Nature suffers under liberal immigration
Daniel Griswold points out in his April 26 Perspective article ("Is legal immigration a good or bad thing for America?") good arguments in favor of immigration. Immigration fuels continued growth in our economy; it provides sanctuary for those who suffer from hatred, apartheid and even genocide; it invites others to share in our material wealth; it brings a vitality that springs from diversity; it validates the actions of our ancestors; and it trusts in the basic goodness of humanity.
But by 2050, our population is projected to grow from 265 million to 400 million, a 51 percent increase. Much, if not most, of this growth will spring from immigrants and their progeny. Where are we going to put all these people? Will we continue to swallow up what is left of nature by expanding suburban and rural sprawl? Will we continue to cram people into our cities and suburbs, making it more difficult for urban children to have access to nature?
Unlimited immigration is wonderful, but is it worth this risk? We need to weigh sound, moral alternatives with unfettered immigration.
The days when this land could accommodate another 140 million people are long gone. We need to find a proper balance between the benefits of immigration and the benefits of conservation. Otherwise, we risk losing gifts that were meant to physically, emotionally and spiritually heal us all, native or immigrant.
Use Kelly Fields site for youth/senior center
I have to respond to Kent Barnes' April 21 letter, "Merits of Bel Air site for senior and youth center." Perhaps Mr. Barnes isn't cognizant of the fact that Kelly Fields was first proposed as a site.
It, too, is easily accessible, much more centrally located and a great deal closer to the commercial amenities he suggests. It, too, is public property, and no environmental attributes would be compromised, much less destroyed. Taxpayers' money would be saved because no clearing of land would be necessary.
By his criteria, using Kelly Fields is fiscally responsible, environmentally sound, convenient, and much more accessible than a "10-acre wooded site."
I'm sure Mr. Barnes would agree that Kelly Fields seems to be an ideal location. My question to him, Eileen M. Rehrmann, and the Harford County Council is why isn't it being built there?
Philip N. Zaczek
One more tidbit for Titanic buffs
I would like to add another bit of historical trivia to that offered by Joseph Gallagher in his Opinion Commentary article "Anniversary tidbits for Titaniacs" (April 14).
The renowned wit and writer Dorothy Parker lost an uncle on the Titanic. Born Dorothy Rothschild to Henry and Liza Rothschild, she became the ward of Henry's brother Martin after Henry and his wife died.
Martin had amassed a fortune in the New York garment trade. He and his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Rothschild, cared for Dorothy until she married Edwin Pond Parker III, a marriage that ended in divorce. But Dorothy retained her married name, Dorothy Parker.
Martin and his wife were returning on the Titanic from one of their European tours in 1912 when the ship struck the iceberg and sank. Martin went down with the ship, but Elizabeth was saved, along with her little dog.
All this is family history because Martin Rothschild was also my grand-uncle -- his wife, Elizabeth, was the sister of my maternal grandfather. In my younger years, I knew her rather well.
Charles J. Scheve
Citizens no match for well-oiled machine
I attended a recent Anne Arundel County Council meeting primarily to hear the debate on the NASCAR issue concerning the Fort Smallwood area.
I had never been to a council meeting, and I guess I was an innocent in a den of wolves. I expected to at least see the democratic process in action, in which the issues on both sides were considered and acted upon.
What I saw was a well-oiled machine pitted against a citizen army. I saw an organization that had taken a year to develop its proposal against a group of citizens that had less than two months to develop rebuttals. And I saw one group spouting dollar figures and citizens talking from the heart to defend their position, their homes, their way of life.
I am not against racing. I have been around racing since before NASCAR was born. I have a cousin and an uncle who raced cars in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The end result was the passage of the resolution that effectively cut off public referendum. Needless to say, I was sadly disappointed in the democratic process conducted by the council which, as far as I am concerned, sold out to the dollar.
Edward L. Garcia
Eradicate acorns before Pfiesteria
In the past few months, Gov. Parris N. Glendening has repeatedly said he intends to take extreme actions against Maryland's farmers and poultry industry on Pfiesteria to protect the health of Marylanders. He claims that the Pfiesteria organism has the ability to make people ill and that he has a responsibility to protect them.
It is widely reported that a few dozen people were made temporarily ill because of exposure to the Pfiesteria toxins. If the governor were truly interested in protecting the state's citizens, he would launch a comprehensive campaign against Lyme disease.
While much of the information about Pfiesteria is unproven scientifically, there is valid, peer-reviewed scientific data about the relationship between Lyme disease and acorns.
A study published in the February 1998 journal Science shows a direct correlation between humans becoming sick from Lyme disease and acorns. The study shows that two years after a large acorn crop, there is a dramatic increase in Lyme disease. Why? Because the large acorn crop helps swell the population of mice and ticks that carry the Lyme disease parasite.
This is a proven scientific correlation unlike the speculation and theories about Pfiesteria.
Without good science, Mr. Glendening took action last year that caused significant harm to Maryland watermen, businesses and farmers. With valid science available to him, what has the governor done to reduce human illness from Lyme disease? Nothing. Why not? Because he cannot grandstand and be the big hero with Lyme disease. If Mr. Glendening were really concerned about human health, he would try to legislate the elimination of acorns and put a prohibition on oak trees and rodents. When can we expect to see that legislation?
Gambling in Baltimore would risk family lives
The thought of casino gambling in Baltimore is sickening. I should know. I am the child of a family broken by gambling. My parents were divorced when I was 8, largely because of my father's inability to control his addiction to the chance to turn one buck into a thousand.
His intentions were good; he wanted to make a better life for my mother and me. However, he could never grasp the results that were inevitable; less money for food, less money for rent and a child who wondered why his parents were always arguing.
Having casinos far from the city is not a detraction to Baltimore's financial well-being. It is a blessing. Imagine how many people will be losing money that should be spent on their families if,
during their lunch hour, they can dart to the casino to try to strike it rich? How many fathers will come home from work terrified to tell their wives that they just gambled away the week's paycheck? How many families will be broken by this? How much vision does it take to realize that we need to keep gambling as far away from this city as humanly possible?
It takes quite a bit of doing to sneak away from your family to go gamble in Delaware, and we should keep it that way. If we have gambling within walking distance of the already financially challenged masses of Baltimore, we will only put one more nail in what appears to be the rapidly closing coffin of our city.
I urge everyone to rally against this awful proposal with all due vigor; It is by no means a fix for any of Baltimore's problems.
Denial of Holocaust scorns victims, heroes
I could not believe that 19 percent of Americans don't know or don't believe the Holocaust ever happened ("Poll indicates ignorance about Holocaust history," April 23). Do these people really stoop to the radical theories of known anti-Semites such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky or Jean-Marie Le Pen?
Personally, I am not interested in convincing these nonbelievers of my experiences while I was held in Auschwitz, Birkenau and other camps and that I lost my entire family in the death camp of Chelmno, Poland. I hope the truth will set these people free one day.
But, how do these people dare to question Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. Omar Bradley and thousands of American soldiers who liberated Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen Belsen and many other camps, or to desecrate the memory of hundreds of soldiers who fell in their line for the noble cause of liberating Europe from the Nazis?
Why don't these nonbelievers visit their library and look at pictures and statements made by the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army and educate themselves on what the Holocaust was all about?
By denying the Holocaust, these radicals are desecrating the honor of Gen. Eisenhower, Gen. Bradley and the thousands of soldiers who liberated the camps and witnessed the horror, and those who fell fighting to free the few remaining souls holding on to dear life.
A good lie finds more believers than a bad truth.
Hippodrome money should go to arena
I was recently in the neighborhood adjacent to the Hippodrome Theater, and I noticed something. The area is terribly filthy -- disgusting. Let's forget about wasting millions of dollars on rebuilding a playhouse in a dangerous area, and let's put the money into a new sports arena.
Tearing down the Baltimore Arena and building a state-of-the-art facility will do wonders for Baltimore's image.
Top entertainers, big-time sports and other major league events will bring a large number of people into the region to spend money. Baltimore has the Lyric Opera House for Broadway shows. Why not give them a portion of the Hippodrome funding to make improvements so large-scale Broadway productions can perform there?
Council determined to ruin waterfront
Have certain members of our City Council once again lost their minds? They seem hell-bent on defacing the waterfront view, which is the major reason tourists and residents are attracted to Baltimore.
Are we being punished in the southeast part of the city for our strong, widespread disapproval of the City Council's Wyndham hotel project? What is the rationale for removing offensive billboards from one part of the city only to move them to another location within the city limits? Billboards, especially those advertising alcohol and cigarettes, have no redeeming qualities and should be banned from any location within the city limits.
No neighborhood in Baltimore should have to look at these monstrosities for the few lousy bucks the city may gain.
Donna J. Zebe
Bad science theories downplay real threats
With "tobacco science" (that is, the claim put forward by scientists paid by the tobacco industry that tobacco isn't addictive) recently debunked, it is hard to believe that the public is ready to accept "big oil science" that dismisses the threat of global warming ("Opponents of environmental treaty draft plan for defeat," April 26).
Mainstream scientists from around the world with no more ax to grind than the protection of the global biosphere agree that the threat is real and that the consequences of not avoiding our present course would be catastrophic.
Expressways are hazardous to a community's well-being
What does a park have to do with economic development in the inner city?
Plenty. The renaissance of Gwynns Falls and Leakin parks in West Baltimore portends improved quality of life, neighborhood stability and opportunities for enterprise. The centerpiece of this revival is the Gwynns Falls Trail, a hiking and biking path that will begin in Leakin Park and follow the Gwynns Falls Valley to the Inner Harbor.
This is quite a different vision of economic development and urban life than the one presented by Michael P. McCarthy, who bemoans the lack of an expressway through Gwynns Falls and " Leakin parks in his commentary ("Cross-town expressway had saving graces for inner city," April 8).
Professor McCarthy argues that the successful battle of citizens to stop Interstate 70 from running through the parks and communities hampered the development of downtown Baltimore and the West Baltimore communities now included in federal empowerment zones.
Mr. McCarthy's argument is simplistic and just wrong. The empirical evidence regarding urban expressways built in the 1960s and 1970s is that they were disastrous for the inner-city communities they passed through and over. Witness neighborhoods on Chicago's south side that were bisected by the Dan Ryan Expressway, southeast Washington overshadowed by I-395, and New Haven, Conn., neighborhoods disrupted by I-95. The fact is that expressways are intended to bring people from the suburbs to the downtown or through the city to other destinations.
They are not intended to help the areas they cross over, and, indeed, they do not.
(Ironically, in the same issue of The Sun, you describe a lecture by James Howard Kunstler who "blamed the suburban car-centered lifestyle" for the breakdown of U.S. communities.)
Gwynns Falls and Leakin parks make up the second largest urban wilderness park in the nation. As an almost daily user of the park, I get immense pleasure in hiking its trails and observing all that God provides.
And I am not alone. The Rognel Heights Cultural Center, for example, takes youth from West Baltimore neighborhoods to the park to hike and camp, an experience they otherwise would not have had.
None of this would have been possible had Dr. McCarthy gotten his expressway.
Jonathan R. Foley
The writer is president of Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park.
Viewpoint misrepresented legislation on firefighting
The editorial titled "Bad firefighting bill" (April 4) succeeds in misrepresenting the intent and scope of the Senate bill defeated in the recent legislative session. Further, it exhibits an irrational bias against a modest proposal to afford simple procedural rights to firefighters. Also, it irresponsibly impugns the integrity of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
The editorial implies that the bill would have placed unnecessary and onerous burdens on local government in dealing with investigative procedures involving firefighters and would have interfered with each jurisdiction's disciplinary process. Both claims lack merit.
The legislation would not have diminished existing disciplinary procedures or, for that matter, potential penalties.
Local statutes, regulations and procedures regarding the ability to levy discipline would have been preserved. The proposal dealt exclusively with the investigative stage of the disciplinary process. As amended, the bill would have applied only to the most serious cases, in which an employee may be subjected to dismissal, long-term suspension, fines in excess of $250 or demotion. It would have applied in less than 5 percent of all disciplinary cases.
The legislation merely sought to afford certain basic procedural rights to firefighters under a disciplinary investigation. These are the right to be notified of the investigation; the right to be represented by council; access to the investigation file; and the establishment of a structured interrogation procedure.
Our colleagues in law enforcement have enjoyed protections far greater than those envisioned in the bill since the enactment of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights in 1974. In Virginia, firefighters and paramedics enjoy similar protections. I hardly consider providing these basic protections to the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis unreasonable or overly cumbersome.
More troubling are the blatant inaccuracies in the editorial. At no juncture did either the governor or Senate president attempt to resurrect the original draft of the legislation. Immediately after the bill's hearing, the leadership of the firefighters union and its lobbyist submitted extensive amendments to the chairman of the Finance Committee that restricted the scope of the legislation. Both men deserve apologies for this misrepresentation.
Finally, The Sun suggests that this proposal would restrict the collective bargaining process. The majority of Maryland firefighters do not enjoy collective bargaining with third-party binding arbitration. As a matter of policy, our association would gladly refrain from seeking legislative remedies for these types of issues if the General Assembly would enact a statewide statute affording binding arbitration to all Maryland firefighters and paramedics.
Perhaps next year, legislation should be submitted to ensure fairness and equity in reporting and editorial policies.
Kevin B. O'Connor
The writer is president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia Professional Fire Fighters.
Writing and photography of Whitbread was elegant
In the April 21 Opinion Commentary section of The Sun, James S. Keat's comprehensive description of the Whitbread Round the World Race and Algerina Perna's expressive photograph, "Buoyed hopes," together reveal today's exciting world of sea racing, tempered by the ageless struggle between humans and nature. Thank you for your elegant art of presentation.
ildred G. Blum