Martin's Glen scandal reveals the limits of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Martin's Glen scandal reveals the limits of 'assisted-living' care

The Maryland Nurses Association, which I represent in Annapolis, has in concert with others, vehemently protested the state's allowing assisted-living facilities to house individuals whose conditions required a higher level of care than assistance with acts of everyday life.

The nurses feared that, under the guise of the seemingly benign concept of "aging in place," burgeoning assisted-living facilities would become de facto nursing homes, without proper staffing. Nurses see the financial incentives to keep persons in assisted-living facilities that can't care for them as a tragedy waiting to happen

The Sun's recent article on Martin's Glen assisted-living facility graphically demonstrates the consequences of just such a situation ("Officials threaten sanctions for assisted-living facility," May 4).

While that situation there is deplorable for those involved and their families, the ultimate question is: Why were these patients allowed at Martin's Glen and what is being done to assure that similar things are not occurring in other facilities?

Martin's Glen should be a wake-up call. Is anyone listening?

Rob Ross Hendrickson

Baltimore

The writer is general counsel for the Maryland Nurses Association.

Are some cost overruns more equal than others?

There is a curious disparity between the fee payment situation reviewed in Scott Shane's article "How many lawyers does it take to ..." (May 7) and that reported in "Cost draws city probe" (May 8).

According to the former article, Peter Angelos contracted with the state to sue the tobacco companies for a contingency fee, originally set at 25 percent of the settlement. The Maryland legislature balked and reduced fee to 12.5 percent.

The suit is settled. The settlement is huge and so is contingency fee. The state balks at paying.

By contrast, the latter article reports the city accepted a low bid of $427,025 from Phipps Construction Contractors Inc. to clear properties at 400 S. Central Avenue and 1205 Bank Street.

So far the city has paid more than twice that amount -- more than $1 million -- in cost overruns. And the work goes on, unfinished.

This must say something about contractual agreements in Maryland, but I can't figure out what.

Franklin T. Evans.

Baltimore

Opera's three tenors deserved more respect

When The Sun announced that Tim Smith would be its new classical music critic, I was delighted. I had seen some of his work in the Florida Sentinel and occasional reviews in Opera News magazine.

I enjoyed his article enticing people to give opera a chance ("Let yourself be seduced by opera," April 30). But I must admit to some chagrin when I read "Enough with the 3 tenors, already" (May 7).

When he says these large arena concerts have seen their day, he may be right. But are we to have reviews only of performances which Mr. Smith enjoys?

I'm sure I'm not the only fan who would like to know what the tenors sang and how they sang it.

The rather flippant writing style also disturbed me. When Mr. Smith speaks of Placido Domingo sounding "frayed around the edges," what does this mean?

On what occasion, in what song? Has Mr. Domingo lost his beautiful tone quality? Is he singing out of tune?

And, just as an afterthought, I can't imagine someone of the stature of James Levine associating himself with an event totally lacking in musical value.

Caroleen Baummer

Baltimore

Ticks don't need a day to transmit Lyme disease

I was pleased to see The Sun's front-page article on Lyme disease, which is a growing concern for Marylanders ("Lyme disease warning sounded," May 9).

However I wish to correct one common and dangerous myth: It is not true that a "tick must be attached to the skin for 24 hours before it can transmit the disease."

The eminent doctor for whom the Lyme disease causing spirochete is named notes that as many as 10 percent of ticks may themselves have disseminated Lyme.

Such ticks begin transmitting Lyme less than one hour after beginning to feed.

Keep in mind as well, that tick-borne co-infections Babesiosis (a protozoa) and Ehrlichiosis (a virus) can also transmitted any time after the tick's attachment.

The tick-attachment myth is one of several that continue to put us at risk.

I'd like to see Maryland begin a comprehensive Lyme disease education campaign.

Marjorie Roswell

Baltimore

Beyond equal pay for equal work

As a young woman in the workforce, I understand Bonnie Lipton's motivation for citing the much publicized statistic about a gender wage gap ("Equal work should mean equal pay," OpinionCommentary, May 9).

But this statistic is misleading. The women's 75 cents to men's $1 wage ratio is a crude comparison of average wages, without regard to such important factors as occupation, position, age, experience, education and consecutive years in the workforce. It compares women who majored in English literature to men who majored in math; women who have chosen to be teachers to men who have chosen to be engineers; and women who work 30 hours a week to men who work 50 hours.

While discrimination is wrong, so are the efforts by some women's groups to invent an injustice or cry sexism.

This cheapens the groundbreaking accomplishments of genuine women leaders and role models, who broke through glass ceilings so that women of my generation have the individual choice, freedom and opportunity to climb the corporate ladder or stay at home with their children.

Virginia Rajnes

Baltimore

The gender wage gap Bonnie Lipton referred to in her recent column is a myth.

The gap is nonexistent for young, single workers. And studies show that virtually all the earnings differential between men and women results from decisions men and women make about the work they do and the time they spend working.

The evidence does not show that women earn less than men because of discriminatory employment practices.

The myth that it does is promoted to support "comparable worth" schemes -- under which government administrators would assign points to jobs, then equalize pay for supposedly underpaid jobs that happen to be dominated by women.

Equal pay for equal work is not the issue.

Doug Roth

Ellicott City

Our research shows that there is no pay gap among full-time workers age 21 to 35 who live alone, and that the gap is only 3 percent among full-time workers age 21 to 35 who are married but have no children.

In fact, since as early as 1971, never-married women in their thirties who had worked continuously have earned slightly higher incomes than male counterparts.

Clearly, something else must be considered in discussing women's wages: The impact of the family on careers.

Because women still tend to be families' primary caregivers, they often take time off from their career. Women spend an average of almost 15 percent of potential work years out of the workforce, compared to only 2 percent for men.

In addition, women working full-time work 200 fewer hours per year (or 25 days) on average than do full-time men.

Women should receive equal pay for equal work; that's why there are laws on the books to protect women But citing misleading statistics to incite women does not do justice to the real debate: How to help women balance work and family.

Anita Hattiangadi

Washington

The writer is an economist at the Employment Policy Foundation.

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