Public's interest is foremost concern in fight over property
Regarding Clarence Elder's land on Greenspring Valley and Falls roads ("Landowner won't give in without a fight," April 24), residents do not need a park at this site. It is the public that needs a park -- and needs it a lot more than it needs offices or housing.
Residents would prefer that Mr. Elder build a house on the property and keep the rest open space or agriculture as the zoning requires and will continue to require. Perhaps a park is a good compromise in that it permits public use and keeps open space.
Recently, application for a new 160,000-square-foot office has been made for Greenspring Station. The zoning apparently exists for this, but the traffic capacity does not. Roads and intersections in the area will gridlock. This situation makes a future zoning change on Mr. Elder's land across the road even more unlikely than it has been in the past 40 years.
How could a zoning change be justified when the infrastructure does not and cannot exist? Roads are restricted in width by easements and intersection improvements are restricted by the historic district and the prohibitive cost of overpasses. The sewer is at capacity.
If Mr. Elder wanted intensive use of his property, he should have bought land that had the zoning to support that use. Instead, he gambled on changing zoning in an agricultural area.
That is the gamble that was lost in the past 40 years by the Rouse Co., Mercantile Bank, a retirement community and James Ward.
Clarence Elder's charge that Baltimore County's effort to use his land at Greenspring Valley and Falls Roads for public recreation facilities is racially motivated is simply wrong.
I have spent most of my life near that land, and I have lived within a mile or so since 1986. For almost 10 years, I have been very active in the effort to preserve the Valleys area of Baltimore County. The present and future use of Mr. Elder's land has always been among the most hotly contested issues, and I have engaged in many hours of conversations and community meetings in its regard.
Yet I had never heard Mr. Elder's name, I had never heard the slightest hint that the owner's race was pertinent to the subject, and, indeed, I had not the slightest idea of the owner's race until you printed it.
I reserve judgment as to whether the county's concept of the land as a public recreation site is good or bad for the Valleys. But there is no doubt that it is an infinitely better use than any previously proposed for the property.
Harold H. Burns Jr.
Townsend on right track with prevention program
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend announced her heroin-prevention program ("Townsend unveils program to curb heroin use in Md.," April 9) with great fanfare, and with good reason. Her proposals for more aggressive enforcement, treatment and prevention are thorough and hard-hitting.
Oddly, though, she did not mention Gov. Parris N. Glendening's main policy initiative, his support for giving free needles to heroin addicts. She may have heard that the Clinton administration won't fund such programs because of the fear that they encourage and increase heroin addiction. In fact, the National Institutes of Health put its pilot project in Alaska, where any harm done might be minimized.
Mr. Glendening could learn something about heroin policy from Ms. Townsend. We should send a message to our youth about the dangers of drugs such as heroin, not subsidize its use with free paraphernalia.
John S. Morgan
The writer, a Republican, represents Howard and Prince George's counties in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Health professionals' duty is to guard patient privacy
I applaud the efforts by Lawrence O. Gostin, the Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address patient confidentiality in the health-care system.
It is not only possible that medical records could be an open book to others without consent, it is already happening ("Plugging leaks in patient privacy," April 24).
Who would want to be denied employment for a condition or disability that the potential employer discovered outside of the interview? If you were presently being or in the past had been treated for depression, would you expect others to see intimate details of your struggle on a computer screen?
As a nurse, I have always maintained that to promote patient-provider trust and confidentiality, practitioners must discuss patient status exclusively with other professionals directly involved in or contributing to the care of the individual.
It is not uncommon for a dozen people in the health-care and insurance industry to have access to an individual's personal record during a hospitalization.
Health-care providers hold the key to the initial preservation of privacy for their patients.
Adele M. Gill
Befitting title for keeper of Baltimore County's past
Congratulations to John McGrain on being named official historian of Baltimore County ("It's official: McGrain named Baltimore County historian," April 26). After so many years of dedication and hard work, he is most deserving of the title. He is renowned for his success in the presentation of history.
Through Mr. McGrain's infinite knowledge and expertise in his field, he has enriched the lives of many by providing important glimpses into the past. He has also assured future generations the same opportunity through his documentation and photographs.
From the grist mills in Baltimore County to the Ritter Plantation in Pikesville, he has left no stone unturned in his research of Baltimore County's past.
Those of us who are genealogists, history buffs or just interested in yesterday can be grateful to Mr. McGrain for his numerous contributions.
Clinton deserves the blame for delaying Starr's probe
While I substantially agree with your editorial "No light at end of Starr tunnel" (April 23) and don't entirely agree with the special prosecutor's tactics, I take exception to your reasons why the investigation of presidential misdeeds drags on.
Since the first special prosecutor was appointed, later to be succeeded by Kenneth Starr, the White House has pledged cooperation. It has done just the opposite.
Subpoenas have not been responded to promptly (e.g., the Rose Law Firm's billing records, found in Hillary Rodham Clinton's study two years after Mr. Starr's office demanded them). LTC President Clinton's attorneys have used every legal tactic, valid and spurious, to delay matters. Mr. Clinton's claim of executive privilege in personal matters is perhaps the best example of delay. It also insults the intelligence of every American.
One must also remember that Mr. Starr is not inquiring about the president's private life but is investigating whether the president or his agents, such as Vernon Jordan, have encouraged others to lie under oath. Whoever wrote the "talking points" for Monica Lewinsky obviously suborned perjury.
The irony is that Mr. Clinton's supporters, the ones most loudly demanding a quick conclusion to the investigation, are mapping the delaying stratagems. If the White House had simply cooperated, and if Mr. Clinton would simply level with the American people, the whole matter would be behind us in a few weeks.
Years brought appreciation for a title of endearment
Publicity on Take Our Daughters to Work Day brought back a memory.
I had arranged a summer job for my then teen-age daughter at the hospital where I worked. She was assigned to a joint project that a cardiologist and I were doing in the operating room. Her first day, as she was learning her way around, she asked lots of questions, frequently prefacing her address to me, quite naturally, with "Daddy . . .?" That night, at home, I suggested to her that in the future a bit more formality would be appropriate and asked that she address me as "doctor" when she was in the work situation. The next day, first chance, with the same wicked gleam that was in her eyes when as an infant she splashed me with soft-boiled egg, she called to me with a question: "Doctor Daddy . . .?"
Thirty years later, I welcome each "Daddy . . .?"
Dr. Samuel I. Joseph
Pub Date: 5/03/98