Televised TrialCarl Rowan gives six reasons to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Televised Trial

Carl Rowan gives six reasons to televise the Simpson trial. I suggest that each day's proceedings be taped in a closed court and auctioned off at the end of the day. So far, the local and national media yypes and hucksters seem eagerly cash-ready for every tidbit of truth, rumor or falsehood.

Besides, Los Angeles will need the money to build a visitor

center outside the courthouse after the trial.

Quentin D. Davis

Aberdeen

We, the People

They still don't get it. They're still complaining about losing the lobbying bill. But all they mention is the part about accepting gifts. Can't they just say no?

They avoid talking about the part that did it in. The "grass roots" provision was a real in-your-face action and showed a contemptuous attitude toward those the Congress was elected to serve. The strong public reaction responded partly to the attempt to ram it through -- an ambush strategy -- as something added and buried in the conference report. The bill probably would have passed otherwise, without these last minute additions.

And never mind that Sen. Carl Levin assured us that religious organizations were exempted. When I read the actual language the exemption wasn't that assuring. A politically appointed bureaucrat, whose duties and procedures weren't even thought out yet, would decide just which organizations, employees and issues qualified as religious. The confusion alone gave good reason to kill the bill until it was ready.

But the biggest insult was to be told the people couldn't express their concern. Only when you register as a lobbyist can you talk to your congressman? As much as you want? No way! And we should praise the individual citizens who choose to devote more than 10 percent of their time to the affairs of our country, not make them criminals because they speak up.

I find it ironic but entirely appropriate that grass roots communication from "We, the people" killed the grass roots provision of the lobby bill. I believe the Founding Fathers would be proud.

Wyett H. Colclasure II

Jarrettsville

Teen Smokers

Does the state of Maryland really feel that it can control teen smoking? As of the first of October, any minor in the possession of any tobacco product can face a civil fine of $25 on their first offense and up to $100 for later infractions.

It seems to me that this law would create two problems. First, the police already have their hands full with larger, more serious crimes. In addition to their already busy work day, they would be required to stop any minor who has a tobacco product. This to me seems like a very time-consuming job. Why can't the police dedicate themselves to more serious problems?

The second problem that would occur as a result of this law would be the fact that if the minors couldn't have any tobacco products, they would want them all the more. This could cause a serious strain on the relationship between the police workers and the teens.

I understand that there are certain rules to be followed on school property regarding tobacco products. If someone is caught at school there are consequences resulting from this violation, and I can accept this. However, I feel that once a student is off school property and wants to have a tobacco product they should be able to do so. I feel this issue should remain between minors and their parents rather than minors up against the law.

Brett Johnson

Columbia

District Vote

As a recent college graduate and current Charles Village resident, I would like to applaud the efforts made by the organizers of the Charles Village Community Benefits District.

Since arriving in Baltimore slightly over two years ago, I chose to reside in the Charles Village community because of its unique small-town charm and friendly atmosphere. Quite appropriately, these endearing qualities eventually proved to be representative the city of Baltimore as a whole.

I have learned first-hand about the sanitation problems and persistence of the criminal element that are adversely affecting local Charles Village businesses, housing occupancies and the overall safety of its residents. I myself have been threatened at gunpoint for money.

What I feel would amount to an even bigger injustice would be to allow this distinctive Baltimore City community to decay into anonymity by ignoring the seriousness of the problem. The Charles Village Benefits District program offers a realistic, community-based solution to this concern.

Robert Bakin

Baltimore

North Caricature

I have no clear knowledge of the part that Oliver North played in the Iran-contra affair, whether he was derelict in his duty or heroic.

It would be helpful to read a dispassionate account of the occurrences, but where is such an account to be found?

Certainly not in The Sun, which encourages its cartoonists in the belief that they are making a valid political statement against North by grotesquely exaggerating his dental shortcomings.

These cartoonists belong to the same cultural milieu as those in the Nazi papers in the 1930s, in which elderly Jews were depicted with filthy beards and distended noses.

Your cartoonists would have been a real addition to the staff of Der Stuermer, since they share the conviction that one %o devastates one's opponents by portraying them as grossly unprepossessing physically.

I disagree. Tactics of that sort may work with storm-troopers, but a person with a free spirit can only be repelled by the illiberal triviality of mind and meanness of soul reflected in these drawings, and by those that depict political opponents as having crossed eyes.

Are people who are strabismic really weak-minded? I think that that cruel stereotype has died, except in the mind of Mike Lane (Oct. 1 cartoon).

I wonder whether some of the support for Oliver North has not been engendered by revulsion against the tactics of his opposition.

It would certainly be understandable that people who respect decently-conducted controversy would justifiably feel that anyone whose adversaries operate on such a low level must be a very fine person indeed.

How can you imagine that anyone whose opinion is worth having

is persuaded by this kind of thing?

Robert L. Taylor

Timonium

More Cookies

Your Sept. 26 article on Hillary Clinton abandoning her public policy role for more traditional roles as First Lady was, as Yogi Berra once said, "deja vu all over again."

Surely you don't believe it's a coincidence that this occurs just before a mid-term election.

Her transformation is simply the 1994 equivalent of the great cookie bake contest that the campaign staff organized to give her a softer image before the 1992 election.

Do the White House spin doctors think we voters are so stupid that we wouldn't notice the similarities?

Allan C. Stover

Ellicott City

School Bus Safety Involves Other Drivers

I would like to respond to several issues raised in a letter published in The Sun on Sept. 26, from Mrs. C. Ann Vinci concerning Baltimore County school bus policy.

Our policy is, as Mrs. Vinci states, that children should be at their assigned bus stop prior to the bus arrival, and in the afternoon should cross the road, when necessary, after the bus has departed. Beyond this, much of Mrs. Vinci's letter is misleading or downright wrong.

The subtle implication in Mrs. Vinci's letter is that through statistical manipulation of accident data, we sit back and absolve ourselves of any involvement in student injury. This is simply not the case.

Whether an accident meets the Maryland State Department of Education's definition of a school bus accident or whether we maintain in-house records of student injury reports, the bottom line is the same -- we investigate thoroughly and follow up with either corrective action or educational and awareness-raising activity.

It needs to be stated clearly that the whole point behind our policy is that students are not safe when relying on the "protection" of red flashing lights on a school bus. Motorists, quite frankly, violate the stop law with ever-increasing frequency. And while it may be "much easier . . . to see a big bright yellow school bus with red flashing lights on," the reality is that the bus itself is a huge obstacle to visibility.

Those motorists who are either not paying attention or deliberately ignoring the law cannot see the children crossing the street until it is too late and the children cannot see them. Over the course of the last 15 months four Baltimore County students have been struck by these "fly-bys."

Does this mean that we simply leave children out there on their own to cross any and all types of roadways? Of course not. But in evaluating road conditions there are many factors to consider in addition to the speed limit, such as volume of traffic, sight distance, ingress and egress from intersecting roadways, etc. Blanket rules such as exclusively same-side service are usually not the best answer.

Mrs. Vinci references the efforts of my colleague, Glenn Johnson, in increasing same-side service in Howard County. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Johnson so I mean to take nothing away from him when I say that Baltimore County has been doing exactly the same thing for years simply because of the nature of our policy.

I also find it interesting that Mrs. Vinci would use Howard County as an example since the tragic and fatal student accident she cites happened using the very crossing procedure she advocates for Baltimore County.

In her closing statement. Mrs. Vinci talks about a new mirror system that eliminates visibility problems for the school bus driver and applauds the efforts of contractors to retrofit their fleets with this $50 mirror.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Not only has no one in Baltimore County retrofitted their fleet, but some bus manufacturers have petitioned the federal government to reconsider the new specifications because these mirrors do not do what they were designed to do -- eliminate all blind spots. In addition, any retrofit of these mirrors has to be done by the bus manufacturers at the factory, not by the bus owner. As in most things, the issues just are not as simple and clear cut as Mrs. Vinci would have us believe.

Even though school buses are the safest form of transportation, we do not and never will operate in a risk-free environment and no single policy will ever be a panacea. But I believe absolutely and unequivocally that the long-standing policy in Baltimore County is the best one for our children. Is it a guarantee of safety? No. Unfortunately, there is only one guarantee in student transportation: that every year motorists -- thousands of them in Baltimore County alone -- will ignore the school bus stop law and "fly-by" as students are loading or disembarking. Guaranteed.

The single best way to minimize the inherent risks in student transportation is for all members of the community to recognize a shared responsibility. Everyone -- the school system, the students, the parents and the motoring public -- plays a critical role in student safety.

Rita Fromm

Towson

The writer is manager of transportation, Baltimore County Public Schools.

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