program. To date, nothing has occurred.
I now would expand my idea to include the public school system. Before graduating, every student should be required to complete a basic sanitation class.
Until we address the root of the problem, we can clean all the alleys in the city only to turn around a week later and find them
filled with trash and debris again.
Tracy Ward Durkin
The writer is executive director of Belair-Edison Housing Service Inc.
A Smoker's Right
Gregory Kane's Aug. 24 article on smokers' rights represents the umpteenth viewpoint on the smoking issue. Having been on both sides in the war with nicotine, allow me to offer my perspective.
I smoked off and on for 26 years. I considered myself a very courteous smoker, always conscious of the proximity of other people, the direction in which I exhaled my smoke, whether the people around me were smoking or not.
In those 26 years, including the last few when concern for second-hand smoke began to reach hysterical proportions, only three people ever approached me about my smoke bothering them.
The two idiots in Mr. Kane's examples notwithstanding, accommodation does work between smokers and non-smokers. It simply requires a little courtesy all around.
I quit smoking at age 40, not because the state government thought I should or because of some self-righteous lobbyist. I believed it was time to stop.
It is unlikely that I'll ever start again. Two and one half years of abstinence and the work that entails and the recent loss of two relatives to cancer should see to that. However, I will always consider the act of smoking my option. Should my government (( have a problem with that, tough. Tough also to the self-righteous. I do not need or desire their help.
As Mr. Kane says, smoking is not a right, and you will find no reference to such a right in the Constitution. But neither will you find the right of government, or anyone, to restrict the choice.
Charles H. Thornton
Doug Struck's article on Aug. 28, headlined "Beirut sets about rebuilding the good life," promoted the false image that Lebanon under the present conditions of occupation is secure and tranquil, when in fact the roster of general turbulence such as bombings, abductions, assassinations, detentions, extortion, vigilante "justice" by religious fanatics -- not to mention robberies, armed assaults and Syrian heavy-handedness -- continues to lengthen.
The extending of the travel ban on Americans to visit Lebanon by the State Department on Aug. 26 testifies to the fact that all is not well in the country.
Lebanon, unfortunately, remains under Syrian occupation a safe haven for Hezbollah and scores of other radical groups that have the freedom of operation and movement and are active, armed, hostile and a source of continued instability.
All the talk about the reconstruction of occupied Beirut and the recovery of Lebanon's economy is so far just that: talk.
The Syrian-installed Hariri government has only succeeded in raising taxes on an already impoverished Lebanese population.
It has confiscated large tracts of prime real estate in downtown Beirut for an alleged reconstruction scheme that will ruin the city's archaeological sites while enriching a handful of tycoons.
Without stability, without a sovereign state and without security and a government that can insure it, no real reconstruction can ever be implemented.
Daniel Nassif Washington
The writer represents the Council of Lebanese American Organizations.