Reading by 9
The Sun is seeking letters from elementary schoolchildren about their favorite books and reading experiences. Selected letters will be edited and published in the editorial pages.
Letters should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.
Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letteraltsun.com.
Refusal to compete cost BGE its chance for holding company
The unfortunate departure of Jim Brady as state economic development secretary is certainly a disappointment for Maryland's business community, as indicated in your editorial ("Improving Maryland's climate for business," May 6).
But we take exception to the editorial's emphasis on Mr. Brady's claim that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller's hostility to the BGE holding company legislation was a setback for Maryland's business climate.
BGE lost its own bill because of its refusal to cooperate with Senate leaders on the related and far more important business climate issue of regulatory reform to provide competition and customer choice for electric service. The position of Mr. Miller and the Senate leadership was supported by a much larger segment of the business community than BGE or the utility industry.
The BGE holding company legislation, as amended by the Senate, gave BGE the flexibility to reorganize for this new, competitive environment. It also set the process for Maryland to move forward on this competitive regulatory reform so that all businesses and citizens benefit. Mr. Miller recognized that Maryland cannot fall behind neighboring states because competition and regulatory reform will play an important role in the state's future economic development.
Finally, the calling of a special session of the General Assembly to deal with the interests of BGE and not the broader issue of regulatory reform would not help in promoting Maryland as a progressive business-friendly state.
Thomas C. Shaner
The writer is executive director of the Alliance for Customer Choice of Electrical Suppliers and Services.
Thin line exists between abuse of animals, humans
My comments are in response to the article "Police link pet, domestic abuse" (May 13). Those who do not believe the link between animal abuse and domestic violence need only to take a look at convicted violent criminals like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz to see that violent behavior often begins with animal abuse.
Each admitted to aggressive behavior toward their own or a neighbor's pet. Is it really too far a stretch to believe that people who show violent behavior toward small, helpless creatures like domestic pets would also kick, beat, burn, torment a child, spouse or aging parent?
Violent behavior can, and often does, begin with a helpless animal and progresses to humans until the cycle is broken. The person becomes locked into aggressive behavior, and it
escalates beyond animals to humans.
This link is well-known to anyone who works in the business of caring for abused animals. And as an animal shelter employee, I see firsthand the violence animals receive from the people who are supposed to love and care for them.
The Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals applauds the city Police Department and Col. Margaret Patten for creating a program that assists abused women with pets in getting out of abusive relationships, by providing a safe place for the other member of the family, the pet.
The writer is executive director of the Maryland SPCA.
Different sources criticize Fire Department leadership
In a letter ("Articles show agendas of two city papers," May 10), Baltimore Fire Chief Herman Williams decries the extremist views on Fire Department staffing reported in The Sun and City Paper, labeling them "ultra conservative" and "ultra liberal," respectively.
The views depicted in the apparently conflicting reports might leave an outsider wondering whom to believe, but the insider (presumably including Chief Williams) knows exactly what's going on.
The chief fails to point out the amazingly similar conclusions arrived at in both reports that might explain the differences and the difficulties our department is experiencing. I will yield to the Calvert Institute's verbiage as opposed to the City Paper's "union rhetoric." The Calvert's report, citing a Sun report of Sept. 28, 1996, concludes, ". . . given its protracted fiscal and personnel management problems; it is widely recognized that the [fire] department has experienced policy dilemmas in recent years."
In sparing your readers increased exposure to "union rhetoric" not generally found in the pages of The Sun, let me simply say that I agree.
Stephan G. Fugate
The writer is president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association.
Laws against political signs likely are unconstitutional
I would add only one thing to Bill Zorzi's report on the Rehrmann campaign's fine for posting illegal signs ("Rehrmann's campaign gets attention in Laurel," May 12). Laurel's sign law restricting political advertising seems to be unconstitutional.
Courts routinely strike down such laws because protecting political speech is more important than reducing "litter," a term that shows the contempt some public officials have for our democratic system. Such incumbents often enjoy high name recognition, which explains their eagerness to pass laws restricting political advertising.
I understand Larry Gibson's decision to pay the city's $652.96 to remove the signs and to decline to challenge the law in court, a gamble that could cost his campaign an additional $41,000 fine. A clearer example of the abuse of power to restrict constitutional rights would be hard to find.
If Laurel's elected officials have any respect for democracy, they will repeal this unconstitutional sign law. Most of us would consider destroying an opponent's signs to be a sleazy and disreputable campaign practice.
Why should our opinion change when government officials do it?
Douglas E. McNeil
Government and its citizens should work against smog
With Maryland Department of Environment air pollution alerts being issued unusually early this year, it appears that the lungs of Baltimoreans may be in for an especially rough summer.
The Sun's article on the problem ("Unhealthy smog is forecast for today," May 19) suggests things individual citizens can do to reduce the air-pollution threat. These include minimizing driving, not using gasoline-powered mowers and fueling cars after dark.
Something else we can do is to not leave our car engines idling and air conditioners running while visiting the post office, bank or supermarket.
Given its large fleet of vehicles, Baltimore also has a responsibility to help reduce air pollution in the city. In particular, city leaders can order workers to turn off vehicle engines when they are parked for lunch breaks or between assignments.
This is especially true for the Fire Department's emergency rescue vehicles, which often can be seen parked between calls with headlights burning and engines puffing away. With city government alone showing a responsible attitude toward the problem, I'm sure Baltimore's air pollution levels can be significantly reduced.
Herman M. Heyn
Foreign aid to Africa would assist its population control
An Associated Press report published in The Sun summarizes the conclusions of a recent study of African women's needs and family size preferences ("African women want fewer children," May 4).
The study shows that 25 African states now have official policies aimed at slowing population growth and that only 18 percent of African couples regularly use contraceptives.
What the report does not mention is that despite a growing need for contraceptives and family-planning services in the developing world, our Congress, year after year, is cutting U.S. aid for population assistance to poor countries.
To a large extent, the House of Representatives has used the false issue of abortion to justify its actions. This makes no sense at all because making family-planning services more available greatly decreases unwanted pregnancies, abortions and the maternal deaths and injuries resulting from illegal abortions.
Congress' cuts make no sense as money-saving measures, either. The entire U.S. population assistance budget is but a fraction of foreign economic aid, amounting to about $2 a year per U.S. citizen.
By not increasing aid, Congress is putting us in the position of the man who fails to throw a life ring to a drowning person when it is possible to do so with little effort. It is not an image of Uncle Sam that I like to see.
Pub Date: 5/24/98