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Give LaVista time to fix collegesIt was...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Give LaVista time to fix colleges

It was with some surprise, and great disappointment that I read comments made by Councilman Vincent Gardina with respect to expenses that Mr. Gardina believes to have been incurred by the new chancellor of the Baltimore County community colleges, Dr. Daniel LaVista.

Councilman Gardina has suggested that substantial expenditures have been incurred in Dr. LaVista's early days in the employment of " . . . another layer [of bureaucracy] with vice chancellors" to administer county community colleges.

The councilman's outrage is misdirected. The staff already working with Dr. LaVista has not significantly increased the cost of administering the community colleges. Indeed, those individuals, a secretary and a finance officer, were drawn from existing community college positions because of their familiarity with the intricacies of funding a college through a combination of tuition, state funding, county funding and federal grants and other aid.

This is no small task, and without the assistance of these individuals who have familiarity with the Baltimore County system, the objective of improving administrative efficiency could not be reached in any reasonable amount of time. Dr. LaVista has moved toward doing so by using a senior finance officer who has direction that the position remain vacant, most certainly because of his desire to consolidate services, including finance office services, replicated at the three colleges. If well planned, these efforts will save far more than the cost of a small central staff.

It is regrettable that after 20 days at his new job, Dr. LaVista has not been afforded the opportunity to work with his staff, more thoroughly review community college finances and opportunities for savings, and report his recommendations to his board of trustees and the community at large before he is cast, most inappropriately, as having wasted county dollars.

It is equally unfortunate that Councilman Gardina, serving in so TTC important a role as chairman of the County Council, has concluded that confrontation, accompanied by a threat of review by county auditors, must precede conversation in dealing with real, or imagined, problems.

I write for myself, but as the president of the Catonsville Community College Foundation Board, I invited Dr. LaVista to lunch last week. We spoke of his desire to save significant sums over time through consolidation, noting a need to identify, with the help of his staff, opportunities for doing so during the course of the coming months.

I would urge that he be given a reasonable period of time to make responsible recommendations about the direction of our community colleges before the stone-throwing begins.

John A. Hayden III

Baltimore

Name building for firefighter

Having read in The Sun that the Clipper Industrial Park is to be rebuilt, I would like to suggest that one of the buildings be named for Eric D. Schaefer, as a mark of respect and remembrance to the firefighter who lost his life.

I feel this would be a small but fitting tribute to a brave man.

K. J. Hallett

Baltimore

Thanks for showing Clark's humanity

Thank you for giving space to reporters David Simon, Joe Nawrozki and Gary Cohn in the Sept. 18 Sun so they could tell a more complete story about the life of Mark Clark.

All too often when we read or hear about the violent results of people's desperation and sense of hopelessness, we get only the violence and a few blurbs from neighbors who say, "He was a nice man," or "I always knew he was a lunatic." We rarely get to read about the individual's frailty, values, ethics or devotion. We rarely get to see the "lunatic" as just another human cog in the chaotic machinery we call civilization -- just as each of us is.

Mark Clark had feelings; he was hurt when his wife discarded those feelings and jumped the fence for the greener side. Reporters Simon, Cohn and Nawrozki and the Sun should be applauded for showing us Mr. Clark's human side.

Michael D. Nauton

Westover

Principal shows progress can be made

Many thanks for the upbeat story on Sept. 25 about Barry Williams' success as principal at Randallstown High School.

It's not every day that one sees such overwhelmingly positive evidence on page one that even seemingly intractable problems can be confronted and overcome by gutsy, capable leaders like Mr. Williams.

Hopefully, Mr. Williams' courage and determination will be an inspiration to other school administrators to assert their authority more effectively in order to instill a businesslike atmosphere wherever it doesn't exist and to insist that students show respect for their peers, their teachers and the very buildings and classrooms they use.

If administrators are not up to exercising such leadership, they should be replaced by those who can, so that we might all witness more heartening success stories on page one and fewer social problems in our own neighborhoods.

Dick Fairbanks

Baltimore

Don't 'dumb-down' the U.S. electorate

Your paper and many others tend to ignore the substance of Ross Perot's (and earlier, Jerry Brown's) messages and instead focus on personality, affectations and perceived motivation.

In doing so, you are contributing to the tendency of people to revel in what is easy to understand and repeat, rather than to try to think through complex issues. Mr. Perot communicates clearly some of the most fundamental flaws in our hierarchical political system -- including the cynical and ineffective ways politicians deal with the length and the financing of political campaigns.

Here we are, faced with a system that has elevated hypocrisy, amorality and insider manipulation to an art form and you contribute little else but tongue-in-cheek treatment to the messenger and not the message of analysis by Mr. Perot (and, earlier, Mr. Brown).

What is your mission -- to contribute to the dumbing-down of the electorate?

Leonard Frank

Baltimore

Another tip-off on Gehrig's disease

This is a comment on Dr. Simeon Margolis' Sept. 26 article on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

As always, his writings on various health problems are very complete, succinct and of great interest. However, even in medical textbooks, there is a set of symptoms of this disease which are rarely mentioned or are discussed with very little emphasis.

At times, a number of "Gehrig" patients will develop emotional instability and unmotivated laughing or crying. This is often premonitory, in some cases, weeks to several months before the physical changes become obvious. This may be an important tip-off of things to come.

Albert Steiner, M.D.

Baltimore

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