Highway policy favors wealthy, hurts the bay

The plans of state officials to use High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes in highway expansion plans ("Highway planners revisiting HOT lanes," Aug. 20) in the Baltimore and Washington regions reveal the bias of the Ehrlich administration for the wealthy and privileged over the general welfare of the population as a whole.

As Dru Schmidt-Perkins was quoted in the article, "If we continue to tell the public that by building more lanes, congestion will go away, we're lying to them."

The general experience of highway projects demonstrates the fallacy of congestion relief by road-building. The rich benefactors of the current administration certainly know this. Their solution apparently is to design the roads so that the most fortunate among us can avoid the problems caused by the failure to stop runaway sprawl development.

While the vast majority of citizens will suffer clogged roadways and more polluted air and water because of the lack of investment in mass transit and the failure to redirect development toward our blighted cities and towns, some will be able to buy a quick retreat to their gated enclaves and private clubs.

While cutbacks in health services, education and environmental protection are forced by the Ehrlich administration's unwillingness to end corporate tax loopholes, plenty of money will be found for bankrupt transportation policies that ensure the continued degradation of the Chesapeake Bay.

Robert Ferraro


Non-native oysters are a risky import

The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure. A decision to introduce non-native oysters to the bay should be guided by the precautionary principle, "First, do no harm" ("Magic mollusk to the rescue?" editorial, Aug. 18). Indeed, as a potential cure for a declining oyster industry, introducing non-native oysters could be very shortsighted.

Non-native, invasive species are a serious national problem. The annual cost of the problem nationwide exceeds $100 billion. These invasive species negatively impact almost half of the native species that are considered threatened or endangered.

Purple loosestrife is a prime example of the problem. The plant encroaches on a million acres of wetlands every year. Hydrilla chokes waterways, and the Eurasian ruff, zebra mussel and sea lamprey threaten the Great Lakes ecosystem.

A wiser course might focus on systemic problems in the bay and its watershed that have allowed disease-causing parasites to threaten the native oyster population.

But tinkering with the bay ecosystem by introducing non-native species seems to be risky business.

James A. Mosher


The writer is conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America.

Arab terrorists ended truce long ago

The Sun's Aug. 22 headline notes that "Militants end Mideast truce after Hamas leader is killed" on Aug. 21 by Israeli security forces.

So does that mean that the Palestinian terrorists were just practicing on Aug. 12, when two suicide bombers killed two Israelis and wounded more than a dozen more, or on Aug. 20 when a Palestinian terrorist killed 20 men, women and children (including five Americans) and wounded more than a hundred others, or in the dozens of other shooting attacks by Palestinians since they declared their "truce"?

While The Sun seems eager to publish the grand pronouncements of these terrorist organizations, it would do well to pay attention to what they do, not just what they say.

They ended the "truce" long ago, even if they did not bother to proclaim it to The Sun.

Aron U. Raskas


Pot isn't the drug killing Baltimore

I think it's really nice that we busted a pot ring in Baltimore ("Baltimore pot ring smashed, U.S. says," Aug. 22). Unfortunately, it isn't pot that is killing hundreds of Baltimoreans.

When I read that they've busted a major heroin or crack cocaine ring, I will be impressed. Baltimore is a dying city because those from outside bring their hard drugs here and sell them and the money rides out in stretch limousines and goes back to the guys running the show.

And apparently, they are too well-connected for any branch of our city, state or federal governments to touch them.

Look around you. This is no cause for celebration.

Michael S. Eckenrode


City is addressing men's health crisis

Barbara Krimgold and Dean Robinson's column on minority men's health calls attention to the silent health crisis adversely affecting the well-being of men of color today ("Help minority men," Opinion * Commentary, Aug 17).

In Baltimore City, three out of 10 men ages 19 to 64 are without any health insurance. The Baltimore City Health Department recognizes the need to address this unacceptable situation, which is disproportionately affecting too many minority men.

In collaboration with Community Voices, a W. K. Kellogg Initiative, we have established a full service Men's Health Center that provides free primary health care for uninsured men. Located in the Sandtown-Winchester community, the center has provided more than 5,000 men with a medical home since it first opened in April 2000.

We've learned from those who come to the center that men do care about their health and do want help but have few places to go.

As Ms. Krimgold and Mr. Robinson pointed out, this is a matter of great urgency. A health care system has to be implemented that guarantees access to quality care for all

Dr. Peter L. Beilenson


The writer is Baltimore's health commissioner.

No reason to trumpet same-sex unions

I just finished reading the letters from readers concerning gay wedding announcements, and I'm horrified to know that our society actually approves of such nonsense ("Sun's placement of notices shows little sensitivity," letters Aug. 20). When is indecency going to stop in this country?

Marriage is a bond meant for heterosexuals primarily for procreation so that the human race will go on. Aren't our children confused enough about the world in which we live? Why do we have to confuse them any further?

These announcements should not appear with other wedding announcements or celebrations; they shouldn't even be mentioned in public.

If gay people want to have their own union, then so be it; but don't ask for approval from the rest of us.

Patricia Mcgreevy


It is God's will that we love people who are gay; it is not God's will that we love or approve of their chosen lifestyle. It is an abomination to God for them to be married.

Therefore, for The Sun not to place notices of commitment for same-sex couples in the same section with those of heterosexual couples indicates The Sun's sensitivity to those of us who find same-sex ceremonies occasions for sadness rather than celebration.

Jo Ellen C. Lofton


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