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Revitalizing the old can make downtown vibrant...


Revitalizing the old can make downtown vibrant once again

Edward Gunts' article on two historic buildings threatened with demolition by the Marriott Corp. was correct in its call for preserving both buildings ("Preservation plea to Marriot," Aug. 10).

However, Mr. Gunts made little mention of the development plans and preservation guidelines the city has ignored in its rush to wreck Redwood Street and the surrounding central business district.

In a 1977 urban renewal plan for downtown, city officials called Redwood Street and the surrounding blocks a "valuable cultural, aesthetic, historic and environmental resource."

Not long after, a National Register Historic District was established for the area. By 1998 city planners had amended their guidebook to call attention to the special "architectural character" of the district and urged developers to save its remaining historic structures.

Unfortunately, Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration has chosen to ignore this 20-year history of preservation planning.

Despite the surge of interest in rehabilitating historic structures from young urbanites and growing tech companies, City Hall has made no effort to promote the rare architectural treasures of the central business district.

Instead of seeing Redwood Street as a potential link in the "Digital Harbor" or as an urban neighborhood with upscale lofts, the mayor can only see boring corporate buildings filled with tourists.

Instead of helping along the destructive plans of Marriott, the O'Malley administration should follow the development plans already on the books and work to find tenants for downtown's remaining historic buildings.

If it does so, a great historic district may become vibrant again.

Richard Chambers Jr., Glen Burnie

Does Dr. Laura's advice belong on local television?

I want to thank The Sun for covering our meeting with WMAR-TV ("WMAR declines to drop Dr. Laura," Aug. 24).

Notably absent from David Folkenflik's account of that meeting, however, is the fact that Laura Schlessinger, while a certified family therapist, is not a mental health professional.

The "Doctor" in "Dr. Laura" is a Ph.D. in physiology and her thesis on insulin uptake in the fat cells of rats is hardly evidence that Ms. Schlessinger is the most qualified of mental health practitioners.

For this reason, we doubt the intelligence of a decision to run Ms. Schlessinger's broadcast.

Yet WMAR-TV's General Manager Drew Berry tells us that running the show is a business decision. After all, her 20 million radio listeners can't be wrong.

We would argue the contrary. Ms. Schlessinger's radio show is hemorhaging advertisers at an alarming rate. She recently lost the support of Saab and Motel 6 and other heavy hitters are defecting on a nearly daily basis.

If the morality of this situation can't move Mr. Berry, then we certainly hope that the business reality will.

David M. Baker, Baltimore

The writer is a member of the Baltimore Activist Coalition.

Kudos to WMAR-TV General Manager Drew Berry for his willingness to air the "Dr. Laura" show despite the opposition of special interests who have intimidated some large corporations to drop their sponsorships of the show.

I presume those companies prefer to pander to viewers of the likes of Howard Stern and Jerry Springer.

Thanks to WMAR-TV and Mr. Berry.

Wm. E. Mitchell, Towson

Gov. Bush patronized those who protect him

As a retired police officer, I was offended by The Sun's Aug. 26 photograph of Texas Gov. George W. Bush patting a police officer on the head.

Police officers are there to protect Mr. Bush, with their lives if necessary. He should be humbled in their presence and feel proud that he has an opportunity to shake their hands.

Treating a police officer like a family pet is unacceptable.

John T. Laing, Baltimore

It's time to bring all the submariners home

The 118 seamen aboard the submarine Kursk have not died in vain.

Their tragic deaths reveal the need for international cooperation, especially in times of pending disaster. No nation can be self-sufficient when time is an important factor in saving human life.

Their deaths also reveal the foolishness of continuing military force in an interdependent world. What was any submarine, Russian or American, doing on such an expedition? Who is the enemy?

With all due respect to naval tradition, aren't such voyages part of yesterday's way of life, not tomorrow's?

These mariners will not have died in vain if our present generation can recognize that this tragedy was the result of an exercise in absurdity. How great it would be to call all the submariners home.

N. Ellsworth Bunce, Baltimore

The battle for Congress deserves more attention

As Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore slug it out for the presidency, more attention should be paid to the races that will decide the makeup of the next Congress.

Which party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate is of vital importance to the future of America.

If Mr. Gore wins and the Republicans keep their hold on Congress, it will mean the same old gridlock that has plagued the Clinton administration's efforts to bring about changes in Social Security, Medicare, education and taxes.

On the other hand, if Mr. Bush wins and the Democrats take Congress, it will produce a new impasse as Democrats block Republican initiatives.

With the same party controlling the White House and the Congress, however, frustrated voters could clearly discern the differences between the two parties and thus lay the blame for gridlock where they believe it belongs.

Albert E. Denny, Baltimore

Criteria for debates exclude alternative voices

All citizens should demand that the Commission on Presidential Debates reduce its arbitrary and unreasonable threshold of 15 percent support in the polls to qualify to participate in the presidential debates. A more reasonable level would be five percent support.

The current policy is clearly designed to restrict public discussion of the issues for the benefit of those in power and is blatantly anti-democratic and un-American.

If the 15 percent criterion had been used in the past, such important candidates as Ross Perot and John Anderson might have been excluded.

To preserve a healthy democracy, we must allow all voices to be heard.

Anthony Crute, Baltimore

To stop the killings, stop the 'war on drugs'

Michael Olesker's column "Throwing police at the problem will not end it" (Aug. 24) captured the reality of the drug trade.

When will we accept that all we can do to stop the drug trade and end the killings is to end the prohibition on drugs? The trade and the killings would then stop; we have the addicts with us anyway.

We need a leader who will call for the end of the 30-year farce called the "war on drugs."

C. Clark Jones, Parkville

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