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Use of road salt does more harm...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Use of road salt does more harm than good

A Dec. 1 article concerned the continued use of road salt even though it may be environmentally unsafe. Environmentalists say the runoff of road salt into rivers and streams kills fish and aquatic plants. Every year snow covers the terrain and trucks dump an average of 10 million tons of road salt.

Sure, the use of road salt is convenient for people who need to get around, but we have to realize that what we are using to rectify this problem is producing a bigger problem. Is it worth it to have roads clear if it damages what supports our well-being?

This process should be heavily re-thought. If people would weigh the pros and cons of the use of road salt, then maybe our ignorance is clearly not worth the destruction we are causing.

Along with the fact that road salt kills fish and aquatic plants, there is a potential for water supply contamination. This is water

that we drink. Along with the environmental concerns brought up, people and engineers do damage to their vehicles, bridges, guardrails and other metal structures.

To fix this problem, environmentalists along with road maintenance departments have to work together to lower the amount of chemicals put on the roads. Substitutes may also be the answer.

Pre-wetted salt was a result of a five-year program started in 1987. This pre-wetted salt uses less material so fewer pollutants enter the environment. The effect of it is immediate and the temperature range of effectiveness is increased. Along with all this, it actually takes less of the de-icing product for a favorable result, so money is saved and roads are kept open longer.

Jason B. Bukowsky

Baltimore

Put voting records on state web site

I read with interest the letter by Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor, Jr., "Can see what legislature doing via Internet," Dec. 10 in The Sun. I applaud their efforts to improve the public's access to legislative information. However, I would suggest that this effort could go a step further to not only improve the public's access to legislative information, but to improve legislative accountability by shining more light on legislators' voting records.

A problem encountered in trying to find out how legislators voted on bills introduced into the Maryland General Assembly is the time-consuming, tedious and cumbersome barrier in attempting to manually track down the voting records of legislators on their assigned committees as well as in their respective chambers, even with the help of the staff of the Department of Legislative Reference.

Given the fact that on average a total of 2,731 bills over the past 21 years were introduced in each session of the General Assembly (including 995 Senate bills and 1,736 House bills), and given the fact that there are 47 senators and 141 delegates to monitor, the task of compiling the voting records of legislators becomes unappealing and impractical for the average member of the voting public.

Since the legislative process requires the consideration of bills in committee, and since most bills are killed in committee -- ever fewer pass both chambers -- it is important for the public to have more access to how legislators vote on bills in committees to get a better idea of whose interest is being served. What is done in the confinement of committees must stand the light of public scrutiny.

I propose that the Department of Legislative Reference, an arm of the General Assembly, be empowered to establish and to maintain computerized voting records of each legislator on bills acted upon by her or his assigned committees, on bills acted upon by joint committees and on bills voted on in her or his respective chamber, and that such records be made accessible to the public.

Herbert H. Lindsey

Baltimore

Inner Harbor East has the right combination

I am responding to Laurie B. Schwartz's Dec. 11 letter entitled "Downtown attracting major companies." Ms. Schwartz took issue with The Sun's editorial that stated the Sylvan Learning Center is the first big company to relocate to the city in 20 years. She believes The Sun should have mentioned the other companies that moved into the downtown area in the past two decades.

To set the record straight, the Inner Harbor East is attracting major companies. This area is hot, especially the Little Italy and Fells Point areas. The reason is these areas successfully blend residential town houses and businesses. It is the partnership between residents and businesses that have made these areas successful for 300 years.

Our poor city planners have lost sight of this winning

combination. For 20 years, billions of dollars have been spent to keep this city on a life support system. Money spent on stadiums, hotels, convention centers and office buildings failed to incorporate this relationship. Ms. Schwartz said others have moved to the Inner Harbor area, but she does not mention that for each company coming in, three are moving out.

The Inner Harbor and downtown Baltimore must learn from the past and present. Look at the Little Italy-Fells Point area and its partnerships with H&S; Bakery and other industries. These are people and businesses in a partnership that live, work and profit from their relationship.

Isn't it the responsibility of government funding to invest in local enterprises? All the Downtown Partnerships of Baltimore cannot improve the city without the partnership of residents and businesses.

Roberto Marsili

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Little Italy Community Organization.

Daniel Henson shows insensitivity

City Housing Commissioner Daniel Henson exhibits a lack of tact when it comes to the concerns of residents.

He denies a request from a Howard Park citizens' group, airily dismissing them, stating that he doesn't have time to deal with folks who don't know what they're doing. What he doesn't realize is that they do know how to vote.

Callous remarks of this type can come back to haunt his boss who, unlike Mr. Henson, is elected, not anointed.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

No justification for internment camps

I was greatly disappointed in Gregory Kane's assessment of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II (Dec. 7, "U.S. policy toward Japan in war stands test of history"). Mr. Kane generally writes with intelligence and perception, but that column was way off the mark.

Let's face the facts about those events squarely. The internees were American citizens who were singled out for removal from their homes and confined to prison camps because of their ethnic background.

Mr. Kane offers the justification that "we can only imagine what havoc Japanese intelligence might have wreaked by slipping English-speaking agents in among U.S.-born Japanese," and alludes to the damage caused by similar actions by German intelligence. But that only begs the question as to why American citizens of German descent were not similarly subjected to internment.

Mr. Kane should remember that just as we pity those individuals who will sacrifice the elements of decency that make them human in a quest for self-preservation, so we should pity democracies that would give up that which makes them worth preserving.

Mr. Kane's position is especially curious in light of his column several weeks earlier (Nov. 3, "A few people discriminate rationally") in which he denounced white Americans who practice what they term "rational discrimination," in which they decline to hire black Americans or avoid black men on the street, not out of animus, but out of what they perceive as justifiable self-interest.

Mr. Kane's denunciation of the bias shown by those individuals is understandable; less understandable is his defense of outright racism by the United States government that was similarly based on "rational discrimination."

Stephen H. Johnson

Baltimore

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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