Crab Picking on Smith IslandOn June 21,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Crab Picking on Smith Island

On June 21, The Sun published a brief Associated Press article entitled "Crab reprieve extended."

I am one of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene officials who has been working with the representatives of the Smith Island Crabmeat Cooperative Inc. to develop a program by which, under strict departmental supervision, the members of this cooperative would be allowed to pick crab meat for sale in Maryland until their plant is constructed. I would like to clarify the status of those negotiations and correct several misunderstandings regarding the consent order and judgment.

The first point is that the consent order and judgment covers only the members of the Smith Island Crabmeat Cooperative Inc. who signed the original document last year and who will be eligible to sign any renegotiated order this year.

Unlicensed pickers operating without departmental supervision are not authorized to pick crab meat for sale in Maryland and remain subject to regulatory actions.

As of July 3, the negotiations on a revision of the consent order and judgment were still under way for 1995 and had not been signed by any of the parties.

Most of the major provisions of a revision had been negotiated and provide for rigorous monitoring by the department, review and approval of a detailed crab meat processing plan to be submitted by each individual member of the cooperative, frequent on-site inspection during all phases of steaming, picking, packaging and storage of crab meat to assure that it is properly handled and stored to prevent contamination and growth of bacteria, random bacteriological sampling of crab meat at frequent intervals and clear labeling of the crab meat container indicating that sale is limited to the state of Maryland.

These measures have been agreed to by members of the cooperative and are part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's ongoing efforts to protect the public's health by assuring food processed in Maryland is wholesome and safe.

Diane L. Matuszak

Baltimore

The writer represents the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Stereotypes

I hope that The Sun can come up with a better explanation for using an ethnically insensitive remark than those featured on the front of the Style section July 5.

After seeing in print the Michael Jackson text using "jew" as a verb, reading about the subsequent outrage these lyrics caused, and explanations given by the author, I came across a parallel construction in the editorial page.

The lead article editorial contains an uncaring reference to the Welsh: Orange County "welshing" on its debt.

Both terms, "to jew" and "to welsh," refer to derogatory ethnic stereotypes about certain groups and their relationships to money and commerce.

The Sun is showing striking insensitivity in following the stories about popularly recognized "political correctness" while showing its failure to understand what real negative stereotyping means by not recognizing the repugnance associated with all ethnic cliches.

An apology is in order.

John H. Clemson

Baltimore

Wrong on Trucking

It's the job of the editorial cartoonist to provoke, to comment and frequently to criticize. It is a job KAL does well, though those who have been on the wrong end of his occasionally stinging barbs may think otherwise.

It is not the job of the editorial cartoonist, however, to report or state a seemingly objective fact. By his very nature, the editorial cartoonist is a subjective figure, with ultimately no accountability for his "reportage" -- especially when that reportage, as in the June 22 edition of The Sun, is downright wrong.

I'm referring, of course, to the box at the lower left of that morning's cartoon, which states, "Important News: Trucking Companies Frequently Flaunt Federal Safety Rules."

The important news is that there is little evidence of any such thing at all.

In fact, the Federal Highway Administration has reported that of all the trucks and drivers inspected nationwide during 1993, only 5.4 percent of drivers were placed out of service due to violations of the federally mandated hours of service. And only 1.8 percent of fatal accidents were found to be related to driver fatigue.

In Maryland, industry has been at the forefront of the safety improvements that have gotten us this far and will take us even farther.

It was the trucking industry that called for the creation of the commercial driver's license, a national licensing program that limits fraud and gets unsafe drivers off the road.

It was the trucking industry that urged the police to increase the number of roadside inspections, which, in Maryland, have gone up more than 115 percent since 1989.

It was the trucking industry that called for drug and alcohol testing requirements, which have shown that less than 1 percent of drivers abuse such substances while driving.

We admit that there is more to be done and we are committed to further improvements.

We admit there are a minority of irresponsible truckers on the road, but their number is growing smaller every day.

We support any and all initiatives of the state and federal government that will effectively reduce the number of accidents and are known for our willingness to cooperate fully with our friends at the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of Transportation . . .

Walter C. Thompson

Baltimore

The writer is executive vice president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

Bad Babe

I went to see the new statue of Babe Ruth at the stadium. It is the worst piece of realistic sculpture I have seen in my 87 years.

Henry Berge

Baltimore

Terrorists

I have before me the July 2 front page, blaming Israel for the stalled peace talks by not honoring their agreement to free prisoners. Not a word on why the prisoners are in jail.

Not a word about terrorism. Have we forgotten Oklahoma City already? Do we not fear the Unabomber? These two or three terrorists have the whole United States in a uproar.

Imagine 5,000 avowed terrorists active in Rhode Island (the size of Israel), demanding revolution.

Many of them are caught while murdering children, women, senior citizens in their homes, at bus stops, and on playgrounds. Law enforcement officials have them behind bars. Who is calling for their release? Liberals? Conservatives? Add to the scene: The Sun running 10 inches of press describing the plight of the poor detainees without a word about their crimes.

For the sake of our imaginary scene, let's imagine that the only crime that many of these "political" prisoners have committed is merely throwing stones at policemen, state troopers, state congressman and, just for fun, new reporters. (Ever been hit in the head with a 4-inch rock?) Sympathy going up even more? Troops in any free country would open fire.

Back to reality. Where is the list of peace negotiation agreements that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Arab nations have abrogated? The list is much longer than you would want to print here.

For example, the PLO was to remove from its charter calling for destruction of Israel as a primary goal.

I am not mourning the slowing down of the peace process.

Would you run to make peace with someone whose desire to destroy you is greater than his desire to earn a living, educate his children or even build his own country?

Norman Hill

Baltimore

The Ramifications of Unfair Stories

I read with special interest the article "Psychic Network Mastermind" by Alec Matthew Klein (June 18).

It's bad enough that the state regulates and taxes businesses out of Maryland on a routine basis. But you add to the problem with an obviously biased article.

First, your writer notes that "some customers have complained about the service." Well, I know for certain that some customers have complained about The Sun's service. I am one of them. Does that make The Sun disreputable?

Second, let me call to your readers' attention (because your writer did not) to the fact that his primary sources for criticism of Michael Warren Laskey and Inphomation were the very people the infomercial industry threatens most -- advertising executives.

Of course they were going to make the scathing comments they did about his work.

Bob Garfield's comment was particularly ludicrous. His bemoaning Mr. Laskey's being "grossly exploitative of the least capable of defending themselves against naked ignorance and superstition" is hilarious in light of the fact that that is essentially what he and his colleagues do daily for a living.

Not so? What about cigarette advertising? How about promoting sugar-laden cereals to children (talk about exploitation)? What about a history of selling products that didn't work or were harmful?

Does that make ad agencies "Godzillas"? Not for a moment.

And Mitchell A. Orfuss of J. Walter Thompson should know about shaping the truth. He speaks of advertising as 30 seconds of truth and an infomercial that runs 30 minutes as reshaping the truth.

Mr. Orfuss knows about reshaping truth because advertising does it routinely in commercials. He knows that one carefully honed phrase or one carefully edited picture can reshape the truth in 10 seconds, never mind 30 minutes.

In the most ludicrous part of his article, Mr. Klein brings up Mr. Laskey's ties to handicapping.

Horrible. How could anyone with a shred of honesty do such a thing? Yet your paper publishes the sports lines every day.

That information wouldn't be in there for bettors, would it? Does that mean that everything else The Sun does should be tainted by that aspect of its work? How about the lottery numbers? How about the horoscope? Come on.

Perhaps before you run a story that is clearly biased and assaults another Maryland business, you should look into the potential ramifications.

If Mr. Laskey has had it with this kind of reporting, and, instead of further contributing to the employment and revenue base (as he has through his recent participation in the purchase of Harrison's), he elects to move his operation to friendlier surroundings, are you going to hire the displaced workers?

And are you going to compensate for the philanthropic contributions that Mr. Laskey quietly goes about making to the poor, disabled and homeless in this community? The reporter should have looked into Mr. Laskey's philanthropy just a little . . . His article is another example of why polls show that people no longer trust the press . . . He should be more deferential to the standards that apply to the word "journalism" as it was originally intended, and The Sun should label articles like this for what they are, "editorials". . .

Vince Clews

Reisterstown

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