Lead paint problem should be state's highest priority...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 19, 2000

Lead paint problem should be state's highest priority

The Sun's editorial page recently ran suggestions and priorities for the year's session of the state legislature ("Agenda 2000: A time of plenty in Md. State House," Jan. 9). It was very disappointing, and surprising, that the editorial made no mention that the state should deal with Baltimore's lead poisoning catastrophe.

Addressing this health crisis should be the state's top priority. The city and state have been grossly negligent in their responsibilities for this situation for years.

The Sun itself recently noted "the abject failure of city and state authorities to use money and lead-abatement resources provided by the federal government and laws passed by the General Assembly" ("The plague of lead imperils a generation," editorial, Jan. 3).

This gross negligence has caused severe problems for the affected children, and adversely affects all Marylanders.

Allowing the continued poisoning of thousands of city children is criminal.

For The Sun not to mention this issue as a priority for the legislative session is disconcerting.

One thing's for sure: If you're a powerless, poor, black inner-city child, you can be poisoned -- and the city and state don't give a damn.

Rick Watson, Salisbury

Paying `prevailing wage' could stop abuse of workers

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is right on the prevailing wage issue ("Glendening seeks prevailing wage on school projects," Jan. 11).

I can't count the times that I have seen out-of-state contractors performing work in Maryland. Many of their workers are being exploited because they can't speak fluent English or are in dire need.

This sounds like the way our ancestors were treated before unions formed to stem such abuse, resulting in better pay and benefits for millions of workers.

What I found most humorous about The Sun's article was the chief lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, Dennis McCoy, predicting doom and gloom if prevailing wages are paid.

However, Mr. McCoy seems only to see one side of the coin. If these workers make more money, they'll spend more.

But if workers on such projects come from out-of-state, as they cross the state line to go home, the money they made in Maryland goes with them.

Chuck Dobry, Baltimore

The writer is shop steward for Communications Workers of America Local 2100 .

Rate reductions hurt state's nursing homes, too

I believe The Sun's editorial regarding the impact of the state's hospital rate reductions on their quality of care was correct ("Are state regulators starving Md. hospitals?" Jan. 2). But it should have applied the same reasoning to the nursing home industry, which also has most of its rates set by the state.

Rate reductions in both the hospital and nursing-home industry affect quality care in so many ways.

Poor funding makes it difficult, for example, to attract competent staff, which contributes to quality-of-care problems.

Furthermore, the state consistently falls to fund its regulatory inspectors in a manner that would enable them to carry out their mandate.

The results of this flawed system are evident once a nursing home or hospital incident occurs -- and the parties attempt to blame each other.

The hospital rate-setting system does not work, but the system needs much more than a quick fix.

Maryland must take a closer look at what is necessary to ensure that the state's healthcare delivery system provides citizens the highest quality of care.

Gary D. Raffel, Pikesville

The writer is chief executive officer of Raffel HealthCare Group Inc.

Does the lieutenant governor really focus on Maryland?

It is comforting to know that as our Maryland General Assembly prepared to convene last week, our lieutenant governor was off politicking on behalf of Vice President Al Gore in Iowa ("Townsend joins parade of Gore surrogates in Iowa," Jan. 11.)

When queried about whether she would turn down an offer to be Mr. Gore's running mate, Ms. Townsend demurred, saying she was "focused on Maryland issues and politics." That's an amazing focus from more than 1,000 miles away.

If the lieutenant governor wishes to be a serious player in Maryland politics, she should tend to her knitting at home.

Gregory Seltzer, Fallston

While Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the "daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy," was "joining a political hoopla in Iowa, to help get Al Gore nominated for president," where was the lieutenant governor of Maryland, who is "focused on Maryland issues and politics?

And where may we find out how much her out-of-state duties are costing Maryland taxpayers?

R.E. Johnson, Glen Burnie

Bill Bradley's record should give Democrats pause

The Sun's article comparing Bill Bradley with 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy was right on the mark ("Bradley bid reminiscent of '68 race," Jan. 9). A little-known fact about Mr. McCarthy is that he endorsed Ronald Reagan for president in 1984.

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