Playing with fire in the countyI am disgusted with...

the Forum

January 29, 1992

Playing with fire in the county

I am disgusted with Baltimore County's fire chief, Elwood Bannister. His latest money-saving move is to reduce emergency medical services. Sometime soon, he will close down the EMS supervisors in Randallstown and in northern Baltimore County.

When volunteer units do not have the needed personnel on hand and an emergency arises, the supervisors ride with the volunteers, eliminating the need to call other units from farther away, which delays care. The unit from Randallstown handled more than 2,800 calls last year alone. With some fire stations having two fire engines, a ladder truck and a medical unit, and no fire engine having as many responses as the Randallstown EMS car, I wonder about Chief Bannister's capability. For instance, in engine houses with two engines, he would have one of the engines run with just two people. If that engine is the first unit to arrive at a fire, will those two people delay fighting the fire or resume operations until help arrives?

Chief Bannister's decisions will cost lives: Delayed and reduced emergency medical services will cost the lives of our citizens. Reduced engine companies will kill civilians and firefighters alike.

Tracy C. Burke


A rap on rap

I was disappointed to learn how Wiley A. Hall 3rd feels about rap music ("Ice Cube melts common sense," Dec. 26).

People like Mr. Hall are in a position to make a difference in how people feel about any given situation, and they have become advocates for unfettered freedom of speech. But the effect of rap music is seen in its emulation and imitation by a significant portion of the nation's youth.

It's become a common experience to observe young school-age children using violent and abusive language. Some of them are more willing to commit crimes (often violent) in order to take part in this fad. Much of the rap music encourages sexual promiscuity, drug involvement and overall disrespect for authority.

One could argue that this conduct is the result of poor home training, and there is some truth in that. However, note how much similarity there is between the youths' behavior and what they see in rap music "entertainment."

Defenders of the rap artists say they are exercising First Amendment rights and expressing frustrations. But most of them are doing it for money. And where there is money of this kind, there is also corruption. The corruption in this instance is of the moral fiber of the nation.

Should we continue to ignore this issue, we will see additional human damage that could have been avoided.

Ron H. Carter


Prison reform

The Evening Sun should be praised for its recent editorial, "A growing business - Md. prisons." There is one other bit of information that could be added: For its size Maryland has the largest prison population in the world.

As the editorial pointed out, the prison population is growing by leaps and bounds with no end in sight. Three new prisons have been build and already they are filled. Even with an unbelievable rate of incarceration, crime is rising just as fast. There are probably many reasons for this, but the bottom line is politics: Building new prisons means new jobs, which in turn means votes for local and state politicians. It costs taxpayers almost $25,000 per inmate. And there are over 20,000 inmates in the state. No wonder the cost of prisons is second only to education.

Your editorial touched on a few ways to curtail the exploding prison population: One, the new center in Jessup for first-time, youthful, non-violent offenders. Two, the home-monitoring system could be expanded. Three, use a different parole yardstick so inmates have a chance to go home early and make something out of their lives before it is too late.

Lee D. Gerhold


Why programs fail

Regarding your editorial, "Why we can't stop the killing" (Jan. 8), Washington's Mayor Dixon is right about the need "for re-establishing the primacy of basic moral values through the family, churches and the schools." The government's inability to spend its way to leadership in these areas might be a compelling reason to dismantle the federal bureaucracy insulating the schools and entitlement programs from local control.

Yet I fail to see how getting government out of the families, churches and schools will cost more, as your editorial implies. When government costs are cut and taxes on families reduced, more parents could spend more time with their families, preventing the problems that government programs have failed to solve with dollars.

Vanessa Muccino


The farce of war

Time has proven the Persian Gulf war to be the farce it really was. War never solves anything. It does make a situation worse, however. Perhaps the next time a politician pushes for a war,large groups of citizens will protest against it instead of only a small minority. It takes more courage not to go to war than it does to go to war.

Peggy Cook


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