Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Appalled that city continues to set homicide...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Appalled that city continues to set homicide records As a longtime resident and property owner, I am appalled at the murder rate in Baltimore City.

While other cities such as New York have found successful ways to reduce murder and other major crimes, Baltimore keeps claiming new records. The mayor, police commissioner and City Council need to wake up and begin implementing changes that will make Baltimore a place where people want to live.

It is inexcusable for this to be happening. More needs to happen to reduce drug traffic, increase treatment for addicts and return law and order to this city.

Probably when drug traffic is reduced, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases will be reduced, and Jay Leno will need to find another source for his monologue.

Lissa Abrams

Baltimore

Skinner preservation measure deserves the county's support

As a member of Historic Towson Inc., I applaud Councilman Wayne Skinner's initiative to introduce a resolution in the next few months calling for a committee to be set up to study historical preservation in Baltimore County ("Baltimore County Council eliminates right to appeal historic property changes," Jan. 5).

Not every old building should be preserved, but without a set of criteria and a plan, preservation in the county is guided by developers and politicians.

Why preserve? It is a connection to our past. Preserved buildings also give us a unique identity that no other city or town has. Historical buildings are irreplaceable and valuable to the community as potential tools for education and tourism.

I'd like to see County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger support Mr. Skinner's resolution and show the people of Baltimore County that he is a sincere friend of preservation.

Teri L. Dorsey

Towson

George Will's columns becoming more boring

As I tried to grasp exactly what point George Will was rambling on about this time ("Chaos in Washington, but the nation rolls on "Jan 6), I couldn't help but feel that another Bergerism should be added to the list:

"George Will really has one topic. He hates Bill Clinton and the Democrats. Too bad it takes him hundreds of words to say it each week."

I suppose Mr. Will doesn't consider the additional police that the president budgeted for to be a crime deterrent, and perhaps he eavesdrops around the Democrats' congressional cloakrooms to gauge their level of resentment of the president.

Mr. Clinton's first attempt at health care reform failed because of a Republican House that was very generously rewarded by health care political action committees. These are the same Republicans who, coincidentally, refuse to address their pledge to reform campaign financing.

For him to recite from such publications as American Enterprise and the New Republic demonstrates how desperate Mr. Will is these days to come up with material.

I wonder if he or the newspapers that publish his increasingly boring columns ever considered that he is at least partially responsible for the drop in total newspaper circulation ?

Give him complete credit for my not buying a Sun for the rest of the week.

Dave Norton

Pasadena

Population explosion at root of problems

The Dec. 27 KAL-toon and the follow-up letter by Nelson Hyman on Jan. 1 offer an excellent opportunity to continue the discussion on the world's population.

As we prepare to enter into the new millennium, let's take the time to openly discuss how our exponentially increasing numbers are affecting the quality of our lives.

The Sun contains almost daily accounts of clogged roads and overflowing schools, encroaching development, air and water pollution and the accompanying changes in our own behavior, declining moral standards, rage and isolationism.

Incredibly, very little ink is used to cover the root issue, what is quite literally the mother of all our problems: our own mushrooming population.

Doug Ebbert

Bel Air

U.S. company capitalizes on basmati's good name

I was glad to see the attention given to diverse cultural foods ("Variety: the spice of rice," Jan. 6).

Your article on rice refers to RiceTec Inc.'s varieties of aromatic rice, such as basmati grown in the United States and the huge market for it.

You failed to mention, however, that RiceTec has received a patent for the name "basmati" for its version of this rice grown in Texas. The original basmati is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. By the company's own accounts, the rice grown here does not match the original product. That's enough reason not to buy its product: Why settle for less when we can have the best? Yet in the name of expanding the market's taste for better flavor, RiceTec harms many farmers in India who have lost the right to export using the basmati name that has been part of Indian culture for centuries.

I wonder if your readers are aware of this corporate piracy of names that are an integral part of the culture of developing countries and have been for centuries.

So, every time we buy basmati rice grown in the United States, it may be important to reflect that we are lining the pockets of greedy corporations at the expense of hard-working farmers who produce rice with the excellent flavor that can only come from the original basmati from India.

Cecy Kuruvilla

Baltimore

Dangerous sport of boxing KO'd heavyweight Quarry

I was saddened recently by the untimely death of the one-time heavyweight contender Jerry Quarry ("Longest round ends for Quarry," Jan 5). I remember Mr. Quarry very well when he came on the boxing scene.

Mr. Quarry was a fight promoter's dream: He had eye appeal, he could take a solid punch, and he was a very hard puncher.

But Mr. Quarry never learned the most important aspect of boxing: self-defense. This lack of skill is what ultimately ended his career and eventually his life.

I hold every trainer that this man ever had as partly responsible for his short life.

Muhammad Ali, the self-anointed "greatest," is suffering from the same physical problem that beset Mr. Quarry, the result of too many punches to the head.

Harry Kirchner

Bel Air

Intrepid Commuter unfair to Homeland

How nice it must be to take potshots at city neighborhoods from the cover of anonymity your Intrepid Commuter enjoys.

Certainly, it defies the definition of brave and fearless.

The Homeland Association has diligently and thoughtfully tried to remedy some of the commuter traffic issues that plague this neighborhood (without sufficient help from the city, I might add), not because we are elitist or "tony" but because our streets are narrow, with parking allowable only on one side ("Homeland gains restrictions on cut-throughs by drivers," Jan. 4).

Our neighbors to the east and west of us use our neighborhood to avoid the delays on Cold Spring Lane and Northern Parkway at an alarming rate of speed, ignoring stop signs, no-turn restrictions and one-way designations.

We are the only neighborhood through which these commuters can pass, and if you spent five minutes in our neighborhood at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning, you would see the proof of it. Nowhere in Webster's Dictionary have I found the definitions for the words "tony" and "elitist" to be "citizens concerned for the safety of themselves, their neighbors and their children."

Therefore, I strongly suggest that the brave and fearless commuter cease using them to describe our circumstance.

Kathleen Naughton

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Homeland Association traffic committee.

Afraid that west side plan will also become a boondoggle

Having seen the "progress" of the proposed west side development in the Eutaw Street/Howard Street area, I have several gripes and questions.

First, having read about the boondoggle known as the Columbus Center, I wonder if our legislators are cramming another taxpayer-funded failure down our throats.

It seems that those paying the bills have no say on waste and mismanagement of their taxes. Have legislators done any market research to determine whether such development will be viable, or is this more wishful thinking?

After all, even a location as close as Market Square, only a few blocks from Harborplace, is a failure.

Will the Police Department (and maybe the Downtown Partnership) need to stretch resources to protect this area?

Will those who now hang out on nearby steps and street corners later find themselves being treated by police as nuisances who need to be kept away from tourists?

If so, perhaps these people will need American Civil Liberties Union lawyers to ask police why their former practices are suddenly illegal.

Also, because the properties being purchased or condemned are being turned over to private developers instead of being overtly used for a government facility, can the tenants institute a class-action suit challenging the city's eminent domain law?

After all, the proposed development is by private developers, and the city is using its power to procure sites for these entrepreneurs, allegedly for the public good.

The momentum for this attempt to revitalize an apparently unrevivable area should be reconsidered before scarce city tax dollars are used for luxuries and more Baltimoreans flee to the suburbs in frustration over poor civic and fiscal judgment.

Donald Holland

Baltimore

Another quiz for readers to figure out Clinton matter

Howard A. Roland's letter to the editor ("A quiz for readers on Clinton behavior," Jan. 4) contained questions so biased as to prevent impartial thinking.

Here is a less biased quiz:

Do the consensual acts between Monica Lewinsky and the president constitute sexual harassment on his part under federal statutes?

Do the answers of the president to the questions put to him before the grand jury constitute crimes of perjury or false statements under federal statutes?

Is the offense of perjury in a matter of this sort, even if proven, within the scope of "great and dangerous offenses" or "the abuse or violation of some public trust" discussed by the Framers of the Constitution?

In this matter, does the president have any rights of defense under the Constitution and applicable federal statutes?

Or are they to be denied to him because of his position and his sexual violations?

Are your answers based on informed logic or visceral emotion?

Ronald P. Bowers

Lutherville

State's regulatory structure can find nursing home flaws

In a recent letter to the editor ("Improved nursing homes need improved enforcement," Jan. 2), representatives of the nursing home industry criticized the nursing home regulatory process and stated that the "inspection and enforcement process is seriously flawed."

In Maryland, we have worked for the past 10 years to build a regulatory structure that is effective at problem identification and encourages compliance with both state and federal regulations. In the early 1990s, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene aggressively fought negligent care and sent a strong message that substandard quality and services to our senior citizens would not be tolerated. We will continue that same policy.

In July, President Clinton announced major nursing home initiatives that would further strengthen the regulatory process and protect our citizens. These changes are in response to continued deficiences in nursing homes and the failure of nursing homes to maintain compliance with minimal standards.

Recently, three such nursing homes were identified in Maryland. In one case, bed sores and poor nutrition were found in successive surveys; in the second, a nursing home failed four successive surveys over six months; and, in the third, after many opportunities to correct problems, a nursing home remained out of compliance for 11 months.

The standards for quality of care in nursing homes and the requirements for participation in Medicare and Medicaid have not changed.

What we have lacked is the ability to initiate sanctions to encourage providers to maintain compliance with quality standards. Enforcement in nursing homes is changing, and it should. The federal government is still in the process of defining the new procedures.

The bottom line, however, remains the same. When surveyors identify deficiencies in patient care, nursing home management must take swift and long-term measures to correct those problems. If not, they need to accept the consequences.

Carol Benner

Baltimore

The writer is director of licensing and certification administration at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Suspended doctor, patient say criticism is unfair

I am writing to protest the article that slammed Dr. Pietr Hitzig, "Board suspends doctor's license" (Dec. 18).

I was a patient of Dr. Hitzig's for several years before the campaign against him began.

In your article, you report unsubstantiated (and irrelevant?) allegations of Dr. Hitzig's having had some kind of sexual affair with a patient. I guess that after the Starr investigation, this kind of sensationalism and use of negative rumor has become the norm for journalism, but I can give relevant testimony to a different Dr. Hitzig.

Two years ago, when I was going through a rough time with depression, Dr. Hitzig, who had been treating me via telephone, felt I needed to come to Baltimore for supervised treatment. I flew to Baltimore, was met at the airport by Dr. Hitzig and spent the next few days as a patient in his office and a guest in his home.

Though I hardly lack attention from men, Dr. Hitzig was a gentleman. It was a most vulnerable point in my life, and I was in a most vulnerable position, but this man whom you are willing to smear with hearsay was absolutely professional and courteous.

Stephanie Taylor

Huntington Beach, Calif.

I am writing on behalf of my beleaguered patients, who are terrified that without their medications, they are going to relapse into disabling depression, fibromyalgia, addiction, bulimia or a myriad of other disorders.

The doctor who would have been my backup if I were to become disabled or die is terrified by the Draconian action of the Maryland Board of Physician Quality Assurance and doesn't want a similar fate to befall him. He has backed away.

Needless to say, I can't blame him.

The board has a glib answer for this problem: "Refer them to other doctors." That is not possible. Many of them have sought relief and not found it through the standard channels. I do not mean to impugn the quality of medicine practiced today. These patients are in the minority in that they are resistant to conventional modes of therapy. But their pain and concerns are real.

Recently, I have had to let two patients know that my hands are bound. One is relapsing into a severe psychosis and is near-suicidal. Another says she fears that within days, her severe bulimia is going to come back with a vengeance.

More than 50 patients have written to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, pleading for him to restore sanity to the board. I hope he does.

Pietr Hitzig

Baltimore

Pub Date: 1/09/99

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