It was mentioned here recently that good police work had averted trouble after pro-shah Iranians had tangled with anti-shah Iranians and then the two groups - still armed - headed for Dulles en route home.
I reported that Dulles police asked for help as soon as they heard that the demonstrators were carrying weapons, and I added, "Dulles even made temporary policemen of 25 of 27 firemen."
John E. Mundy, president of Local F-91 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, says my report was inaccurate. He wants a retraction.
A letter from Mundy put it in these words: "We do not know the source of your information, but it is incorrect. We are professional firefighters fully unionized and work in a GS-081 career field only, the police are in the exact same position both career and union wise, neither of the locals would allow an action of this type since it would violate labor contracts.
"The fact is that there were two pieces of apparatus that were assisting the combined police operations with lights and one crash or CFR vihicle standing by, this and no more. As we understand from our locals vice president who was on duty at the Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting Branch at the time, states that the Firefighters in no way assisted in crowd control, search and seizure of weapons, etc., they were however armed with night sticks solely for the protection of themselves and their respective equipment.
"The undersigned repectfully request that you retract that incorrect portion of your column and print it correctly if you so desire. The ramifications fo federal firefighters acting as law enforcement officers could be overwhelming in that there are some elements particaularly within the FAA thtat has been making every effort to combine that two as a 'Protective Services Branch'"
Mundy's protest is duly noted. The information used in my report was as I stated at the time, given to our overnight editor by an FAA spokesman. I suppose that when the spokesman saw the Dulles firefighters carrying nightsticks he assumed that they had responded to an emergency call for help.
John S. Cockrell, executive vice president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, takes exception to a different column. Cockrell wasn't too happy with my item about the District's efforts to make restaurant menus tell the truth.
I was pleased to note that more than half of his letter was devoted to his concern with making menus more honest. But he also offered a few emendations.
"First," he wrote, "the menus referred to were 96 per cent accurate, only 4 per cent inaccurate.
"Secondly, it was reported that there were violations concerning prime rib as not being a proper grade. When we had met with Dr. (Bailus) Walker and his staff, we were under the impression that this had been resolved and was actually not a violation because the words 'prime rib' are a generic term describing a cut of meat rather than a grade of meat.
"Our position on this is substantiated by the National Livestock and Meat Board, by several large meat companies and by top officaials of the Meat Grading Branch. Food Safety and Quality Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Your column also stated that the report was given to a group fo restaurateurs. However, no restaurant people were present. Those present were out-of-state restaurant association executives, the people who run restaurant associations."
In response let me note that the dictionary says "prime" means "of the highest in quality than "choice" and other grades. This is also what the publithinks "prime" means. Miscuse of the word therefore misleads and defrauds the public, and it is unseemly for an agency of the United States Government to be a party to such deceit. Perhaps it would be better if the meat experts stuck to meat and left the definition of words to lexicographers. A plane that is 15 minutes late is late, not "on time," and prime ribs are ribs of prime quality, notribs of inferior quality cut from a section of the cow called "the prime." It can also be stated that baloney is baloney, regardless of how it is sliced.
Incidentally, the next time somebody complains that I had four glaring errors in a 100-word item, I think I'll reply: "But I was 96 per cent accurate and only 4 per cent inaccurate." Do you think that would constitute an acceptable defense?