Vacant FieldI suggest the stadium at Camden...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Vacant Field

I suggest the stadium at Camden Yards be torn down and a field created for that popular state sport of jousting. Such a move would bring large numbers of spectators to the area by light rail and be a financial bonanza for the area restaurants.

A5 Forget it. I think I heard a similar plan before.

William D. Townsend

Timonium

Antique Cars

Your editorial of July 22 stated that, "one of the most effective ways to reduce smog is to get older polluting autos off the road." This is not always true.

You failed to mention if Crown Central Petroleum is receiving pollution credits from the EPA for their auto scrapping program.

For those who are not aware of these programs, it looks like Crown is helping the environment. This is not the case. The EPA is requiring major stationary polluters to reduce their smokestack emissions. Alas, the EPA has given big business a way to put off their responsibilities of cleaning up the environment.

The EPA has instituted the junker-clunker scrapping program. A stationary polluter may crush older automobiles, for which the EPA issues credits. These may be used to buy delays for these stationary sources to meet EPA pollution standards.

What is even more of an insult, is that these credits may be sold to other stationary polluters.

I am a member of the GTO Association of America, and the Royal GTOs, which is the local chapter in Maryland. I own three pre-1977 GTO's. These cars only travel about 3,000 miles each ** year, which is true for most other collectors as well.

We keep our cars well maintained, which is the most important factor to a clean burning automobile. If a newer vehicle is not properly maintained, it will pollute 20 times worse than all three of my vehicles combined.

We in the auto hobby are disturbed by these scrapping programs. When a vehicle is entered in a program, the entire vehicle is destroyed. Good re-usable components such as sheet metal, glass, trim, engine, transmission, etc. are crushed.

These parts are usable to us in the hobby. We have been recycling for years. These programs will not help the air quality because smokestack emissions will not be reduced. Crown can (if it is getting credits) sell those credits to Bethlehem Steel or any other major polluter. Or this may just be a public relations exercise.

The next time you attend a parade or an auto show and you admire these well maintained and restored automobiles, take a good look.

Talk to the owners and find out how much work and pride we have in our cars. The automobile hobby pumps millions of dollars into the economy.

Alan Dausinger

Abingdon

D.C. Law

The Sun Sept. 21 contained two pieces on a recent child custody decision from the District of Columbia. Custody of the children in this divorce were given to their father, by a woman judge, rather than to their mother.

There is an essential element in this case that was not discussed in either article: District of Columbia law does not provide for joint custody of children. Only one parent can receive custody; the other cannot, no matter how good a parent s/he may be.

If D.C. allowed for joint custody, a choice would very likely not have been made in this case as to whom might be considered the "better" parent. Rather, both parents would very likely have shared custody.

In the Prost case, both parents are considered to be "good" parents, and it is clearly unfortunate for all concerned that such a choice needed to be made.

This is not a case of gender discrimination, but one, because of anachronistic D.C. law, of discrimination against good sense.

It is unfortunate for Sharon Prost that she will have less contact with her children. But it is even more unfortunate that the children in every case like this in D.C. will have less contact with a loving parent.

Randall J. Snyder

Relay

Litterbugs

Contrary to Joseph J. Jaffa's opinion (letter, Sept. 14), practically all of the rubbish that litters our streets, parks, etc., is due to inconsiderate slobs.

I have ridden a bicycle around Lake Montebello for a number of years and have picked up a good many thousands of bottles, often as many as a dozen or more within a foot of one of the trash cans. Once I found a pile of 17 bottles at the 33rd Street entrance. Obviously, someone had driven in, dumped the beer bottles and left. And there are plenty of cans around the lake, although not as many as there were.

On three occasions I saw large dumps of crab shells.

I live on The Alameda. People drive by and toss their beer, whiskey and soda bottles on the median strip. I pick them up.

I never dump trash or bottles on the streets or any other outdoor property. I take it home and put it in my own trash can, unless, of course, there is a convenient public can.

I say that litterbugs are not only ignorant slobs, they are just plain stupid.

Alfred M. Strickland

Baltimore

Polarization

This letter is in reference to an article about Jacqueline McLean, that appeared in The Sun Sept. 3.

I took umbrage at a comment made in that article by Rev. Daki Napata: "We are here because there's no question in my mind that if Mrs. McLean had been a white female this type of overkill and sensationalism would not be the case."

I believe that comments like those tend to polarize people. And I would think that being a man of the cloth, Mr. Napata would want to work toward "building bridges between races, not walls."

J. Spence

Rosedale

Baltimore County's Flawed School Bus Policy

I am writing in response to a letter from a Parkton school bus driver (Sept. 3). My 11-year-old son, Joseph, was killed in January of 1993 as a direct result of the Baltimore County school bus policy of that era. Joseph was required (despite my complaints and protests) to cross our 50-m.p.h. roadway to get to his assigned bus stop.

Shortly after Joseph's death our family received numerous calls from friends and neighbors that were not aware that their children were also being expected to negotiate these roadways. Many wrongly assumed that because their children were boarding the bus on their own side of the road, that after school they were also being dropped off on that side.

Twenty-one children on our road alone were being required to cross, either before or after school or both, on an individual basis. These children range in age from 6-18 years old. We were even more astounded to find that there were three buses that traveled east and two that traveled west on our road. All these school buses were going to the same schools.

In short, there was no reason that any of these children should have been forced to cross a 50-m.p.h. heavily traveled roadway, let alone in the pre-dawn darkness or the late afternoon twilight (which are the same times that rush hours occur in this area).

There needs to be a change in the policies if we are to avoid any further tragedies. We make school bus safety regulations for the safety of our children -- but children think like children, not miniature adults.

As the policy stands now, the following is an all too often seen scenario: A student is walking down her driveway or street. She sees or thinks she sees (many buses sometimes travel down the same road) her bus coming down the road. She has not yet crossed the road to her bus stop. She panics. As a result of past experiences of being left by the school bus, the panicked child darts out into the street directly in front of a small oncoming car.

The distinction in Baltimore County is, when these children are hurt or killed trying to cross the street to get to their bus stops, they are not considered school bus related injuries or deaths. You see, these children are pedestrians! As such these children, up until 1993, appear in none of the school transportation statistics. I have in my possession the Maryland Public School Bus Accident Reports for the years from 1988 through 1993. Neither my son's accident nor a similar accident on Reisterstown Road appear anywhere in these statistics. How many more pedestrian type deaths don't we know about, that are related to Baltimore County's bus policies?

Prior to 1994 legislation in Annapolis, Baltimore County school bus policy required that each student be at the bus stop prior to the bus arrival. The policy in the rest of the state and in much of the nation is as follows:

The school bus driver activates the red flashing lights as the bus comes to a stop. After the bus is stopped and all traffic is stopped, the students then cross the roadway with the safety of the flashing red lights and board the bus. The same procedure is followed after school upon leaving the school bus.

In some states and counties it is the school bus drivers that wave the students on when they feel it is safe for the children to cross. It has been said by many so called "experts" in Baltimore County that their policy is right and all the others are wrong. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize how much easier it is to see a big bright yellow school bus with red flashing lights on, than to see a lone child trying to cross a road in the pre-dawn darkness.

Since our son's death, my husband and myself have fought many battles in Annapolis and elsewhere to try to get safer bus policies for all of our children. I applaud such efforts by Howard County school's director of transportation, Glen Johnson, who, after a tragic accident in that county, has gradually, every year, increased the number of same-side pick up and discharge of all school bus riders.

I also applaud the efforts of some contractual school bus companies that have installed a new mirror that is now required on new school buses by the federal government. These mirrors eliminate visibility problems in the so called "danger zones," which are blind spots or areas around buses. Some of the contracted school bus service providers for Baltimore County have taken it upon themselves to retrofit all of their school buses with these mirrors. Not so with Baltimore County. The mirrors cost $50 each as opposed to the $500,000 cost of the average liability suit. You could retrofit a lot of buses for that money.

C. Ann Vinci

White Hall

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