Question of the Month After PSINet Inc.'s bankruptcy...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 02, 2002

Question of the Month

After PSINet Inc.'s bankruptcy, the Ravens intend to resell the name of the city's football stadium.

Should the team have control of the stadium's name? And what would you call the stadium?

We are looking for 300 words or less; the deadline is March 21. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. By submitting a letter, the author grants The Sun an irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use and republish the letter, in whole or in part, in all media and to authorize others to reprint it.

Letters should include your name and address, along with a day and evening telephone number. E-mail us: letters@baltsun.com; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977.

Contesting citations

Under Maryland law, the only way to contest a parking ticket is to stand trial in state district court. Consequently, many Marylanders don't bother to challenge parking tickets that they believe were improperly written - because they can't afford to take a half-day off from work or are intimidated or unprepared to make an oral presentation in court.

If approved by the General Assembly, Senate Bill 359 and House Bill 1102 would make parking violations a civil (rather than criminal) offense and give Marylanders the option of contesting parking tickets by mail.

Five states and 19 cities have given residents the option of contesting parking tickets by mail. And 14 states have decriminalized parking violations and provided for them to be adjudicated administratively rather than in a criminal court proceeding. These laws have worked, and courts have upheld them repeatedly.

But in Maryland, because parking violations are classified as criminal offenses, formal criminal procedures apply to parking ticket appeals and you can be arrested for even a single parking violation. This approach burdens the courts' already-crowded dockets and wastes the time of police officers and parking control officers, who have to appear and testify in court on parking cases that could be resolved by mail or at an informal administrative hearing.

If you believe, as I do, that reforms are needed and make sense, please let your elected officials know how you feel.

Jon Brumer, Baltimore

BSO budget big enough for a chorus

The letter from Baltimore Symphony Orchestra officials quoted questionably high figures to justify the unpopular decision to disband the 32-year-old, volunteer BSO Chorus ("Keeping chorus would be too costly," Feb. 16).

The total cost of the chorus last year was less than $150,000, including the cost of the choral director and the supplemental professional singers referred to in the letter. Compare this expense with the $2 million reportedly spent last fall on the BSO's concert tour in Europe.

Of what benefit was that expense to the BSO patrons and the citizens of Baltimore? Did that expense elevate the orchestra to new heights? Not really.

So why should the people of Baltimore sympathize with orchestra management when it claims to be too poor to support its own volunteer chorus and makes noises about having to seek even more donations to help pay instrumentalists under the next contract?

Over the last several years, the BSO's expenses have steadily grown, as board chairman Calman J. Zamoiski Jr. and his executive committee have attempted to give the orchestra "world class" status. If that continues, I believe Baltimore audiences will feel the results of those efforts more in their pocketbooks than in their ears.

Richard S. Holland, Ellicott City

The writer is assistant treasurer and a past president of the BSO Chorus.

Moving kids isn't solution

Paul Marx claims that lower test scores in the city are not because of unqualified teachers, a poor curriculum or a lack of funding, but a "culture" created by city students' impoverished, uneducated and unruly family backgrounds ("Send city kids to county schools," Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 13).

He suggests redrawing school districts to integrate students from Baltimore City and Baltimore County and help eliminate the culture of poverty that city children bring with them to school.

But moving children from one school to another does not change their family lives or stop children from acting out in school. When the school day is over, city kids would still go back to homes where violence, illiteracy and insufficient supervision persist.

It seems to me that after-school programs would benefit these children more, because they would give children a place to go where they could escape the "culture of poverty" in their homes and reinforce their learning.

The culture of poverty cannot be diluted by a simple shifting or reshuffling of students. The core of the problem is poverty itself. With more than one-quarter of the children in Baltimore living in poverty, it seems we must first fight poverty before the culture of poverty can be diluted.

Elizabeth Carruthers

Baltimore

The writer is a junior at Loyola College.

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