Setting straight the public record on Lockheed MartinI am...

Letters to the Editor

March 31, 1998

Setting straight the public record on Lockheed Martin

I am writing to correct factual errors and distortions presented in the article "From warfare to welfare" in the Perspective section March 22 that The Sun picked up from The Nation magazine.

The article is devoid of any attempt to be balanced or fair in its coverage. The authors interviewed several Lockheed Martin executives, but never asked them to respond to accusations or allegations made by union representatives or advocacy groups consistently opposed to privatization and featured prominently in the story.

A list of factual errors includes:

California and Lockheed Martin IMS jointly agreed to end a contract after the state decided on another solution. The state did not cite Lockheed Martin IMS for any failure.

It is our understanding that the FBI was looking at Washington procurement practices generally, and was not focused on Lockheed Martin IMS.

Connecticut's $12 million child welfare contract with Lockheed Martin IMS ended by mutual agreement, not for cause or default. Additionally, after the contract ended, IMS continued to provide requested transition services.

Among the distortions is that in none of IMS' human services contracts does the company make policy. The company cannot unilaterally make decisions that will affect people's lives just to make a profit. IMS carries out policies adopted by state and local governments.

Ron Jury

Teaneck, N.J.

The writer is director of public relations and communications at Lockheed Martin IMS.

Too much time with tube creates mushy waist, brain

The next time some politician says we need to invest even more money into "vital scientific research," I hope people will remember the federal study reported March 25 in The Sun ("Fattest children are watching TV at highest rate, study finds"). The study found a link between watching four hours of television daily and obesity among our youth, but couldn't say whether or not watching that much television caused obesity.

Let me help the researchers out here. Four hours a day of sitting in front of the tube will contribute to obesity, whether one is 6, 16 or 60. It will also contribute to a mushy brain, which is far more disturbing than a mushy waistline.

Thomas Rinkavage

Columbia

Revitalizing older areas gets 'top' priorities straight

Each year, the University of Baltimore surveys public opinion on key issues for the Maryland legislature. Misinterpreting this statewide survey could lead to decisions that diminish Marylanders' quality of life.

According to the survey's ranking of 16 issues ("Marylanders want safety, top schools," March 15), revitalizing old communities -- including those in Baltimore and Baltimore County -- is not a top goal for most Marylanders. But revitalization can help achieve higher priority goals. For example, revitalization helps control crime and improve K-12 education (the two top priorities).

Revitalizing old communities also helps to achieve higher priorities such as protecting the environment, preserving open spaces and managing growth.

Revitalization reduces the need for the lowest priority -- more or better roads. People even prefer improving public transit over building more and better roads.

Ninety-five percent of people are not very familiar with "smart growth" initiatives to manage growth and development in Maryland. When people learn about "smart growth," they highly approve of it.

"Smart growth" includes revitalization.

Revitalization may not be a priority, but we can't achieve our top priorities and avoid our bottom priority without vigorously revitalizing old neighborhoods.

Bruce L. Smith

Towson

The writer is an independent marketing and public relations consultant for the housing industry.

Don't 'gun-proof' children, 'child-proof' the weapons

Will it be the tragedy in Jonesboro that finally opens the debate about the problems of guns in our society? The gun lobby falsely and irresponsibly brands any controls on guns as a step toward an eventual ban on guns and closes debate.

The gun lobby argues that the people who misuse guns bear responsibility for their actions and that the emphasis should be on "gun-proofing" children through firearms safety courses. However, firearms are available in 40 percent of American homes, and not all parents can be relied on to keep loaded and unlocked firearms away from children. It is irresponsible and dangerous to depend on a child's ability to avoid guns.

Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse advocates "child-proofing" guns as a more effective way to prevent injury and death. Various types of trigger and gun locks are on the market, and the technology for personalized handguns that can only be fired by those the owner designates is available to gun manufacturers.

Modifying the design of the gun rather than the behavior of the individual, especially children, is safer and is the proper direction for the debate on guns.

Fred Davis

Baltimore

The writer is president of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse.

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