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Sykesville residents urged to get out and...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sykesville residents urged to get out and vote on referendum

This Wednesday, Sykesville residents will be voting on a referendum that will have an impact on the entire South Carroll area. The annexation of the Warfield Complex and its calculated development by the town stands to bring higher education, jobs, parks and historic focus to the area. Most importantly, it would give control to keep out prisons, rock concert stadiums and urban sprawl.

There is a fear that apathy may allow a small number of vocal residents to kill the entire project. A number of years ago, concerned citizens mounted a similar negative effort against the renovation of Sykesville's Historic Train Station. Luckily, the decision was made to move forward. Baldwin's Station was renovated and has become a popular attraction and economic success for the town.

The indicators for success of the Warfield project are even stronger and include solid projections from Fred Glassberg, a former vice president of the Rouse Co. Additionally, a project report just completed by Jim Lindsay, an independent auditor, rates the project as a sound investment that uses development money from sources other than the town.

Michael Kasnia, Sykesville

The writer is a Sykesville town councilman.

KAL's Clinton cartoon 'should not have been run'

To say KAL's Feb 13 cartoon portraying O.J. Simpson giving President Clinton the thumb's up sign was mean-spirited is to understate the case. First, Simpson was accused of killing two people not lying about consensual sex -- one a major crime, the other an indiscretion.

Second, the cartoon is racially tinged. Simpson in a golf cart brings to mind Vernon Jordan, President Clinton's African-American friend, supporter and sometime golf partner. Frequently, it seemed that the Republicans found Clinton's support in the African-American community as troubling as his supposed misdemeanors.

Rather than commenting critically or critiquing ironically, KAL has chosen the obvious slur. His cartoon was offensive and should not have been run.

Barbara M. Simon, Baltimore

Is the city trying to seize drug lords' property?

The bone-rattling article ("When a drug lord is your landlord," Feb. 14) disclosing the ownership of much of the city's slum properties by drug lords leaves unanswered the basic question: Is the city doing anything to seize these properties as the ill-gotten proceeds of illegal drug transactions?

There was comment of delayed federal forfeiture efforts but no report on whether Baltimore City was even contemplating using this tool to solve several problems. It would allow the city to proceed with its federally backed plan to renovate many blocks of slum housing and it would deny these drug king-slum lords their grip on lowly tenants and the use of these properties as "strongholds for illegal commerce."

Housing Commissioner Daniel Henson is right to be adamant against using tax dollars to pay predatory landlords for their property in order for the city to acquire them. But I'll bet taxpayers would heartily approve assigning a city attorney the responsibility for seizing these properties.

Forfeiture is a harsh procedure, which should not be used as a license to steal, as it has been characterized, or to undermine our civil society. It must be utilized judiciously in order to avoid abuse. However, its original purpose would be well served here: as an effective tool against organized crime.

It could also eliminate the horrors imposed upon large sections of the city and their law-abiding inhabitants. Why isn't the city doing this?

Howard J. Needle, Baltimore

My blood is boiling after reading the article "When a drug lord is your landlord" (Feb. 14). This is yet one more example of the failure of the current city administration to provide adequate housing for the poor.

Certainly, Harvard/Yale-educated Mayor Kurt Schmoke and his housing commissioner Daniel Henson ought to be able to come up with some solution to the problem of drug dealers holding city housing hostage.

Millions of federal dollars have already been wasted by Baltimore. Come on, Mayor Schmoke and Mr. Henson -- put your heads together and find a way to use this latest $35 million from the federal government so that it really benefits those who are living in poverty.

One has to wonder just where this money is really going to end up if it isn't used properly.

Ellen Apple, Baltimore

Flap over cell-phones is about an old problem

I am quietly amused at the flap over the proposed law to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Maryland is still living in the dark ages on this issue.

When I lived in New York 30 years ago, 12-volt electric shavers became popular, and the state passed a law simply stating that it was illegal to drive without two hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Such a law seems pretty basic and would cover all of the other one-hand driving hazards.

J. B. Anderson, Long Green

Cowherd column makes needed point about anthem

Kevin Cowherd's Feb. 4 column ("This request's easy to meet: Sing anthem as it's written") about the Super Bowl National Anthem was right on the money.

He failed to comment about the two girls on the lower left screen who appeared to be doing gymnastics. I thought people were supposed to stand at attention during the National Anthem.

Alvin R. Flesher, Baltimore

Protection from tyranny of autodialers is needed

Like many consumers, I also have been barraged by telephone solicitations that intrude on at the most inopportune moments. However, this past weekend I experienced a new terror of the automated phone world.

Somehow my phone number was captured by an unattended autodialer. Subsequently, I received dozens of phone calls that when answered, disconnected. Never fulfilling its mission to reach me, my number was simply placed back into the queue for the next round of assaults. I called Bell Atlantic and was told that other than basically turning off my phone it was powerless to help.

I hope that during their session in Annapolis the elected guardians of our personal freedom and rights may venture into this arena.

I would like to see residential customers able to block out telephone solicitations and, having experienced the horror, I would like to see some regulations about businesses turning on computerized dialing programs and their employees leaving to enjoy their free time.

Fred Metschulat, Baltimore

Will Marriott's profits lead state to reduce tax breaks?

Marriott International Inc., the Bethesda-based hotel company with sales of $7.9 billion a year, reports earnings are up 20 percent over 1997 ("Marriott' profit rises $114 million in quarter," Feb. 4).

Does this mean the profitable firm will drop its demand for a $70 million concession from Maryland taxpayers in exchange for not moving its headquarters out of state ("State offers record deal to Marriott," Feb. 2)?

Joe Surkiewicz, Baltimore

Reading skills fine; Will is the problem

Thanks to J. Douglas Miller for his letter to the editor ("Two writers who take very different approaches," Feb. 6) for my vindication. I am seldom able to complete, and comprehend, a George Will rambling of pedantic obfuscation. No longer need I feel that my reading skills are failing me.

There are evidently others besides myself who enjoy printed communication of information, rather than being put through an exercise in vocabulary games of confusion.

Frank Verde, Lutherville

To our readers

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Pub Date: 2/16/99

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