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Sweet LeadTo your Aug. 22 article on...


Sweet Lead

To your Aug. 22 article on lead poisoning, I wish to add three notes.

First, many lead paint flakes have a sweet taste. Check me on this, but lead oxide was once known as sugar of lead.

Second, if your residence is plumbed with soldered copper, letting the water run for a while makes it much safer to drink. The water absorbs significant amounts of lead only while standing in the pipe.

Third, if lead paint is flaking, of course scrape it, but pick it up with a broom and dust-pan rather than vacuum-cleaner. The best of vacuum filters still pass a fair amount of very fine dust, and the cleaner motor grinds the flakes into just that.

McKenny W. Egerton Jr.

Owings Mills

For Gun Bounty

My letter is in response to a Sept. 2 article concerning Sen. John Pica Jr.'s initiative to introduce more handgun legislation in the next session of the legislature.

I fail to understand what he hopes to accomplish.

The Digest of Criminal Laws distributed by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions lists approximately eight pages of legislation dealing with handguns, and this is small print. My point is we have more than enough law impacting on handguns; what we need is somehow to make an impact on those who illegally carry handguns on the streets of Baltimore.

Mr. Pica is well intentioned, but he doesn't seem to understand that the people of this city want something done now, not in January. So here is what I suggest -- a handgun bounty.

In August of 1974 city leaders started a gun bounty program and it should never have been terminated in June of 1975. The bounty program paid $100 for any anonymous tip which led to the arrest of someone carrying an illegal handgun.

Today that would mean anyone who did not meet the exceptions rule as described in Art. 27, Sec. 36B of the Maryland Handgun Law or did not have a permit to carry a handgun.

The old bounty plan removed, on average, an illegal handgun a day from our streets, and they were quality guns, not trash. These are the guns we want off the street today, along with the "human trash" that uses them to kill and wound us.

You don't have to wait until January to start a gun bounty -- you can start it within a week. You set up a special confidential phone number that operates 24 hours a day. Money for the bounty can come from the forfeiture/gambling/drugs contraband revenue account which was established by the city to bank its share of seized assets taken from the folks who bring us our most violent episodes -- drug dealers.

If our "community leaders" want to get guns off the streets, let's do something other than verbal hand-wringing about how awful all this violence is and how something has to be done. set up a gun bounty and help the police do their job. People are dying.

James G. Giza



Surely our governor was misquoted in The Sun's Aug. 28 story about the repairs and redecoration of his office. He could not, would not have said, "If a citizen walked in here they would be embarrassed . . ."

Would he not have been more apt to say something like, "Any citizen who walked in here would be embarrassed . . ."?

Braxton Mitchell


My Experience

In his Aug. 12 letter, Prof. Wayne C. McWilliams states his belief that it is only a myth that the atomic bombing of Japan saved lives. It is obvious that his belief is based solely on the selective use of "documentary evidence."

My differing opinion is based on the whole of my personal experience.

I was born in Japan and lived near the Edo River, across from Tokyo, until May 1945. During this time more people were killed there by conventional bombing than were later killed by atom bombs.

Our life in that area was one of constant terror. Several times a day we had to go into crowded bomb shelters. Once, when I left the shelter to go to the toilet, the ground was showered with bullets by an American P-40. Since I was the only pedestrian in sight, I guess the pilot was trying to kill me. My unending fear was that my every waking minute might also be my last.

Like all students in the Tokyo area, I had to work in a war plant. My job was to clean old spark plugs for use in kamikaze craft. The plant was a 90-minute trip away by electric train. The trip was sometimes interrupted by air raids, and the train had to be stopped so we could get into shelters. This meant my trip could stretch out to six hours.

The worst Tokyo bombing occurred on the night of March 9, when over 150,000 Japanese civilians, including many of my classmates, lost their lives. In the bright light of the ground fire, TC we could see the B-29s' bay doors opening directly over our heads and then the bombs descending on Tokyo. After that, my widowed mother decided to take my sister, brother and me to Hiroshima Prefecture to live with relatives. I was 16 at the time.

After arriving in Hiroshima, I was allowed to attend school one day every other week. The rest of the time I was assigned to a navy plant, where my job was to mold aluminum parts for kamikaze plane engines. At the plant I was also trained to fight with sharpened bamboo poles.

August 6, 1945, happened to be a day when I was at school. Fortunately for me, I was about 30 kilometers from ground zero when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Although I could feel the heat of the bomb and see the mushroom cloud, I was far enough away to escape injury. The bombing was horrific, but no more so than the continuous bombings of the Tokyo area.

I am convinced to this day that the dropping of the atom bomb saved more Japanese lives than it took because it ended the war. Having lived under the fanatic Japanese government, I think it is naive to believe that it would have given up without the shock of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The emperor himself said, in his surrender broadcast, that it was the atom bombs that forced him to act to end the war. I still remember the overwhelming sense of relief I felt at this news, because I knew that I no longer had to live in fear. I have been an American for many years now. It still amazes me that some Americans, many of whom had yet to be born, now criticize President Truman for ending the devastating war as quickly as he possibly could.

Sadae Yamamoto Walters


Restore DALP

I read with great interest that the state's budget surplus for fiscal year 1995 will be $26.5 million. That figure is close to the amount Gov. Parris Glendening cut from the budget in January when he eliminated the Disability Assistance and Loan Program (DALP).

At the same time, the governor stated that DALP was unnecessary, that other programs existed to help the "truly needy." Now, two months since the program was eliminated at the end of June, the "truly needy" find themselves without resources to maintain decent housing, health or personal hygiene. Who can find housing in Baltimore for $50 a month or in Montgomery County for $125?

The actual cost of the inadequate program which provides those paltry, yet expensive-to-generate vouchers is proving to be much higher than the $10 million originally allocated (remember DALP was funded at $34 million). In Baltimore City for example, more than $300,000 was spent in administrative costs in the first five weeks of the new program; money that was not budgeted for, not needed to administer DALP and that could have been spent providing cash assistance for one year to 160 individuals with disabilities.

Charitable organizations are documenting significant increases in the demand for services such as shelter, clothing and transportation assistance.

A recent count in Baltimore's downtown business district has documented a 65 percent increase in the number of people living on the streets since the end of June. And the number of evictions in Baltimore for the month of August hit an all time high of 1,100.

So Marylanders are supposed to be happy or proud that the state has a budget surplus? We're supposed to feel that retaining the AAA bond rating is worth the suffering of people on the streets, the negative impact on businesses and the increased tax burden of operating a less-efficient program with increased administrative costs? Marylanders should be outraged that Governor Glendening balanced the state's budget on the backs of its vulnerable citizens with disabilities and is boasting smart fiscal management at their expense. The public should demand that DALP be restored. The governor has the money to do it.

Ann T. Ciekot


The writer is acting executive director, Action for the Homeless.

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