Asbestos delays unfair to victimsLaura Lippman's Aug. 13...

the Forum

August 29, 1991

Asbestos delays unfair to victims

Laura Lippman's Aug. 13 article "No sign yet of asbestos awards" illustrates a growing problem which affects asbestos victims in Baltimore and throughout the country.

We have a clear case of corporations flagrantly ignoring and suppressing facts about the destruction by asbestos of millions of people's health and lives. The asbestos victims are the legal issue, yet the legal system continues "to process" around them for the benefit of the wrongdoers, the asbestos industry.

The Manville Corporation bankruptcy in 1982 resulted in a court-ordered Personal Injury Trust Fund which was supposed to pay victims in lieu of their right to go to court. Of the $900 million the trust fund was to dispense to victims during its first three years, less than a third of the money actually reached the victims after the lawyers, doctors, trust officials, consultants and others had been paid. Over 300,000 victims await payments from the trust fund, which has frozen payments to victims until 1992 or '93.

The "consolidated trials," including the one in Baltimore, are another method to delay and deny compensation.

Over a million dollars of taxpayers' and asbestos victims' money has been wasted in the three-year development of this mass trial. It has been delayed for the second time until November of this year and will probably not start until 1992. Actually, this is a hearing on liability and the victims will have to face years of appeals and individual "mini-trials" on their health conditions after the "consolidated trial."

Asbestos victims have worked hard, paid taxes and obeyed the law. Their reward has been sickness, poverty and death. The White Lung Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 to educate the public and protect the rights of victims. The White Lung Association is calling for a federal investigation into the denial of asbestos victims' civil rights. We are proposing a

"Super Fund" to compensate victims.

Paul Safchuck

James Fite

The writers are president and executive director of the White Lung Association.


Race at AFRAM

I attended the AFRAM Expo at Festival Hall on Sunday, Aug. 5. White people were conspicuous by their absence. Out of some 2,000 people, I saw only about 15 or 20 white people, and some of them were at booths representing groups that would benefit from black patrons. I assume the same discouraging lack of interest on the part of white people was evident on Friday and Saturday. It was the same last year, too.

I have attended other ethnic festivals in Baltimore and noticed many black people attend these festivals. Apparently, black people see ethnic festivals as opportunities to learn about and celebrate the diversity in America. That's the American way.

It seems to me that an interest in African-American culture would be a first step toward showing an open-minded attitude and good will. No wonder many black people look askance when white people make that familiar statement, "I'm not prejudiced."

I found AFRAM interesting, educational and fun. The food was good too. Incidentally, I am a white person.

Marjorie J. Ashe


Gargoyles and such

Jacques Kelly's article on Baltimore's architectural gargoyles (Evening Sun, Aug. 19) was most informative and entertaining.

But just around the corner from the horse's head he noted at the Sanitary Laundry on Sisson Street, stone caricatures of the builder and architect of the parish house of the Episcopal Church of the Guardian Angel flank the main entrance to that building at 335 West 27th St. The architect of that building, which was built in the early 1920s, was William F. Stone Jr.

The article mentions, among others, Old St. Paul's Church and Emmanuel Episcopal Church, both of which are parishes of the Diocese of Maryland of the Episcopal Church. Why would one of these churches be given the denominational label and not the other? (The writer's father worked as a stonecutter on the Christmas tower at Emmanuel Church in 1919.) Mr. Kelly identifies the figure on the plaque at Old St. Paul's as "Saul." The patron of that parish dropped that name at the time of his conversion. The "mother parish of Baltimore" isn't titled "Old St. Saul's Church," after all.

In the interest of complete accuracy, the back entrance to Johns Hopkins University is on San Martin Drive, named after the South American liberator, Jose de San Martin, not in honor of St. Martin, the bishop of Tours and patron saint of France.

Robert A. Gourlay

The writer is a retired priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton. He grew up in the Remington/Charles Village (then Peabody Heights) section of north Baltimore.


Curb that tongue

In response to the letter "Any brains?" from Glenn Isaacson (Forum, August 23):

From Mr. Isaacson's perch in Owings Mills, he has little business criticizing political candidates in Baltimore city. However, I sincerely invite him to become a Baltimore city homeowner. Until he has paid city property taxes and car insurance premiums and experienced many urban realities so foreign to Baltimore County residents, I suggest he reserve his smug, smart-alecky and mean-spirited remarks for candidates in elections in which he can actually participate. Better yet, curb that tongue and use the energy toward community betterment, no matter where in Maryland home might be.

Donna Beth Joy Shapiro


Voters will decide

In the important September Democratic primary, only the voters will decide who stays in and who goes out. The individual vote is as strong as steel.

It should be an interesting primary, and a bigger race in the general election that may turn out a few surprises.

Joseph Thaddeus Kasprzak


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