Medical care at Penitentiary deterioratingIn another sign...

the Forum

March 24, 1993

Medical care at Penitentiary deteriorating

In another sign of the deterioration of medical care at the Maryland State Penitentiary, Dr. Henry Kakembo has been relieved of his responsibilities in the medical department.

Those signs are all around. People sit in a cold garage while waiting to be seen -- the waiting room is off-limits and vacant.

X-rays are not examined quickly. For some reason, they are now sent outside the prison for processing.

Patients with pneumonia are forced to rise in the dead of winter and brave the snow and freezing rain to get to their medicine. If they don't make it within 48 hours, the medicine is thrown away.

And now the new company that has the penitentiary health contract has dismissed this decent Ugandan who has been here for two years without (so far as we know) problem or complaint about his performance.

We ask that Dr. Kakembo be retained. We feel he has been a competent, caring doctor.

H.B. Johnson Jr.

Baltimore 2

Thirty-six other prisoners signed this letter.

Whining workers

After reading some of the comments made by federal employees and politicians, I have come to the conclusion that these people do not realize what is happening in America outside of the wonderful world of bureaucracy.

Where is it engraved in stone that because you are a government employee, you are automatically entitled to a pay raise and a COLA every year?

Add to this the fact that the majority of federal employees receive higher salaries, more vacation, more holidays, more sick leave time, more liberal pensions and medical coverage which is unequaled anywhere in the private sector. It's no wonder the average taxpayer is scratching his head and wondering just what is going on in the good old USA!

When private industry starts losing money, it immediately starts cutting expenses by freezing salaries, eliminating COLAs and, in many cases, cutting wages and laying off personnel. Ask the people at Bethlehem Steel and General Motors about these methods.

If those federal employees who feel they should continue to receive all their benefits from an employer that is virtually broke .. and not share the sacrifices called for by President Clinton, they should resign their jobs in protest.

I am sure that the tens of thousands of taxpayers who are being laid off by Sears, IBM, Lockheed, Westinghouse and many, many others would be more than happy to replace them.

`William M. Coughlin Jr.

Baltimore

Striking figures

There were just 35 major strikes or other work stoppages last year, the lowest number in at least 45 years, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The report considers as "major" a strike or lockout involving at least 1,000 workers.

Twelve of the stoppages were in manufacturing, according to the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, while there were five each in construction, services, local government and education.

Meanwhile, these workers reached settlements without any kind work stoppage: 472,000 in communications, 54,000 in mining and 44,000 in finance, insurance and real estate.

The longest stoppage of the year was between the Pittsburgh Press and its workers. The fight was won by a union coalition after more than six months on picket lines.

The longest continuing strike still under way started in 1988 and involves 1,600 tugboat and barge crew members represented by the International Longshoremen's Association and employed by companies in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Ernest R. Grecco

Baltimore

The writer is the president of the Metropolitan Baltimore Counciof AFL-CIO Unions.

Proceed carefully

An enigmatic look into the value of life whispered from the Other Voices page in The Evening Sun on March 15.

Heroes and villains, Thurgood Marshall, Henry David Thoreau, Frank Perdue, Dr. David Gunn and Michael Griffin shared the page with but one quote by Thoreau to unite them: "Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it." Did anyone hear the muffled inference?

We are destroying the lives of those we value less than our own self-interests. On a road jammed with zealots, casualties occur with increasing frequency.

Those of us who are just as passionate about our convictions as Michael Griffin was when he assassinated Dr. David Gunn should beware. The noblest of motives, obscured by the furor of the cause, frequently blinds us.

As we choose to follow in the paths of fine men like Marshall and Thoreau, let us proceed with caution lest we become the unwitting victims of our own hazards.

M. Harmon Greenberg

Westminster

It ain't broke

Baltimore County's trash hauling system works well, provides good service and is one of the lowest cost systems around. So if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

With 50 private haulers, the county can make them compete against each other, thus lowering the price. If haulers mess up, they are out. There is no need for formal contracts or for the state to be involved.

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