Adoption not as easy as indicated
The Sept. 10 article by Patrick Fagan, "For sake of kids in foster care, remove bureaucratic bars to adoption," was a strange and frustrating mix of truth, ignorance and outlandish exaggeration. He has identified a real problem: Maryland routinely has more than 1,400 children in foster care waiting for adoption, but only 400 are adopted annually.
Keep in mind that the children under consideration have experienced severe deprivations and challenges from a variety of causes, such as pre-natal drug exposure, extreme poverty, transient and sub-standard living conditions, lack of adequate food, health care or parental supervision and physical and sexual abuse. Many of them are physically handicapped, developmentally delayed or emotionally disturbed.
Mr. Fagan seemingly dismisses family reunification as a solution for kids in foster care. In fact, two-thirds of the children leaving foster care in Maryland go to parents or relatives.
After 15 years of being an advocate of adoption, I can assure you that getting 2,000 more of these children adopted each year is not in the cards.
Mr. Fagan clearly loves to bash the welfare bureaucracy, but he ignores serious barriers to adoption that originate in the legal system. Most parents of these children will not willingly relinquish their rights. Courts take an average of 13 months to terminate parental rights.
Judges zealously guard the rights of parents, delaying cases even when parental absence is a reason why the child is in foster care and why the termination process is halted. The Maryland Court of Appeals is now considering a rule change that will further delay this process by adding more futile steps to find parents who don't care enough to keep in touch with their children. . . .
Charles R. Cooper
The writer is administrator of the Maryland Foster Care Review Board.
Hats off to Joe Curran
It is encouraging to know that we have at least one elected official who believes that government's role is to protect the welfare of the people and that morality is not a dirty word -- as some of our General Assembly leaders espouse.
Hats off to Attorney General J. Joseph Curran for his continued courage to speak about the dangers of widespread gambling. No one with the least amount of objectivity can deny the increase of crime, corruption and compulsive gambling when casinos come to town.
When it comes to compulsive gambling, let's face it -- Gov. Parris Glendening and Mayor Kurt Schmoke know diddly and care less. They don't even bother to answer letters, much less allocate one dollar from their budgets to combat compulsive gambling -- even though this public health problem costs our state $1.5 billion a year.
Mr. Curran is due thanks for his morality, concern about our communities and economic good sense. We could use a lot more of that in Annapolis and Baltimore.
V. C. Lorenz
The writer is executive director, Compulsive Gambling Center, Inc.
Crabber unhappy about new limits
I am very unhappy about the recent approved limits on recreational crabbing in Maryland.
I have enjoyed crabbing for the last 30 years, not only for the opportunity that it affords me to spend a fun day on the bay but for the chance to fill my kitchen table top with a couple dozen steamed crabs to feast upon that night.
I share the concerns of our state legislators that we must protect the blue crab from overfishing. However, limiting recreational crabbing to Friday, Saturday and Sunday is an unreasonable method.
I work six days a week and my regular day off is Monday. The new limits mean that I can't enjoy my favorite hobby any more this year. Since my income is modest, I am concerned that I will be denied an important food source for my family.
Federal Hill's dual definition
Amy Bernstein's Sept. 17 Neighborhood File on Federal Hill left me confused and upset. Confused because she writes that Federal Hill is an "urban community masquerading as a suburb" because it has shady backyards, dog-walkers, a garden club, play groups and playgrounds.
What makes these features suburban rather than urban? Upset because the writer implies in the article that the positive aspects of Federal Hill (the same shady backyards and communal activities) are a suburban import, while its hallmark of city life is a citizens' patrol, a response to the problems of urban crime.
Although drugs, crime, etc. have unfortunately increased, this increase has only been over the last couple of decades. Baltimore has a rich history of residential squares, parks and gardens, as well as active public spaces and community life. Federal Hill's positive qualities are not anomalies but are instead part of a rich tradition of what makes urban neighborhoods vital and livable places.
The transformation of Federal HIll is a re-emergence of the best of what cities have to offer, qualities which have been around long before suburbs.
City election was racial
We all know the Democratic primary for mayor was based on race and not leadership qualities.
It does not take a rocket scientist to see the decay, lawlessness and erosion that the once-great and proud city of Baltimore has gone through in the last eight years. Alarmingly, it appears Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has no agenda or solutions.
I am black and I am disgusted at all the so-called black leaders, who stood by the incumbent, when they knew he had failed the citizens of Baltimore. Their support was based solely on race. They implied they would rather see the city continue to disintegrate as long as it has a black leader.
Mary Pat Clarke would have united all of Baltimore and given civic pride back to the communities. At the present, there is a sense of hopelessness.
Lee R. Carter
Loved the story, hated the photo
"Case Closed," your Sept. 9 feature on two retiring homicide detectives, was a wonderful idea. It showed, for a change, the good policemen, the effective and dedicated ones, the ones who go by the book and get the job done. That is to say, the majority.
Wonderful idea, indeed. But why, at the very top of the article, next to the headline where it could not be missed, did you choose to print a picture of one of the detectives' failures?
Maybe one picture is not worth a thousand words, but you can well believe that lots of people look at the picture and don't bother to read any of the thousand words. Why a picture that can only reinforce a negative view of the police force (and maybe give inspiration to criminals in the making)?
Wonderful idea, indeed. But you blew it.