New PSC chief faces tough fight on rates
When Mayor Kurt Schmoke persuaded Gov. Parris Glendening to appoint H. Russell Frisby Jr. to chair the Public Service Commission, he did his friend no favor (news article, June 8). In accepting, Mr. Frisby took a long step backward.
Rather than directing the deregulation of the electric utility to a positive conclusion, he will find himself in a negative situation unable to protect the consumer. The reasons are many.
Those who favor deregulation treat electricity as a commodity. The plan that California has adopted even sets up an independent board to set prices.
If water were delivered in a leaking pipe, it would closely resemble the flow of electricity.
BWith water, losses can be controlled by repairing or replacing the pipe. In an electric circuit losses can be reduced by raising the voltage but never eliminated.
Since the power that reaches its destination is less than the power generated, electricity does not fit the mold of a commodity.
The environmentalists, particularly the Sierra Club, insist that the co-generator is more efficient and cheaper than the high capacity unit that utilities presently favor. The co-generator will be the power plant of the future.
By treating electricity as a commodity, proponents of deregulation insist that competition will reduce the cost of electricity to the consumer. This is nonsense.
The cost of electricity is determined by the cost of generation and the ability to transmit the power to the consumer.
History has shown that technological advances have made it possible to keep the cost of electricity constant regardless of the ups and downs of the market place.
Unlike other industries, the technology that serves the electric utility is communal.
All utilities have the ability to generate electricity at costs within a small differential.
As public utilities, the electric companies' rates are controlled by local politics. The fact that California and New York have the highest rates is a measure of the politics in those states.
Recently there was an article in the sports section about golfer Greg Norman having faced "adversity."
For the past few years, I have made a semi-hobby out of noticing how often the sports writers recount how various players or teams have suffered adversity.
This player sustained an injury. That team was minus one or two of their key members. This athlete lost three competitions in a row.
These events, while discouraging, do not constitute adversity. Neither does losing a game or the championship.
Adversity is a seriously ill child.
Adversity is cancer, or losing your job or your home.
Adversity is facing poverty or violence or a crippling disability.
People who have no idea about or interest in what is happening in Bosnia or Rwanda would not go a day without reading the sports pages.
Sports are fun, entertaining and exciting, but their ups and downs should not be confused with the difficulties and tragedies of the real world.
Nancy S. Spritz
The pro game
I want to let readers know how great it is to have two professional ball teams in Baltimore.
The first team bills you in mid-December without a schedule, wants final payment in February without a schedule, sells tickets to exhibitions and then cancels them for lack of enough attendance, raises ticket prices by 16 percent for seats that are turned the wrong way, changes the exchange policy for season ticket-holders without even a letter of advanced notice, requests and receives from City Council a bill prohibiting ticket scalping and then does not give the season ticket-holders a place to sell their extras until two months into the season.
It has players who act like they are doing a few fans a favor by signing a few autographs. Plus they have great gifts, like the miniature batter's helmet with two cents worth of peanuts.
The second team gives you the option of paying in two payments about three months from the start of the season. Your choice, but paid in full gets you a nice video of the previous season plus a discount for another.
This team lets you watch it practice, signs autographs and thanks you for asking.
They let you switch seat assignments without a hassle and apologize for taking too long to handle your request. After they take care ofyour request they give you great gifts as their way of saying sorry it took so long.
Isn't it great to have two major league sports, one of which is actually professional?
Joseph M. Collins
Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier promised to bring "community policing" to Baltimore. If the following is any example, I would say he has failed.
On June 14, I was on South Broadway. An elderly man was lying face down among a pile of garbage bags with one foot caught in his crutch. His head was in the gutter and he appeared to be bleeding.
I called 911 and asked for an ambulance.
Within minutes, four police cars arrived. The officers seemed to think the situation very funny and refused even to get close to the man.
A few minutes later, a fire truck arrived. One of the cops said, "What are they doing here? Who needs them?"
The firemen checked the man out and determined that he was not in need of immediate medical attention.
One of the cops said, "What [obscenity] called this in?" I said, "I did." He said, "Thanks for wasting our time for a drunk."
I said, "Why don't you lock me up for making a false report?" No response to that.
Perhaps I over-reacted. But the insulting manner in which I was treated, and the insensitive manner in which the situation was handled (except by the firemen), prove to me that the Baltimore police are a bunch of overpaid barbarians.
James V. Kressler
Moment in the sun
Thank you for sending us the pages of The Evening Sun of June 7, where our pictures appeared [with story on President Clinton's visit to Fort McHenry].
It was a thrill to see. I really appreciate reporter John Rivera's consideration in making sure I received these pages.
A special thanks to Jed Kirschbaum, the photographer who took the pictures. His journalistic instinct, insight and sensitivity led to the development of the story from the angle of a parent's tenacity in making contacts to arrange for the class to meet the president.
Aside from affording me a moment in the sun (pardon the pun), this story shows how a determined person can navigate the much maligned "system," perhaps having to swim against the current. But it can be done.
Mr. Kirschbaum immediately recognized this as a "one person can make a difference" story, to which many people can relate. He questioned me along these lines at Fort McHenry.
His line of questioning influenced my responses when a reporter called from the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer ran a full article that focused on that aspect of the event.
I have received congratulations from many people who noticed the article. It has been very gratifying. Many thanks.
The writer is a Philadelphia parent who called the White House after learning that a school outing might be canceled because the fort would be closed for the president's arrival and departure. The Pennsylvania group got in.