Media did good work on Pfiesteria scareThe letter of Oct...


October 20, 1997

Media did good work on Pfiesteria scare

The letter of Oct. 4 by state Del. Michael H. Weir (vice chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee), asserting that the media have blown the issue of Pfiesteria in Maryland completely out of proportion, brings to mind the old saying, ''A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.''

A little knowledge is exactly what Delegate Weir has and apparently would like the public to have regarding the occurrence of Pfiesteria in Maryland. However, I -- and I believe the rest of the public -- welcome the in-depth coverage provided by The Sun and other news organizations.

The Sun in particular has provided coverage from all points of view, including watermen, farmers, restaurateurs, physicians, biologists, health workers, government officials and people who became ill from exposure to the toxins associated with the Pfiesteria blooms. Personally, because of the extensive news coverage, I feel very well informed on this issue and believe The Sun and the media in general should be commended for their efforts.

If it had been up to Delegate Weir, the citizens of Maryland would have been kept in the dark about this important environmental issue, as the citizens of Virginia and North Carolina have been since 1984.

By the way, because I was able to make an informed decision based on the media coverage of the extent of the Pfiesteria problem, during the last six weeks I've had no problem enjoying dinners of crabs and rockfish from the bay as well as Atlantic salmon and swordfish.

G.J. Hyatt


Grading homework could be breaking law

Elise Armacost writes about suburban resistance to any form of home-based business (''Mixing up the neighborhood,'' Oct. 5) in Baltimore County and elsewhere. Many of my own neighbors may consider that they could not be so affected, yet they may.

At home I grade student papers, write academic papers, read journals and am currently preparing to lead an international academic conference. That must be illegal. The Internal Revenue Service defines ''occupation'' so that a job-seeking unemployed person's occupation is job seeking. A prohibition against using one's home in any occupation would make it illegal to make or receive telephone calls about potential jobs at home, as well as writing or mailing job-seeking letters at home. Similarly, a student's occupation is studying, so studying at home also must be illegal.

Ridiculous? Of course. But we lived in a community that tried to prevent the cantor of a local synagogue from practicing his solos at home, reasoning that singing was part of his occupation.

Marblehead, Mass., a fishing town that is today an elite bedroom community, has a sensible law built into its town charter. Any resident may conduct his or her occupation from home, no matter how expensive the neighborhood. Such a business may have no more than two employees.

That appears to be a sensible rule. Perhaps we should have that here, too.

Timothy W. Edlund


Thank you, Angelos, for saving temple

I'm sure that I speak for many Baltimoreans when I congratulate Peter G. Angelos on his decision to purchase and preserve the former Masonic Temple at 225 North Charles Street (The Sun, Oct. 8).

This beautiful building needed a civic ''angel,'' and Mr. Angelos has proven, once again, to be that.

John Maclay


Did one judge favor another?

The Oct. 8 article ("City judge acquitted of leaving crash site") about an alleged fender-bender involving Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman reminds one of the O.J. Simpson trial.

Testimony and evidence indicate one conclusion while the verdict indicates the opposite. If the Simpson verdict reflected ''jury nullification,'' did this reflect ''judge nullification?'' Whatever it reflected, one feels that somehow it was not quite right.

Herman Johnson


We don't have to fear the mentally disabled

The Maryland Disability Law Center applauds The Sun's recent editorial (''Group homes as neighbors,'' Oct. 2) concerning group homes in our neighborhoods.

Individuals with a mental illness who move into group homes are just like you and me. They hold jobs, have families and pay taxes. It is appropriate they have the chance to live in safe and affordable housing near stores, schools and public transportation.

In fact, preventing individuals with mental illness from moving into community settings is a direct violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, which extends the protection of the Fair Housing Act to individuals with disabilities and prohibits discrimination on the basis of a physical or mental disability.

Knowing this is a topic of emotional contention in many neighborhoods, it is worth noting that there are both public and private comprehensive mental health services available that enable individuals with mental disabilities to integrate safely and effectively into our communities.

It is sound public policy to expand community options for people with a mental disability. Integration of people with emotional disabilities into communities is important for all of us. Fear of people with disabilities living in our neighborhoods is misguided.

Elizabeth Jones


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Disability Law Center.

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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