Razing city's gems is no way to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Razing city's gems is no way to salvage its sagging fortunes

Every Baltimore resident who loves the city should see the havoc done by the wreckers to the 1904 Merchants and Miners Transportation Co. building on Redwood Street before an injunction could prevent further damage. It's a heartbreaking sight ("Late-night injunction stops demolition of downtown site," Sept. 20).

Mayor Martin O'Malley once said: "Historic preservation is good business." And indeed it is.

Yet, Marriott Corp. is intent upon destroying two buildings that represent the architectural and cultural heritage of Baltimore in the early 1900s. What a statement that corporation could have made and perhaps could still make, were it to restore the buildings and convert them into elegant, modest-sized hotels.

A costly undertaking, of course, but what character and beauty they could reflect and what a stunning selling point for the city and for Marriott.

No one comes to Baltimore to admire modern buildings. After tourists have visited the Inner Harbor, those who stay want to see the historic sections of the city: Mt. Vernon, Otterbein, Fells Point, and the St. Paul Street rowhouses.

Redwood Street, once called the "Wall Street of the South" is just such a site. By allowing the destruction of the lovely buildings on Redwood Street, we hammer two more nails in the coffin of what has made Baltimore such a special city.

Do we really want another faceless hotel that does nothing to enhance what is left of a once-notable street?

I am in favor of building new hotels and doing what is possible to attract new business, but if we destroy our architectural heritage to do so, the price is too high.

Janet Heller

Baltimore

I was appalled and disgusted when I learned of Marriott Corp.'s attempt to demolish our historic buildings at Light and Redwood streets.

I am a transplant from New Orleans. One of the things that appealed to me about "Charm City" was that, like New Orleans, Baltimore treasured its old buildings (at least it appeared that way).

New Orleans is called "the city that care forgot." I'm afraid that Baltimore is rapidly becoming the city that forgot to care and that Mayor Martin O'Malley is leading the apathetic charge.

Cindy Guillot

Baltimore

A Morgan State monopoly isn't good for Maryland

Barry Rascovar hit the nail on the head when he argued that Morgan State University's attempt to maintain a monopoly in graduate programs will be a disservice to Maryland citizens ("Morgan's monopoly ignores marketplace," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 24).

Backed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, Morgan State claims that any program which is "broadly similar" to one of its programs cannot be allowed in any university in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

By this standard, any program in the same department as one at Morgan (such as electrical engineering at UMBC), offering the same degree (such as Towson University's proposed education doctorate) or close to one at Morgan (such as the University of Baltimore's doctorate in business administration) fails immediately.

If Maryland is to compete for the best students, compete in the economy and compete against outside institutions which offer on-line courses, we cannot afford Morgan's demand for exclusivity.

Jack Fruchtman Jr.

Linthicum

The writer chairs the University Senate at Towson University.

Teaching, not testing, is the key to better schools

A major component of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's pitch about education is accountability. He proposes to achieve accountability through testing.

Accountability through testing is good, but testing is not teaching. What is needed is a focus on enabling good teaching.

Teaching is a very complex process. Improving teaching has many elements, including an emphasis on early childhood development; small class size; qualified teachers; facilities conductive to learning; and teaching aids such as books, other materials and computers.

All of these elements are part of Vice President Al Gore's education plan, and he proposes directing significant funding to each of these concerns.

Mr. Bush has no such plan. He completely overlooks the needs of teaching.

Testing is only a small part of the education solution.

Larry Guess

Havre de Grace

Papal authoritarianism undermines Vatican II ethos

As a Vatican II convert to Catholicism, I believe that recent absolutist pronouncements from the Vatican -- for example, that we Catholics shouldn't call other Christian denominations "churches" -- are out of step with Vatican II.

The Sun's religion reporter, John Rivera, nonetheless suggests that they don't change the image of today's church: "open arms and outstretched hands" held out to those of other beliefs ("Vatican message reopens wounds," Sept. 17).

I disagree with his characterization. Open arms, emphatically yes; but, I regret, with increasingly clenched fists.

There is a "tightening of authority as Pope John Paul's pontificate winds down." But recent crackdowns on ministries to gays suggest that beneath questions of church authority are deeper issues of patriarchy -- for I believe patriarchal values lie at the root of antipathy to homosexuals as well as the subordination of women.

Shutdowns of gay ministries at a time of other authoritarian trends in the church imply that the Vatican hopes to shore up patriarchy and kindred values.

Eric Stewart

Catonsville

Gun rights protect our security, freedom

The opinion that the right to possess guns is dispensable is more emotional than analytic. It fails to take several facts into consideration ("Right to life trumps the right to bear arms," letters, Sept. 23).

On a national basis, the precursor to a dictatorial government is the confiscation of weapons.

On a more local basis, if more, not less, guns were available crime with guns would decline. Statistics from states and localities where conceal-carry laws are in effect bear this out.

The truth is that more crime is prevented by the possession of guns than is committed with guns.

George Taylor

Reisterstown

A recent letter argued that our Second Amendment rights are irrelevant relative to deaths caused by criminal activity today and that the need to protect society is more important than even our constitutional rights ("Right to life trumps the right to bear arms," Sept. 24).

When the framers saw a need for the Second Amendment, crime as we understand it today was not the burning issue. Rather, the framers sought to clarify the relationship of the government to the people of this country.

As important as crime is today, it pales next to the issue the framers addressed.

Today, as then, our society is indeed protected very well from government intrusion into the daily lives of the citizenry because of the Second Amendment, in conjunction with the other rights enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Nothing could be of more importance than that.

Avi Friedman

Baltimore

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