More research needed on newborn donors
As chairman of the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, I was somewhat amazed by the tone of Dr. Katherine Dowling's Jan. 24 commentary, "Slaughtering babies ethically."
Let me state upfront that the goal of CEJA's June 1994 opinion on the use of anencephalic neonates as organ donors was to save the lives of babies. In her piece, Dr. Dowling failed to comment on the number of critically ill newborns that are dying each day because of the lack of compatible donors for needed transplants, or, as Dr. Dowling prefers, "body parts."
The reasons given by Dr. Dowling for CEJA's suspending its opinion on this issue were not totally accurate. The emergence of a "host of other humans at risk for dismemberment" from this opinion is a fragile argument at best and was rejected by the council. The comments from the neurological community on the true level of consciousness carried the most influence on our decision.
Dr. Dowling failed to give any details of our opinion. Only a correctly diagnosed anencephalic (which incidentally was not made in the dramatic example of the infant with a brain cyst observed during her training) could be a candidate. More importantly, the whole process would have to be initiated by the parents who are seeking to salvage some good from this tragedy.
Needless to say, the council has demonstrated its desire to respond to reasoned thinking on this position. We have challenged the scientific community to do further investigations into the level of consciousness which may be present in the true anencephalic.
It is my hope that Dr. Dowling's energies will be utilized in areas of her expertise to help solve the abysmal shortage of transplantable organs.
!Charles W. Plows, M.D.
No new term for Henson
Between policies and practices of the city housing commissioner and the activities of his housing inspectors, Baltimore is taking a terrible beating. Especially East Baltimore.
With this latest scandal, I'm sure Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III is "outraged." That's the same reaction he had when The Sun brought to light the huge number of Section 8 houses within a square mile here in East Baltimore.
It is the citizens of Baltimore who should be outraged at the way this administration seems to be tearing down the community. Many of us have invested our life savings in our homes, as well as time and effort to improve our neighborhoods. Now we watch in horror as each new impropriety comes to light, finding out that those in authority are responsible for much of the blight.
The Sun should be applauded for tackling this subject. However, now that these terrible problems and the city's complete lack of oversight of the housing department have been made public, Commissioner Henson needs to be removed and not reconfirmed at his Feb. 14 hearing. And Mayor Kurt Schmoke needs to make sure his replacement is someone who can work for the city, not against it.
Impartial review of the city's oversight procedures is also needed to make sure there are no other areas where such dreadful conflicts of interest are taking place -- and to insure that this kind of injustice does not happen to our city again.
Housing inspectors and property owners
Recent articles have referred to implementation by the city director of housing code enforcement, Bob Dengler, of an "unofficial policy permitting housing inspectors to own rental property."
The fact is, however, the city housing department has never, to my knowledge, had a policy prohibiting such ownership by inspectors or any other personnel.
As far back as the 1970s, when I served as chief of a city housing office which had responsibility for code enforcement, there were inspectors, rehab loan estimators and others who owned investment property.
They were merely required to disclose the ownership and property addresses, and we were careful to assign employees to geographic areas where they had no ownership interests. They were, of course, expected to maintain their property in accordance with the housing and building codes.
I have known Bob Dengler for over 20 years. He is a smart, honest, adept manager and a very dedicated housing professional. It is distressing to see it suggested that he unilaterally decided upon and implemented an ill-considered policy when a simple investigation would show this not to be true.
Human service losses outweigh stadium gain
Gov. Parris Glendening's cutting of 1,000 state jobs will have an adverse economic and social impact on the state.
In Baltimore County, 23 social service workers will lose their jobs. However, the impact of these losses will have more far-reaching effects. They include "workers who help the elderly to continue living in their homes" (let's put them in state-supported rest homes at $30,000 per person per year, or on the street); workers "who teach parenting skills to people in danger of abusing their children" (let's ignore the most vulnerable in our society, our children); and workers "who determine welfare recipients' eligibility for state-funded day care" (let's make it impossible for single mothers to get off welfare). This is from The Sun's report, Jan. 20.
These are just a few examples of the immoral cuts made necessary by the governor's decision to build two stadiums in two Maryland jurisdictions.
Many critics have already argued that only lobbyists and the rich will be able to afford the price of Art Modell's season tickets, leaving the taxpayers (again) to subsidize the stadium, this time for lost revenues.
Although Mr. Glendening can rail against his critics as unprogressive, I suggest that the well-being of our citizens is our most important concern and needs to come before subsidizing big business. Perhaps the legislators will vote their conscience.
Renovate Aigburth as teaching project
I read with interest Suzanne Loudermilk's Jan. 31 article, "Future of shabby Aigburth in doubt."
I agree that the Baltimore County Board of Education should be severely censured for allowing the building to deteriorate. Aside from the responsibility to preserve and maintain the house as a historic property, it is clear that their employees are working in deplorable conditions.
Councilman Douglas B. Riley states that "we don't want to use precious dollars -- which should go to the education of our youth -- to go into that building."
It seems to me that both education and preservation could be served by the renovation of Aigburth. Baltimore County High School Vo-tech and Community College construction and building programs could use the mansion as a "classroom," giving students valuable hands-on experience.
This way the Board of Education would be killing two birds with one stone -- renovating a building it was responsible for maintaining and educating our youth.
Council's one-race retreat criticized
Can you imagine the furor if the white members of the Baltimore City Council held a segregated, whites-only "retreat" to talk about what they can do for the white residents of the city?
Why, we'd have Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and I don't know who all down here on the next plane demonizing, denouncing and demanding.
orman L. Macht