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Harbor ship pilots should be accountable to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Harbor ship pilots should be accountable to public regulators

The Sun' s recent attack on the Association of Maryland Pilots came out of the mouth of commercial interests from the port of Baltimore ("Who docks bay ships?" editorial, March 30).

Like any one-sided argument, the editorial was wrong in fact and improperly harsh.

Senate Bill 237, the subject of the editorial, seeks to bring the accountability of the people who move massive cargo vessels north of the Key Bridge to the same level as that of those who operate those vessels south of that bridge.

The bay pilots have invested millions of dollars in equipment and unequaled education in operating these vessels on the bay, without negative effects on its fragile environment -- and with positive effect on the commercial shipping industry.

Bay pilots are accountable to the people of Maryland through the citizens' Maryland Board of Pilots. It has been this way for more than a century.

Bay pilots' rates are set by the state and approved by industry.

No such accountability exists inside the Key Bridge in Baltimore's harbor. The United States Coast Guard has determined that this condition is unsafe.

Senate Bill 237 puts the accountability and safety in the hands of the Maryland Board of Pilots, a proven system.

The bill mandates no loss of jobs or increase in cost for the port of Baltimore.

The Sun editorial should have supported the people's control.

Michael R. Watson, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Association of Maryland Pilots.

The state's largest labor organization supports the bill to license and regulate docking pilots.

The Sun's editorial failed to mention that only 10 docking masters work full-time at the pPort of Baltimore.

Our state-licensed bay pilots are authorized to do docking and berthing.

To keep the two pilot groups separate, some have suggested creating a new licensing board for the docking masters. We think this is costly and unnecessary.

We support the Senate bill which would sets up a comprehensive licensing and regulatory framework.

If officials spent more time marketing the port and less time worrying about ten docking masters, all of us would be much better off.

Edward A. Mohler, Annapolis

The writer is president of the Maryland State & D.C. AFL-CIO.

Unanswered queries plague Balto. Co. redevelopment

Despite a flurry of editorials, The Sun hasn't persuaded residents of eastern Baltimore County of the merits of eminent domain and suburban renewal.

The latest editorial, "Low-rent reduction" (March 28) disparages east-siders, claiming that few understand the principles underlying the county's plan.

Worse yet, The Sun stoops to playing on deep-seated divisions and antipathy toward low-rent housing in Baltimore County, telling homeowners that the condemnation bill is designed to dispossess renters -- not them.

East-siders have done their homework. They know which properties will be taken and demolished and understand the difference between community-oriented revitalization and gentrification.

It is The Sun's coverage of the plan that has lacked depth and analysis.

For example, The Sun asserts that the bill is designed to enable the county to acquire and demolish blighted, sub-standard multi-family housing.

In fact, the bill would condemn responsibly-owned and managed apartment complexes recently renovated with more than $12 million in state loans and federal tax credits -- Kingsley Park in Essex and York Park in Dundalk.

Randallstown residents and groups have joined east-siders in asking important questions, such as: Where will the people displaced go? How will the public's investment in affordable housing be recouped?

And will the county replace the demolished housing in growth areas where service-industry jobs are plentiful, but affordable housing is in short supply or completely lacking?

If not, won't the county's plan just move poor families from one lower-income area to another, without doing anything to reduce poverty?

Shouldn't a newspaper of the caliber and tradition of The Sun be asking these questions too?

And shouldn't the county have some answers?

Barbara Samuels, Baltimore

The writer is a fair-housing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Rising cost of training fosters nursing shortage

As a Maryland nurse for 30 years, I feel I must speak out about some possible reasons for the worst nurse shortage in many years ("Nursing staffs shrink," March 19).

Before 1970, hospital-based nursing training programs were almost free or very affordable.

In the 1970s many academic nursing instructors felt nursing could not be designated a profession unless its training became college-based.

This change made a nursing career financially out of reach for many high school graduates, who had previously gone into nursing by the droves .

I trained at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in the 1960s when it was the second best hospital-based nursing program in the country.

The total fee for three years of training (including summers, board, books, food and uniforms) was $1,000.

The school's fee is now more than $17,000 a year.

Nursing training should be hospital-based and affordable again.

Susan Lipinski, Timonium

Circumcision is wrong -- for boys as well as girls

Whenever I read an article by an American about female circumcision ("Tortured Tradition," March 26), I find it ironic that the United States is the only country to practice routine infant male circumcision for non-religious reasons (it isn't routinely done in Western Europe or most of Canada).

The U.S. rate of male infant circumcision, which happily is decreasing, is just below 60 percent nationally and about 35 percent in western states.

Although male circumcision is arguably less severe than female, it is still genital mutilation imposed on minors by adults.

I am proudly a part of the movement to promote "genital integrity" and allow children both female and male to have their genitals left intact. Surely genital integrity must be a basic human right that adults can secure for children.

David Roberts, Baltimore

Syria's intransigence blocks pact with Israel

Thank goodness the modern day pharaoh, Syrian President Hafez el Assad, hardened his heart against Israel (Clinton, Assad stumble in talks," March 27).

Otherwise President Clinton would have used the slightest indication that Mr. Assad wanted to sign an agreement with Israel to justify pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights.

The Geneva summit failed to revive Israeli-Syrian negotiations because Syria can offer no "security sacrifices" or "peace." This is because Mr. Assad's intentions are not honorable.

At least he is being truthful about his hatred for Israel. For its self-preservation, Israel is responding accordingly.

But why does President Clinton lower himself to sit with a man like Mr. Assad?

Barbara Ann Bloom, Owings Mills

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