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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Smoking ban boosts convention business

I had just returned from a wonderful convention in Boston when I read in The Sun about our city's "flagging meetings business" ("BACVA gets a new leader," Dec. 9).

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In Boston, I was able to enjoy a meal in a totally smoke-free environment. In Boston, I could walk into a cocktail lounge, have a glass of wine and breathe clean air.

Unfortunately, that's not the case here in Baltimore. And, unfortunately, our lack of a comprehensive clean indoor-air law may be the basis of our inability to bring conventions to our otherwise fabulous city.

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Many large medical and public health organizations are now booking conventions only in smoke-free locations.

And there are more and more of these locations to choose from. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state and New Jersey are just a few of the states that have banned smoking in restaurants and bars. And more are getting with the program every year.

So it's time for Baltimore, and the state of Maryland, to realize that passing a comprehensive clean indoor-air law will do more than protect restaurant and bar workers and brings nonsmokers into venues they didn't dare frequent before. It could also attract conventions we are now losing to cities which truly care about the health of their citizens and visitors.

Michaeline R. Fedder

Baltimore

The writer is director of advocacy in Maryland for the American Heart Association.

Give equal acclaim to academic success

Thursday's Sun contained an article describing a report from a panel of 45 experts on methods to improve the academic performance of young black males ("Ideas to aid black youths," Dec. 14). But many of those recommendations will take time to implement, if they are ever implemented at all.

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And perhaps one small step can be taken while we await legislative and administrative action on the proposals.

One day prior to the publication of that article, the Wednesday edition of The Sun contained the Varsity section, which listed the All-Metro and All-City/All-County athletes for the fall sports season.

The Varsity feature is a regular feature of the Wednesday paper and each week athletic performances are highlighted.

The Sun has a number of reporters who apparently devote a significant portion of their time to reporting on high school sports.

If we truly value education and wish to pass that value on to the youth of the state, it seems to me that the local newspaper of record should devote at least equal time to academic accomplishments in the school system.

My modest proposal is a challenge to The Sun that the editors and reporters initiate a weekly section devoted to academic accomplishments.

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Let's see if we can provide as much prestige to the achievers in the classroom as we do for the achievers on the playing fields.

Edward F. Shea III

Catonsville

Diversity in school helps children cope

Thomas Sowell is on thin ice when he argues that diversity in schools produces no educational or social benefits ("Making kids suffer for racial dogma," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 14).

Mr. Sowell ignores the importance of noncognitive outcomes. Attitudes and values, for example, are no less worthy of consideration by teachers than skills and knowledge.

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This is particularly the case when it comes to helping children deal with our increasingly multiracial and multicultural society.

The reason the hard evidence Mr. Sowell demands is not readily available is that non-cognitive outcomes are difficult to quantify and are likely to appear years after graduation.

As a result, test makers have a disincentive to develop instruments to measure them.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

The writer is a former Los Angeles schoolteacher and lecturer in the UCLA Graduate School of Education.

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Age won't improve Bush's ugly legacy

In his column comparing President Bush to President Harry S. Truman, Mark Updegrove helps perpetuate the dangerous self-delusion in which the president seems to be engaging ("Truman gives Bush hope for a legacy," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 15).

The danger of this is apparent with every new death of a U.S. soldier, and the continuing daily carnage in Iraq.

It seems that the president is so determined to prove his father wrong that he is rejecting the counsel of his wiser elders in favor of a continuation of the ruinous and disastrous neo-conservative fantasy that is our war in Iraq.

A friend recently commented to me that Mr. Bush's dangerous insistence on staying the course is like the spectacle of a drunk insisting that he or she is not drunk.

Truman's legacy improved with age, while Mr. Bush's will be that of the worst president ever.

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Tim Eastman

Baltimore

Lawmakers can end ground-rent abuses

The ground rent tragedy continues as another family faces eviction because of land-rent debts ("Family faces loss of home over suit," Dec. 15).

Such land-rent rulings are law without justice or wisdom; they further erode people's failing confidence that their legal system exists for something more than the benefit of those who can afford the sharpest lawyer.

I hope that the legislative powers that be will finally put a stop to this legal cannibalism before more people are boiled in the pot ("Bills to tackle ground rents," Dec. 13).

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Dave W. Eddings

Pikesville

Unfair reporting on insurance reform

In "Physicians' insurer to lower premiums" (Dec. 15), Sun reporter M. William Salganik identifies state Sen. Andrew P. Harris, a supporter of medical malpractice reform, as an anesthesiologist.

However, the article fails to note that the state senator and chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Brian E. Frosh, who is quoted in the article stating that the 28 percent and 33 percent increases in medical malpractice insurance premiums in 2004 and 2005 were "based on a one-year blip in claims" and were "anomalous, not a trend" and opposes reform of existing malpractice insurance policies, is a trial lawyer whose firm represents plaintiffs in malpractice lawsuits.

More balanced reporting on this important issue would be appreciated and appropriate.

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Dr. Mark Haas

Timonium

Heroic doctor saves our first responders

Dr. Thomas M. Scalea is awesome. His dedication to those who protect us would make Dr. R Adams Cowley, the creator of the state's shock trauma system and the concept of "the golden hour," proud ("Shock Trauma doctor is 'saint' on the scene when an officer falls," Dec. 13).

Dr. Scalea is a true hero - no less than the police officers and firefighters he works so hard to save.

If I am ever in such a need, I can only pray he will be there for me.

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Clay Seeley

Baltimore


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