Can't you get it straight?''The one thing that is constant...

the Forum

March 12, 1992

Can't you get it straight?

''The one thing that is constant is change'' seems to apply to the opinions expressed in the editorial pages of The Evening Sun.

In its Feb. 28 editorial, ''Straight departure from Columbia,'' The Evening Sun leads with the statement, ''The economy has done what the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene should have done some time ago: Run Straight Inc. straight out of Maryland.''

Let's flash back to Sept. 18, 1991, when the same newspaper in an editorial entitled simply, ''Straight Inc.,'' stated, ''This week state Health Secretary Nelson Sabatini approved an agreement allowing the center to operate on probation for one year. The arrangement, based on strict supervision, is a fair way of letting the program prove whether it can carry out its treatment goals within the state's standards.''

What are the readers of The Evening Sun editorial pages to believe when its writers can't seem to make up their minds on how to evaluate the health department's performance on this issue?

I take particular exception to the statement in the most recent editorial that the ''regulators sat on their hands.'' If this is true, then how can it be stated in the same piece that ''State regulators mounted an exhaustive monitoring and surveillance operation?'' This defies logic. Not only does The Evening Sun contradict its earlier editorial, it contradicts itself within the same piece!

For the record, the health department did not ''sit on its hands.'' We monitored this program as we would have any provider that came into the state with Straight's history and track record.

In the future, I would suggest that The Evening Sun read its own editorials before sitting down to write a new one. I think it would cause less confusion and offer a more balanced view for their readers.

Nelson J. Sabatini

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Slow down

When approaching a yellow light at an intersection, a driver should slow down and stop. It does not mean that you should hurry up and see if you can beat the red light.

When approaching the front or rear of a school bus with its red lights flashing, a driver must stop. (In the city, you will see four-way yellow flashing lights.)

Last week, two teen-age girls and one child died because of driver error. When is something going to be done about it?

Every day, consistently, I see drivers who do not obey the laws of the road. They seem to be in a hurry going to work, going home or whatever. I see drivers speeding (80-plus) on the beltway, weaving in and out of traffic, and others who neglect to signal, cutting off drivers. I see drivers hurry up when they see another vehicle trying to merge in traffic, instead of slowing and allowing them in.

How about a mandatory driver refresher course every five years, and every year for drivers over 75?

Eileen Ziegler.

Catonsville.

Clay retires

Maj. Robert E. Clay of the Maryland Department of Public Safety has announced his retirement April 1. This will close out a colorful career that spanned 23 years.

To say Major Clay is a living legend among correctional officers and inmates would be an understatement. He was an innovator and a pioneer. I was fortunate enough to work under Major Clay's command for the last eight years of my career. Many programs, including the "Boot Camp," were instituted by Major Clay. Even though others received the credit, he never complained.

He demanded his officers be professionals on and off duty. There was nothing phony about Major Clay. He might not have been liked by everyone but he was certainly respected. His word was his bond. He will be sorely missed by officers and inmates alike.

John C. Zaruba

Baltimore

Values

I was gratified to see in your recent survey (Sun Poll, Feb. 23) that at least 2 percent of those surveyed replied that their major concern was "values." It seems to me that if the proper values were instilled in all of us that most of our other concerns would be of little concern. Who with the proper values would be a racist, rapist, murderer, robber, crooked politician, etc? Congratulations to those thoughtful people who responded "values."

Robert Donahue

Ellicott City

Bad Attitude

The front-page headline in the Feb. 25 Evening Sun -- ''City may put bad kids in one school'' -- was disturbing. In coining a short title for the article, the writer uncovered a deeper attitude.

Labeling disruptive youngsters ''bad'' is, at best, simplifying very complex circumstances, and, at worst, making a moral judgment.

How many youngsters have failed because adults wrote them off as ''bad apples'' or ''lost causes''? A child may do things society calls bad, but that is not the same thing as being a bad person.

Children respond to the influences around them. It's up to us -- parents, teachers and other adults -- to make those influences positive ones.

Gail Lipsitz

Baltimore.

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