Lethal lead legacy demands a response from state...


January 30, 2000

Lethal lead legacy demands a response from state officials

I was horrified after reading Jim Haner's expose "Lead's lethal legacy engulfs young lives" (Jan. 20). State officials must be aware of the lead-poisoning epidemic plaguing Maryland, especially in Baltimore City.

For years, I have wondered why city public school officials have been unable to turn around students' pitiful performance, despite the many programs and strategies implemented, not to mention to mention the millions of dollars spent.

It's now clear to me that much of the blame lies with the owners of the properties, who are choosing not to do anything about a situation that is obviously destroying lives and contributing to crime.

Why can't these individuals be held accountable for behavior that causes so much destruction?

In a time of economic prosperity in Maryland, money cannot be a deterrent to enforcing laws enacted to protect citizens from lead paint poisoning.

I wonder if officials would be so lax in enforcing these laws if the problem were prevalent in suburbia.

Michelle P. Queen


Kudos to Jim Haner and The Sun for another comprehensive and hard-hitting article on the plight of children living in poorly maintained, lead-contaminated housing in Baltimore.

As the article correctly points out, Maryland has had regulations in place since 1996 which were supposed to ameliorate this problem. However, the governor has, until now, not pursued the aggressive enforcement of these regulations.

Thanks to Mr. Haner and The Sun for putting the pressure on him to do so.

There is, however, one technical inaccuracy in Mr. Haner's article.

It mentions airborne lead dust as a cause of lead poisoning. But this is an unlikely route of exposure in living situations because lead, as a heavy metal, even in the form of small dust particles, is heavier than air and will settle rather quickly.

The real problem is lead-contaminated surface dust which young children touch, inadvertently pick up and ingest through normal hand-to-mouth activity.

James McCabe


The writer is vice president of Leadtec Services Inc.

Ruppersberger has aided people with disabilities

The Sun's article "County asks Maryland for $70.6 million" (Jan. 6) noted that Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger's wish list for the General Assembly contained no programs or initiatives for people with disabilities.

I believe this may be misleading since, in fact, Mr. Ruppersberger has been most supportive of initiatives, programs and funding for people with disabilities.

He has worked closely with the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities, continuing the county's practice of allocating fully 20 percent of Community Development Block Grant funds for projects and programs benefiting people with disabilities.

In addition, Mr. Ruppersberger has set aside county funds for projects that deal with access to buildings, facilities and parks, accessible curb ramps at sidewalk intersections and assistive listening devices for people with hearing impairments.

The Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities is recognized as a state leader.

The commission's accomplishments have been made possible, in large part, as a result of its close working relationship with and support from Mr. Ruppersberger and his administration.

Terri Seitz Parrish


The writer is chairperson of the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities.

Not paying `prevailing wage' cuts quality of construction

Regarding the "prevailing wage" for school construction, the law in question does not require contractors to pay union wages ("Glendening seeks prevailing wages on school projects," Jan. 11).

It requires them to pay the prevailing wage in that area; in some counties, this is much lower than union wages.

Many studies show that paying the prevailing wage does not add to the cost of a school.

Mark Prus did a study for the Prince Georges County Council in 1999, and concluded that the effect of the prevailing wage on school construction was statistically insignificant.

The problematic consequences of having no prevailing wage requirement include: lower wages for all construction workers (union and non-union) and thus reduced tax revenues to state governments; lower quality construction and cost overruns; severely weakened apprenticeship training; increased occupational injuries, which increase the cost of workers compensation; and lowered minority participation in construction job training.

Everyone deserves a fair wage that allows them to support their family and retire one day with some dignity

Leonard G. Schuler Jr.


The writer is business agent for Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 486.

Listing the names of victims makes crimes more real

I was abit surprised to read two letters criticizing The Sun's listing of murder victims' names in its Jan. 4 editorial "Homicides 1999: What went wrong?" ("Listing murder victims hurts families, serves only to shock," letters, Jan. 23)

Both letter writers accused The Sun of using the names solely for shock value. One said, "Putting these victims' names on public exhibition takes away their identity and makes them a statistic."

I believe the opposite is true. To me, "308 murder victims" is a statistic.

Giving the victims' names makes their killing more real -- and thus more difficult to ignore. The AIDS Memorial Quilt and Vietnam War Memorial In Washington are based on the same idea.

If people were shocked by the listing, all the better. Perhaps that will inspire the citizens of Baltimore to work harder to lower the city's violent crime rate.

Jill Cartright


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