Thanks for CalmOur mayor and police commissioner are to be...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 20, 1992

Thanks for Calm

Our mayor and police commissioner are to be commended for maintaining relative calm in Baltimore following the unjust verdict in the trial of the Los Angeles police officers responsible for the beating of Rodney King (despite the TV media's attempts to thwart their efforts by rehashing the rioting and chaos which ensued after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.).

Anne T. Freeman

Baltimore

The writer is vice chairperson of the Northeastern District Police-Community Relations Council.

In the City

I must congratulate The Sun for finally taking a stand on the Health Care Financing Agency fight. The only way to continue Baltimore's revitalization and provide employment for many city residents is to locate this vast facility downtown, where MARC and public transportation are available.

This location can go a long way to preserving our open spaces and easing beltway gridlock in the Social Security area of Woodlawn, as well as convincing many county residents that the downtown area is a viable and safe place to work.

Alan J. De Sa

St. Denis

Errors of Fact

The "Tell Me Why" column on your "Kids' Page" claims: "Few spiders are poisonous to humans. The only one in the United States is the black widow. So unless you know the spider is a black widow you can feel pretty safe with one."

Granted the question was, "Are black widow spiders poisonous?" Nonetheless, this statement is simply not true.

The brown recluse spider, which lives in the southeastern United States, produces a dangerous neurotoxin. It may be an exotic species but it is now "in" the United States.

This column is frequently sloppy in its science, due, I suppose, to its author's belief that children do not need rigor. And perhaps he means, in this case, to prevent children from being needlessly afraid of spiders.

But he performs no service by ignoring one danger completely in order to allay those fears. It is as if he told children: Pit vipers have wedge-shaped heads, so if a snake's head is the same size as its body, you're safe -- completely ignoring the deadly coral snake, which is not a pit viper.

I have come to accept that your paper no longer has copy editing (only a few days ago you quoted a police officer as saying that once a suspect was "down on the ground, you don't keep wailing on him.") But errors of fact, particularly dangerous ones, are not in the same class.

Karen M. Davis

Maryland City

Harris' Poll

In his customarily sardonic style James J. Kilpatrick metaphorically tries to kill the messenger who brought him bad news. The object of his invective is Lou Harris, a reputable and popular pollster.

The venerable columnist charges Mr. Harris (May 4) with conspiring with the American Council for the Arts in designing questions for a survey designed to elicit answers favorable to the council.

Now Mr. Harris has been conducting polls for years on end, but no one, as I recall, has ever accused him of going to bed for an employer. Were he to do so he would be out on the street quicker than you could say deviation from the mean.

Mr. Kilpatrick gives the back of his hand to the majority who believe that the quality of life in the community is enriched by the presence of museums, theaters and concert halls.

In this and other questions cited by the venerable journalist, the respondents clearly had the option to express negative as well as positive answers. Yet, when the replies were on the positive side, he would have you believe the brain power of those pollees could be likened to that of a Neanderthal. Contrariwise, when the majority sided with Mr. Kilpatrick, he would have you believe their intelligence compared favorably with that of an astrophysicist.

More than that, he egregiously indicates that Mr. Harris interrupted the survey when it had not been finalized, an unheard of action.

Abner Kaplan

Baltimore

A Mockery

Your recent columns ridiculing those legislators who did not adopt the "tax-tax-tax" line proffered by our politicians shows how shallow your researchers are.

A cursory look at the Baltimore City school system's budget will show the excesses that these legislators are not yet willing to accept.

According to the 1990 city school budget, the education fund pays for three secretaries and an office assistant to support two piano tuners, their supervisor and another musical instrument repair technician; secretarial salaries alone for the musical instrument department totaled $81,415 in 1990.

Another secretary which had been requested was not allowed by the budgetary reviewers. One wonders how these people stay busy; the school system only has about 100 pianos.

Perhaps the department is designed so they'll always have a fourth for bridge or canasta.

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