Phone BillEditor: When I got home from vacation my C&P...


August 26, 1991

Phone Bill

Editor: When I got home from vacation my C&P phone bill was waiting. Included in the bill was a note outlining the ''Universal Service Fee.'' This fee is to provide operators who will assist deaf customers to place a call. This service will cost each customer an additional 45 cents per month per line.

A little bit of quick arithmetic -- assuming there are 1,500,000 phone lines in Maryland, this new fee will generate $675,000 each month, or enough to pay for more than 200 operators at $3,000 per month, or 400 at $1,500 per month.

Where is the state, or the phone company, going to put all these people? How many deaf people will be able to use this system? The whole thing should simply have been listed as another tax.

Incidentally, this same service now being introduced in Florida will cost 5 cents per line per month.

Harold Clausen.


Part-Time Travails

Editor: It was at a public meeting with County Executive Roger B. Hayden on Feb. 11 that the question of part-time county employees and their compensation was raised. At that time my knowledge of the employment practices and benefits was limited compared to what is revealed in the coverage by Michael K. Burns' "39-hour workers help Balto. Co. meets its budget," The Sun, Aug. 19.

We know that Baltimore County government is in a tight budgetary squeeze and that the workers are fortunate to have jobs in this period of high unemployment and underemployment. But the problems cited in the article are systemic and accumulative.

What is revealed is only a tip of the iceberg. It is a part of the whole problem of fairness in county government employment practices. This particular problem relates to the gender and racially skewed pattern of county employment by departments and occupational distributions within departments. What patterns are revealed by the distribution of the part-time employees as compared with full-time employees?

The county's relationship with part-time workers as described in The Sun's article can only be characterized as inconsistent, exploitative and discriminatory.

It is urgently and strongly suggested that the Baltimore County Council and the county executive undertake a review, if not under way, of part-time employment, compensation and benefit structures. On the surface, I readily see a number of concerns that can be addressed without a strain on the budget. For example, inclusion of part-time workers in the grievance procedures, consistency in employment practices among county agencies, and consistency in job classification assignments.

In short, whatever the county's budgetary situation, this issue must be given attention and resolved. Satisfied workers are productive workers.

Herbert H. Lindsey.


Unfriendly Fire

Editor: ''Friendly fire.'' This oxymoron was used at least 15 times in a recent front-page article,

Who in the Pentagon coined this phrase? Does he really consider it an appropriate term for the death and injury we caused to our own troops? Does it make the facts a little less grim because the fire was ''friendly''? That even though they were casualties, they were not casualties of the enemy?

Surely there is a more appropriate way to define this most recent horror of that war.

Idell M. Purcell.



Editor: This is in reference to the Aug. 11 article on jaywalkers. I walk several miles a day in the University Parkway-Roland Park corridor. I have come to the conclusion that walk lights are a hazard; they lull the pedestrian into a false sense of security.

Cars turning right rarely give the pedestrian the right of way (as they do in Washington); at several corners, green lights give turning cars the right of way there by counteracting the walk signal of the crossing. Walk lights never allow time to cross a street, especially nowadays that cars keep going after the light turns red.

Crossing in the middle of the street sometimes is the safest solution. It gives the pedestrian a view of traffic moving in a straight line so that a break in the flow is free of the chance of a car coming around the corner at high speed.

Rhoda P. Steinman.


Bills in the Tale Don't Stack Up

Editor: In a letter published Aug. 10, a writer shows that the national debt, as a stack of $1 bills, would reach one-and-one-half times to the Moon.

Unfortunately, a previous Sun article, quoted in the letter, seems to have cited a "billion" as a numeral having 12 zeros, while the referenced letter equates "a billion dollars" to "the price of a modern-day bomber."

These statements are not correctly joined, because the 12-zero "billion" (i.e., a million-million) is the usage of Europe, while the U.S. "billion" is a thousand-million, or nine-zeros.

Never-mind how this happened; it is so. The confusion is enough that U.S. reporting of Europeans' data in their "billion" commonly clarifies their data as "in U.S. trillions," etc.

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