Cross St. Market needs to step up promotion effort

Jules "Sonny" Morstein, a South Baltimore business leader, says that surveys demonstrate that the Cross Street Market merchants are making a mistake by reverting to their 6 p.m. closing time ("Changing times, new hours," Jan. 2). Steve Bongiovani, one of the merchants, replies that they have few customers after that hour. They're both correct.

The real problem is that the venerable market needs marketing. When the merchants grudgingly extended their hours to 7 p.m., little was done to advertise the fact.

"If you build it, they will come" does not work in the retail food business. And many new residents of South Baltimore know the market only as just another neighborhood bar at night, or a place where they can get shellfish, sushi or a good sandwich on Saturdays.

My doorstep is littered almost daily with handbills from carryouts as much as a mile away. But the market merchants do virtually nothing, individually or collectively, to advertise their wares in the adjacent neighborhoods. Some of the nearby bars do a better promotion job.

True, some of the merchants are still doing business the way they or their forebears did 30 years ago. But so does the city agency that oversees the market.

Both the merchants and the market administration need more vigorous and imaginative leadership.

In this high-speed, digital world, they haven't even discovered the printing press.

James S. Keat


If we ban ephedra, why not tobacco?

I read with some interest recent media articles on the banning of the sale of ephedra by the Food and Drug Administration after it was linked to approximately 155 deaths ("FDA to ban use of ephedra," Dec. 31).

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson was quoted as stating, "The time to stop taking the supplement is now."

Since the tobacco industry causes more than 1,000 deaths every day, I wonder why Mr. Thompson and the Bush administration do not attack the tobacco industry with the same degree of vigor.

John H. O'Hara


Palestinians can still travel to the east

The Sun's editorial "Scaling the wall" (Jan. 1) misapplies the word "corralled."

The editorial criticizes Israel's defensive barrier under construction in the disputed "terror-tories" by informally implying that the Palestinians are captured or imprisoned by this fence. Doing so denies reality for the sake of relative liberal altruism.

The eastern border of the disputed territories is wide open. Jordan, with its Palestinian majority, is an independent country founded at about the same time as Israel. There is no political, religious or demographic reason why the people of the West Bank should not have free access to the entire world, Arab and free, through that route.

On the other hand, the defensive wall encloses all Israelis between it and the sea on the west, the Lebanese and Syrians in the north and our allies the Saudi Arabians in the south.

So who really are the "corralled" people?

Morris L. Gavant


Taking more land won't produce peace

I continue to be amazed that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his supporters in this country support the construction of a 20-foot-tall wall as the solution to their problems with the Palestinians ("Scaling the wall," editorial, Jan. 1).

If the wall were being built on the Green Line, I could agree with building it. But it goes through the heart of Palestinian towns, separates Palestinian farmers from their fields and places 20 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side of the wall.

This is land theft and obviously will result in more problems for Israel, not less.

Albert L. Cummings

Owings Mills

Nominating Dean will re-elect Bush

Finally, an article in The Sun that made my day ("Early voting may seal contest: Dean could wrap up Democratic nomination within one month," Jan. 4).

Way to go, Democrats. You'll be handing President Bush his second victory against the wishy-washy, stand-for-nothing and stand-for-everything Democratic Party.

One can only hope.

Gail Householder


New way to issue a protest vote

Cynthia Tucker's column "Still looking for a presidential candidate who inspires us" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 5) awakens my gut-wrenching realization that over the next 11 months, I will be subject to false statements, negative ads and spin by the incumbent president and by the other presidential wannabes.

The issues are not properly addressed by the candidates, and the press contributes to the mess with its biased reporting.

And what happens when none of the candidates meets the voters' minimum requirements? How do the voters register their complaints?

The most common way they do so is by not voting at all. I have a better solution. Why not have a category listed on the November ballot as "None of the above."

After the election, when the total vote is compared to the number of the registered voters, the percentage of those who voted rarely exceeds 60 percent. We have been told that the 40 percent gap is the result of voter apathy. I suspect the major reason is the disgust for the candidates available.

A "None of the above" selection would allow the voters to have a method to register their disgust with the candidates presented.

Ron Wirsing

Havre de Grace

Attention to errors could save lives

The recent letter "Too much attention to medical mistakes" (Dec. 24) leads the readers to believe that the media too often focus on adverse events rather than the numerous successes of modern medicine.

Quite the contrary is true. The Sun every Monday dedicates an entire section to "Medicine & Science," and often focuses on successes of modern medicine.

In fact, the marvels of medicine are often portrayed in the media (the separation of conjoined twins, transplant operations, robotic surgery, etc.). But for years, health care providers and institutions have hidden their errors in the bowels of their institutions, unbeknownst to us mere mortals.

Maybe if health care providers and health care institutions mistakes were brought more to the forefront, health care institutions such as Johns Hopkins would be forced to put a little more effort and money into their safety efforts and not wait for disasters to happen - like the one that happened to my daughter, Brianna Cohen ("Medical error kills Hopkins cancer patient," Dec. 19).

Had Brianna's health care providers at Johns Hopkins done the simplest of medical tasks, she would be celebrating the new year and many others to come with her mother, father and brother.

Mark S. Cohen

Owings Mills

The writer's 2 1/2 -year-old daughter died Dec. 4 as a result of a medical mistake by the Johns Hopkins Home Care Group.

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