Conservative PBSWhen The Sun's television critic, David...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Conservative PBS

When The Sun's television critic, David Zurawik, writes that "[PBS] has never had enough conservative voices on the air," he is contradicting the definitive analysis of the Public Broadcasting System reported in Extra!, a publication of Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR).

FAIR testified before the Senate Communications Subcommittee last June that unless PBS moves away from being overwhelmingly conservative, it should be replaced.

FAIR said last September, "[PBS] fails to fulfill its mission -- to be a forum for groups in the community that may otherwise be unheard, and to help us see America whole, in all its diversity."

FAIR points out that PBS has a wealth of programs aimed at the business community, but not one single weekly program that "offers the perspective of working people, or of consumers, or of environmentalists." Also, whereas political conservatives like William Buckley and John McLaughlin have for a long time held court on it, "PBS offers no weekly political talk shows with progressive hosts."

In their book, "By Invitation Only," David Croteau and William Hoynes present their exhaustive survey, "The Broken Promise of Public Television."

Only the most indoctrinated PBS-basher could dispute their findings that "environmentalists, feminists and labor activists received scant attention within public television programming, while corporate and government spokespersons dominate regularly scheduled news and information programs.

"[Also], despite repeated claims by conservatives . . . no gay or lesbian spokespersons received access to public television public affairs programming during our sample period. [And the public affairs documentaries] account for a small percentage of the overall public affairs lineup on PBS stations, a point that the conservative critics frequently ignore.

"Finally, we found no evidence of a consistent liberal or left-wing bias in these documentaries."

If the disparity between the amount of conservative versus progressive voices on PBS were given a football analogy, the conservatives would be winning 100-0, with their ball on the progressives' one-yard line . . .

Scott Loughrey

Baltimore

Mea Culpa

Will we ever hear a mea culpa from The Sun for foisting Parris Glendening on an unwitting public? ("The able executive of a large, complicated county like Prince George's is evidence he can provide sound leadership in Annapolis. He has managed a $1 billion budget with skill," The Sun's editorial said Oct. 30, 1994).

We now know that the "able" county executive left Prince George's County $131 million in debt.

He paid off county employee unions with ". . . the best pension and fringe benefits of any county in the state."

He gave out "no-layoff" agreements, thus tying the hands of his successor and the public with employment commitments.

He granted unions binding arbitration rights, thus implicitly ceding county taxing authority to non-elected arbitrators.

He fleeced the taxpayer by arranging a "golden parachute" pension plan for himself and his cohorts.

Isn't Mr. Glendening's tale reminiscent of Michael Dukakis and the supposed "Massachusetts miracle" that the Democrats were prepared to give us in 1988? What we learned after the 1988 election was the miracle was a fake and Massachusetts was in dire economic straits.

Fortunately for the country, Mr. Dukakis lost. Unfortunately for Maryland, Mr. Glendening won.

Now that Mr. Glendening is our governor, I hope The Sun and the Maryland legislature will make sure he doesn't perpetrate on the state what he did to Prince George's County.

Al Leung

Phoenix

No Sewer

In his Feb. 13 column, Mike Littwin vents his disgust with the sexual stories carried over the Internet. His headline writer concludes that the Internet is a "sewer as well as a superhighway."

His attitude is based in large part on misconceptions about the Internet. Mr. Littwin should not suggest that sexual stories are typical of "the Internet." The stories he described reside in a tiny portion of the Internet known as Newsgroups.

There are currently over 10,000 Newsgroups on the Internet, and fewer than 10 would ever carry such stories. In fact, even all 10,000 Newsgroups put together would represent only a tiny portion of activity taking place on the Internet each day.

I wish that newspaper reporters would devote themselves to describing some of the important scientific, educational and even spiritual Internet projects.

For instance, Mr. Littwin could write about the Internet K-12 initiative, which strives to link children in isolated, impoverished schools with the resources of the world's top universities.

Or he could tell the story of the Internet response to the Northridge, Calif., earthquake, when thousands of Internet users mobilized within minutes to relay messages between friends and relatives who could not contact California over regular phone lines.

He could even write about the Asian Classics Input Project, in which exiled Tibetan monks are laboriously copying their ancient texts into computers because they are convinced that the Internet is the best way to share their message with the world.

These three projects are only a small sampling of the important work that goes on each day on the Internet. Do not mock these efforts by calling the Internet a "sewer."

Nina Brown

Towson

The writer is president of GenX Internet Training.

Cities Work

Please allow me to offer some comments on your Feb. 5 editorial entitled "Salisbury and Wicomico County."

You mentioned that "Salisbury's population . . . is smaller than that of 34 unincorporated cities in Maryland," and that ". . . the eight largest cities in the state are unincorporated."

As I have noted to you in the past, there is no such thing as "unincorporated cities" in Maryland or anywhere else. Places like Columbia, Damascus, Dundalk, Towson, Ellicott City, Reisterstown, Silver Spring, Lanham, Waldorf, Prince Frederick and Glen Burnie are all communities, but not cities.

All do offer a post office address. But hard as you may look, you won't find any mayor and council in these communities passing laws and providing services to the people of the so-called city . . .

It was interesting to note in your comments that "city-county government can be more efficient and less costly." Why is it that by consolidating into bigger entities it's purportedly "more efficient and less costly"?

No longer is service delivery measured simply in terms of efficiency. It is also measured in terms of effectiveness, such as faster police-response times. People want to know that if the police are called, they can expect a fast response. County police-response times cannot match those of a town simply because there is more geography to cover. So, is bigger better if you're the one waiting for the police?

I wonder if you're aware that Wicomico County provides no water and sewer service, and no trash pick-up service? And yet the city of Salisbury, and most of the seven other municipal governments in Wicomico County, do.

The people in these towns pay for (and have paid for) a service or level of service that they desire or need and that otherwise may not come from the county government.

A likely scenario should county government only exist is that taxes might be cut in incorporated areas, but almost certainly a service or level of service would be cut in those areas as well.

Also, people residing in unincorporated or more rural areas could end up paying a higher county tax, thus actually subsidizing a greater need and use of services by those in more populated areas (former cities and towns).

In this time of cutting back and making government more efficient and more accountable, municipal government seems to be holding its own.

In surveys by groups like the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, people continue to rank municipal government as the best bang for the buck. In places other than Maryland, the number of local governments continues to grow, and most of them are the smaller units: cities, towns and special districts.

I continue to find it odd that The Sun finds it difficult to support or understand the concept of local home rule for people. Home rule means the right of a people of an area to govern themselves in matters of purely local concern . . .

Jon C. Burrell

Annapolis

The writer is the executive director of the Maryland Municipal League.

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