Dislocation presents risks to settlers
The recent demolition of the Lafayette Courts high-rise housing project was both dramatic and symbolic. But while many have hailed the dismantling of this most troubled area, few have asked where the people who lived there have gone?
The answer is that they have been distributed, willy nilly, throughout the rest of the city in what have until now been stable neighborhoods, and their presence is being acutely sensed.
The city's most intractable problems -- violence, drugs, robbery, high unemployment, vagrancy -- are appearing in neighborhoods like Fells Point, Little Italy, Butchers Hill, Federal Hill and Highlandtown. Neighborhoods such as these are the cornerstone of Baltimore, but the balance in terms of livability is a delicate one.
These neighborhoods are occupied by a rapidly aging population with one notable exception: the city's latest breed of tTC settlers -- educated, well-paid professionals. The importance of this newer segment cannot be overstated.
It contributes the lion's hare of non-commercial tax dollars to the city's coffers, engages in a host of essential civic activities, provides business and cultural opportunities through patronage and presence and helps to ensure the continuing vitality of the downtown area.
Unlike many, this group has a choice. Its members possess the wherewithal to live anywhere, but remain in the city as a matter of preference. The introduction of the dislocated public housing tenants into their communities, however, may tip the balance in favor of abandonment at precisely the time when resources are most desperately needed.
The Schmoke administration should have pondered more carefully the consequences of its chosen course.
At a minimum, it should have considered providing such bare essentials as enhanced police coverage to the affected areas.
As things stand now, the method of distributing the city's problem population may amount to throwing the baby out with the bath water. This factor should have been considered well before any physical renovation.
As a downtown business owner and long-time city resident, it infuriates me to see the deplorable state of the ivy and flower beds that used to grace the areas bordering Charles, Pratt, Light and Calvert streets. These lovely green areas gave grace and beauty to the inner city. No more.
Today these planted areas are a disgrace. There are far more barren patches than green spaces. The beds now provide area for litter, living and toilet space for the "homeless" and a convenient place for beggars to harass tourists as well as Baltimoreans for some "change."
The original landscaping included automatic sprinkler systems so that these areas could be maintained. As long as the water flowed, the garden areas flourished. But the current city administration has turned the water off and the plantings have been devastated.
So please, Mr. Mayor, don't come to me as you have in the past and ask for additional funds to make Baltimore City more attractive, safe or hospitable. And don't squander my tax dollars by having city workers plant additional seedlings that, without water, will die again this year as they have the last four years because you won't turn on the water.
Carole L. Oliver
The writer is the co-owner of the Wharf Rat Restaurant.
Proud of town
Many, many thanks to your staff writer, Carl Schoettler, for his great interview and write-up on teacher Cheryl Shiflett (Aug. 29, "School the apple of Dundalk-bred teacher's eye"). He covered the subject of teaching little ones and our town, Dundalk, very well!
Dundalk has been celebrating its 100th anniversary this past year and our closing ceremonies will be on Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. in Heritage Park. We are very proud of our town and the values we try to pass along.
I, too, went to Dundalk Elementary School, about 68 years ago, and I live much closer than Cheryl -- only a half-block away. Most of my teachers, too, left me with fond memories. Thanks again.
Margaret R. Rytter
Of course, not fair
In the storm of controversy surrounding the Shannon Faulkner/Citadel incident, I cannot help but feel that somebody, somehow, is missing the real point.
The Citadel exists, as every military institution exists, to prepare its members ultimately for war. Perhaps The Citadel wasn't fair to Shannon Faulkner. Well, neither would war be. The puzzling thing about war is that there are no rules. War is not fair to anyone.
We are all victims of the lie that the military is a vehicle for personal promotion. That lie is extended to the premise that Ms. Faulkner was denied a singular opportunity that includes status and education.
Beneath the mask of technology, the military at its core is a killing machine, a machine that of necessity must possess some element of the ruthlessness of war for which it is created. Without that element it would never be found fit for the purpose of national defense.
All military training is designed to prepare soldiers to function in an environment where an enemy exists. We can whitewash the military, but we cannot whitewash the stark cruel reality of war.
Whatever Shannon Faulkner's experience at The Citadel truly was, I am in perfect agreement that it was neither fair nor just. But I doubt that it would ever prepare her for the true horror of war.
Patrick M. Plein
Lost in all the brouhaha over Shannon Faulkner's attempt to gain admission to The Citadel, with her now ignominious ending, is the one fact that The Citadel uses public funds.
The issue here is not single-sex schools per se; rather it is the use of public funds to set and continue a private agenda. This is in direct violation of federal law. Few would argue The Citadel's right to be a male-only school -- or argue against male-only education -- but it should not be supported, even partly, by public or state monies.
Single-sex schools have many useful functions, educationally and socially. But in such cases, the schools must be kept privately funded.
Did young Shannon Faulkner allow herself to be used? Very possibly; by lawyers with ambitions of pursuing a landmark case to the highest court. The girl certainly was not prepared for the rigorous physical regimen and rigors of military life.
But Shannon Faulkner has opened a probable door to a trend that will continue in the future. There will be other young women to follow.
Dorothea T. Apgar
According to The Evening Sun's Aug. 28 , "Crews work to remove what remains of demolished Lafayette Courts towers," the old project was composed of 807 units.
The new Lafayette Courts, for which the tab will be picked up by taxpayers, will be made up of 228 new units in the form of rowhouses, 36 renovated units from the old Lafayette Courts and a new mid-rise building, of, say, 30 units. This total comes to 294. No word on what to do with the residents of the other 513 units that used to take the total up to 807.
The cost for building or renovating these units is expected to be $115 million, yes? Let me see: $115,000,000 divided by 294 is $391,156 per unit.
Cheaper to buy each court resident a mansion in Roland Park?
D. P. Munro
Need Social Security
The excellent letter of Aug. 28 from Allan Kaufman, statistician, ("Social Security provides many benefits") delineates clearly the advantages of Social Security over the substitution of "personal investment" for contributions to the system.
Aside from other issues, reports show that even professional financial advisers, who know better, often do not handle their money in the ways they know they should.
Of course, personal saving and investment should supplement Social Security. It would not, however, suffice to take its place. Similarly, a "medical savings account" may well be useful but cannot replace the shared risk and help when needed, which is the essential of insurance.
Mary O. Styrt