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Why Dubai?

Posted 3/15/2006

Hey, Russ Smith—most folks, including our mayor and many on your own side of the political fence, don’t exactly think the United Arab Emirates are the go-to guys when someone says U.S. homeland security, and homeland security is the whole rationale for the White House’s various maneuvers for the past five years (Right Field, March 8).

But in your last column you wrote, “on the Dubai Ports deal, [Bush] is correct.” But you didn’t say why. I’ll give you benefit of the doubt as “rational guy above the fray” if you lay out why Bush is correct, instead of shifting focus to what a pain in the neck the politicians you don’t like (Hillary Clinton) are.

Chas Lockwood

Kids’ Menu

One restaurant to add to the list of unexpectedly great kid-friendly restaurants (“Food for Tot,” EAT, March 1)—New No Da Ji, at 2501 N. Charles St. Not only is it one of the best pan-Asian buffets I’ve ever been to—great sushi, as well as Korean barbecue, soups, etc.—but it works great for kids. We have been taking our boys, now 6 and 2 1/2, there for years. Because it is buffet, you can start feeding the kids immediately, and items such as dumplings, as well as the chicken and beef barbecue, are easy sells—plus, the guys have really taken to the sushi. The ladies who work there are very attentive to the kids if you are there when it is not too busy, handing out gumballs and other treats. On top of all that, it is a terrific bargain!

Bill Krulak

Too Bad We Can’t Recycle Bullet Points

This is in response to a reader’s letter on recycling that appeared in the Mail section of City Paper on March 1 (“Best of Times, Waste of Times”). The letter was from Chris Stadler of Baltimore who wanted to know how much recyclable material the city collects and where it is sent.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works encourages everyone to recycle. Each year, we prepare and mail citywide our Public Works calendar and recycling schedule to make residents aware of the many recycling opportunities available. City Paper recognized this calendar’s value in its Best of Baltimore edition last year (“Best Use of Taxpayer Money,” Sept. 21).

This is the amount of recycling that was collected in 2005 and what happened to those items:

  • 9,506 tons of paper were delivered to Office Paper Systems Inc. That firm sorts and sells the product to paper mills that make recycled paper and paper products.
  • 2,144 tons of bottles, cans, and jars were taken to Recycle America where they were sorted and sold to processors who make new plastic, glass, and metal containers.
  • A little less than 430 tons of tires were delivered to Harford County where they were used in the county’s waste-to-energy facility.
  • 3,527 tons of white goods, which consist of refrigerators and stoves, were sent to the David Joseph Co. where they were sorted and sold.
  • 2,586 tons of leaves were deposited with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks where they are mulched and used in community gardens, lots, and parks.
  • Finally, an electronic recycling program was initiated this year. So far, we have collected 18 tons of electronics, which are taken to CDM eCycling Co. where they are sorted and sold for their parts.

To find out more about the Department of Public Works or to request a calendar, citizens may contact the DPW Office of Media Communications at (410) 545-6541, or dial 311.

George L. Winfield
Director, Baltimore City Department of Public Works

City Paper’s article “Waste Not” (Mobtown Beat, Feb. 22) was very timely. Cities throughout the United States are trying to come to terms with the management issues and rising costs of their waste/recycling programs.

Recycling is a major issue for all metropolitan areas. In many cases the low rate of participation in recycling programs makes it difficult for governmental agencies to carry out cost-effective programs. If regions were to achieve significant recycling rates, the associated infrastructure would also be more economically viable, including the single-stream separation facilities and the end-user facilities for the raw materials (e.g., glass, plastic, metal, paper).

I am on the board of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance (CSBA) Energy and Environmental Committee. The CSBA is an association of businesses, nonprofits, and individuals that is developing and promoting businesses that are local, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible. One business that we are working to bring to the Baltimore area is RecycleBank.

RecycleBank was founded in 2003 as a cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution to waste disposal. It has successfully launched this program throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area and is looking to expand. Through partnerships with 150 local and national vendors, RecycleBank financially rewards households that recycle. Residents are given a container that is bar coded to track the amount of recyclables they accumulate. RecycleBank retrofits the municipality’s vehicles used to gather and track the materials. At the end of the month, the amount for each household is tallied and coupons are issued based on the total amount recycled. These coupons are redeemable at local businesses and national vendors.

There are many benefits of this program:

  • RecycleBank uses a single-stream collection process, which is much easier for the household (i.e., glass, paper, etc. all go in the same container).
  • By providing incentives, recycling rates should go up considerably. (In one Philadelphia community the rate went from under 10 percent to over 90 percent!)
  • The local economy can benefit from the additional promotion of local businesses.
  • Households receive financial compensation for their efforts.
  • The municipalities can save considerable dollars in landfill fees.

RecycleBank is also working with local businesses to assist them in their own recycling efforts. It will conduct waste audits and assist in establishing employee programs for businesses. In addition, it will work with these businesses to facilitate arrangements with local haulers for the recyclables.

Overall, the acceptance and implementation of the RecycleBank program could have a significant impact on the way that recycling is practiced in the Baltimore region. This program can be a winner across the board with residents, businesses, government, and the environment all benefiting from this incentive-based recycling program.

Brian Funk

Leo A. Williams Is Wrong

After reading the mail of Jason Lewis and Herman M. Heyn (“Speaking of Leo A. Williams...,” The Mail, March 1), I am now even more convinced of how insane and ungodly homosexuals are. It is no wonder why the Bible calls them an abomination and detestable. If you have ever read the Bible, which is the word of God, notice the sick, twisted way they look at it. God is wrong, the church is wrong, Leo A. Williams is wrong—everybody is wrong except them.

Leo A. Williams

Another Round

Kudos on a generally evenhanded look at the proposed assault-weapons ban backed by Mayor Martin “the dog ate my homework” O’Malley and his coterie of “we need more laws to solve the world’s problems” Democrats (“Armed and Liberal,” Mobtown Beat, March 1). However, you did leave out one pertinent fact: The so-called assault weapons that House Bill 1367 would ban are in fact used in a minuscule number of violent crimes in Maryland. To wit: Of the 1,139 murders committed in Baltimore City between 2000 and 2004, a maximum of 17 (1.3 percent) were committed with assault rifles. I say “a maximum of” because assault rifles are used so infrequently as murder weapons that murders-by-assault rifle are actually bunched into the “shotgun/rifle” category. So it’s quite possible that the number of assault-weapon murders in the above period was actually zero. (These statistics courtesy of the Baltimore Police Department. Guess Marty didn’t get the word.)

This just stands to reason, in light of the fact that your basic junkie-with-a-jones looking to score 50 bucks for his next fix is unlikely to have the scratch for a black-market AR, much less a legal one. All of which raises the obvious question: Why would anyone in his right mind introduce or sponsor a state bill that mirrors a national law that proved a dud in terms of reducing crime in the 10 years that it was in force (1994-2004)? Then again, such a bill does fit in quite nicely with the “more laws, higher taxes, less personal responsibility” mantra of the Democrats. And it conveniently enables the mayor and his cronies to sidestep the basic fact that he’s failed miserably in making Baltimore City a safer place to live. But quite honestly, the worst part of this bill is that it’s put me in a terrible bind: I can’t figure out which bumper sticker to put on my car—the one that says when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns or the one that proclaims ted kennedy’s car killed more people than my gun. Hmmmmmm.

Jay Lewis

I would like to present a different point of view in response to Edward Ericson Jr.’s Mobtown Beat article about pro-gun lobbyist Sebastian Sassi. Like Mr. Sassi, I am also a victim of an armed holdup. I was not as lucky as he was, because my assailants shot me, and I needed two quite serious operations to recover. My incident happened on a street in Bolton Hill more than two decades ago. The two street thugs who shot me were never caught and charged, so I didn’t have the satisfaction that Mr. Sassi had of seeing his assailant get justice. Before the thugs shot me, they frisked me; if I had been carrying a weapon, they would have taken it, and another firearm would have entered the world of violent criminals.

I am still very angry at my unknown attackers, but I am also angry that our society makes it so easy for criminals to obtain guns. Since I was shot, I have channeled my energy into advocating better firearm controls to make it easier for the police to protect us from lethal violence. Twenty years ago, I started CeaseFire Maryland, then known as Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, an advocacy group that has been successful in getting important safeguards put into law. After all, the Second Amendment is qualified with the words “well regulated.” There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits regulating firearm sales. If certain classes of weapons, such as those with high-capacity ammo magazines, are deemed to have no legitimate purpose, the Constitution allows society to ban them.

Too many people in our state die from guns. Rather than spending all their efforts to put more guns on the street, I think that pro-gun lobbyists, such as Mr. Sassi, could much better serve the public by better regulating the gun business to ensure that firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Matt Fenton

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