Brave in blue
I would like to commend the Baltimore City Police Department for its action on New Year's Eve while we were in Little Italy. We witnessed a police car chase and the arrest of an individual in a vehicle.
One policeman was hurt during the encounter and was lying on the ground. The police helicopter flew overhead. The police teamwork was nothing less than awesome.
It was frightening to be a bystander as the police risked their lives to apprehend someone. However, it amazed me how synchronized and efficiently these brave policemen surrounded the speeding vehicle and apprehended the man.
While the arrested man was waiting to be moved, we inquired what he had done. The police were extremely polite in their response to us.
Through this experience I gained a new perspective on the Police Department's perilous job. Not only do they have the dangerous criminal to contend with, but there is also often an audience that observes their performance. The Baltimore City Police Department has my respect, and I salute them as they protect the citizens of Baltimore City.
Barbara B. Vandermer
Baltimore tree bill thins the forests
Baltimore County is losing its forests to development. Between 1985 and 1990, the country lost 5 percent of its forested areas.
Trees are important because they provide wildlife habitat, they absorb some air pollution (helping to counteract the greenhouse effect), and they help stabilize soil, thus reducing run-off into streams (and, in turn, reducing pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.)
In accordance with state law, Baltimore County will soon have a forest conservation law. Bill 224-92 was introduced Dec. 21 in the Baltimore County Council.
Basically, this bill says that whenever land is developed and if a certain percentage of the trees are cut down, they must be replaced by the developer at a certain ratio or the developer must pay a certain fee to the county so that the county can replant trees or preserve forest land. The bill also provides for reforesting land.
Unfortunately, the county's forest conservation bill is weak. It does not have a no-net-loss of trees provision. Only a certain percentage of the trees cut down by developers would have to be replaced.
There are 22 different exemptions to the bill, and the county can grant "special variances." Some loopholes that the state law contains were largely closed in the county bill's preliminary draft.
The Hayden administration partially re-opened the loopholes in the current draft. For example, the in-lieu-of fees (fees the developers pay if they can't do the replanting) was cut in half, going from 80 cents a square foot to 40 cents.
Also, the length of time the trees would be maintained to give them a better chance for long term survival was cut by 40 percent, from five years to three years.
If passed in its present form, Baltimore County will continue to lose forest, albeit at a slower rate.
The forest conservation bill should be strengthened by the county council to make it more effective in preserving our forested land and to provide for no net loss of trees.
Environmentally concerned citizens of Baltimore County should contact their council representatives before they vote on the bill Jan. 18 to ask for strengthening amendments.
Health care costs
Many Americans are being hoodwinked into supporting a drive toward a socialist medical system in America.
The press seems reluctant to tell the public about how the Canadian socialist medical system is crumbling. Few people are aware of how poor health care was in the Soviet Union. Who knows how the model system in Cuba collapsed without Soviet welfare?
The cost of health care in America didn't significantly increase in this century (though the quality and availability did) until government intrusion in the mid-1960s. Even when company-paid medical insurance became a popular benefit after World War II, the costs were stable.
With the advent of Medicaid and Medicare, medical costs began a rocket ride that continues today. The correlation of increasing medical costs and government intrusion is irrefutable.
The pre-Medicare medical community provided an incalculable amount of charitable service, whereas the same practitioners cannot afford to do so today. Now they must support full-time employees to do nothing but government paperwork.
The most effective way to bring down health care costs without diminishing service is to phase government out of the field. But nobody expects government to give up anything willingly.
In order for government to do something to reduce medical costs it must reduce the quality or availability of care or both. I have no doubt that government can quickly and effectively reduce the quality and availability of medical care.