Baltimore's DPW is working to keep city citizens safe
Dan Rodricks' portrayal of the Department of Public Works as an agency operating without regard for the environment and people is untrue ("Officials could use a refresher course or 2," Sept. 15).
The responsibility of the Department of Public Works (DPW) is to provide and maintain services to protect the general public such as safe drinking water, proper treatment and disposal of wastewater and solid waste and safe roadways.
As the head of the DPW, I took an oath to abide by and uphold the laws of the city and state and to protect its citizens.
I take this responsibility seriously and would not carelessly or knowingly violate this oath.
When we realized there was the potential for a discharge of sewage into Colgate Creek after the shut-off valve failed, DPW employees, with diligence, notified the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) prior to any discharge occurring.
MDE notified the city's Health Department the same day.
The situation went from a proactive to reactive situation when upper-level managers were not kept abreast of the ongoing operation. Action has been taken within DPW to prevent future communication gaps and administration action will be taken against those responsible for recent problems.
Employees of DPW are working daily to provide a safe environment for this city.
The late notification to the public was regrettable, but I want to assure the citizens of this city and state, that protecting the environment and the citizens are priorities for me and the employees of DPW.
George L. Winfield
The writer is director of Baltimore's Department of Public Works.
Good teachers can make large classes rewarding
The Sun's article "College lecture hall: learning in a crowd" (Sept. 13) pointed out some of the weaknesses of university lecture classes with hundreds of students.
Large lecture classes are often a necessity in these days of reduced state funding for higher education. But they are not only economically reasonable; they can be the educationally preferable.
At UMBC, most of our introductory psychology classes are large lectures, but they are typically taught by full professors who are given the opportunity to teach the class only because they do an outstanding job. Student ratings of these classes are consistently high.
Furthermore, experimental studies have shown that students not only enjoy these classes, but also learn as much in them as they do in smaller classes.
Realistically, the alternatives are a large lecture class taught by an outstanding instructor or smaller classes taught by average instructors. There's no way for all instructors to be outstanding, as much as we would like that to be the case.
Given those alternatives, I'd go for the large lecture class every time. So, I think, would my students.
The writer is a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Perhaps the marching moms have realized their error
In response to the recent letter "What happened to mothers marching for gun control?" (Sept. 14), one can only hope that they have curtailed their assault on law-abiding gun owners' rights.
Perhaps they realized that the infringements they wanted imposed would only affect the law-abiding gun owner, while doing nothing to deter the criminal from possessing or using a weapon.
Gore won't challenge entertainment moguls
Most parents of school-age children know that the entertainment industry markets adult-oriented material to children. Nevertheless, I welcomed the Federal Trade Commission's confirmation of that practice ("Youth marketing of violent media comes under fire," Sept. 11).
However, no one can truly believe that Al Gore is going to do anything about this practice. The Al Gore who criticized the entertainment industry is the same person who last year distanced himself from the FTC probe, calling it a "witch hunt."
This is the same Al Gore who notified entertainment executives in advance that he would be criticizing the industry in a planned speech.
Mr. Gore knows, the entertainment industry knows and the American people should know that Mr. Gore does not intend to do anything about the entertainment industry's irresponsible conduct.
Boyd K. Rutherford
The lethal legacy of lead in Baltimore ...
When I was a resident in pediatrics at the University of Maryland Hospital almost a half-century ago, among our most tragic and preventable cases were those of children with lead poisoning -- children who were staggering, convulsing, blinded, deafened or dying with lead poisoning.
If they survived, their intelligence was impaired.
Lead poisoning, as I read in The Sun, still kills poor children who, in many cases, put into their mouths whatever they can because they are hungry ("Lead's lethal passage," Sept. 10).
This is not a matter for politicians to argue about or for lawyers to litigate. Hunger and lead poisoning kill, singly or as accomplices.
All the money that can be spent for blood tests for children at ages 1 and 2 and all the money spent for schools, teachers, books and computers will not make a difference if children's brains are already damaged by lead or hunger.
Dr. Eugene Blank
I was pleased to read that "City and state officials ... are poised to attack Baltimore's epidemic of childhood lead poisoning" ("Funds near release to fight lead poison," Sept. 14).
Since the ban on lead paint was enacted more than 20 years ago and its toxicity was widely recognized long before then, this gives new meaning to the old phrase "get the lead out."
... and those who work to treat the kids it hurts
The Sun's article "Lead's lethal passage" (Sept. 10) conveyed the unstable and disconnected life of lead paint poisoning victim, Barbie Kress, and illustrated the damage lead paint poisoning can do to the children it ravages.
However, Baltimore has many individuals and groups working to educate and treat these very sick children.
Since 1990, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital has provided a childhood lead poisoning prevention and treatment program, which includes inpatient, outpatient and community outreach services.
Currently our program is following approximately 200 children, who come from the city poorer neighborhoods that have so much lead-contaminated housing.
Our treatment program is conducted in collaboration with providers of primary health care, who screen and refer children in their community.
While the story of Barbie Kress put a much-needed face on Baltimore's lead paint victims, it is essential to recognize the efforts of all who test, treat, educate and eradicate lead from our city's homes.
Dr. Trevor Valentine
The writer is medical director of Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital's lead treatment program.