Editor: Before Baltimore City is turned into a police state or state of emergency because of crime, perhaps other creative alternatives need to be explored in dealing with this serious problem.
The mayor needs to begin with the most at-risk neighborhood and create a task force of the people living and working there.
All the able-unemployed people need to be enrolled in a training program called "Citizens for a Crime-Free Environment." This program would pay them minimum wage for 20 hours per week for 18 weeks' training.
It is a start to give citizens a feeling of hope and purpose in becoming involved in their own neighborhood and community.
Perhaps the media could then begin to focus on the positives of this neighborhood and report on its progress. Awards of recognition could be given to shopkeepers and members of the neighborhood to help build morale.
Courage to Die
Editor: Arthur Caplan's (Oct. 30) Opinion * Commentary article portrays Janet Adkins, Sherry Miller and Marjorie Wantz as cowards for not ending their own lives. He is morally outraged that Dr. Kevorkian assisted them by providing "devices of death." Mr. Caplan believes these women should have been consulting with doctors who view suicide the same way he does, i.e., not a good idea.
Mr. Caplan does not offer any advice on coping with painful, irreversible diseases which have obviously destroyed these women's lives. I believe these women were thoughtful and courageous in seeking the assistance of a courageous doctor who has not judged them morally or ethically.
Food for Thought
Editor: On Oct. 31, all Baltimore County public schools were open only half a day. This was one of three or four half-days scheduled during the school year, depending on the school. Every student attending this half-day was supposed to be taken out of class and sent to the cafeteria to eat lunch. In the high school where I teach, in order to handle all three lunch shifts, this means some students went to "lunch" at 9:15 a.m.
Years ago the schools used to have fewer half-days scheduled. As the half-days increased, the state Board of Education, in its infinite wisdom, decreed that all students must be served
"lunch" on these half-days. School administrators rewrote the schedules to comply with these directives. Common sense took a back seat. For whatever well intentioned reasons, feeding students became more important then teaching them.
So now students who are only receiving a half day of instruction several days a year, find their classroom time further curtailed. This is to meet the state requirement that they be offered "lunch," in order that the half-day be counted as a whole day. When students leave the school where I teach, at 11:15 a.m., I guess they go eat supper.
Editor: Taxes is the word that scares the bejabbers out of legislators and officialdom. It also drives a goodly proportion of voters up the wall, voters whose voices not incidentally are those that are heeded in Annapolis.
The word seemingly is an anathema that has spread down through the generations, at least from the time our imitative Indians in pre-Revolutionary days dumped tea in Boston Harbor as a tax protest. Growing up in a rural community years ago, I recall that when the feared T-word was mentioned, kids were shooed out of earshot and adults said in grave tones that only the hand of Providence could deliver us.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer has come out four-square against any tax increase, because he says the voters are opposed. Well, not quite. According to several letters appearing in your columns and even some polls, not everyone is against a tax increase, if such an increase continues to provide food and shelter for those unfortunates among us as well as the health and educational needs that are so apparent.
We should take a serious look at a more equitable form of taxation than the existing one. While not a panacea, a progressive or graduated tax might generate more income than the regressive form now in place. It would certainly be far more equitable, as it would be pegged to one's ability to pay.
A task force has been formed, I understand, to examine governmental operations with the laudable goal of eliminating waste and duplication. We're all for that, just as we are for an early spring and pure drinking water.
In the meanwhile, let's not overlook the needy or turn the clock back on the progress we have already made.
Business as Usual Must Halt
Editor: I am a professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland at College Park. I'd like to explain what really is happening today at the university. I do not presume to speak for all of my colleagues and all of the students who will take part today in the English Department protest. I can only explain why I have chosen to participate.