Harford's choice on center goes against people's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Harford's choice on center goes against people's will

I have had many dealings with Eileen M. Rehrmann during the past 13 years. She has helped me in the past on issues dear to my heart. I hate having to write this letter now.

I have to respond to Ms. Rehrmann's letter in the Saturday Mailbox ("Harford picked the best among its options for senior-youth center," June 13).

Ms. Rehrmann states that she has "proposed an innovative facility that will combine our Bel Air senior center and the Bel Air youth center while balancing environmental concerns." Well, the citizens of Harford County beg to differ.

If she put it to the people, she would find out that she is losing votes over this issue. Citizens of Harford County are fed up with uncontrolled growth.

We are trying to save the last 10 acres of woods left in Bel Air.

These woods, known as the Wakefield Woods, have for years been used for environmental studies by the high schools.

Citizens have complained to county government about the overdevelopment of our area for years. Representatives in government have said growth was beyond their control, that all this development was in the "20-year plan."

Well, here is a situation where they have control.

Local government could recycle a building. It could buy a piece of property that is already developed. It could prove to people that it cares about the environment and the quality of life in Bel Air and surrounding areas.

If there were 30 other possible sites, choosing the only one with a forest -- a "deep woods" -- shows a lack of respect and consideration for the environment.

If the environment comes in 31st on Eileen Rehrmann's list of priorities, where will the Chesapeake Bay be found?

The majority of citizens who want a senior-youth center do not want it at the expense of the environment. Do not demolish Wakefield Woods.

inda Koplovitz

Bel Air

The writer is a candidate for Harford County Council.

The Bel Air senior-youth center issue is not about location. It is about how we think about our future and about "smart growth." Every need of seniors and youth can be met at numerous other cleared sites, several with vacant buildings and parking lots.

We are about to enter the 21st century, and our county executive continues to follow 18th-century practices. She acts as if we still possess the forests, wildlife, clean air and clean water that Henry Harford and John Carroll took for granted.

If Eileen Rehrmann acknowledges that more than 30 sites were considered for the center, why did she select the only one with a 100-year-old forest -- what environmental scientists call a deep woods -- that supports a small but vital ecosystem?

This same site is used by students from four schools who walk to this rare natural laboratory that cannot be replaced by a videotape or lecture.

Could Ms. Rehrmann's selection reveal that the environment and education are 31st and 32nd on her list of priorities?

Her administration is pressuring the Harford County Board of Education to transfer its land for free.

This pressure threatens the independence of the local Board of Education to act in the best interests of the students of Harford County.

This Harford County issue reveals much about the future importance of education and the environment in Maryland.

Patrick T. Wilson

Bel Air Despite kids being killed by gunfire, a realist must believe that our society is not going to follow the wisdom of older societies.

It will not limit guns to the police and target ranges. Gunfire is too much a part of the American scene, so we must look for another remedy for the problem. The remedy is mandatory insurance.

The National Rifle Association neatly sidesteps the problem with its palaver about it being people, not guns, that kill.

People, worst of all kids, are maimed and killed by people with guns in their hands. And after that happens, there is no compensation.

Although guns are at least as dangerous as cars, no pool of money can compensate the families of victims or the victims themselves when they survive. Few gun owners have the money to satisfy a judgment for the harm they have done, so victims rarely waste time and money suing them.

The same would be true for automobile victims, but most states have a system that requires people who own cars and put them on the highway to have insurance. Why not the same for people who keep firearms?

Most gun deaths are, like car deaths, a result of negligence. That includes keeping a gun where a youngster can get hold of it, accidentally firing it at someone when it was not supposed to be loaded, accidentally shooting a fellow hunter and so forth.

Locking up every criminal in the United States, as the NRA well knows, would not eliminate gun deaths and injuries because most of them are not at the hands of criminals.

Many, if not most, people who murder using guns, and thus become criminals, weren't criminals before that.

We cannot eliminate even a significant portion of America's guns. So we need to have laws that make gun owners, like car owners, buy liability insurance. The insurance would have suitable policy limits, be from the same commercial property and casualty companies and be at similarly competitive rates.

I propose this not to eliminate guns, anymore than it eliminates cars, but to compensate the victims out of a pool of insurance money paid for by the gun owners. That is the American way.

Philip L. Marcus

Ellicott City

Are Southern Baptists done shutting women's mouths?

While the reaction of Southern Baptist men to their church's pronouncement that on direct orders from God, they are to rule the roost at home was understandably positive, as reported in The Sun, the apparent unanimous consent of the wives interviewed to be subservient is amazing ("Submit to your husband, Southern Baptist wives told," June 10).

They must be aware that the unwed Paul, who prescribed this role, considered marriage a sorry alternative to bachelorhood and celibacy. To the faithful in Corinth he wrote: "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion."

Future conventions may be inclined to go further by incorporating more of Paul's directives into the church's Faith and Message Statement, such as those he wrote to Timothy: "The women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided or with gold, pearls or expensive clothes." Or, "Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent."

Do the Southern Baptists have women clergy? Do any teach Sunday school classes with men in them? Do any head church boards or open their mouths in discussion?

Oh my!

Luther Starnes

Columbia

Politicians avoid tough questions on heroin

The governor, the lieutenant governor and other elected officials all believe that Johns Hopkins' proposed study of heroin maintenance for hard-core addicts will "send the wrong message." This sort of predictable posturing would be amusing if it weren't so disgusting.

This is not an attempt to change the legal status of heroin. It is not a policy recommendation. It is a proposal to study an $H alternative method of dealing with a major public health problem.

Apparently, there are questions that must not be asked, protocols that must not be examined. Evidently, to succeed and endure in politics, one must memorize and recite the catechism of the war on drugs.

It is this sort of shallow cynicism and degrading political behavior -- not the research proposal -- that sends the wrong message.

Steve Rafferty

Baltimore

There are two sides to every story. And sometimes it is like a box, and it has more than two sides.

One side of the heroin provision story is that the addicts might continue to acquire their drugs from their former sources in addition to what is provided for them. Then there might be a higher incidence of death from drug overdoses.

These addicts have families and friends who want them to survive no matter what their problems are.

Perhaps more study should be done to prevent these addictions the first place.

Marjorie Scharrer

Towson

You report that Gov. Parris N. Glendening is against research on the city's heroin problem and quote him as saying it would send the wrong signal.

What kind of a bubble does the governor live in?

With more than 34,000 of our citizens addicted, blind adherence to present policies sends a truly horrific signal: We are willing to place almost 5 percent of our population outside the law and refuse to help them.

As for Councilman Lawrence Bell's not-too-bright remark about becoming "the city that nods," someone should take him aside and explain the problem is serious.

Anyway, thanks to City Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson and Dr. Alfred Sommer, of Hopkins, for trying. With leadership such as theirs comes hope that someday the problem may be attacked and even resolved.

Charles R. Richardson

Baltimore

Recycling still makes a big difference

Recycling does make sense, and the recycling public is making a positive difference. Thankfully, your editorial "Recycling still makes sense" (May 31) evaluated residential recycling more evenhandedly than the front-page article by Craig Timberg five days earlier.

That article suggested that the soundest fiscal and environmental policy would be to eliminate residential recycling.

As The Sun editorial observed, one of the reasons private landfills are less expensive than in the past is that recyclers have succeeded in forcing landfills to compete for a reduced amount of trash. Private landfills would hike rates if trash suddenly flooded the market. Residents should also remain confident that recycling helps the environment by conserving energy and natural resources, as the editorial emphasized.

As Mr. Timberg's article explained, collection costs are the major cost factor in solid waste management, including recycling. Ironically, Mr. Timberg set most of his article in Baltimore County, where we traded twice-a-week trash pickup without recycling for once-a-week recycling, once-a-week trash pickup.

In 1997 alone, Baltimore County residents set out more than 94 million pounds of paper and bottles and cans for recycling, without spending millions of tax dollars for a second trash pickup each week.

In another irony, the chart accompanying Mr. Timberg's article proves residential recycling can be more cost effective than throwing it all away.

Every type of paper, bottle and can set out by Baltimore County residents on recycling collection day gets sorted at the Baltimore County Resource Recovery Facility, produces revenue, and becomes feedstock for new products. In sharp contrast, when those same materials arrive at the facility as trash, county taxpayers foot the $32 per ton cost for landfills.

Bottom line, recyclers like the Catonsville couple featured in Mr. Timberg's article are making "tons" of difference, fiscally and environmentally. We salute them.

Fred Homan

Charles Reighart

Towson

The writers are, respectively, director of the Baltimore County Office of Budget and Finance and county recycling coordinator.

We should be outraged by every murder

I am absolutely baffled by the selective outrage society has placed on recent murders.

Schoolchildren kill, and we blame guns, television and Satan. A woman in Highlandtown was murdered, and we talk about fear for the elderly. A man in east Texas is brutally murdered, and we send a minister to talk about race while our president pushes for "one America" and the country, rightly, revisits relations.

Where is the equal outrage for human life lost? Why must we have extenuating circumstances before we as a society say no murder -- period. We should all be outraged over every murder, not just those that do not fit our regularly accepted murder profile.

Bill Burnham

Baltimore

Jury call comes too often in city

I served on jury duty in Baltimore on April 30 last year, and now I have received a notice to serve again next month. I wrote a letter stating that the last time I served I was told that I would be called only every two years.

When I called the jury commissioner, she said that I was being called every year because so many people are leaving the city.

Can you blame people for leaving? My husband has been mugged and robbed on our front lawn; a 70-year-old aunt was robbed coming out of a bank; and a niece and nephew, owners of a restaurant in Little Italy, were robbed coming from St. Leo's Church.

Is this what Baltimore has become?

Antoinette Baccala

Baltimore

Dynamite wasn't used during Civil War

The article ("Aqueduct joins list for endangered," June 15) on the Monocacy Aqueduct makes the claim that the aqueduct "withstood an assault by Confederate soldiers armed with dynamite on their way to Antietam." Where did they get it?

Although dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel in Sweden in the 1860s, it was not manufactured and available in America until after the war. More likely, soldiers were armed with barrels of gunpowder.

Charles J. Scheve

Towson

Admirer of activist used different strategy

In response to a comment in your article on Robert A. Kaufman by someone who knows him and the Rev. Chester Wickwire, please consider that very likely Mr. Wickwire does not necessarily want to be like Mr. Kaufman.

Mr. Wickwire has always been at the forefront of needed social change. In the 1950s, he took Duke Ellington to lunch in Maryland, a Southern state. In the 1960s, he advocated an end to the war in Vietnam. He traveled to and helped bring peace and peace talks to Central America and the Middle East.

As chaplain of the Johns Hopkins University, he founded its tutoring project, which has blossomed further under its current leadership. As chaplain emeritus, Mr. Wickwire has written and published poetry so beautiful that friends of mine who teach poetry at major universities have asked for and gained permission to use his poetry in their classes.

He reminds me more of President Jimmy Carter: peacemaker, community builder and poet.

Hilda Coyne

Baltimore Many thanks to John Rivera for a wonderful article in tribute to retired Archbishop William D. Borders ("Borders marks 30 years as bishop," June 13). Borders' "No. 2" response on why he thinks he was not elevated to cardinal, saying that he is "not inclined that way," demonstrated his desired role as bishop to be that of ministry and not of hierarchy elevation.

His way of thinking with regard to equality for women in the Catholic Church, his outspokenness on social issues, and his listening ear to open dialogue should not be characterized only as "relatively liberal." I sense his ever-present need for change and growth. As a result, we meet the needs of our faithful community and of one another. God bless him.

Paul Binko

Towson

Pub Date: 6/20/98

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