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Baltimore City school problem is socioeconomicDonald F....

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Baltimore City school problem is socioeconomic

Donald F. Norris' Dec. 15 Perspective article, "Cash alone won't save schools," clearly defined the under-lying problem of the Baltimore City public schools and all large urban school systems.

Unfortunately, as he implies, stating the problem is neither "politically correct" nor politically acceptable.

For too long, the educational poo-bahs have sought answers without clearly defining the problem or perhaps accepting the reality of the problem, and they will continue to do so, grasping whatever is in vogue and regarding it as sacrosanct until the next fad appears on the horizon.

Until the education establishment accepts the problem as essentially a socio-economic one, we we can only expect more of the same in the future.

Does the state have some kind of plan to save the city school system? I doubt it.

The recent deal between the city and state will only burden the state with either a can of worms or, worse, Pandora's Box.

Arthur L. Laupus

Columbia

Think before giving animals as gifts

If you're thinking of giving someone a puppy or kitten as a surprise gift for Christmas or another occasion, please consider your decision carefully.

The choice of owning a pet is intensely personal, and receiving such a gift can be very awkward (at best) for the recipient and tragic (at worst) for the animal.

Giving an animal as a surprise can place a heavy burden on the recipient, as it will mean a commitment to that animal for at least 10 years or more, which includes costly visits to the veterinarian, daily exercise and feeding.

Also remember that companion animals do not like being left alone for long periods of time; something more to consider when the recipient works outside of the home. All animals need a great deal of love and companionship.

At best, an unwanted animal may be returned to the breeder or pet store where purchased, but most will end up at a shelter or pound along with other unwanted "surprise gifts."

Please give your decision much thought, and if you still decide to give an animal as a gift please consider looking at your local shelter or pound where you will find many wonderful animals looking for a good home.

The best gifts come from the heart, and an animal that is loved and wanted can certainly meet that description.

Angela Yap

White Marsh

Reservoir needs natural environment

Fred Hasson's Opinion Commentary article, Dec. 9, makes no fewer than eight errors, or as he calls them "erroneous assumptions."

He states that Loch Raven is not environmentally sensitive, and is only for the protection of drinking water. If protecting the water consumed by millions of people is not environmentally sensitive, then nothing is.

He also claims the ". . .green trees and diverse animal life. . . " are a secondary benefit. No, the trails are a secondary benefit. Plant life and nature are the primary reasons the water is clean. If the reservoir was surrounded by pavement, for example, the water would be much much worse.

Later in the article Mr. Hasson states that muddy stream crossings and silt do not degrade the water. Where does he think the mud and silt go? It obviously goes makes for silty muddy drinking water.

He claims that aesthetics are no basis for law. Aesthetics always have been the basis for many laws and policies, including environmental laws, zoning laws and neighborhood covenants.

Mr. Hasson wonders about logging in the watershed and its environmental impact. He fails to realize that logging is an integral part of the watershed management plan, very much in line with what nature would do. Mountain bikes are not.

He is also worried about the impact of horses on the trails. Horses are more environmentally friendly and dependant than mountain bikes. This should be obvious, not to mention the relatively few horses (three a year) compared with bikes (three or more a day) encountered by me on the trails.

In his last paragraph, Mr. Hasson claims that Loch Raven is only a watershed, not a wildlife sanctuary or wilderness area. Loch Raven, Pretty Boy and Liberty are very much wilderness areas. This wilderness is the reason Baltimore has very good water.

It is extremely important to protect our water resources every way possible.

Paul Graves

Baltimore

Bank ATM fees are excessive

The American banking industry has successfully managed to inflict a gregarious "tax" on every American who uses an automatic teller machine.

When ATMs were initially introduced bank customers were told that it was a means of the bank saving money by not providing a teller for every transaction and that we account holders would see the result in reduced fees. Now the banks have begun charging a fee (typically 50 cents to $1) for transactions.

The actual cost of such a transaction, even one by a cardholder of another bank, is a fraction of that fee.

I read recently where there are 47 million ATM transactions every day in the United States. The bankers are pocketing millions of dollars a day, and none of our regulators or consumer advocates are doing anything about it. Is there a regulator or politician out there with the gumption to take on this issue?

Keith Arndt

Annapolis

Let Maryland follow New York's example

Let me get this straight. The Maryland General Assembly dithers about photographing the license plates of red-light runners, while New York City has been doing it for three years.

The Big Apple approach cuts red-light running by 20 percent, ensures the privacy of drivers and passengers, stands up in court, and has generated $2.5 million in revenues above and beyond the cost of the program.

What are we waiting for?

Paul M. Ritterhoff

Baltimore

Truck check gives incomplete picture

Operationally unsafe trucks should be pulled off the road. But drawing conclusions about overall truck safety from the admittedly informal truck check held on Marriottsville Road is sloppy journalism at best.

First, the trucking industry is a strong supporter of increased roadside truck inspections. The number of inspections conducted in Maryland has increased by well over 120 percent over the last decade. Only two states -- California and Washington -- inspect more trucks than Maryland.

Second, Cpl. Matthew Beale's blanket generalization that truckers "slack off" on maintenance is completely unsupported by the facts. The Maryland Transportation Authority Police recently announced that they inspected twice as many trucks this year as last year, and found fewer violations.

The trucking industry's safety record in Maryland has seen phenomenal improvements over the past decade. According to the Maryland State Highway Administration, the accident rate for trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds decreased by 57 percent between 1985 and 1995. During that same time, the number of miles traveled by trucks in the state increased by 36 percent.

The Intrepid Commuter was correct in warning car drivers to be more cautious around trucks on the road -- not because those trucks are unsafe, but because the Federal Highway administration has noted that 71 percent of accidents between cars and trucks are the fault of the car driver.

Be mindful of the large blind spots around trucks. Do not pull directly in front of trucks without leaving them adequate stopping distance. And remember that trucks make wide right turns.

Walter C. Thompson

Baltimore

The writer represents the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

Pub Date: 12/20/96

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