Some Questions about WarEditor: Now that we are setting...


February 02, 1991

Some Questions about War

Editor: Now that we are setting the desert on fire and calling it peace, perhaps we can raise three questions.

* In 1990 there were more than 300 murders in Baltimore. How do we tell folks, particularly young people, that violence should be the last resort, while we forsake negotiations and attempt to bomb Iraq back to the Stone Age?

* With the air war costing at least a $500 million a day, will there ever be any money to house the poor?

* Freedom of the press is a constitutional right. Why do we allow the military to control all the information? Who elected them? Aren't reporters embarrassed to be playing the role of Pentagon water boy?

7+ So many questions. So many particulars.

Brendan Walsh.


Politician's View

Editor: A recent letter suggesting that a theme park be built in Curtis Bay is, at best, a Mickey Mouse idea.

For the past eight years, I've had the honor of serving as a City Council representative for the Sixth District. Curtis Bay area is one of the anchors in our district.

The citizens of Curtis Bay have a keen interest in their neighborhood and in our city as a whole. They have often demonstrated to me a desire to be involved, a willingness to speak their minds and the courage to represent their views in a candid and forthright manner.

Curtis Bay is a strong, viable and an integral part of our city. I resent the notion that it be ''razed and bulldozed.''

Joseph J. DiBlasi.


State Layoffs

Editor: Your editorial, "Averting State House Layoffs," accepts the key fallacy in Gov. William Donald Schaefer's plan to save $183 million by imposing a 40-hour work week on more than 40,000 state employees -- the extra hours might add up to the equivalent of 5,000 extra workers.

But the state has no intention of hiring any 5,000 workers. We've been in a hiring freeze for six months. By that logic, does this mean that, if we increase the work week by nine hours instead of 4.5, we could not hire 10,000 workers and thereby save $366 million? This sounds like a bonanza for the state. If we upped the hours some more and didn't hire 20,000 workers, we might be looking at another surplus.

I am a long-time, 40-hour state employee who is angry with the governor's executive order. The 35.5-hour week was offered years ago as the state's desired alternative to an acknowledged need for a pay increase in many positions. People in these positions patterned their lives, including elder- and child-care, around this implied contract.

Imposing these extra hours without added compensation is unjust. Imposing them with less than one month's notice on families, especially single parents, is insensitive. And imposing them in the name of phantom cost savings is ridiculous.

I also take issue with the statement that in the 1980s, "state workers came to expect healthy cost-of-living raises." Since our cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) failed to equal inflation in six of those 10 years, including two years of zero COLAs, and we accumulated an 18.9-percent loss against the total increased cost of living for that period, I wonder if The Sun has redefined ''healthy.''

State employees, like other Maryland citizens are willing to do their fair share toward overcoming the budget problems. But people don't seem to remember that in terms of spending priorities over the past 15 to 20 years, we've often been the easy solution when money was wanted elsewhere. The proof is in our salaries, which lag well behind both inflation and comparable positions in the private sector. State employees are ''giving at the office'' and out of our paychecks every day.

Jordan Thomas.

College Park.

School Changes

Editor: The endorsement by The Sun of state School Superintendent Joseph Shilling's plans will be applauded by many. As your editorial noted, layers of bureaucracy can stifle local initiative and limit the quality and scope of classroom teaching.

Unfortunately, The Sun's editorial confused certain reorganization plans with the superintendent's goal of changing the way his department does business.

Removing the correctional education and vocational rehabilitation programs from the Department of Education will certainly refine the scope and nature of the superintendent's responsibilities. However, those actions will not define the way the ''new'' education department will operate in terms of its relationship with local school systems.

Most of the staff members assigned to correctional education and vocational rehabilitation are neither ''bureaucrats'' nor ''educators,'' but primarily involved in providing direct services to individuals throughout the state.

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