Parks coverage, city initiatives offer hope for renewal
The Sun is to be commended for its recent editorial and news coverage of recreation and parks issues in Baltimore.
The editorial "Renewal of city parks depends on O'Malley" (April 30) was on-target, thoughtful and thorough in discussing the current state of parks and recreation efforts in Baltimore.
Kurt Streeter's article about playgrounds underscored the need for increased capital commitment to all of Baltimore's neighborhoods ("Neglect is taking all the fun out of the city's playgrounds," April 30).
And Jamie Stiehm's news articles captured the excitement of last week's Great Urban Parks conference ("Planting seeds for plaza," May 3, and "Revitalization of city parks sought," April 29).
At the conference, there was a palpable buzz as local parks advocates discussed challenges and opportunities with colleagues from around the country and the vital role parks and recreation can play in revitalizing neighborhoods.
Many speakers noted that Baltimore has the underpinnings of a great park system that needs recommitted leadership, funding and civic stewardship.
Mayor Martin O'Malley took the first step by signing a pledge to help make Baltimore's great urban parks greater.
Park advocates from Baltimore stand ready to work with him and community leaders to do just that.
Mary Sloan Roby
Thank heaven - and The Sun - for reporting Mayor Martin O'Malley's determination to remedy the sad state of our children's playgrounds.
Like so many others, I am embarrassed by the extensive deterioration suffered by Baltimore over years of neglect.
Children injured on playgrounds, schools in disrepair, shooting of innocents on the streets, are clear signs of inhabitants' impaired safety.
John B. De Hoff
The jury is still out on diabetes, Agent Orange
The Sun's article "VA reportedly rejected Agent Orange claims" (April 16) contained factual errors that must be corrected. Veterans deserve to be told the truth about the government's decision-making on disability compensation.
The truth is, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo D. West Jr. did not "reject" a recommendation that would have the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offer disability compensation to Vietnam veterans with adult-onset diabetes.
Instead, he did the responsible thing, asking that an inconclusive and (at that time) unpublished study be reviewed by the prestigious Institute of Medicine.
No study about the relationship between Agent Orange exposure and diabetes has been conclusive. Many of the studies are, in fact, contradictory.
The many studies looking at the association between Agent Orange and diabetes are being reviewed. Mr. West will make a recommendation based on that review. That is what the law requires.
The writer is acting director of the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Public Affairs.
Prostate cancer is rare in men in their thirties
Don Markus' excellent page one article on the Atlanta Braves' Andres Galarraga's amazing comeback from cancer contained a glaring mistake ("Driving homers and hope," May 4).
Former Oriole Eric Davis did not recover from prostate cancer, as the article suggested; he recovered from colon cancer. The same is true of Darryl Strawberry, who was also mentioned in the article.
Yankee manager Joe Torre had prostate cancer surgery and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani just announced he has it. Both men are in their mid-fifties.
Mr. Markus should know that it is extremely rare for prostate cancer to strike much younger men in their thirties.
The government isn't a distant, oppressive cabal
The recent letter "Abuses of federal power make many hate government" (May 2) was as frightening as it was sad. The author said he sees and hears "on a daily basis a pervasive distrust and dislike of government on the part of" ordinary people.
He also compares what he calls the "ruling class" to "new Nazis."
But who or what is the government to which he refers? And who is the "ruling class" that "steals our earnings" and "dumbs down the masses?"
I am a federal government employee who works for an agency whose mission is to protect the public. My colleagues and I really try to fulfill that goal.
I have two young children and pay the same taxes the author does. Am I the target of his wrath?
The writer would be better served by redirecting the energy he currently devotes to rage into democratically changing the system he loathes.
Ronald E. Alper
Don't waste our money training foreign troops
The Sun's article on the U.S Army's School of the Americas gave an interesting overview of that troubled military organization ("U.S. Army school for Latin officers may be reformed," May 2).
But one argument it overlooked is that the U.S. government should not be spending additional taxpayer money to train foreign soldiers.
Last year, the House voted to eliminate $2 million from the school's $4.4 million budget. I suggest they finish the job and eliminate this wasteful program.
It is particularly troubling that many of our representatives argue for funding the School of the Americas while complaining about spending cuts for the U.S. military.
Doesn't it make sense to allocate limited funds to America's own military before funding those of other countries?
Paul J. Gessing
The writer is a policy associate for the National Taxpayers Union.
A developer we should send packing?
In Howard Brown I see someone who is consumed by greed and doesn't care about the community ("Proposed luxury high-rises put Pikesville on offensive," May 3).
After destroying the historic residence of Samuel Owings, Mr. Brown wants to continue to ruin the area by building a 15-story monstrosity.
I would be happy to contribute to a one-way ticket enabling him to leave Baltimore before he does even more damage.
Kelson Friends make their school, city better
What could be more inspiring than the story of the young Juilliard graduate student who is teaching music at one of our city's inner-city schools ("Getting young ears in tune," May 1)?
Rachel Shapiro's involvement with youngsters at Kelson Elementary is making the most tangible difference. But there's more to the story.
Her efforts could not have happened without the hands-on support of an extraordinary group of volunteers, the Kelson Friends. Their tireless work has led not only to funding and organizing the school's music program but to the creation of a model library which will be of enormous benefit to the children and their families and to other city schools.
These people care deeply about the city. They are involved and committed. The school and the city are better for it.
F. Barton Harvey III
The writer is chairman and CEO of the Enterprise Foundation.