In his May 26 letter, William Baker of Homestead has suggested that federal employees and members of Congress should have their salaries and pensions cut. I agree with him about the congressional pensions as they have no real connection to amount and time contributed.
However, I strongly disagree with his suggestion where it applies to federal employees. In spite of what Mr. Baker has been led to believe, the average federal employee does not receive large salaries or pensions. Reports in the media to the contrary, the average employee receives salaries and pensions at about the same level of pay as the average office worker. The salaries and pensions reported in the paper as "average" include the salaries of upper level administrators and assistants. That is similar to an office's including the salaries of the chairman of the board and the vice president of the company when speaking of "average" salaries.
For years federal employees have paid a higher rate on total salary toward their pension. Social Security payments were at a lower rate and there was a cap on the salary taxed. There was no such cap for federal employees. Whenever the president or Congress wants a scapegoat they use the federal employee in Grades 2-15 as their scapegoat. The average employee is hard-working for 40 hours per week, has two to three weeks of vacation, no overtime and must have proof of illness to collect sick time. Frequently they work in buildings that are impressive on the outside but dingy and overcrowded on the inside. They don't deserve the treatment they are getting at the hands of Congress or the general public as represented by Mr. Baker.
And, no, I am not a federal employee or pensioner. I know people who are.
School before work
On April 27, employers held Take your Son/Daughter to Work Day and welcomed students who visited with their parents. This wonderful activity was to educate and introduce youngsters to the work world and let them see their parents in their job situations. This activity was successful for the employers, but there were problems created by absenteeism in the schools that need to be considered for next year.
Many classrooms had only a few students, thereby altering the teaching curriculum. Some students simply stayed home.
There was the monumental task of changing a student's attendance from absent to present if he had participated in this non-school-related function. My school alone had over 300 students to participate.
In the future, would employers please consider scheduling this activity on a non-school day, possibly during the summer months?
Carole L. Owings
Sweep some more
I have seen clean-up efforts come and go in the city. I can't count the number of times I have participated in my Govans neighborhood. The recent inspection blitz here found me warmly applauding this latest effort to maintain property values. My hope was that the Clean Sweep program would have Baltimore living up to its responsibilities.
Our March Clean Sweep, however, accomplished nothing but the bulk trash removal. I couldn't believe that in an election year the mayor would let himself look this bad. April's Clean Sweep was no better. It was then that we found out that we had to list every storm drain we wanted cleaned, every light pole for graffiti removal, etc.
Though disappointed that we were not informed of this from the beginning, we complied. My association filed more than 75 complaints and made photocopies to check progress. We needn't have bothered. Our May Clean Sweep was as big a success as the ones in March and April. Not a single new complaint that we had filed was resolved.
All I can say is that after 14 years of residency in Baltimore and eight years with him as mayor, Kurt Schmoke doesn't make me proud.
Need those weeds
Flooding and tornadoes seem to become more frequent every year. Now there is a movement in Washington to weaken our already fragile environmental laws. The legislators behind this should realize that cutting down trees, weeds and shrubbery for developments requires the pouring of concrete and asphalt that take away Mother Nature's natural ability to absorb rain water. Rain water pours into storm drains that flow into creeks and rivers that overflow. And the more trees you cut down the more open spaces you have to spawn tornadoes.
The same principles apply to people who build on certain hillsides. The loss of trees, weeds and shrubbery and the pouring of concrete and asphalt can lead to mudslides such as those that have been plaguing the hillsides in California.
Some of our lawmakers, not only in Washington but also at the state and local levels, should come out of the Stone Age and emerge into an enlightened 20th century that finds the publishers of the National Geographic, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace at the forefront of trying to save our planet from unscrupulous developers and politicians.
Education is first line of defense against crime
This letter is to all the politicians who voted to cut the school budget:
Think of the consequences of this action. How will larger numbers of students per classroom, fewer books, computers and teachers affect our society?
Aren't we slowly destroying our society by not educating our children properly?
Will we become like past societies -- the Sumerian, Sargon, Hammurabi and Roman empires, to name a few -- that eventually destroyed themselves?
Do you think highly educated people were involved with the destruction of the government building in Oklahoma? Or closer to home, is the majority of the crime in Baltimore committed by educated people?
Crimes are usually committed by people who are bitter and angry that life did not turn out the way they wanted. They perceive life to be hopeless.
Hopelessness starts when a child can't learn to read or do math in a class of 30 students or more and can't get help. A private reading tutor can cost $35 a session. A speech therapist costs $90 for 45 minutes. A math tutor costs $35 a session. And a psychologist can cost $100 a visit.
Many children need some or all of these services. Yet many parents simply can't afford them. Others have no idea their children need these services. And a third group of parents just does not care.
The burden lies with the schools to educate children regardless of their parents' situation. Today children are graduating largely uneducated. Yet crime could be cut in half if all Americans had a decent education.
After reading the article on the Baltimore County fireboat (Evening Sun, May 21), all I can say is that once again we see the old axiom, Man opens mouth and puts both feet into it. Or rather is it a case that Councilman Louis L. DePazzo, like other empty barrels, just rolls around making noise and not knowing what he is talking about?
This fireboat is needed. The volunteer companies do an excellent job, but their boats are not always manned. Kevin B. O'Connor of the firefighters' union states that the Coast Guard can handle it. This is just not true.
Mr. DePazzo and Mr. O'Connor should be aware that the federal government is down-sizing. This effects the U.S. Coast Guard hard. The Coast Guard provides a vital service to the boating public, but they cannot do it all. They need the able assistance of the DNR, Baltimore County Marine Police, the Baltimore County fireboat and Baltimore County volunteer fireboats. A lot of boats that you see patrolling the water at this time are U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boats, owned and operated by civilian volunteers. These men and women have taken additional training to assist the boating public. They do not have access to a fireboat and have been relieved to see the Baltimore County fireboat arrive on the scene to handle the fire that a mere hand fire extinguisher cannot handle. Ask the various boat owners who have been assisted by this fireboat if it is of value.
Mr. DePazzo states that he is a boat owner. Good for him, but has he ever taken a safe boating course, has he ever thought that he might join the USCG Auxiliary and volunteer his "expertise" to help other boaters? He should not take an important life-saving facility away from the taxpaying boaters. But then I suppose it is more expedient as a politician to make a lot of noise, do nothing and criticize people who are trying to help.
As the wife of an active USCG Auxiliarist I suggest to Mr. DePazzo that he get a life and do something constructive instead of destructive.
Mary Anna Zampini