Why sending troops to Bosnia is right
Of course the U.S. must send troops to Bosnia.
Purported leaders in Congress demand guarantees of safety, "reasonable" assurances of success and ask how the peace of Bosnia relates to our national interest.
Considering the Republican Congress' narrow-minded and mean-spirited definition of self-interest, it's not surprising that they miss the point: This is bigger than national interest.
Going to Bosnia is in our human interest, part of our duty as members of the global community, to help others secure peace and an end to inhumanity.
It seems to me that, if we fail as human beings to extend ourselves for those causes, our national interest isn't worth much.
We do not have a God-given right to keep ourselves and our own out of harm's way when others are in it.
Nor, I hope, are we so selfish or insecure that we are willing to fight only the easy battles, the ones that come with guarantees and assurances.
The world is not a safe or fair place; and this country has played a part in making that so.
We owe it to ourselves -- as Americans and as human beings -- to take this risk to make life for the Bosnians a little safer and a little fairer.
Eve B. Scheffenacker
State aid to citizens choosing an HMO
Patricia Meisol's excellent article of Nov. 14, "A Road Map to Choosing an HMO," highlighted the activities of several employers in providing information about quality to their employees.
However, Ms. Meisol overlooked the steps the state of Maryland is taking through the Health Care Access and Cost Commission to develop a HMO quality and performance evaluation system. The results will be published in annual "report cards" starting in the fall of 1997.
The report cards will have two parts: (1) performance measures such as immunization and mammography rates, physician turnover rate and the percent of network physicians board-certified; and (2) results from enrollee satisfaction and physician surveys.
Before being published, the performance measures will be audited by an outside third party to ensure the accuracy of the data. The surveys will also be conducted by an independent third party chosen by the commission.
The commission is committed to making accurate and reliable information on HMO quality widely available to the public.
Such information is needed if consumers and employers are to make rational selection and purchasing decisions based on plan value, where value is a function of both cost and quality.
Publishing annual statewide "report cards" will increase plan quality by stimulating market place competition in this important arena.
!Donald E. Wilson, M.D.
The writer is chairman of the Maryland Health Care Access and Cost Commission.
The naked truth about convention planning
Regarding the proposal for nude dancing for The Block by American Joe Miedusiewski, I can't think of many issues less important when planning to hold or attend a convention out of town.
Do we really want to promote a pro-business climate that way?
I feel alleviating crime and promoting safety would be a better use of everyone's efforts.
At a recent Baltimore convention the director of the association was held up at gunpoint returning to his hotel from dinner.
When booking the next convention, I think that incident will be on his mind more than the variety of things to do beyond the Inner Harbor or issues of "upscale adult entertainment."
James E. Manley
Free parking gets costly
Recently we visited Baltimore from Port Richey, Fla., and decided to go to the Lyric Theater at night.
Since we were unfamiliar with the area, parking posed a problem. We parked on an empty lot thinking that it was permissible since we did not see any sign prohibiting it.
When we left the theater, our car was gone and we reported it to the police as stolen. The police looked at the lot where we had parked and vaguely saw a sign "No Parking."
They decided that the car had been towed.
The American Towing Co. demanded $160 in cash -- no checks, no credit cards. Luckily we had enough cash to pay. Additionally, we had to pay the $13 taxi fare to get to its lot.
Does Baltimore City really want visitors? Why do the city official allow this? One can get towed most anywhere for $25-$35.
We think this towing charge was a pure rip-off.
E. D. Weidemeyer
Port Richey, Fla.
Bi-partisan Congress stopped EPA curbs
The bill was designed to block the EPA from making various regulations on clear air and water policies.
To the 63 Republicans who crossed party lines to stop this legislation I would like to give my heartfelt gratitude. In times when it seems that Democrats and Republicans are often at odds it is good to see that some congressmen don't let party practices affect their vote.
I am also grateful to President Clinton for his firm stand against this action. From the beginning his leadership was crucial on this issue. However, a majority of the Republicans are still anti-environmental; this is very disturbing. In a time when just about everything we do has an effect on the environment we must to do more things that affect it positively.
Those Republicans who voted for the curbs are too quick to take a step backward and they must weight the consequences and act responsibly, not only for us but for future generations.
Opinion article states the obvious
The Nov. 15 Opinion * Commentary article by Robert C. Embry Jr. raises many valid points concerning the Moving to Opportunity program as a solution to the concentration of poor in Baltimore City's publicly financed projects.
In my opinion, it also states the obvious. If, as he claims, research supports the "common-sense conclusion" that a lower class child is better off being raised in a middle-class community, then why stop there?
There is an old saying that the good is often the enemy of the best. If moving the poor to middle-class communities creates a "dramatic" effect on their lives, then why not move them to wealthy neighborhoods?
If a school in Catonsville could improve a child's performance, just think what a school in some neighborhood stocked with chief executive officers could do for that student. Now that really makes common sense.
Any solution that rests solely on the backs of an already stressed middle-class will never gain their full public support.
NOI security contract provided true benefits
In response to all who have voiced strong reactions to the cost of the Nation of Islam Security contract, only those who have lived in the public housing under NOI protection can truly determine if they are worth the money the city spent.
It is a well-known fact in government that the lowest bid on a contract is not necessarily the best bid or option for obtaining quality products and services: You get what you pay for.
Government, in such cases, thus becomes a victim of the lowest bid process and everybody loses.
A 41 percent decrease in overall crime in such a short period of time, in the affected public housing complexes, certainly more than counterbalances the cost and indicates the city received what it paid for -- a quality service.
The thoughtful person, upon considering the few victories we have to show in the war on crime, drugs and violence, will say this was money well spent. The problem, in the end, is not NOI but the low-bid process.
Marylanders want NFL team here
While reading Ellen Sauerbrey's letter, Nov. 25, I was amazed at the statements that were made.
First, let me say I am a Republican and I did vote for Ms. Sauerbrey, but I am wondering why. All I could read was a person continuing to try and take shots at now-Gov. Parris Glendening.
If I am not mistaken, the citizens of Baltimore and Maryland made it clear that we wanted a National Football League team here. Mr. Glendening did just that.
Ms. Sauerbrey says, "No other state has ever bribed a team at such great cost." Look at the deal the Rams have in St. Louis. I believe you will find it to be a much more expensive deal than the one Art Modell took here in Baltimore.
Would Ms. Sauerbrey suggest we tell the Orioles, Browns, Spirit and Bandits to get out of town because we want to be more like Virginia?
I am grateful that Art Modell chose to move his team here and I welcome him with a open mind.
Tony H. Day
Federal cuts hurt those who need help most
Now that both political parties agree that the federal budget must be balanced within a reasonable number of years, the remaining question is which segment of our society should bear the brunt of cuts in programs.
Clearly the Republicans have signaled, by virtue of appropriation actions taken to date, that they expect the pain to be applied disproportionately to the working poor, elderly and children by cutting Medicare, tax credits, education support and training programs. On the other hand, they have continued federal subsidies for agribusiness and ethanol producers, have made federal lands available to Western ranchers and mining interests at below-market costs and have appropriated over $7 billion to aerospace and defense industries beyond accepted needs or requests by the administration.
In this Congress, it is not the squeaky wheel that gets greased, but the well-heeled lobbyist.
Earned Income Credit aids low-wage worker
Job loss and declining wages are a reality, not just an abstraction.
Corporations are cutting wages and benefits and sometimes eliminating jobs altogether in the name of efficiency and competition. People in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington are and will be affected. Crime and drug abuse are sure to increase.
It is an outrage that the Earned Income Tax Credit has become a target of deficit-reduction hysteria. This modest income supplement was intended to "make work pay" for low-wage earners.
Congress can't have it both ways -- extolling the virtues of work on one hand, while on the other hand cutting the one program that allows working people with low income to simply pay the rent and feed their families.
If there is to be a two-year limit on welfare benefits, and if people will be required to work, then it is absolutely essential not only that there are jobs available for those willing to work but that the Earned Income Tax Credit is increased -- not decreased -- so that low-wage workers can live in dignity and at least modest security.
If Congress is really interested in reducing the deficit, it could reduce the defense budget instead of spending $1.4 billion on a ship the Navy does not want. In addition, it could forgo any tax cuts for its wealthy corporate contributors.
. E. Lee Lears
Kenneth Strong was too good
It is clear that Kenneth Strong was fired from his Department of Public Works position for being too good at his job. Rather than rubber-stamping shoddy work, he actually demanded that minimal environmental and safety standards be met.
Readers of your Nov. 25 article may not know that landfill leachate is truly a toxic brew, consisting of organic chemicals, heavy metals and micro-organisms dissolved in rain-water. While many city rainwater collection systems are designed to drain water back into the environment, at a landfill exactly the opposite is true: Landfill engineers are taught the principles involved in keeping leachate out of our water. Simply put: it is hazardous to drink water laced with lead, cadmium, copper, benzene and coliform bacteria.
I appreciate the detailed coverage by The Sun on this inappropriate dismissal. Mr. Strong was an effective Solid Waste Bureau chief and deserves public recognition for his integral work on the landfill, as well as recycling, community cleanups, etc. I hope to see this story unfold in a manner that reveals protection for us all -- for our health, our environment . . . and our public servants.
Newt Gingrich's crowded brain
Well, Newt Gingrich has done it again. His comments about a grief-stricken family were extremely cruel and uncalled for.
It seems his mouth has gotten so big it has crowded out his brain.
First chair quailist with BSO
I was intrigued by Brian Sullam's Nov. 25 column about his starring role in playing a toy instrument, the quail, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
It sounds as if he and his fellow amateur musicians rose to the occasion and gave an outstanding rendition of Haydn's Toy Symphony, accompanied by the BSO.
I was also a little envious. Like Mr. Sullam, I as a symphony donor had the opportunity to check off that box volunteering to play a toy instrument in that performance.
Since my subscription is for a different series of concerts, I declined. What a missed opportunity.
However, realizing what a sense of accomplishment Mr. Sullam is experiencing, I would not have wanted to deny him that opportunity.
I wish him the best of luck in his new, budding musical career as first-chair quailist with the orchestra.