Road MenaceI was surprised that your June 1 article on...


June 11, 1993

Road Menace

I was surprised that your June 1 article on panhandling did not discuss the obvious potential for accidents posed by the rising number of beggars who operate at busy intersections and expressway off-ramps.

Many of these people constantly walk in and out of traffic. Often, drivers have to wait for beggars to weave their way back to the curb when the light changes -- although many drivers don't wait, leaving beggars stranded in the middle of moving traffic.

Some beggars make a regular practice of pacing up and down in the middle of the road, regardless of whether the traffic is standing still or moving.

Are the police waiting for a serious accident to occur before cracking down on this precarious practice? What excuses will city officials make if a driver runs into a beggar or another car or a bystander while trying to avoid hitting a beggar?

Major intersections where begging occurs on a regular basis are well known. Panhandling at these dangerous locations could easily be stopped by the many police officers who pass in their cars each hour.

Alan Fisher


Bad Planning

I would like to comment on the alleged discrimination of a black choir group by two Denny's restaurants in Virginia (The Sun, June 5). My comments are based on several years' experience in the local travel industry.

Restaurants generally welcome bus groups. However, they appreciate knowing in advance if large groups are coming. This guarantees they will have enough staff and seating available to serve the group efficiently.

At 11 p.m. on a Sunday, neither Denny's nor most other restaurants have more than a skeleton crew on duty. They are certainly unable to accommodate two bus loads of "hungry, disgruntled people" in any sort of timely, efficient manner.

I don't doubt that the manager of the second Denny's appeared reluctant to have the buses disgorge their passengers when he was unprepared for them.

The vision of 100-plus adults -- much less children -- lining up to use his restrooms, trying to order en masse, those reboarding the bus trying to get carry-outs while the wait staff is still bringing out orders from the kitchen to those still seated at tables, fumbling over checks and change, and otherwise milling around in the mass confusion that typifies bus groups is a manager's nightmare.

And that's when he's ready for them. That the second manager recommended splitting the buses into several groups shows he was trying to provide the best solution to a bad situation.

Anita High may be an experienced executive director of her choir, but she shows no understanding of the logistics involved in bus groups.

Hiring a bus is not all that must be done to arrange a well-run trip. If Ms. High has deposited two bus loads of people on unsuspecting restaurants late at night in the past and been well-served, she's been very lucky.

As it is, this sounds like a case of bad planning on her part. A few telephone calls in advance to arrange for dinner at Denny's or somewhere else along her route would have prevented a lot of unpleasantness and ugly accusations.

M. F. Levy

Bel Air

Mental Health

I want to thank Michael Ollove for his excellent front-page article (Sunday Sun, May 30) on the second-class treatment of the mentally ill.

But even more so, I want to thank those individuals in the article who talked about what mental illness does to them and their loved ones, especially without the resources that people with any other type of illness, such as cancer or heart disease, could expect.

In these days of budget cutting it is important for the mentally ill, their families and friends to confront the shame and stigma that exists toward the mentally ill. Because of this shame we do not get the insurance coverage for ourselves or for our loved ones, and private and non-profit hospitals do not pick up the cost.

Insurance companies have "red-lined" mental illness for greater profits. There are at least two studies that show the extra insurance cost for all employees would only be $1 a month for an individual and $3 for a family. It is a small price to pay.

It is easy to discriminate against the mentally ill and their families because we don't show the public our personal, familial difficulties and economic hardships.

Sadly, even some legislators have discounted us because in the past we have kept a low profile. And for this reason the state hospitals and other programs -- the safety-net -- continue to lose funding and positions to care for the neediest of our citizens, in order to balance the state budget.

Thanks for coming "out of the closet" Ms. Crane, Bette Stewart, Cary, Benson, Beverly Hlalky and Susan Kadis, breaking the bonds of shame and stigma for some of us. Thanks also for educating all of us.

If my younger sister, Mary, could have told us about her chronic depression, which she was unfortunately able to hide, she might be alive today.

F. Philip Vogel


The writer is director of pastoral services, Spring Grove Hospital Center.

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