To improve the city, Hopkins should begin with a `living...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 20, 2000

To improve the city, Hopkins should begin with a `living wage'

Tax-exempt Johns Hopkins University is asking Baltimore City and Maryland state taxpayers to help shoulder the hefty costs of its desired Charles Street face-lift, the so-called "master plan" for a sharper-looking Homewood campus ("Charles Village residents discuss traffic problems," Jan. 28).

Like a good cosmetologist, Johns Hopkins must realize that an expensive make-over will only succeed when it is built upon to a proper foundation.

The university must first show its commitment to the basic welfare of the Baltimore community by endorsing, even championing, the cause of a "living wage" -- federal poverty line wages plus decent health insurance -- for all its employees, and insisting that its contractors and sub-contractors pay a living wage too.

We cannot countenance a leading medical university continuing to pay wages so low its employees cannot maintain their health, and then making them pay for their own health care.

This is a gross hypocrisy we can no longer afford. We are all indebted to the protesting Student Labor Action Coalition for shaking us out of our torpor on this point. We must now all insist that Johns Hopkins responds affirmatively, without further ado.

Hopkins may have the brightest students, and provide the best medical care. But it will never be the best it can be until it occupies the high ground on this issue.

Louis Brendan Curran

Baltimore

As a Johns Hopkins alumna, I am thrilled that students and community members are challenging the school to do better ("Talks may begin with `living wage' protesters," March 14).

Johns Hopkins can, of course, commit to cost-of-living pay increases, despite what it says. A budget expresses priorities and has moral as well as economic content -- and Hopkins' budget is huge.

Baltimoreans know the city needs better-quality jobs. I hope they will tell Johns Hopkins, and their elected officials, that they support the living wage campaign.

Julia Curry

Baltimore

Proposed regulations threaten patient privacy

MedChi, the Maryland state medical society, would like to register its strong concerns about the draft regulations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the storage and transmission of electronic medical records.

Although limited exceptions have been recognized for public health reasons, medicine has, since its beginnings, made the confidentiality of medical information a bedrock principle.

Physicians recognized that health care would be impeded if patients did not feel utterly confident that the personal information they confided would be held in strict confidentiality.

While the original draft of the regulations included some admirable features, such as prohibiting the sale of protected health information, it also extended the list of recognized exceptions to the principle of confidentiality.

If allowed to stand, these exceptions will further erode patients' right to privacy.

Patients will then increasingly avoid or delay care and distort or conceal vital information to preserve their privacy.

We urge patients and physicians alike impress upon their representatives the need for increased privacy protections for patient information.

Dr. Wayne C. Spiggle

Baltimore

The writer is president of MedChi, the Maryland state medical society.

For not respecting disabled, judge should be parked in jail

Howard County Circuit Court Judge James B. Dudley, who parked in a handicapped space, says he would have paid the fine, as if that is the point ("Judge parks in hot water," March 11).

The point of the restricted parking spaces is to spare handicapped people needless, painful effort.

Perhaps the fine should be shelved in favor of jail time, giving the perpetrator some pain of his own, as a $98 fine apparently poses no deterrent to the arrogant able-bodied -- including a judge, no less.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Catholic Church's failings aren't all in the past . . .

It was heartening to read of Pope John Paul II's public apology for the errors of the Catholic Church over the last 2000 years.

However, many of us feel the pope should add to his list of misdeeds the offering of an indulgence, which reduces the punishment for sin for Catholics who journey to Rome or the Holy Land and many other shrines this year, during the church's "Jubilee 2000" ("Practices of indulgences revived," March 6).

This is the most divisive act conceivable in modern Christendom.

Paul H. Smith

Timonium

The writer is pastor emeritus of St. John's Lutheran Church of Parkville.

but shouldn't obscure its outstanding achievements

Like any institution on earth, the Catholic Church has been flawed, is flawed and will remain forever flawed ("Pope apologizes publicly for errors of the church," March 13).

But amid what appears to be an intense conversation about the merits of the pope's apology for historical errors, people should consider the following truth.

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