Residents Have Made Fells Point an Attraction
I would like to respond to Charles Weinstein's letter of March 10, in which he suggested that "we turn our backs on" the community boards of Fells Point and Canton and provided only negative images about an area that seems to be attracting new bars and restaurants.
If it were not for the residents who have remained to revitalize the residential sections of the area, there would be no attraction for new bars and restaurants in the first place.
The community opposition to the bar-restaurant that Mr. Weinstein mentions was much less about its "non-historic" look and more about the precedent of an open-air bar adjacent to the brick-paved public promenade and across the street from a residential neighborhood.
As far as providing more downtown attractions, this area provides more than its share of bar activity. Monitoring the balance of residential and commercial uses is what active community boards are all about.
I invite Mr. Weinstein to move to Fells Point or Canton and get involved in the community revitalization of downtown Baltimore, if he feels so inclined.
Has Mr. Weinstein ever lived in Canton or Fells Point and experienced the difference between a Wednesday evening stroll along the waterfront and a Saturday evening stroll? A weeknight stroll along the promenade is very calming, peaceful and regenerative. Because of the gradual change in the clientele of the many local pubs in Fells Point and Canton, a Saturday evening stroll is very unpredictable and sometimes very unpleasant.
The residents are only trying to curb the trend of disrespect that occurs from the many weekend visitors who come only to drink, with no regard whatsoever for the community residents and businesses.
Second, I ask if he has ever walked along the developed areas of the waterfront promenade in Canton and Fells Point that he berated so.
There is a public park where families regularly congregate in warmer weather, hanging out and fishing; residential developments where pedestrians actually promenade; and commercial establishments, retail and restaurant, where constant activity can be found until late in the evening.
In short, the community residents who speak out about developments in these neighborhoods are not doing it to oppose change. We do it because we have invested part or all of our lives to the area.
We understand and wish to maintain the subtle balance between residential and commercial, old and new, that makes these neighborhoods a vibrant part of the city.
This is a very old section of Baltimore that has survived many changes, and we want to keep it healthy and vibrant by not only attracting new business and development but also keeping the residents we have and attracting new ones.
The writer is the vice president of the Fells Point Homeowner's
Who does Charles Weinstein think he is, telling the residents of Fells Point and Canton what to do with their neighborhood? I bet he doesn't live there.
He says that the city should turn its back on the people of Canton and Fells Point "because their only contribution to Baltimore is to sit in a stagnant pool of mediocrity."
I say this is the neighborhood of proud, hard-working but not affluent residents who love their neighborhood, who have lived there for many generations and who do the best they can to maintain and improve their community.
Mr. Weinstein says, "Let's stop listening to the worthless ranting of people who find pleasure in denouncing anything that doesn't cater to their needs." I say that the proud residents of Canton and Fells Point have every right to defend their neighborhood from becoming a mecca for tourist buses and suburbanites. If they don't do it, no one else will.
The residents of Fells Point and Canton know that with the proposed developments, they will get noise, traffic, loss of community and some minimum wage jobs. The developers and owners will take the profits with them to their affluent suburban neighborhoods.
I suspect that Mr. Weinstein wouldn't much like it if developers came into his neighborhood and wanted to build restaurants, bars and shops for tourists (local or otherwise) within spitting (or worse) distance of his bedroom window.
I wouldn't blame him, and I bet the hard-working residents of Fells Point and Canton wouldn't blame him for wanting to maintain the soul of his community, either.
Stand by Your Man
President Clinton was wise to nominate Dr. Henry Foster, and courageous to stand by his choice for surgeon general.
The issue of national importance is not the abortion count or sterilizations performed decades ago, but the president's right to choose a distinguished educator and physician to lead an urgently needed campaign to stem teen-age pregnancy.
The true folly for our nation is to delay such a campaign when the risks of AIDS, increased poverty and added burdens on social services are so clearly linked to the rising rates of children having children.
Furthermore, the sad spectacle of another fine Clinton nominee being savaged and undermined by partisans and the press will come back to hurt more than Dr. Foster or the Clinton administration.
It will damage this country's long-term ability to attract its more competent and creative leaders to public service. That is another real folly we must all avoid.
Stanley S. Herr
Save-the-Bay proponents claim that land use regulations will significantly improve the Chesapeake Bay's water quality. Stuff and nonsense.
Silt, sewage, and livestock waste now enter the watershed at far lower levels than the bay has historically been able to compensate for.
With modern sewage treatment, human waste is no longer dumped directly into the nearest tributary. Since the advent of the automobile, manure from carriage horses no longer washes into the bay.
Since the advent of Pasteurization and refrigeration, fewer dairy herds are necessary to supply watershed cities. Land that was once cleared and actively farmed has been allowed to lie fallow and return to woodlands.
Washington's troops at Valley Forge had to travel 20 miles or more to find firewood because the surrounding hills had been cleared for farming. If you stand at the ramparts of Valley Forge now, all you see is woodlands in every direction.
This means there is less sewage and silt washing into the bay today than at any time since the American Revolution.
A natural disaster is the root source of the Chesapeake Bay's water quality problems.
Oysters and other filter feeders were once so plentiful that they ,, filtered the bay's waters, daily removing silt and other sources of turbidity.
MSX and Dermo viruses have decimated bay oyster populations, and oysters are now so scarce that the bay's waters are filtered once a year.
Modest levels of silt and waste are no longer being removed efficiently. The build-up of turbidity has reduced the amount of light reaching aquatic plants, causing a decline in bay grasses needed for spawning.
Formulating restrictive land use regulations and limiting the activities of property owners, farmers and watermen will not address the root source of the problem.
Efforts to improve water quality and bay fisheries should instead directed at restoring the health and magnitude of filter feeder populations through the aqua culture of disease resistant varieties of oysters.
Draconian land use regulations erode our constitutional privacy and property rights. Our government should seek solutions that provide effective remedies while preserving the integrity of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.
Nancy L. Centofante
The editors of The Sun need to look at the issue of teacher certification more thoroughly than they have to date.
Teachers want highly qualified and competent educators in the rooms next to them. That is why educators around the state strongly support making the current Professional Standards -Z Board independent of the State Board of Education.
The State Board of Education actually lowered entrance standards to the profession when it passed the resident teacher certificate into regulation over the strenuous objections of the Professional Standards Board.
The resident teacher certificate allows the holder of a college degree to enter the classroom after only 90 hours of pedagogical instruction. That's right.
The State Board of Education felt that only 90 hours was needed to cover topics such as curriculum development, translating curriculum into unit and daily lesson plans, classroom management and understanding the physical, social and conceptual development of children and youth.
Frederick County hired five of these hastily certificated "teachers" and placed all of them in special education classrooms. Thus, the children who most needed teachers who understood teaching and learning got teachers with little preparation in those areas.
Only one of those people still remains in the classroom. A nearby teacher provided mentoring and assistance to help that person truly become a teacher.
In my opinion, the State Board of Education gave away its right of oversight when it allowed such unprepared people to enter classrooms with a valid teaching certificate.
Delegates and others who truly care about the education of children and youth will support the Professional Standards Board bill.
Jean N. Thomas
I am writing as a physician and medical educator to commend Gov. Parris Glendening for his principled stand for a statewide ban on workplace smoking.
While some see smoking as a purely private act, there is no doubt that instead it is a public health menace. Exposure to primary and secondary tobacco smoke causes or contributes to many serious diseases, including multiple cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Tobacco products are so dangerous that if they had been developed in our age rather than before the era of modern medicine, they would have been banned and outlawed like other dangerous substances.
Instead, millions of people have suffered painful, debilitating and often deadly diseases. Unfortunately, many more will suffer before this plague is eliminated.
The governor is to be commended. Removing tobacco products from the workplace is a necessary step toward the elimination of this serious public health hazard. Yes, there may be some short-term inconvenience for some, but that's nothing compared the enormous personal, social and financial costs inflicted by the use of tobacco products.
Michael E. Johns, M.D.
The writer is dean of the medical faculty and vice president for medicine of Johns Hopkins University.
The United States cannot keep relying on the Federal Reserve to try to save the value of the dollar from plummeting.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan may keep selling foreign currency for U.S. dollars abroad, or raising interest rates to entice foreign investors to buy U.S. bonds in order to keep up the value of the dollar.
However, this method is:
(1) Increasing the deficit because the amount of money the government is spending to pay off interest is increasing.
(2) Disturbing the balance of trade, which itself increases the deficit because the gap between imports and exports will continue to grow as the foreign investors prop up demand for the dollar.
(3) Hindering economic growth by discouraging investment, which may lead to a recession.
What our government should be doing is working on ways to increase exports, which will bring up the value of the dollar and lower the deficit.
The media blame Japan for not importing American goods, but it is really the United States' fault.
For example, we blame Japan for not buying American cars. However, U.S. car companies refuse to build cars that drive on the left side of the road, will not make smaller cars that are needed in crowded Japanese cities with narrow streets and will not build cars with a higher gas mileage, even though the price for gas in Japan is very expensive.
In general, American goods are not as reliable or as cheap as Japanese goods. As a result of America's poor interest in increasing technology, our technology is years behind Japan.
Spending money on investment and GNP growth is the solution to the problem, not artificial manipulation.
The United States must stop spending on goods that can only be used once (e.g., bullets and pork barrel spending) and, instead, put money into capital-good formation.
This way is the only way that the United States will be able to compete with other countries in the international market.
Recently published costs of maintaining our nation's prison system indicate that the average outlay per inmate of our four neighboring states and the District of Columbia equals $13,677 a year.
4 Maryland's cost is 25 percent higher at $17,124.
I'm not suggesting that Maryland coddles its prisoners, but I am suggesting that we investigate the possibility of waste and mismanagement.
Gerald L. Mummey
License Guns -- But Be Careful on Searches
Peter Jay's March 2 column, "A Sensible Gun Policy," is a curious mixed bag of common sense and foolishness, of protecting rights and violating them.
He is right that a reasonable concealed carry policy is needed to distinguish between law-abiding citizens, carrying for self defense, and criminals, especially if police use such strong-arm tactics as stopping and searching people without any more than "suspicious" look to them.
Many otherwise law-abiding citizens may carry even now, despite the fact that it is illegal, because they feel safer that way, and we need to recognize that this is their right and choice and not make criminals out of them for their decision to defend themselves.
Peter Jay's suggestions for allowing permits to carry weapons to adults who pass background and safety tests are in good company.
Florida eased its requirements for such permits and experienced a 21 percent drop in criminal homicides, during a period when the national rates rose by 12 percent.
States with laws like Florida's have, overall, a 21 percent lower total violent crime rate, a 33 percent lower homicide rate, a 37 percent lower robbery rate, and a 13 percent lower aggravated assault rate, compared with states that severely restrict "concealed carry."
Many criminals, faced with the well publicized fact that many of their victims could be armed, must have decided that a nice safe job with lower pay was not so bad.
Finally, of 227,569 concealed-carry weapons (CCW) permits issued in Florida between Oct. 1, 1987, and May 31, 1994, only 18 have been revoked because a permit holder committed a crime in which a firearm was present.
However, Mr. Jay's support of more or less random searches of "suspicious" people to look for guns is very disturbing. CCW permits to allow law-abiding people to easily pass through such searches do not make the searches any less of a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
We do not stop "suspicious" drivers to see if they have a license. Many thousands of people would be stopped and harassed, based on a police profile of "suspicious" appearance.
The harassment of thousands of drivers at random roadblocks typically nets only a few drunk drivers. In this country people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.
We do not arrest or interrogate people because they "look like they might rob a bank," we have to wait until they break the law.
If we do not afford everyone this right, we may as well force everyone to wear transparent clothes to ensure that no one can conceal guns, drugs or any other illegal items, and give the police spare keys to our houses and special extensions on our phone to listen in.
A final caveat about the requirements for CCW. These must be clearly written so as to remain reasonable, accessible to all, and not at the discretion of any officials. They must remain as accessible as drivers' licenses.
There have been numerous cases of such laws being administered in such a way as to create a virtual ban.
The tests have been made many times more difficult or expensive than necessary, or in some towns the number of tests issued per year has been reduced to such a low number that only those with political connections can obtain permits.
This, combined with stop and frisk searches, provides a fertile ground for discrimination, when bureaucrats decide both who can carry legally and who is "suspicious." . . .
Marcia Clark's Children
I was dismayed at Susan Reimer's paean to Marcia Clark in The Sun on March 5. (Marcia Clark is, of course, the brilliant prosecuting attorney in the O. J. Simpson case whose present to her husband on Christmas in 1993 was to tell him, "You aren't intellectually stimulating enough for me. Get out!")
Ms. Reimer conveniently ignores three cogent facts in her argument that Marcia Clark deserves exclusive custody of her children (as well as increased child support):
(1) It was the decision of Marcia Clark, not her husband, to destroy their family and end the marriage;
(2) During the marriage her husband equally shared parenting responsibilities with his wife; and
(3) Mr. Clark is able to give the children far more time as a parent than is his wife.
Ms. Reimer needs to advance beyond the faulty premise that children are pieces of property belonging exclusively to the mother.
Perhaps then she will realize that maybe, just maybe, it is better for children to have a few hours a day of devoted attention from their father, rather than a few hectic minutes of their mother's time.
Bruce E. Ivins
Re Susan Reimer's column about the plight of Marcia Clark, chief prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson trial, and the choices women must make: I do not disagree in principle -- only in practice.
No matter how sensitive or loving a father is, he cannot be a mother. It has ever been woman's role to nurture.
This does not exclude her need to excel or explore other areas of interest, but first and foremost is the responsibility to the children.
Like it or not, life is full of difficult choices. Many women over the centuries have subordinated themselves and their desires for the needs of their children. It may not be fair, but life is seldom fair.
It has been the exception, not the rule, when a woman rises to the top and retains respect. In the career choice that Mrs. Clark has made, it would be even more exceptional.
Looking at the present example of Marcia Clark, I agree she should not be re-packaged to obtain public approval or exploited by a soon-to-be-ex-husband.
In today's climate of sensational headlines and instant celebrity, Marcia Clark is just "playing the game." She uses the media just as everyone else in that bizarre trial does. And in her personal battle with her husband only the children will be the losers.
Joan F. Hubbard