WelfareGinny Phillips' Feb. 7 letter, "Welfare Whiners,"...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Welfare

Ginny Phillips' Feb. 7 letter, "Welfare Whiners," is addressed as an admonition to the American Civil Liberties Union.

As a board member of the Maryland Chapter of ACLU, I want to say that Ms. Phillips' account of her own life portrays the American work ethic that we, as well as she, would like to see practiced by those who now find it necessary to rely on government assistance.

With few exceptions, the people receiving such aid share these same beliefs, but they face handicaps such as broken families, inadequate education, inaccessibility to job opportunities.

Perhaps most important, they lack the confidence in their own abilities exemplified by Ms. Phillips.

Among these handicaps is neighborhood environment. Studies show that dependent families living in neighborhoods where self-sufficiency is the norm are more likely to succeed than are those stifled in a culture of dependency.

Consequently, ACLU's legal challenge aimed at public housing segregation is entirely in line with Ms. Phillips advice that we "tell people in allegedly segregated housing to stay in school and get a job."

It has been amply demonstrated that they're more likely to do so if they're dispersed than if they remain bottled up in the projects.

Ms. Phillips also referred to "a welfare mother who purchased $143 in groceries on her 'Independence' card and went home in a cab. . . ." While a taxi may symbolize extravagance to those of us who have cars, it can be economical for those without private transportation as a means of getting to supermarkets that generally offer lower prices than the corner stores within walking distance.

For such shoppers, it is likewise prudent to minimize cab expense by buying a lot at one time, often pooling orders with neighbors.

Sidney Hollander Jr.

Baltimore

Unforgettable

To learn that the outstanding musical event of this or any year was not covered by our only newspaper was shocking. For the "Chris Merritt, James Morris and Friends Concert" to be ignored by The Sun is incomprehensible.

The extraordinary voices of the aforementioned gentlemen and their "friends" from the Metropolitan Opera -- Deborah Voight, Florence Quivar and baritone Stephen Pitnychko -- made this an unforgettable evening.

The Baltimore Opera Orchestra, under the capable direction of renowned maestro Anton Guadagno, gave a splendid performance . . .

That one of our major cultural institutions, the Baltimore Opera Company, has been treated with such disinterest does not speak well for our only source of music reviews. . .

These performers donated their time and voices to benefit the education and outreach programs of the Baltimore Opera Company.

Nancy D. O'Donnell

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Baltimore Opera Guild.

One-Sided Article

Mike Klingaman's one-sided March 17 article on gypsy moth spraying in Maryland reflects the irresponsible attitude of many people on chemical use.

The chemicals used in this spraying are known to permanently affect crustacian populations, and we are seeing an "unexplained" decrease in crab harvests.

This decrease had been predicted by some biologists when the controversial program was funded.

These relationships are impossible to prove -- it took 30 years to show any relationship between DDT and eggshell thickness, almost causing extinction of bald eagles, osprey, bluebirds.

Furthermore, in places like Connecticut, which have 15 years more experience with gypsy moths, all state spray programs have been discontinued as ineffective.

This program is not only a waste of tax money, it has an unknown and unmeasureable impact on the watersheds of the state.

There is no real measure of the long-term success of this program.

The impact of acid rain, and loss of land to development, as well as the inevitability of gypsy moths are all confounding variables.

The $25 million could have been better spent in preserving land for forests that will eventually adapt to these changes in conditions.

Instead of touting this program, it should be ended.

Douglas Carroll

Towson

Folk Dancing Is Gender Blind

zTC

As one of two members who resigned from the Baltimore Folk Music Society board because I could not in good conscience remain a member of a board that voted to defend the gender-balance policy against charges of discrimination, I applaud your editorial (March 4) against the policy.

I do wish, however, to correct some misinformation that slipped into the news story (Feb. 27), and was picked up in the editorial (March 4).

First, none of the folk music society's dances are attempts to "re-create the courtly . . . atmosphere of Old World dances." We dance these dances as fun, social dances that are a real part of our modern lives -- not as period pieces.

Even the Playford Ball, the more traditional of the dances, includes some dances written in the last few years, and less than half the dancers come in period costumes. The Mid-Winter Ball at which the gender balance policy is also applied is simply a modern contra dance.

Second, it is not true that the Baltimore Folk Music Society has had the gender-balance policy for its 20-year history.

The organization did not apply a gender-balance policy to any dances in the first 10 or so years. . .

Eileen Franch

Baltimore

There were two inaccuracies in your news article on the legal challenges to the Baltimore Folk Music Society's gender-balance policy. As a long-time member and the co-founder of both the English dance series and the Playford Ball, I would like to set the record straight.

The gender-balance policy has not been in effect for 20 years. The policy is currently used for two events: the Playford Ball and the Mid-Winter Ball.

Another person and I started the Playford Ball 14 years ago, -and we did not implement a gender-balance policy. It was added a few years ago by a board that reacted to a couple of vocal members.

The second inaccuracy is your implication that the society's members support the board's actions. The board has never polled the members, but anecdotal evidence suggests that very few support the policy.

It is inappropriate for the board to spend money on a lawyer to defend a policy many members find repugnant, especially at a time when the board is asking members to donate extra money to support regular dance events . . .

At the weekly dances, no partner is required, and all dances are taught. I urge the Baltimore Folk Music Society Board to drop the controversial gender-balance policy, buy a piano with the money they would have spent on a lawyer, and let's dance!

Barbara Morrison

Baltimore

We are feminists and members of the Baltimore Folk Music Society. While we believe the gender balance policy is discriminatory, we do not support the recent legal actions of Kathleen J. Norvell . . .

The issue of gender balance is not an attempt to recreate some mythical courtly past, but addresses the present societal discomfort of women partnering women and men partnering men.

Whereas few people actually object to same-sex partnering, there still exists, unfortunately, a minor pall of apprehension when approaching fellow dancers of the same sex.

We know of no overriding fantasy to relive a dismal feudal past, no matter how lovely the tunes or dances of the day. We folkies gather to dance and sweat, make music and community in a well-lighted and non-threatening atmosphere open to all.

We're concerned that some potential new partners (either sex) of ours will be turned-off by the tone of your editorial . . ..

The music and dancing are constantly evolving, as is our lovely community, and can also retain the flavor of traditional forms. Folk dancing is an essential human activity. It can be as real as real gets. Using your own mind and body, your fellow dancers, the pull of the music and the forces of physics, we whirl away the daily grind in aerobic company . . .

Unless we reject the tyranny of junior high school taboos and our society's hyperactive legal addiction, money and time will continue to be wasted on foolish fights like this. There is a real world of serious problems that desperately needsour attention.

Susan A. Taylor

John Lorch

Baltimore

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