The price of the Pratt per BaltimoreanThe per capita...


April 19, 1996

The price of the Pratt per Baltimorean

The per capita spending figure for the Pratt Library in John T. Starr's April 17 op-ed column (''The Pratt: another crisis'') appears to be grossly inaccurate.

According to the 1997 budget summary I just obtained from the budget director's office, this year's total spending for the Pratt Library is $20.8 million. This amount divided by the city's population of roughly 700,000 is over $29 per capita -- not $13 as quoted from a study by Mr. Starr.

hris A. Scitti


No excuse for late tax filing

Since when do we need an ''excuse'' to file or prepare our taxes on April 15 as suggested in the ''Procrastinating is taxing'' story?

That is the date established by our government. If this is too taxing for the preparers or the collectors, I would suggest they find a different line of work.

J. Bard Anderson

Long Green

Jesus wasn't just another guy

An interesting article: "Scholars paint a different Pilate" (April 4). Different from whom? This informative article had a deprecating tone as if the gospel report were less accurate than historians and scholars who never saw the man. Were not the gospel writers contemporaries of Pilate?

One cannot blame the reporter for quoting others. The flippant references, however, to Jesus as "guy" and "charismatic peasant," "another bothersome beggar" make one wonder how such "a peasant with no followers" exerted such a tremendous influence that, as Emerson stated: "His name is not written in history, but engraved." The rise of Western civilization is inexplicable without reference to Jesus Christ and his millions of followers.

But regarding the character of Pilate: are the gospels soft on the Roman governor? Hardly. They report him quite accurately if one understands Jewish-Roman relationships and the mutual hostility between the respective officials.

Pilate, as reported in the gospels, used Jesus to annoy Caiaphas and the chief priests who had crossed Pilate on several occasions, as Josephus reports. It is obvious that Pilate does not care about justice.

The case against Jesus was weak. What moved Pilate the politician to condemn Jesus appears to be the sardonic cry, "If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar!" Pilate understood the threat. It is then that the malignant character of Pilate asserts itself. Jesus is not only condemned to the humiliation and torture of crucifixion but is turned over to the malicious Roman soldiers to be mocked and scourged with the lash. Then, no doubt, Pilate retired for breakfast.

Contemporary historians and Bible scholars have contributed greatly to our knowledge of the first century. There is little reason, however, to be beguiled by the present trend of dismissing the gospel narratives as unreliable. It is we who have difficulty understanding the report of the most unique personality the world has known and who stands, as H.G. Wells stated, ''too great for our small minds!'' (As He, also, was for Pilate's).

N. Ellsworth Bunce


The writer is president, the McKendree School of Religion.

Sun subscription divided and multiplied

Sun home delivery subscribers have just received notification of a change in their billing cycles.

Previously billed on a monthly basis, subscribers will now be billed on a four-week basis.

Citing reader requests as the basis for this change, the new billing will reflect the exact number of papers received rather than the average received each month.

The notice then goes on with a deceptive comparison of ''apples and oranges'' to conceal the magnitude of a price increase with a statement indicating a price increase of from $13.67 monthly to $13.80 on a four-week basis, or $3.45 a week, never indicating how many fewer papers you are actually receiving.

The fact is that a home subscriber who once paid $164.04 a year (12 x $13.67) will now pay $179.40 (52 x $3.45), an increase of $15.36 or 9.36 percent more for the same number of papers.

An organization that offers itself as a pillar of truth and exposer of all that is evil should be ashamed of itself.

Edward J. Naumann Jr.


Overreacting police traumatize citizenry

This letter is in response to the April 10 Opinion Commentary piece by Herbert Hoelter.

He related an incident that happened five years ago when an assistant coach on his way to a basketball game with his 12-to-14-year-olds team, was arrested driving down Pratt Street.

The traffic offense, on a Sunday morning, was a minor one but he was actually hauled off in handcuffs as the boys watched helplessly.

As I read this, I was overcome by outrage, shock and indignation for this man's humiliation. What a traumatic effect this must have had on those boys! One of them was his own son. How would this be explained to them?

One thing for sure: If the assistant coach had been white, the police would probably have handled it more discreetly.

We can only hope this kind of treatment has improved within the police department, but then we remember that just recently a similar incident occurred regarding John Oliver Jr., owner and publisher of the Afro-American.

People like us who read these stories must express ourselves and just hope public officials are listening.

Virginia Johnson


Pub Date: 4/19/96

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