Editor: After reading your July 10 article reporting on the further regulation of street vendors, I am sick at heart. Sidewalk hucksters will now have to comply with a uniform code or fold their tents. And absolutely no more selling from tables, thank you!
The Baltimore City Council and the other powers that be feel the image of our city's commerce can no longer afford the "rag tag" carts and tables. The new regulating statutes were enacted in the interests of "aesthetics." The "ultimate goal," says one vendor-licensing potentate, "is to have something visually pleasing, nice and clean . . ."
For my money this is yet another step toward the white-breading of America. The most visible local thrust in that direction was the replacement of trees and grass around our harbor with that celebration of glitz, glass and gelt known as Harborplace. The shining monument of the vendor requirements are dismal examples of how the "vision" of our city fathers is relentlessly rendering Charm City less charming.
Shopping malls across the country are already interchangeably bloodless. Must our downtown streets be the same?
White bread is smooth, uniform and colorless. Jewish rye with seeds has texture, color, guts!
Richard G. Berman.
Editor: Far from ''overcharging'' readers, as Richard Fogg claims in his July 15 letter, the Pratt Library lends its books, magazines, videos and other materials entirely free of charge.
The consideration in levying fines for overdue materials is to encourage users to behave responsibly and return borrowed items on time so that others may use them. Mr. Fogg's concern for the negative impact this may have on children is misplaced since Baltimore's library system, unlike its sister institutions in many other jurisdictions, charges no fines at all on children's books.
Always eager to improve the library's responsiveness to its clientele, however, we are reviewing our lending policies so as to continue to assure an appropriate balance between access to our collections and fairness to readers.
In the meantime, we would like to remind our readers that the book drop boxes are always available for the return of books when the library is closed.
On the subject of the recent increase in the charge for photocopies, the facts are these: As a service to the public, the library makes space available for these copiers, specifying the number of machines and type of equipment needed. The contract is competitively bid, the copying fee is set by the vendor and the library receives none of the revenue. As with other services, we will review our options when this contract expires. As to the destructive behavior described by Mr. Fogg, we are happy to say that it is not typical of our readers.
The writer is the director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Labor Woes in Maryland
Editor: It comes as no surprise to me and many others that General Dynamics chose Northern Virginia over Maryland for its new headquarters. This is especially interesting since Maryland offered General Dynamics a $2.5-million incentive package versus Virginia only offering a $500,000 package. General Dynamics is a $10-billion corporation and would have been the largest corporation headquartered in Maryland, as well as providing hundreds of jobs.
I have great respect and admiration for Gov. William Donald Schaefer's efforts to woo business to our state, as well as to the Port of Baltimore. But time and time again our state loses clients and corporations to Virginia. A stunning example is the rapid growth of shipping in Norfolk vs. the labor strife-ridden Port of Baltimore.
To many people the reason is obvious. The labor climate in this state, which is reinforced by its elected officials, is seen as stifling. Virginia is a right-to-work state and much more conducive to doing business than Maryland is. For instance, in the Congress today is the "striker replacement bill," which is being pushed aggressively by labor and is clearly anti-business. Even prior to the bill's formal introduction President Bush made it clear it would be vetoed.
In spite of this opposition, most of our elected congressmen, including Benjamin Cardin, Kweisi Mfume, Steny Hoyer and Tom McMillen, are in favor of the bill. Representative Cardin is a sponsor of this bill in the House. Both Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes are co-sponsors of the Senate version. This is just a small example of how many of our state's elected politicians help create an anti-business, anti-growth climate.