A place of honor in mayoral vote
In 1997, then-speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich invited the Rev. Jesse Jackson to "sit in a place of honor" during the president's State of the Union address. Mr. Jackson accepted the invitation.
The reaction from many Republicans and many blacks was akin to "how could they?"
For me, the speaker's invitation was a small, yet important, step toward Republicans re-establishing a relationship with black communities and their leadership.
And now, as Republican candidates seek common ground and opportunity to re-establish a relationship with black communities throughout the city as we face an election, many on both sides are asking "why should we?"
For some time, the Republican Party and black voters have danced around each other -- with Republicans hiding behind the "blacks will never vote for us" mentality and many blacks ignoring real solutions to serious problems because those solutions have a "Republican" label.
Very often, both groups have missed real opportunities to reach out to each other.
But "outreach" means more than good speeches and a pat on the back; it means establishing a relationship and building a partnership that will benefit all concerned.
Baltimore stands at the threshold of the next millennium poised to take a new direction with new leadership. But its citizens must make some hard choices before crossing that threshold.
Baltimoreans can no longer afford to think in black and white, but must focus on the quality of leadership and ideas and the inevitability of change.
For far too long, city voters have seemed to turn a blind eye to their own welfare.
But at some point we have to ask: Are our schools better? Is my neighborhood safer and cleaner? Are there fewer boarded-up houses and businesses?
Have our elected officials served us well?
At some point, city voters have to stop and say we can no longer afford to vote for failed leadership. I believe city voters have reached that point.
As the Democrats jockey to put before voters names and faces which have been a part of the policies and legacy of the past three decades, Republicans have largely gone unnoticed simply because they are Republicans.
Surely, Baltimoreans won't forsake possible change just because of a label.
Instead, I challenge city voters this fall to at least consider taking the road less traveled.
Likewise, I challenge Republicans candidates to present themselves directly to voters and offer their vision of Baltimore and the future of its communities.
Michael Steele, Largo
The writer is first vice chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
Horse-race approach to elections
In his Perspective-section post-mortem on Baltimore's mayoral primary, Gerald Shields criticized my several electoral campaigns, in which I have never gotten more than 10 percent of the vote, as showing my apparent inability to "take a hint" ("Memorable primary moments," Sept. 26).
But it's not a trivial matter of my not taking a hint. Democracy itself is at stake.
And when the democratic process fails, the people lose.
Since the major media, led by The Sun, refuse to view elections as a process to resolve real problems democratically, all it covers is their horse-race aspect. Consequently, the real problems in our city, state and nation are hardly ever addressed, much less solved.
If not addressed through the democratic process, how are these problems solved? Most of them simply are not solved at all.
That's why I ran for office to offer real solutions to those real problems. I'm proud that I met this responsibility throughout the primary election.
Had the "Big Three" candidates (made Big by Big Money) along with the Big Media (owned by Big Money) fulfilled their responsibility to develop real solutions to our city's crisis, we might hope to see that crisis resolved during the next mayor's term.
But don't hold your breath.
The real losers in this election are the people of Baltimore -- many of whom cannot vote (felons, immigrants, 16-year-olds) and most of whom have been so frustrated and isolated by our system of misgovernment that they see no point in voting.
Those who did vote were apparently so mesmerized by the last six weeks of media blitz, strengthened by those TV and radio "debates"" (which, with my forced absence, were hardly debates at all) that they became convinced there were only three choices -- all establishment candidates.
We, the people, just lost this election.
We will be paying for that loss through the next four years.
A. Robert Kaufman, Baltimore
UM heart study raises questions
I was concerned by The Sun's front page article "Study finds no value in heart supplement," Sept 27).
The article reports that Dr. Stephen Gottlieb, director of the cardiac care unit at the University of Maryland Medical System studied the effectiveness of Coenzyme Q10 in treating the symptoms of congestive heart failure. He found that Co Q10 did not relieve symptoms.
I find Dr. Gottlieb inconsistent in his conception of a valid study. I find The Sun a little irresponsible for reporting the results of his study in the manner it did.
Dr. Gottlieb is quoted saying that "he found several studies that suggested it [Co Q10] relieved symptoms. But the studies were either too small or asked the wrong questions."
I understand this to mean that the results of a small study are not an adequate basis for clinical decisions.
And yet Dr. Gottlieb seems to have no problem deciding that Co Q10 is worthless, based on his own double-blind, placebo-controlled study that included just 50 subjects.
Of course, having 50 people enrolled does not necessarily mean all 50 stayed in the study until the end.
It also means that somewhat less than 50 people actually got Co Q10 instead of the placebo.
I am curious to know which form of Coenzyme Q10 was used in the study.
Someone curious about Co Q10 merely because many of his patients happen to take it as a supplement may not have the expertise in supplementation to know that different forms of Co Q10 differ in their ability to get into the bloodstream by as much as 10-fold.
I would also like to know whether or not there were target Coenzyme Q10 blood levels attained in the study subjects and what those targets were.
It seems to me that these questions should have been addressed in the article.
As I reported to Mr. Bor, and he correctly reported in the article, I have often seen excellent results from giving Co Q10 to my patients for the relief of symptoms of heart failure, high blood pressure, gum disease and fatigue.
I've also read an overview of the use of Co Q10 in cardiovascular disease that cities "at least 15 randomized controlled trails involving a total of 1366 patients with both primary and secondary forms of myocardial failure."
All but one of those clinical trails have shown positive results of proper Co Q10 supplementation.
The biggest mystery to me remains: why would The Sun see the results of this small-scale study as front page news?
Brian Sanderoff, Clarksville
The writer is a pharmacist, nutritional counselor, alternative medicine radio talk show host and co-director of the RiverHill Wellness Center in Clarksville.
Flight 800 'conspiracies' add to grief of families
I lost my sister and her 9-year-old on TWA Flight 800, and I think articles such as Tom Bowman's on the "missile theory" do nothing to heal the losses families have suffered -- and in fact do nothing more than keep these theories before the public and subject the families to more questions about the tragedy ("Flight 800 theorists stick to their guns," Sept. 19).
Mr. Bowman's article gives credibility to conspiracy theorists such as William Donaldson and Thomas Stalcup.
Mr. Bowman did quote James Kallstrom, formerly of the FBI (he was in charge of the Flight 800 investigation) as well, but he did little to amplify Mr. Kallstrom's comments.
Had Mr. Bowman spent more time researching his facts, he could have reviewed the documents, testimony and research aired in the National Transportation Safety Board's December 1998 public hearing on the crash, which was held in Baltimore.
This hearing addressed, in great detail, the issues that are being rehashed in terms of a "cover-up" and "conspiracy" by such individuals such as Mr. McDonald and Mr. Stalcup.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked, "What do you really think happened to Flight 800?"
I think 230 innocent passengers died as a result of faulty wiring in a Boeing 747 that was 25 years old. This wiring caused a fire, which led to an explosion in the plane's center fuel tank.
That fuel tank contained fuel vapors that become combustible at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in the fuel tank on July 17, 1996, was more than 130 degrees.
In the Baltimore hearing, it was revealed that it would take only as much energy as is produced by dropping a dime a distance of one inch to ignite the jet fuel vapors that were in that fuel tank.
It was not a missile that brought down Flight 800, it was an aged aircraft that had not been properly maintained. The Flight 800 tragedy could have been avoided through stricter safety and inspection requirements.
I, along with many other family members, have spent the past three years lobbying the Congress, the Clinton administration, the Federal Aviation Administration and the airline industry to make changes that would prevent such a tragic loss of life in the future.
Much has been accomplished, but much more needs to be done.
The conspiracy enthusiasts do nothing to prompt change in an industry that has had its own way in Washington since aviation began.
Mr. Bowman's article does nothing for the families, nothing to promote safety and security changes in aviation.
Frank Carven, Forest Hill
Editorial premature on Rodgers Forge shooting
The Sun's editorial judgment that the recent police shooting Tambra Eddinger, a Rodgers Forge resident, was justified was as premature as it was unfortunate ("No win situation for police," Sept 9).
Given all the circumstances, The Sun's failure to restrain judgment, to call for a full, detached review of the incident and to articulate the questions that need to be addressed does a disservice both to the community and to the Baltimore County Police Department.
Summary absolution can be as harmful as a rush to judgment.
We should not allow the need to acknowledge the heavy physical and emotional burden that the police (and fire) officials undertake in a barricade situation to shield them from the same type of accountability we seek from all government officials.
It is a sad national truth that accountability lags far behind the many other advances in police professionalism we've seen in the final quarter of this century.
The nation still wrestles with the propriety of the Waco action and the reflexive coverup by federal officials.
In this metropolitan area, in the few weeks since the Rodgers Forge episode, a man's cell phone reportedly was mistaken for a pistol and he was killed by a police officer ("Officer fatally shoots suspect," Sept. 11)
In another incident, an innocent, vibrant young man died in Charles Village as the result of a problematic pursuit by police officers ("Student dies in accident that ends police chase," Sept. 11).
The community would be well-served if Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger would appoint an independent panel to review this incident and the policies that guide police response to similar circumstances.
With regard to the Rodgers Forge incident, these questions come to mind:
What are the "rules of engagement" for such incidents, and were they observed?
Why did the tear gas fail to have the same disabling effect in a small townhouse that it routinely produces when used outdoors?
What consideration was given to other means of disabling or dissuading Ms. Eddinger?
What impelled the police assault, after 12 hours of waiting?
What prompted the pursuit of the suspect into the locked bedroom where she had retreated as the force entered the house?
At what level were the decisions on the ground made or approved?
Nathan Greene, Baltimore
HMO oversight a poor plan for alternative care
I'd like to offer another view of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield's announcement of a "discount plan for alternative therapies" ("Health insurer offers discount for alternate therapy," Sept. 22)
Although I cannot purport to speak for all of my colleagues in "alternative" (I prefer to call it "complementary") health care, many of us think this offering is fraught with danger.
While I am pleased that western medicine is finally recognizing the value of complementary health care and bringing it into the mainstream, the danger is of creating the same monster for "alternative" practitioners that has been created for western ones -- another form of HMO.
The public who has been visiting acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors and other practitioners will regard BlueCross' announcement as a victory.
However, because the cost of these discounts will be borne by the practitioners, the time we can spend with our patients will have to be discounted along with the fees (which are quite reasonable). The essence and the quality of our work will be compromised.
What people want from complementary medicine is the holistic, individually designed treatment it offers each patient. By creating another "alternative HMO", insurers are forcing complementary care to fit into a very different model.
That's rather like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. In order to make it fit, the shape of the peg will have to change.
The result will be all too familiar: practitioners will lose control and patients will lose their choice.
Do we want to go down that road again?
Kate Carter, Catonsville
The writer is a licensed acupuncturist.
Billboard detracts from city valley
Two years ago, the Jones Falls was little more than a garbage-filled storm drain. But since January 1998, hundreds of volunteers have worked with businesses and the city to haul out the trash, plant native trees and wildflowers and build footpaths to hidden sites.
The Jones Falls Valley Celebration Sept. 18-19 was the culmination of this collaboration.
During the festivities, bikers explored the valley along a Jones Falls Expressway closed to cars, hikers visited the spectacular Round Falls and rock climbers struggled with the pitches as hundreds discovered the stream's beauty through the images of top photographers.
A wonderful map mural is being painted by Kirk Seese on the south wall of the Falls Road exit ramp. It depicts the river with the old mills that made the valley an industrial center a century ago.
But a most scenic section of the restored watershed has suffered a terrible setback: a hideous, eight-story high billboard at 3100 Falls Road.
It is just a few feet from the rock used for climbing and a few feet from Mr. Seese's mural.
Community efforts to halt the billboard began in May 1997.
At that time the great public support for the Jones Falls had not yet developed and the court's decision. The decisions went against the communities and in favor of the property owners.
Subsequently, the billboard's owner, Philip Correlli, was asked repeatedly to explore less destructive alternatives; he refused.
Many cities and several states have recognized that such huge billboards are simply incompatible with an attractive city and with areas of natural beauty. They have therefore banned them.
If this example causes Baltimore's leaders to recognize how damaging such billboards are and ban them, this sad episode can bring an unexpected benefit.
Billboard companies will certainly invest time and money to prevent a ban.
Our political leaders must not forget that the billboard companies represent a tiny fraction of the population and that most people want to eliminate billboards from their communities and from beautiful natural areas.
Michael Beer, Baltimore
The writer is is a founder and co-chairman of the Jones Falls Watershed Association.
Pub Date: 10/02/99