Lack of BalanceI have lived in Baltimore for 43 years. I...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 30, 1995

Lack of Balance

I have lived in Baltimore for 43 years. I have taken pride in many of the great things about our city, including The Sun. It is very disappointing, therefore, to note the total lack of balance in your recent series on the Housing Authority's special vacancy program.

Clearly, The Sun has forgotten the abysmal problems of 1992, when daily we heard of people living in squalor as Housing Authority houses were left vacant and were stripped by vandals. At the same time, I recall that they had money to fix up the vacant house, but could not figure out how to spend it.

Along comes Dan Henson with a solution, and what does The Sun do? It decides to focus on the few negatives in a program which fixed up over a thousand apartments and housed over a thousand families in a very short period of time.

What the citizens of Baltimore should not forget is that public housing is vastly improved since this program was started. It is safer, cleaner, and we do not constantly hear the barrage of problems and tenant complaints which we did just a short time ago.

I think that I am willing to accept the relatively minuscule level of problems pointed to in The Sun articles in return for the overwhelming turnaround in public housing that is happening in this town.

I also recall that the Housing Authority had been criticized for not giving minority contractors work. It seems like Mr. Henson also made major progress on that important front.

In a city 60 percent minority, and in an agency whose customers are overwhelmingly minority, does it not make sense to try to give minority businesses some work?

I do not understand The Sun's attitude about giving minority contractors an opportunity to get a start toward breaking down the barriers of the Catch 22 which is government contracting.

There will be mistakes made and even some false starts, but I just believe that the good far outweighs the bad in this program.

The Sun ought to be ashamed of itself for its total lack of context and its institutional bias. The attack style of journalism that you are attempting is not becoming, especially when it apparently purposefully forgets to mention all of the facts.

R. V. Haysbert Sr.

Baltimore

Gun Control Laws

In his unbridled zeal to endorse the gun control agenda of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, Douglas Weil of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence conveniently overlooked several significant facts.

Federal regulations require a licensed dealer to report all transactions in which an unlicensed person has acquired two or more pistols and/or revolvers at one time or during five consecutive business days.

This report [ATF form F3310.4 (3-94)] must be submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by the close of business on the day the multiple sale or other disposition occurs. So much for the alleged "large purchase of legal guns by straw purchasers" argument.

Criminals cannot be required to register their guns; nor can they be required to obtain a license. Such statutory schemes require a criminal to provide incriminating information and thus abridge the 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination (Haynes v. United States, 1968).

Few readers would disagree that most crime is drug-related. Why, then, have Mr. Weil and MAHA, or anyone else for that matter, not proposed licensing and registration for drug dealers and a one-purchase-a-month restriction for drug addicts?

Perhaps it has something to do with the criminal's rather vexing habit of ignoring the law.

Peter Jay is quite correct: Gun control laws have a far greater impact on the law-abiding citizens than on criminals. Gun control laws are intended to ban guns, not reduce crime.

John H. Josselyn

Towson

The writer is the legislative vice president of the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore Inc.

Record Straight

Several days ago, I was asked to participate in an interview about the court work of the Office of Pupil Personnel, Baltimore County Public Schools.

At that time I requested that my direct quotes be amended to reflect accurate reporting of my words and intent.

The reporter agreed, but this reporter did not use my words in his article "Schools throw the book at parents of truants" (Feb. 16).

Let's set the record straight. Pupil personnel workers never take cases to court after a student has missed five days, unexcused.

In all cases, a student has missed an extensive period of time, prior to a court referral, and the parent has demonstrated some negligence or noncompliance, as it relates to the law.

In assisting the parent in making changes, numerous resources are provided prior to and after court actions.

Expectations for parents can include their attending counseling, daily phone communications about attendance, regular school conferencing, possibly requesting a change in work schedule or exploring use of vacation allotment in order to ameliorate the child's truancy.

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