Lake RolandSeveral months ago, my husband and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Lake Roland

Several months ago, my husband and I moved to a home in Baltimore County off Falls Road overlooking Lake Roland. Our property felicitously borders a hiking trail of the Robert E. Lee Park to which we, therefore, have ready access.

By virtue of this location, we are also members of the Lake Roland Protective Association.

Among this organization's activities to keep this cul de sac of beautifully forested park land "protected" -- I have been told that so much as a pizza deliveryman poses a threat -- is the effort to keep an I-83 interchange out of the Bare Hills-Pimlico Road corridor.

The traffic and ready access this would mean is unwelcome. Some homeowners here do not want the quiet of this undeveloped landscape disturbed.

They do not want more cars driving down Falls Road. Nor do they desire the new commuting activity that would be engendered with a Jones Falls Expressway exit-entry.

In essence, they want to protect what is theirs, even if it means that the congestion at the over-used Northern Parkway I-83 interchange, south of us, is overwhelmed by traffic back-ups, and that the adjoining residential roads of Mt. Washington are overrun.

That problem is evidently for Baltimore City to face alone.

There is significant irony to this situation, however. The exquisite forest land of the Lake Roland area belongs to the city. We in this area of Baltimore County reap its benefits, which are not available to the citizenry of Baltimore, as we have the privilege of living in its midst.

The hundreds of undeveloped acres, except for the limited access that can be obtained through the Robert E. Lee Park, are for us alone, and we are being supported in this luxury by Baltimore City taxpayers.

They own this land that is worth a fortune, should it be sold. In turn, the association wants to keep these city dwellers, among others, away.

In addition to scarfing up all these goods, the community of Lake Roland is also saying in its self-interested behavior, you are on your own with your traffic congestion, our concern is to protect ourselves only.

I, for one, suggest that that an obligation accompanies this luxury that we enjoy, and that is the obligation to support our benefactors, the residents of Baltimore City, in their need for this additional interchange of I-83 to improve the quality of their life by siphoning off some of their traffic.

Leslie D. Brown

Baltimore

Gullibility

The gullibility of the right-wing talk radio audience and its reflexively pro-business sentiments has never been more apparent than in its reaction to Rep. Dick Armey's well-broadcast call for a flat-tax rate and its "simplicity and fairness to all."

A careful assessment of the flat-tax concept would lead any thoughtful person to the realization that the system is chiefly designed to save billionaires literally millions.

While some in the middle class may at best save a few hundred dollars annually, the average middle class taxpayer would not even break even in paying for this massive windfall for the wealthiest, because of an inevitable accompanying federal consumption tax. In other words, how does a 10 percent federal tax on your weekly grocery bill sound?

This wildly favorable response to the flat-tax notion among the "dittoheads" and their naive ilk proves once again that no one ever lost a bet by underestimating the intelligence of the right-wing talk radios' Pied Piper-led audience.

Bill Canter

Lutherville

Not Racist

As a 40-year resident of Rodgers Forge, I was saddened to see Paulette Brathwaite's letter (April 17) about the insensitivity her racially mixed family encountered there.

But I want to assure readers that the attitude of a single landlady is not representative of the community at large.

And I am in a position to know: For the past 20 years, I have rented rooms in my home to college students, among them African-Americans, Middle Easterners and Hispanics.

I have never had a complaint from any of my neighbors, nor am I aware that any of these students were shunned or otherwise made to feel unwelcome here.

Of course, no place in America is immune to intolerance and reactionary attitudes. But I believe Ms. Brathwaite's experience was an isolated case; to characterize Rodgers Forge as racist because of it is to use the same kind of stereotyping that underpins so much misunderstanding in our country.

Mary Lewis

Baltimore

Hungry Children

I am writing to correct several incorrect statements about the school lunch program contained in an April 15 letter to the editor by C. R. Jones.

School nutrition programs are working well in Maryland. Local officials in our state administer federal nutrition funds in a responsible and efficient manner that is accountable and responsive to community needs.

The proposed block grants for school and child nutrition passed by the U.S. House of Representatives most certainly will cut the total funds available to Maryland's agencies serving children and eligible adults in licensed day care centers, family day care homes and summer feeding sites.

Next year Maryland stands to lose more than $18 million in federal funding now provided to public and nonprofit agencies that feed children.

We estimate the proposed block grants would cut a minimum of $10.8 million from Maryland's school nutrition programs between 1996 and 2000 and $104 million from the other child nutrition programs.

On an average school day, Maryland's school lunch program serves lunches to 366,000 students, and 51 percent of these students receive a free or reduced price lunch because they live in poverty or near-poverty.

Despite the much vaunted local flexibility, block grants -- by capping funding -- would limit the ability of schools and other agencies to adequately respond to growth in the number of eligible children. In Maryland, enrollment is projected to grow by 13 percent from 1993 to 2003. An economic recession would also swell the eligibility rolls. The nutritional needs of children in group settings like schools and day care centers will compete for funding with children's other needs.

The block grants will surely weaken the high nutritional standards of the current school and child nutrition programs.

There is ample research to support what every teacher and parent knows: hungry children cannot learn.

Sheila G. Terry

Baltimore

The writer directs food and nutritional programs for the state Department of Education.

Senators Set Record Straight

This refers to your April 15 editorial entitled "Senators Wouldn't Lie," regarding senatorial scholarships. You referred to me as one of "the other supposedly pro-reform senators."

For the record, I did not vote on this particular piece of legislation because I was off the Senate floor on business as chairman of the Prince George's County Senate delegation.

For further record, my senatorial scholarship money has been transferred to the state scholarship board to be awarded under the board's regulations and guidelines.

I join eight other senators who do the same. I have and will still continue to support such reform for the entire General Assembly.

Leo Green

Annapolis

The writer is a state senator representing Prince George's County.

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You can imagine my surprise to find my name listed among those that Common Cause claimed had agreed to vote for a total repeal of the legislative scholarship program, since I have been consistent in my statements about the scholarships for the past decade.

I have always agreed that I would relinquish the senatorial scholarship program for the students of the 42nd district when the state scholarship board had the willingness and the capacity to provide the scholarships by district, give awards to part-time students and graduate students and recognize changes in a family's financial situation since the previous year's tax return was filed.

When I retrieved my copy of the Common Cause survey, I felt both vindicated and angry, since I had clearly qualified my response to the question "Will you support legislation that abolishes the legislative scholarship program, removing elected officials from all aspects of awarding scholarships and transferring the funds to other state scholarship programs (with no reduction in scholarship money)?" by checking the "yes" block, but adding "with certain safeguards for students with unexpected fiscal difficulties -- [the Senator Paula] Hollinger bill of 1994 would have been good."

Both Common Cause and The Sun ignored all but the checkoff portion of the questionnaire, thus negating my true position.

Barbara Hoffman

Annapolis

The writer is a state senator representing Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

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