Balto. County budget overlooks underpaid public health...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 11, 1999

Balto. County budget overlooks underpaid public health nurses

The proposed Baltimore County budget once again leaves the public health nurses of Baltimore County behind. We were not given the compensation awarded to other, predominantly male bargaining units.

County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger anticipates an $82 million surplus by next summer and is increasing police, firefighter and teachers' salaries significantly. But his administration hasn't addressed the pay inequities between public health nurses and other county employees with similar educational preparation.

Baltimore County school nurses earn at least $6 more per hour than public health nurses.

A police recruit with a high school education and a driver's license earns a starting salary higher than a public health nurse with college training and a professional license.

Many of our nurses have master's degrees but get no additional compensation for their education.

In this era of prosperity for Baltimore County, the gap between Baltimore County public health nurses and other bargaining units continues to widen.

M. Nancy DiPaola, Towson

The writer is president of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Health Nurses.

Lobbyist identified incorrectly in column

In The Sun's May 4, "Political Game" column on the cigarette tax issue, I was incorrectly described as a lobbyist for both Smoke Free Maryland and the Maryland Children's Initiative.

I have never been a registered lobbyist for Smoke Free Maryland. During this year's General Assembly session, I was a registered lobbyist for the Maryland Children's Initiative.

Although Smoke Free Maryland was a lead organization and one of the more than 350 organizations that were part of the Maryland Children's Initiative during the legislative session, it is and has always been a separate and distinct organization.

Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

Delaying MSPAP was poor choice

The Sun's May 7 editorial "Keeping MSPAP from becoming a casualty" supported the state's decision to postpone that test.

But as a classroom teacher who has been dealing with the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, I regard that decision as another indication of misplaced values on the part of the State Department of Education.

Its message should have been that the test will go on, that students are expected to be in school, that we will assure their safety and that parents must see that their children are present.

Do you reduce hysteria by making a major change in a schedule that schools and students have been anticipating for months?

Will things be much better one day later, or the day after that, especially if the next Internet threat appears warning of a calamity on the 11th?

Schools are as safe as they were before the Columbine shooting. We are more aware of the potential for problems, and we have been at that level of heightened awareness for weeks.

Although, as ever, there are no guarantees of complete safety, the test is more important than the potential for violence.

Stephen H. Sirkin, Reisterstown

Don't bring the cruelty of dog races to Maryland

I am responding to Dion F. Guthrie's May 5 letter, "Race dogs, not horses in Western Maryland," suggesting that the proposed Western Maryland racetrack be used for dog racing.

There is a reason why Marylanders must travel elsewhere to see dog racing -- it is cruel beyond measure.

Having recently adopted a retired racing greyhound, I have witnessed first-hand the effects of this alleged "sport." Subject to inhumane conditions during their sad lives, many dogs have serious injuries that go untreated.

They often suffer from rampant flea and tick infestations, diseases and malnourishment.

Thousands of racing dogs -- even those in good health -- are bludgeoned or shot to death each year, or worse, abandoned and left to die slowly at the track once the season is over.

It would be a very, very sad day if dog racing ever came to Maryland.

Dogs are companions, not commodities.

Carey Mednick, Owings Mills

Regulating cars and guns won't stop violent outbursts

The killing of two children and injury of five others by a man who deliberately drove a large car over them on a playground in Costa Mesa, Calif. ("Man drives onto playground, killing 2 children at day care," May 5) holds a lesson for gun control advocates.

Presumably, the vehicle was registered with authorities, and the driver was tested by the state and granted a license to operate it.

Still, the car was the weapon in a slaughter, one similar to the recent Colombine High School killings except for the number of casualties.

No one would seriously suggest that licensing and registration deters this sort of use of a car.

Nor would they suggest that the manufacturer be held liable for its use as a weapon, or that the person who sold the car, or permitted the man to drive it should be -- unless they were complicit in the reckless driving itself.

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