City's efforts to revive housing, retail areas...


City's efforts to revive housing, retail areas enhance one another

The editorial "Going after derelicts" (Jan. 30) neglected to mention that people still live in the portion of East Baltimore The Sun characterizes as a "wasteland of crumbling, abandoned rowhouses," and that substantial efforts are underway to address the impact of the proposed redevelopment of the area north and east of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions upon those residents.

For more than a year, the Baltimore Main Streets program has promoted a grassroots, volunteer-driven revitalization in seven of the city's neighborhood business districts, including a six-block section of Monument Street next to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Although "new housing without jobs is not enough to save neighborhoods," the housing and retail revitalization initiatives in East Baltimore are not mutually exclusive.

The city's proposal to redevelop East Baltimore's neighborhoods will complement "Main Street" efforts to enhance the Monument Street business district, and vice versa.

Douglas L. McWilliams


The writer is program director for the Monument Street Renaissance.

Do more to help elderly remain in their homes

The Sun's editorial "Ramps and grab bars" (Feb. 4) sheds much-needed light on the safety of senior citizens in their homes.

The South East Senior Housing Initiative has done a terrific job in responding to the needs of seniors in Southeast Baltimore.

Similar programs are scattered in different locales in older neighborhoods in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

But all face funding and geographical limits, which mean that many people can't get the service they need.

At one time the state offered funding to nonprofits and local jurisdictions to provide such services, but the funding was cut during the recession in the early 1990s.

Today, some banks offer reverse mortgages, which enable some seniors to secure equity for home repairs. But these programs remain cumbersome, and elderly people are frequently fearful that they will lose their homes.

State and federal governments and the private sector should look for new ways to get involved. Relatively small amounts of funds can help preserve our city's older housing stock, while assuring affordable housing for much of our region's senior population.

Kenneth N. Gelula


The writer is executive director of Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc.

Link between Sun, WMAR raises troubling questions

As a journalist and a resident of Baltimore, I felt a chill through my body when I read of the new working relationship between The Sun and WMAR-TV ("WMAR-TV, Sun set to work together," Feb. 6).

The city already has far too few independent media voices. And newspaper reporters, who rightly work behind the scenes, now will be thrust before the camera and into the bright glare of celebrity and news-as-entertainment.

The article mentioned that a camera will be installed in the newsroom. Will there be a makeup artist as well? And will The Sun be able to write objectively, and critically, of WMAR in the future?

I also found it particularly pathetic that officials from both The Sun and WMAR declined to be interviewed for your article. Isn't it the height of cynicism when two organizations whose livelihood depends upon asking others to speak on the record refuse to do so themselves?

Louis Berney


Eliminating aid to Israel is a better way to stop terror

Islamic terrorists attack us primarily because we support Israeli terrorists in Palestine. If we cut off our support for Israeli terrorists, that would reduce - perhaps even eliminate - the threat of terrorist attacks against us.

That would make more sense than spending billions of American taxpayers' dollars on a huge military buildup for a vaguely targeted war against terrorism.

James Silvan


It's not enough to separate consulting and accounting

Merely separating out consulting services from auditing functions will not guarantee independent, rigorous and honest audits ("Enron debacle moves auditors to alter views on consulting," Feb. 3).

The problem is that the company being audited pays the auditors. Often, the auditors are later employed by the client. Public accountants need to work directly for the public and serve the public interest.

How about a tax that all Securities and Exchange Commission-regulated corporations would pay, that would go into a public trust (like Social Security) and be used to pay auditing firms?

The auditing firms could be owned under a special charter, and subject to strict regulation and charter-renewal processes.

Privatizing public responsibilities (or self-policing, as our administration seems to favor) simply doesn't work.

J. Russell Tyldesley


The MSPAP was intended to change the way we teach

As someone involved in the preparation of teachers, I wholeheartedly agree with The Sun's editorial "Remaking history with education reform"(Feb. 2).

The MSPAP was developed to change the way teachers teach in Maryland - to move them from being the sage on the stage to the guide on the side, toward education as problem-solving and away from rote memorization. A lot has happened throughout our state to make this happen, and it may continue with the development of various statewide curricula.

MSPAP may need to be subjected to problem-solving in its own right, but let's not make the mistake of wasting the time and knowledge gained over the years.

Leon Ukens


The writer is a professor of science education at Towson University.

It's the SAT, not MSPAP, that matters to our kids

As a parent, I would like to remind all educators which test really matters to our children - the SAT, not the MSPAP.

I want to hear how our schools are preparing children for the test that has the greatest impact on their future.

Jan Emerick


New policies force senior to abandon recycling

I have recycled since it first started. I feel it is very important. But I am elderly and cannot carry a bin and paper products and blue bags down my high front steps ("Recycling schedule changes stir outcry," Jan. 31). The years have taken a toll.

I understand this is being done to clean up our alleys. What lunacy. Is it OK for our streets to be littered? The traffic here on 41st Street is terrible now - and it will be 100 percent worse on recycling days.

As of Jan. 28, my recycling has gone into the trash bags.

Hieda M. Daly


Keep smallpox virus in its box, forever

After reading "Hopkins dean rues smallpox research" (Feb. 1), I could not help think of the age-old story of Pandora's box. As the story goes, Pandora couldn't resist peeking in the box, and all diseases were let out into the world.

But there was one thing left in Pandora's box - hope.

Today, there is still hope that Dr. Alfred Sommer and other compassionate scientists will be heard, and that the box of smallpox will be closed forever.

Susan Macfarlane


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