Dig DeepYour reporter, Ted Shelsby, raised some disturbing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 01, 1994

Dig Deep

Your reporter, Ted Shelsby, raised some disturbing questions in his March 5 article where he revealed that the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group has awarded a one-year consulting contract at $245,000 to Edward N. Silcott, the former head of its failed Commercial Systems Division.

It is no secret that the Westinghouse Electric Corporation has experienced serious financial difficulties due to real estate speculation and numerous failed enterprises.

This has led to massive layoffs and attempted cost savings, including a demand that janitors at the company's BWI plant accept a cut in wages and benefits.

Based on Mr. Shelsby's article, the janitors will have to dig deep to fund Mr. Silcott's $245,000 windfall.

Not only are the present workers suffering from Westinghouse mismanagement, but many long-time former employees such as myself have a large portion of our savings in Westinghouse stock, which has plummeted from a high of $39.38 in 1990, to currently about $14 a share.

I wish Mr. Shelsby luck in his pursuit of answers as to why a financially strapped company is awarding large sums of money to former executives of failed enterprises and receiving nothing in return.

I will be asking those same questions at the Westinghouse stockholder's meeting.

Thomas J. Rostkowski

Baltimore

Car Talk

AAA should be FFF. American Automobile Association is one of the most disorganized organizations in existence.

It wasn't enough when AAA closed its doors during the deep freeze. But I had a similar experience when, during good weather, I couldn't get through and had to handle towing arrangements on my own.

Three days later, I was on hold for 38 minutes, again in good weather and not even during rush hour, just to get a number to cancel my membership . . .

Don't worry, AAA will protect you. You just send in your money, hope your car breaks down near a pay phone, have the time to not only dial multiple times just to get through, but then wait several hours once you do get through . . .

Ethan Andelman

Hunt Valley

Hon Talk

I have followed with interest and amusement The Sun's coverage of Baltimore's struggles to lay claim to the word "hon."

The truth is, usage of the word is no more limited to Baltimore than "y'all" is to Nashville. Anyone who has eaten in diners around the United States knows this to be true.

Last summer, I spent three weeks riding a bicycle through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. I heard the term many times in truck stops, diners and small-town restaurants.

I've heard it in New York. I've heard it in Washington. I've heard it in San Francisco. In fact, anywhere you find a waitress in a uniform, a Formica-topped lunch counter and a stale pot of coffee, you'll hear the term hon.

I suspect that what Baltimore really wants in claiming the word as its own is to say, "We are not Washington, we are not New York, we are a city of diners, of unpretentious endearment; we're working class, easy to get along with."

If that's the image Baltimore wants to project, I say go for it. It's certainly more accurate than saying Baltimore is a "city that reads."

After all, if Nashville ever started posing signs at the city limit reading, "Welcome to Nashville, Y'all," who'd complain? Maybe a few prissy sorts who are overly sensitive about sounding like country bumpkins.

And maybe that's what's at the heart of the debate here in Baltimore, a city far too sensitive about its own uncertain identity, hon.

Robert Gray

Baltimore

Family Issue

I find it absolutely unbelievable that it took a last minute effort by black ministers to defeat the "domestic partners" bill. Under the guise of equality for gays, legislators attempted to place another nail in the coffin of families.

Charles Murray wrote an incisive article several months ago about illegitimacy and its effects on our nation. Since then, many of the people in the administration have climbed aboard the bandwagon and extolled the virtues of family and how we must encourage it.

Words mean little, because actions speak much louder. The domestic partners bill would have provided all benefits to individuals without the need for marriage, and at the same time maintained all of the benefits of being single with respect to taxes and the ability to end the partnership with little fuss.

The family is the key to raising children, and bills like this one merely attempt to punish families.

These politicians constantly talk one way and then do the exact opposite. When will we learn that symbolism does not get the job done?

Donald J. Myers

Sparks

Gun Violence

Keith A. Batcher's March 13 letter claims that crimes against persons diminish in every state where laws permitting carrying concealed weapons are passed. He cites Florida as an "excellent example."

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