Petty PointEditor: The recent squabble over the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Petty Point

Editor: The recent squabble over the name of the new stadium that is to house the Orioles starting in 1992 has grown tiresome. To take owner Eli Jacobs' side, the stadium will be the Orioles' home. That in his mind is enough to merit the name "Oriole Park."

However, the Maryland Stadium Authority, which answers to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, is the landlord of the park, and the governor prefers "Camden Yards."

The state of Maryland, not the Baltimore Orioles, financed the building of the new ballpark, and therefore should have the final say. Instead of being pleased that his team will spend the next years in a nationally praised new stadium, Eli Jacobs can only find time to complain and argue over a petty point.

For the benefit of the city and the loyal fans, we must hope such a squabble does not take away from one of the true baseball parks in America; one that hosts a game played outdoors on natural surface.

Sagar Meghani.

Baldwin.

Fringe Bedroom

Editor: I read recently of the possible curtailing of funds for the light rail extension from Timonium to Hunt Valley.

This commuter from southern York County, Pa., has been eagerly awaiting the activation of the system with its initial northern terminus at Timonium. One hopefully felt that it would not be too long a wait before the final Hunt Valley station were opened for the full usage for which the line was originally designed.

It would not take too much homework to ascertain that there has been a burgeoning of new homeowners in the northern areas of Baltimore County, reaching across into Pennsylvania to such Baltimore "suburban" communities as Shrewsbury, New Freedom, Glen Rock and Stewartstown.

One only need travel on Interstate 83 to discover how greatly the volume of traffic has increased in less than three years. The development of acreage into housing units cannot fail to be noticed. No real slowdown occurred, even during the economic crunch of the last year and a half.

It is time for the joint committee of senators and delegates from Maryland to look ahead to the time when southern York County will be a fringe bedroom community to Baltimore. After all, Hunt ++ Valley is a mere 20 minutes from the state line. There are more commuters up here than one may realize -- potential customers for light rail.

It is time to look forward, to think positively and aggressively and to invest in the future. I support Secretary O. James Lighthizer and wish him every success in his endeavors to keep the Hunt Valley extension alive. Let the plan go through and think Big Time for a change.

Roland Bull.

Stewartstown, Pa.

On Target

Editor: The admonitions of our vice president directed to the legal profession were and are well-advised. As a lawyer, having practiced in the public and private sectors over the past 33 years, it may seem strange for me to be in agreement with his comments. However, he was right on target, and his criticisms of the legal profession by someone in authority is long overdue.

If we are to survive as a nation, we must seek ways to heal and mend instead of invent new avenues of litigation. One such way would be to inject again into transactions between people the integrity of standing by our word. With the renewal of integrity we could perhaps see a return to the simple handshake as promise enough to fulfill our obligations in a business matter. We need the restoration of ethics in our dealings with one another, for our constantly changing morality has shown that it has failed.

'Richard G. Bartholomee.

Pikesville.

Wrong Priorities

Editor: Thank you, Dan Rodricks, for your Sept. 2 column expressing a concern that many Americans see clearly: the poor are being left out and edged out by our governments and the "points of light" can only travel so far.

Why are our governments so indifferent to domestic problems? Doesn't charity begin at home? Are people in foreign countries more important than our own citizens?

It seems that the leaders of the Democratic Party have a real platform under their noses which for some reason they aren't espousing.

Why can we find money to build a new (unnamed) stadium while unemployment and soup kitchen lines grow?

As a concerned citizen, I write to my elected representatives about hunger and homelessness. I urge others to do the same because the government must reach out if the "points of light" are not to and die.

'Elizabeth R. Schreiber.

Baltimore.

Lame Democracy

Editor: It is great to see the daily changes taken place in the Soviet Union as well as in Europe.

People hungry for freedom are an intense force. Virgin democracy is breathtaking. Many of us today in the United States have not tasted such democracy. We may well sit back and fool ourselves by thinking that we have the best.

Unfortunately, we have a ninth or tenth generation democracy which is different and may even be paralyzing our very existence. It is important for these developing nations to see the varied spectrum of democracy and learn from our mistakes before they suffer a similar fate.

On the other hand, we may also need to march on our capitals to express legitimate concerns about our domestic problems which clearly are not being given enough attention. Our debt and the interest on it is mind-boggling. Our solid institutions of savings and insurance are falling daily. Recession remains.

It was interesting to see the picture on the Sept. 1 front page about the march of 250,000 of AFL-CIO workers on Washington with a banner "solidarity works." Perhaps all of us may have to do the same to shake up this paralyzed democracy to get it back on track.

What the Democrats don't realize is that President Bush is beatable because he is vulnerable on the home front. Unfortunately, the democratic way that we use in choosing our presidents does not bring out the best candidates. Thus the Catch-22 situation continues and ends up with a democracy that has seen better days.

Raymond D. Bahr.

Baltimore.

Detriments

Editor: Why is it that, in black and in poor white neighborhoods throughout the city, there is a liquor store on practically every corner? Why is it that drug dealers can stand around all day long in poor neighborhoods, yet when I go to the suburbs I do not see every street filled with liquor stores and I never see any drug dealers on the corners? I am sure if one did stand on a corner, he would be removed by the police very quickly and wouldn't, as in the city, be back on the same corner in a couple of hours. It certainly seems like the deck is unnecessarily stacked against blacks and poor whites in the city.

Murphy Edward Smith.

Baltimore.

Convention Center

Editor: Since the sale of the Baltimore Sun to the Times Mirror Co. there appears to be a decline of reportorial objectivity on both the editorial and news pages.

A case in point is the proposed expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center.

In the 1991 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Fiscal Year 1992 capital budget included $850,000 in matching funds for the estimated $1.7 million in planning costs associated with the expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center. In order to receive the funds, the private sector was to have raised at least $425,000. My opposition to releasing the state funds is based on a number of factors:

After a detailed study of the project, the Department of Fiscal Services of the General Assembly recommended against the release of the funds since the Baltimore Convention Center Authority failed to provide sufficient information regarding its financing plans.

The private sector contribution, which the legislature considers to be an integral partner in any expansion, was provided by virtually a sole contributor, i.e. the Parkway/Swirnow Group Ltd., in the amount of $425,000.

Earlier this year, the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, of which I am a member, objected to the apparent quid pro quo that Parkway/Swirnow had extracted from the Baltimore Convention Center Authority. Currently, Parkway/Swirnow is proposing the construction of a medical mart (Medmart) adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center, and for its $425,000 contribution specified that it would count on the support of the authority for the following:

"(A) To be selected by the State of Maryland to develop and own the Medmart on the Camden Yards East Site.

"(B) To negotiate with and to be permitted by the City of Baltimore for us to include and own Lot 7A of the Inner Harbor West Urban Renewal Area Plan and incorporate it into the Medmart development project.

"(C) To be permitted by the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore to develop and own a convention headquarters hotel of approximately 1,000 rooms and conference center of approximately 100,000 square feet above the expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center that the State intends to construct on the site bounded by Pratt Street, Howard and Conway Streets."

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee instructed the authority to advise Richard Swirnow, president of Parkway/Swirnow, that it would not be given preferential treatment by making a contribution to the authority. Robert Hillman, chairman of the authority, wrote to Mr. Swirnow but that letter failed to unequivocally state that there would be no promises made to Parkway/Swirnow for their contribution.

In my view, it is imperative that Maryland protect its AAA bond rating. Projects such as the expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center, without careful review and oversight, could jeopardize this coveted rating.

Personally, I am fearful of government-by-authorities. Once they are established, there is relatively little oversight and review. They become independent entities and need not answer to the public whose funds they are spending.

It is interesting to note that one year ago The Baltimore Sun editorially supported the Convention Center expansion to the tune of $125 million. Less than one year later, the authority is proposing a 20 percent increase to $150 million and The Sun blindly approved.

Until the Baltimore Convention Center Authority clearly states to Mr. Swirnow that the acceptance of the $425,000 is "without strings," I will continue to oppose the project. A recent study has come to the conclusion that Convention Center construction, ownership and management are public activities best left to the private sector. Before we begin a major expansion of Baltimore's Convention Center, we should carefully address that argument.

Julian L. Lapides

Baltimore.

The writer is a state senator from Baltimore City.

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