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Why Must We Pay?

Posted 3/19/2008

Very nice article ("Loading 600 Tons," Feature, Feb. 20). Only one thing about the new recycling sticks in my craw: the city's decision to sell us the barrels, and our decision to buy them.

It is like they offered to pick up our spare change every two weeks, then charged us for the piggy banks to leave out on the curb. Anne Arundel County and most other municipalities give you the way to put recyclables out for them to pick up. And the containers do not have an executive's name on them.

Only in Baltimore.

Brian Murphy
Baltimore

Larnell Love

God bless Larnell Custis Butler, but I differ with her on the presidential candidacy of Ralph Nader ("Later, Nader," The Mail, March 12), a man who has been involved in most public issues since at least 1963, and thus has more experience with them than senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain combined.

He has been right on most of them as well.

As regards the other three current presidential candidates, I make the following observations, and I've seen detailed television biographies of all three, as well as published articles of my own on Sen. McCain. The problem I have with Sen. Obama---for whom I voted in the recent Maryland primary as a way of both being for a positive good and defeating Sen. Clinton's rabid brand of feminazism (my first real opportunity since 1969)--is his most questionable young life before he became a lawyer. First, he's moving about from country to country, and then he's transferring from one prestigious Ivy League college to another. Where did all that money come from? We don't know, because we haven't been told yet. Maybe, in time, we will be, but right now he strikes me as the ultimate Manchurian Candidate.

Now we have Sen. Clinton, who without any doubt in my former Army military policeman's mind covered up that crime scene in the White House when counsel Vince Foster was either murdered outright or committed suicide--the latter as she maintains.

As a Vietnam War veteran who served under enemy fire for a year, I am not one whit impressed with either of these two senators, both of whom are younger than me. Sorry.

Now we come to Sen. McCain, who most likely will become Bush 44, just another saber-rattling wartime presidential wannabe. He should know better, but apparently, he doesn't. He not only wants to continue the current war for another 100 years---maybe--but also to make permanent the Bush tax cuts that are bankrupting the nation as we prepare to bomb Iran. I feel for him, both as a vet myself and for the years that he spent as a tortured POW, but his election will mean more of the same, and worse.

Therefore, I turn now to non-war vet Ralph Nader, an honorable, thoughtful, and courageous man who at least appears to have some common sense, and the conviction that the current New Roman American Empire must return to being "The Republic for which we stand." It's a long way to November, however, and lots of scary stuff will doubtless happen, both here and abroad.

Blaine Taylor
Towson

I am now at the point where I am able to identify a letter from Larnell Custis Butler after reading just the first sentence. I have read so many letters from her in City Paper that I feel I know her. Please keep those letters coming. I would miss her terribly if you stopped printing her letters. I am not happy with my weight either, but I don't have the gumption to announce the details to the readers of City Paper. Rock on, Larnell!

Coleen Hanna
Edgewater

My name is Monica Taylor-Clowney. I have resided in the city all my life. While I do not proclaim myself "fat," while some do, I love the life I live. I am on the flip side of that coin when it comes to beauty, not to say Larnell Custis Butler is not. I am fair-skinned to most of my family members and friends alike. There has not been any racial tension between us. I thank God for that as well as my parents.

If I am to be honest here, I must say that I, subconsciously or not, was afraid of one little girl whom I deemed Blacccck. My Grandmother wanted me to be her friend. I said, "No, you play with her." I regret that day. Here I am close to 110 pounds at 8 years old with my nose turned up in the air. It was awful. My family doted on me as the first child, grandchild, first girl, you get the point, so I could do no harm.

As time went on I gained more weight. Twiggy was around then. I wanted those vinyl boots like her, and I could not understand my parents and grandparents telling me that my legs were too big for that type of boot. (Not my family telling me no.) The damage has been done. I accepted the fact that I will be not only "Fat, Black, and last but not least, Proud."

My daughter was growing just as I was. No questions asked, give my baby what she wants. The weight came, and yes, she is beautiful and Fat, Black, and Proud. We both love a Black man, not fat but Proud and Black.
Monica Taylor-Clowney
Baltimore

I am curious about something Larnell Custis Butler wrote in her letter about Ralph Nader: "In college I had to learn the narrow-minded white ideas of Copernicus, Kepler." Narrow-minded white ideas? Like the idea that Earth revolves around the sun (Copernicus) or the study of planetary motion (Kepler)?

G. Byron Stover
Baltimore

Food Love

Mr. Henry Hong was fooled by Hudson Valley Foie Gras with his visit there ("Live and Let Liver," Eat Me, Feb. 27). Foie gras production is inherently cruel. On Oct. 30, 2007, Hudson Valley Foie Gras had a massive, multistory, explosive fire that incinerated 15,000 ducks and geese. Large volumes of feces poured from the building walls. Owner Izzy Yanay spoke of returning to production and did not reference the horrifying deaths of the victims. This was only one building and shows the scale of the operation. Hudson Valley Foie Gras must get their product to users, and that requires rough treatment of the animals. The company is in the business of killing. These sensitive birds are bred to be killed and suffer greatly during their lives. Hudson Valley Foie Gras is in definite contrast to Farm Sanctuary, which consists of loving people who rescue injured and dying animals from auction yards and factory operations. I have met their Gene Bauston on several occasions and know him as one who genuinely wants a healthy, living life for all animals.

William H. Morrison
Treasurer and Board Member
Maryland Animal Advocates

If there is any justice, you will make Henry Hong your primary restaurant reviewer immediately. His articles are consistently clearly written (a nice change) and well thought out, and he clearly understands food.

Please allow him to achieve his full potential. Don't continue to disappoint us.

Jon Parker
Baltimore

Shame on me for not having stumbled across Eat Me sooner! I just read Michelle Gienow's article on what's in our cheese and what our options are ("Cheesed Off", Eat Me, March 12) and am glad to know of one more thing to watch out for in my food. Is it any question as to why there's antibiotics in so many cities' water supplies?

As our food chain becomes more complicated and polluted, it's harder to know what choices to make, what to avoid, what's healthy for the body, what's healthy for the environment, and what impact our choices have on ourselves and our world.

Five years ago I was one of those who thought buying organic was ridiculous, until my wife started doing the research. Today I am a strong advocate of the need for ourselves and for our planet to eat smarter, buy local, and generally take care of creation.

Thanks for being one of the few media outlets that provides we in the public with education, resources, and guidance on a better understanding of healthy food choices!

Kyle Powderly
Hagerstown

Steiner Love

Brian Morton is absolutely right about the lack of alternative voices on Baltimore public radio now that WYPR has canceled The Marc Steiner Show ("The L Word," Political Animal, Feb. 20). John Machen, a member of the WYPR Board of Directors writing in The Sun on March 7, sees the current public outrage over the cancellation as entirely the result of public confusion over the meaning of the word "public" in "Your Public Radio." According to Mr. Machen, members of the YPR listening public simply don't understand that we do not have legal title to the station. This is corporate nonsense.

The 300-plus people who protested the station's action at the YPR Community Advisory Board meeting on Feb. 20 understand full well that we don't legally own YPR. Rather, in Mr. Machen's words, we were under the impression that "the policies and programming of a public radio station [should] be reflective of the needs of the community." In canceling the Steiner Show, YPR demonstrated that it did not reflect the needs of the community. The reason for this lies in the composition of the board.

Baltimore is a city that is 64.8 percent African-American. In 1999, the per capita median household income was $30,078, only $16,978 in cash. Twenty-three percent of the population is below the poverty line.

Does the composition of the board reflect those demographics? Manifestly not. Mr. Machen himself is a partner at DLA Piper. According to the firm web site, he "has represented lenders and developers in a variety of commercial enterprises . . . with respect to acquisition, construction and permanent financing, syndication, leasing, sale, foreclosures, and negotiated workouts." Tom Bozzuto, husband of WYPR board chair Barbara Bozzuto (and co-guarantor with her of the WYPR purchase note), is CEO of the Bozzuto Group which, according to the group's web site, is a privately held real estate services organization that builds and manages apartment houses that, since 1988, has produced almost $1 billion in income for the group.

The vast majority of the WYPR board reflects similar corporate backgrounds and are among the most affluent members of the community. Where on the board are the members of the public too marginalized by poverty, infirmity, age, or in other ways to have a voice on the myriad public policy issues that daily affect their lives? These voices were heard on the Steiner Show. Will they be heard now? Unlikely--Barbara Bozzuto points to such shows as The Signal and "Sports at Large" as emblematic of YPR programming. These shows have their place on public radio. But none of them gives a voice to the "other" Baltimore--the inner city resident personally affected by gang violence and the drug trade or the advocate of reregulating BGE. Those voices were heard on the Steiner Show. Now they are silenced.

We critics of WYPR understand the meaning of "public." And we don't see very much of the public on the YPR board. Only a board so out of touch with the public would cancel the pre-eminent public radio program in Baltimore.

Sheldon H. Laskin
Baltimore

Brian Morton's big-picture analysis of The Marc Steiner Show's demise left quite an impression! I agree with every word, but I would like to add another dimension to why Mr. Steiner got the boot: He allowed himself to be victimized! I don't believe for a second that Marc didn't see what was coming. Did he rally the troops before it was too late? Nope! For reasons unknown, he unwittingly turned himself into another liberal victim of the conservative corporate meanies, which just so happen to be running our local Baltimore WYPR radio station. Unfortunately, by being a nice guy (and a very poor tactician), he let himself down along with all his loyal listeners.

It's about time those of us who don't consider themselves right-wing lunatics do more than just play the role of victim. When I heard the reasoning behind The Marc Steiner Show's downfall--that ratings were allegedly too low--I changed all my 88.1 radio settings to 88.5 FM in order to pick up NPR in Washington, D.C. I'm sure WAMU would be only too happy to have a dedicated Baltimore listening audience. That's one small but concrete example of not allowing oneself to become a victim of the SOBs running my local NPR station. Another is to financially support WAMU. If enough Baltimoreans did so, maybe WAMU would consider hiring Marc Steiner to do his own talk show.

Morton also mentions a wing-nut author calling nonconservatives Nazi-like. If anyone is Nazi-like, it's the rabid right-wing conservatives. They use very similar propaganda techniques: They love to hate and hate to love. Rich and powerful media empires gladly give these scoundrels a soapbox, which lets them rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from equally conservative and self-serving corporate sponsors. Meanwhile, our government is only too happy to allow these puerile brutes to spew their poison all over our publicly licensed airwaves, without any opportunity for an on-station rebuttal.

If the nonconservative majority said, "Enough is enough, we no longer will be victims of the assorted villains who control our public airwaves," then change for the better will finally occur. But until enough of us do our part to challenge the abuses of power, it will be business as usual. The choice is our own!

Dan Greifenberger
Baltimore

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