U.N. deadbeat status is indefensible label for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

U.N. deadbeat status is indefensible label for the richest nation

The United States owes the United Nations $1 billion in back dues. It is unconscionable and indefensible for the world's richest and most powerful nation to be a deadbeat.

Republican Trent Lott and his congressional cohorts sabotaged recent legislation approving payment of back dues by hanging family planning restrictions on the bill. These highly controversial and totally unrelated provisions virtually assured the president's veto.

Imagine how outraged we'd be if some other government refused to pay its share and arrogantly insisted on being above the rules.

It's a national shame, and our ability to persuade and lead within the world community is being compromised.

Clear-cut international obligations and responsibilities should not be subject to congressional blackmail or partisan posturing.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Campaign against pensions requires apology by paper

The Sun owes an apology to the public school teachers and state employees of Maryland for its campaign against livable pensions for public employees.

In two of The Sun's editorials (March 23 and April 18) and in Barry Rascovar's commentary (March 29), The Sun's editors repeatedly use statistics taken out of context and deceitful arguments to mislead the public into thinking that pension reform for public employees is a great taxpayer giveaway.

If The Sun wasn't playing loose and free with people's livelihoods, its tactics and amateurish hyperbole would be humorous instead of extraordinarily disgusting. The statement, "A state worker or teacher with 30 years of service will . . . see his or her pension jump by a whopping 50 percent," illustrates my criticism.

Under the revisions, a state employee or teacher retiring July 1 with a salary of $25,000 a year and 30 years of service will receive a pension equal to 36 percent of their salary as opposed to 24 percent.

For The Sun to attempt to inflame rather than inform the public regarding the pension issues is a breach of the public trust borne by legitimate newspapers, a breach of trust that becomes even more egregious in a one-newspaper town.

John M. Wilson

Baltimore

Baltimore police officer asset to city communities

It appears that through human error, the author of an April 23 Sun article inadvertently named Officer Joseph Poremski as one of three Baltimore police officers accused of misconduct and subsequently subjected to disciplinary action. Officer Poremski, however, was neither accused of wrongdoing nor disciplined.

What is most unfortunate is that Officer Poremski has been exposed to great embarrassment, ridicule and scorn because his good name and reputation has been called into question. The Sun, upon learning of its error, took immediate steps to formulate a notice of correction: a few brief lines acknowledging the mistake on April 24. This seems grossly insensitive when balanced against the embarrassment that Officer Poremski and his family have been exposed to.

I would like to add, however, that the reporter in this case immediately acknowledged his error and did take the time to write a personal note to Officer Poremski expressing his remorse. This was much appreciated and helped to lessen the sense of irresponsbility.

Allow me to tell the thousands who read the story a few things about Officer Joe Poremski. He has been a member of the department since 1993 and has served in the Northern and Southeastern districts. He is the recipient of numerous commendatory letters and recently was commended for his involvement in suppressing crime activity in Fells Point.

Of particular note is the manner in which Joe approaches his duty, with dedication, commitment and integrity. He is, without question, a valuable asset to the communities he serves. I am proud to have Officer Poremski as a member of my command.

I hope that you see fit to allow Baltimore to get to know the real Joe Poremski, and the many men and women of the Baltimore Police Department who work so hard to improve the quality of life in our communities. I believe that it is a tribute they are truly owed.

Timothy J. Longo Sr.

Baltimore

The writer is a major and commanding officer of the Police Department's Southeastern District.

Hippodrome area is unsafe for Baltimore theater-goers

It is a bad idea to renovate the Hippodrome Theatre. The area where the facility stands is dangerous and not a place that theater-goers, like myself, would want to visit to watch an opera or Broadway musical. Parking also is likely to be a problem. Baltimore already has the Lyric Opera House for operas and Broadway shows. It is an older theater but is a great place to watch shows, and the acoustics are fantastic.

Why should the city and state waste money on rebuilding a playhouse in a horrible section of town when they could just update the Lyric? The Lyric would be a terrific place to see "Phantom of the Opera" or "Beauty and the Beast." Moreover, the Lyric is near the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and usually parking is not a problem. Furthermore, the Mount Royal area is a safe part of town.

Michael Bunich

Baltimore

Pictures of Rita Fisher important to learn truth

After reading the May 4 letter to the editor, "Photographs of bruised girl didn't belong in newspaper," I began to wonder whether this "head in the sand" attitude is healthy. No one wants to read about such things. No one wants to see such things. No one wants to think that the torture of a little girl can happen in our neighborhood -- but it can.

The picture of Rita Fisher used by your paper shows a tormented little girl with such sad eyes. The eyes tell a story more powerfully than words, of horrific long-standing abuse that we may not want to hear, but we must if we are to learn anything from this case.

James O'Conor Gentry Jr.

Towson

The writer is an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County.

Readers can discover more Sumerian tablets at Walters

Readers who enjoyed the engaging and informative article on ancient Sumerian tablets ("Tablets preserve centuries of text," April 29) will be glad to know that Baltimore possesses its own outstanding collection of Mesopotamia tablets and art at the Walters Art Gallery.

Inscribed objects at the Walters range from a tiny economic receipt on clay to a royal inscription carved across an 8-foot-high relief of a winged figure.

Among the collection's treasures is a small stone tablet inscribed with one of the world's earliest texts, still written largely with pictographic signs, from 3100 to 2900 B.C.

Other important documents to be found at the Walters are historical accounts of the military exploits of the Assyrian kings and a hollow clay cylinder recording the building activity of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon.

Marian H. Feldman

Baltimore

The writer is a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, and the Walters Art Gallery.

Local, friendly bank gone in one merger after another

If Crestar hadn't been allowed to gobble up American National and shut down the one downtown branch in a convenient location, I might never have known NationsBank. Now, nostalgically, I reminisce about the old times when you could enter the bank premises, encounter an array of tellers and talk face-to-face with customer service representatives who would work through all your financial problems.

Over the next months, I began to appreciate NationsBank as the bank that turned high fees and service only at the end of an 800 number into an art form.

Within recent memory, NationsBank is the bank that gobbled what we once knew as Maryland National Bank.

Then sensitive to local concerns, NationsBank, out-of-state and financially opportunistic, had the good taste and tact not to besmirch the tallest and most noble building in Baltimore with its blue and red logo, which looks so horrid on wood or brick elsewhere around the state and region.

NationsBank now finds itself, in turn, being absorbed into a truly overall national banking conglomerate. The one consolation is that I will be able to stand in line at an ATM in San Francisco or Los Angeles and get around the $1.50 or $3 service fee.

Nancy Moran

Baltimore

Pub Date: 5/05/98

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