State regulators need more resources to combat pollution
While it was heartening to hear Gov. Parris N. Glendening acknowledge that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) was less than effective in responding to last weekend's spill of 10 million gallons of untreated sewage into Colgate Creek, understanding the implications of the incident requires a deeper look ("Public not told of spill for days," Sept. 12).
The Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point is among the top 50 dischargers of toxic metals into the nation's surface waters. The company's daily discharges into the Patapsco River flow from there to the Chesapeake Bay.
The company's Clean Water Act permit was written in 1985 and expired in 1990.
But, as hard as it is to believe, it has become routine for companies to stay in full operation under expired permits because federal and state regulators do not get around to updating them.
Cosmetologists, pesticide applicators, and the average motorist would never be cut such slack.
In effect, Bethlehem Steel has continued to expand and modify its operations, ignoring the standards that have been written into other companies' permits for close to a decade.
Tragically, MDE's ineffective response to the spill was not an isolated incident, but rather a telling symptom of a greater problem: Government agencies on the front lines of protecting the environment are increasingly hollow, starved of the resources and the will to deal with the most basic regulatory activities.
The history of environmental protection in this country is rife with examples of big accidents spurring needed change.
Before another accident occurs, Mr. Glendening and the legislature should address the budget shortfalls that cripple the MDE.
The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland Law School.
Some adults are repulsed by Gov. Bush's vulgarity
Rob Hiaasen's commentary on the vulgarity caught by microphones at an appearance by the Republican candidates for president and vice president suggested that this is just the way we should expect any American man to talk ("The truth? Adults use bad words," Sept. 6).
We're hypocritical if we express shock or anger, Mr. Hiaasen suggested.
I know there are men in America who do not customarily talk, even when among only men, in vulgar scatological terms.
I think that the men who do talk that way are developmentally retarded to that stage in which children are learning to control their bodily functions.
I prefer to vote for people who got through that stage of development and don't use a private vulgar vocabulary in their conversation.
I'd like to remind Mr. Hiaasen and his readers that not all adults talk dirty, even in private, and many people in America, while not being "shocked, shocked" at Mr. Bush's vulgarity, think that it shows a hostile and vulgar personality.
Edna E. Heatherington
Knight's fall shows need to respect all employees
Indiana University's decision to fire basketball coach Bob Knight speaks to the core of employer-employee relations: Everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity ("Indiana dismisses fiery Bob Knight," Sept. 11).
This right applies to people who work in the business, government and nonprofit sectors, and it also applies to people who coach NCAA basketball.
It must be preserved daily.
Run for women's health shouldn't exclude males
I participated in the Sept. 10 Avon Run to benefit women's health. The event was well-run and well-attended, and I was happy to be involved.
However, I was very disappointed with one thing. My two boys, ages 10 and 8, could not register or formally participate in this event -- which styled itself as "by women for women." They were very disappointed since they lost their grandmother to breast cancer and miss her deeply.
Although the event organizers allowed my sons to walk with me, they would not allow them to cross the finish line, which I thought was rather unfortunate. I believe that an event styled "by men for men" would not have been permitted to bar women and girls from participating.
This double standard concerns me deeply. Although I will again register next year for this worthy cause, I sincerely hope that those in charge re-evaluate the policy.
It's time to make peace dividend real
Our hearts were wrenched by the plight of those on the Kursk. Russian submariners stand a silent vigil -- to defend their family, friends and their motherland against the U.S. military.
The world is driven to make sacrifices by this country's continued posture of military readiness.
How much longer shall we in America spend billions on our own guns, tanks, ships, missiles, bombs and planes?
The time has come to realize and share the true peace dividend -- peace.
Schuyler Denham Baltimore Insurance paperwork burdens nurses, patients
After reading two recent Sun articles, "Everyone needs nurses, and the shortage grows" (Aug. 30) and "55,000 Maryland elderly scrambling for coverage" (Sept. 3), I'm convinced that attracting more people to the nursing field is only half the battle.
Most nurses go into nursing because they want to take care of people when they need it the most.
I've talked to several nurses who are leaving the profession because they're frustrated by the amount of time they spend filling out paperwork required by HMOs, not caring for patients.
Now, not only are individual seniors struggling to get a handle on the current Medicare situation, so are the nurses and doctors who care for them.
The focus for patients, and their families, doctors and nurses needs to be wellness, not complex and ever-changing insurance policies.
Attracting more people to the nursing profession won't solve anything if, once they get there, they're disheartened by what they find.