Nurse kids in the home
Without question the landscape of the workplace has changed dramatically as more and more women, by necessity or choice, have sought employment.
But it is wrong to bow to political correctness by allowing their very young children to disrupt business, as is suggested in the article "Nursing mother leaves GOP panel" (April 15).
Clearly, infants and toddlers do not belong in an office setting. It is unfair to suggest that keeping tiny tots out of a business environment is "sending a terrible message to working people."
Amy Leaberry was undoubtedly effective as a Republican activist.
But her choice to be a mother of three children under 4 years old should not affect those with whom she works. A 3-month-old child who requires breastfeeding does not belong in the workplace, nor do two- and three-year-old children belong at evening meetings.
Indeed, with her record of absenteeism at meetings of the Queen Anne's County GOP central committee, it seems Ms. Leaberry's attendance record may be the issue, not the fact that she chooses to breast-feed her baby.
But it is unrealistic for her to expect either the infant or her toddlers to be quiet and well-behaved in a setting designed for adults to function at their jobs.
I don't agree that "this is an example of how little sensitivity there is." This is an example of "mommyism" gone amok.
Ms. Leaberry would be far more effective, and her children far more comfortable, if she stayed at home until the youngsters reach an age at which they can attend meetings without needing to be fed, nurtured or quieted.
Regarding the breastfeeding GOP activist Amy Leaberry, I think women can just take things too far.
Of course most people are pro-family and family values or whatever other values the Republican Party wants to claim for itself alone.
But it's one thing to breast-feed discreetly and of necessity in a public meeting and absolutely another to appear with two kids running around and sit there uncovered and breast-feed as if to say, "This is my right."
I don't care how natural breast-feeding is, there's something about manners and society in general that Amy Leaberry doesn't get.
Annie P. Wagner
As artist, Van Gogh certainly 'made it'
The Sun Journal article on absinthe, was marred by inaccuracies ("Precious inspiration to oblivion," April 18).
Vincent Van Gogh shot himself in the chest on July 27, 1890; he did not "put a bullet through his brain," as the close of the article suggested.
The article also leaves the false impression that Van Gogh "never made it as an artist while alive."
That's a remarkable statement considering all that Van Gogh accomplished.
The article gives the misleading impression that it was only because of the "pain of his failure" that he shot himself.
Sure Van Gogh felt like a failure. But he was also malnourished and physically ill.
Van Gogh was ill with a type of epilepsy that involves delusions and psychotic attacks. During one such seizure he cut off part of his left ear-lobe.
His artistry succeeded because he was able to identify deeply with people who one might call social misfits. He made it as an artist in the sense of his mastering the modern style.
If writer Richard O'Mara meant that Van Gogh didn't make it as a commercial artist, he has a point. Otherwise, I think Mr. O'Mara misunderstands the contribution that Van Gogh made.
Van Gogh may not have made it as a patient or as a person with his own infirmities, but he made it as a mature artist.
West side needs to use transit
The Sun has written numerous editorials decrying the lack of a convincing transit strategy for the Baltimore region.
While I agree with this assessment, I am surprised that The Sun has not linked the transit issue with west side redevelopment.
The Sun has endorsed the Baltimore Development Corp.'s west side strategies, which don't deal with mass transit and focus their transportation strategy on additional parking garages and opening the Lexington Mall corridor to cars.
The west side has the best transit connections in Maryland. Bus lines, the Metro subway and the light rail line traverse the area and most visitors reach the area via public transit.
The west side also holds the key to improving connections among the area's various transit modes. Any transit line extensions will likely connect to the existing systems somewhere on the west side.
West Side redevelopment is needed, desirable and a huge opportunity for the city.
But it should be conceived as a transit-oriented development. It should promote good connections for pedestrians and concentrate use near mass transit stations.
Proposals that place parking garages and telephone switch gear on valuable floor space ("call centers") next to existing transit stations and relegate pedestrians to narrow sidewalks need to be reconsidered -- not only because of their much-debated lack of historic preservation but because they also lack long-term transportation thinking.
The writer is co-chair of the American Institute of Architects of Baltimore's Urban Design Committee.
Region's transit hub belongs downtown
In a recent letter, Theodore Feldmann of the Charles North Community Association stated that Penn Station was the only logical place for a transportation hub in Baltimore ("Baltimore transit hub is a must," March 11).
But the best place to build a transportation hub for Baltimore is at the present site of the Baltimore Arena.
Although it makes sense to link different transportation modes in one place, Penn Station is too far from major businesses, tourist destinations and highways.
Most of Baltimore's hotels, corporate headquarters, convention facilities and major attractions are more than one mile to its south.
It is a foregone conclusion that the Baltimore Arena is outmoded and should be replaced. But building a new arena at the current location poses two major problems.
First, the city would be without an arena for at least two years while the old one is demolished and a new one constructed on-site.
Second, the present 900-space arena parking garage would have to be demolished for a new, bigger arena, exacerbating the downtown parking shortage.
If a new arena is to be built elsewhere, the current site should be developed into a transportation center for both commuters and travelers.
Such a downtown transportation hub would be within walking distance of most of the city's major downtown hotels, the Convention Center, Camden Yards, Charles Center, the University of Maryland at Baltimore's campus and the Inner Harbor.
The hub could also be a new center of downtown activity, open 24 hours a day.
It could include eateries, newsstands, amusements, ATM machines, a central package delivery center, airline ticket counters and a welcome center for visitors.
Since all of the Mass Transit Administration's transitmodes would be connected at this one location, its main offices should also be relocated to a new office building above the terminal.
Ultimately, the hub would be accessible by every transportation mode. Once commuters and visitors reach the hub they would be able to transfer to any destination in the Baltimore area or beyond.
Unlike the limited Penn Station proposal, a downtown transportation hub would benefit both visitors and commuters, as well as downtown residents.
The hub would convert disparate mass transit lines into a single interconnected system.
It would also act as a catalyst for the rehabilitation of the west side and be consistent with Maryland's Smart Growth initiative.
The current proposal to build a bus station at Penn Station that would link inter-city bus transportation with inter-city train transportation is not a bad idea, but it could be better.
We now have the opportunity to create a major new activity center for the 21st century -- a downtown transportation hub which will help spur development while increasing mass transit use.
We should take advantage of this great opportunity.
Fred B. Shoken
Don't give children animals for Easter
Every Easter parents make the impulsive decision to buy bunnies, chicks and ducklings as gifts for their children.
But children are too young to understand the huge responsibility of caring for these animals. They often handle these animals too roughly and the result is pain or death for the animals.
Most people do not realize the complex care these animals require. And when the child loses interest in caring for the animal, the result is often animal neglect.
Please remember that these adorable baby animals will quickly mature into full-size adults.
When people become burdened with the responsibility of an animal, they often release the animal into the wild, thinking it can fend for itself. But the animal often ends up starving or being torn apart by other animals.
Other people take these animals to animal control or to a Humane Society shelter. But there many animals wait for homes they may never get, which leaves euthanasia as the only alternative.
This is a tragedy that people don't think about when they buy these animals.
People need to know that buying an animal, especially a bunny, chick or duckling, is a commitment of time, energy and money.
Like all other animals, they require food, water, exercise, cleaning, attention and regular veterinary care.
Please don't let an innocent bunny, chick or duckling become a victim of neglect or death this Easter.
Have compassion and buy a stuffed, plush toy which results in a happy child and a happy parent -- happy because you know that you've made a difference.
The writer is a senior at Chesapeake High School.
Defining 'Smart Growth'
The Sun's recent article about local opposition to "neo-traditional" development ("Residents say no to 'neo,'" April 4) may have left more than a few readers confused about what Smart Growth (as opposed, perhaps, to "neo-traditionalism") is.
Smart Growth is about putting growth in the right place, near existing development and infrastructure and not eating up the farms and forests and stream valleys that people love.
It's about increasing density, without overwhelming neighborhoods with wildly out-of-scale buildings or homes.
It's also about good design and diversity.
Attention to good design can provide adequate privacy as well as a nice home and lot, local amenities such as parks for kids and easier (dare I say car-less?) commutes and errands.
Diversity involves diversity of land use, so stores and even some offices can be close-by.
It also means diversity of housing type and price, so the new or "in-filled" community doesn't just shut its doors to its own teachers, office-workers, policemen and librarians.
And of course, we hope there is also diversity of race and culture.
There are would-be neighbors and neighborhoods that fight anything different. Some merely fear change. Some fear loss of "quality of life." Some really do fear adverse environmental impact.
But it would be wrong to characterize this as a prevailing view.
And it would be wrong to think they might not just come around, given the opportunity to see how growth can be done right.
I am convinced that people oppose denser development because they have seen little growth to like --and don't trust their local governments to ever say no to more and more again after that.
The alternative to Smart Growth is uncontrolled sprawl that will continue to gobble up open land and cause more traffic congestion and the decline of towns and inner suburbs and put stress on the Chesapeake Bay.
Lee Epstein Annapolis
The writer is director of the lands program for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation .
'Tall Trees': a model village
The Sun's comment that a renovated Village of Tall Trees apartment complex would never be "the equivalent of a Colonial Williamsburg" is a stunning statement ignoring 50 years of historic preservation -- much of which took place here in Baltimore ("Thoughtful preservation," editorial, April 11).
No, the hundred solidly built brick garden apartment buildings in Tall Trees, carefully built without disturbing the tall trees growing on the site, cannot mimic an 18th century colonial capital.
But then neither can Mount Vernon Place, Fells Point or Canton -- yet The Sun has (perhaps in a fit of inattention?) celebrated the preservation of these neighborhoods.
This despite the fact that the old electrical and plumbing systems in those neighborhoods have been far more difficult to upgrade than would be those of Tall Trees' 50-year-old buildings.
Tall Trees should not be preserved as a tourist attraction like Williamsburg, or as a monument to the workers of World War II, or even, in The Sun's rather bizarre image, maintained like preserved examples of "slave quarters."
Instead, using abundant tax incentives available to significant older buildings, Tall Trees should be rehabilitated to provide well-built and landscaped homes for our poorer fellow-citizens, close to stores, churches, public transportation and the water.
Can The Sun find another low-cost neighborhood in a grove of mature trees, with plentiful off-street parking and play areas?
I can think of one: Kingsley Park. It adjoins Tall Trees, was built at about the same time, and was expensively rehabilitated about five years ago.
No doubt many displaced Tall Trees residents will relocate there. But not for long, as that neighborhood too is slated for condemnation and demolition.
Preservationists are not only interested in monuments to the past, but in using our legacy to build an attractive and just society for the future.
Tearing down Tall Trees -- "destroying the village in order to save it" -- is a step in the wrong direction.
John R. Breihan
Tall Trees, formerly Mars Estates, is a Baltimore County historic resource eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
It was home to many who worked in the local defense industry supplying the planes for the Allied victory in World War II.
The well-designed cluster of neoclassical dwellings in a purposefully landscaped setting remains today a standard for modern architects who espouse the neo-traditional movement, which combines solid design, good landscaping and less dependence on the car.
The county should consider placing it on the National Register so developers may benefit from state and federal tax credits for rehabilitation of the site.
Tall Trees' preservation would be Smart Growth.
Its demolition would be a return to the short-sighted, outdated urban renewal policies of the 1950s.
Ruth B. Mascari
The writer is chairman of the Baltimore County Historical Trust Inc.
Question of the Month
With parkland a precious commodity in the city and suburbs, how can recreation and parks officials best answer the conflicting needs of the many people and pets who use them? Should there be designated, confined areas in parks where dogs can play unleashed? Should leash laws be repealed?
We are looking for 300 words or less; the deadline is April 24. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them.
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