DPW's projects seek to protect city's watershed

Two recent articles in The Sun dealing with major public works projects did not tell the full story.

The first article concerned the improvements to Lake Montebello. But contrary to the overly dramatic headline on the article, Lake Montebello is not being lost to the public ("Losing an oasis in Baltimore," Aug. 2).

Also contrary to what the article suggested, the Montebello area is not a park. This facility is an integral part of the water system for the metropolitan area. In order to continue its function in that capacity, the lake must be dredged, which unfortunately means there will be some limits to public access while that work proceeds.

Once the project is completed, our citizens will find it a much more enjoyable place to visit -- one with new roads, new lights and a decorative fence where overgrowth now blocks the view of the lake.

The second article involves the proposed pumping station adjacent to Stony Run. The implication in the article is that the Department of Public Works is placing an unfair deadline on the community to accept one of the proposed sites ("City sets deadline for selection of sewage pumping station," Aug. 3).

The deadline actually comes from the federal government's mandate to us to proceed with numerous multimillion-dollar projects to upgrade our sewer system. We are taking every step to ensure that this facility will be attractive and noise- and odor-free and that the roadways leading to it will essentially be greenways, as they will be partially covered with grass.

The DPW has no desire to take away green space. But we do have a strong desire and a mandate to improve the water quality in Stony Run, the Jones Falls and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

George L. Winfield


The writer is director of Baltimore's Department of Public Works.

Prepaying for gas no way to stop theft

I vigorously disagree with the suggestion of prepaying for gasoline before pumping as an alternative to punishing gasoline thieves ("Stocks and pillories," editorial, Aug. 5).

Prepaying is a major inconvenience to motorists who pay cash for gasoline. We cannot fill the tank without, in effect, going into the store twice, because we have to return to the counter to collect the change if we prepay for more gas than we need to fill the tank.

This is a serious problem for people with limited mobility. And why should anyone be forced to go into the store and wait in line twice because they prefer to pay cash for a fill-up? It shifts the burden of theft prevention to a specific class of people who prefer to avoid credit card debt.

Whenever I am forced by circumstances to purchase fuel from a station that requires prepayment, I buy only the minimum amount possible, and I always inform the cashier that the policy just cost that station a fill-up and a repeat customer. I am not the only person who does this.

This may be why many establishments prefer to avoid a prepay policy unless it is forced upon them.

Catching and punishing a gasoline thief may also result in correcting that behavior rather than postponing the day of reckoning to some later date, when the tendency to steal may result in a much more serious crime.

Lawrence A. Helie


Kerry's supporters also take 'low road'

Did I miss the editorial in which The Sun demanded that Sen. John Kerry renounce vicious attacks by third parties on President Bush, as it demanded of the president with respect to attacks on Mr. Kerry ("The low road," Aug. 8)?

Did I miss the editorial in which The Sun wrote that Mr. Kerry shouldn't win if he doesn't denounce Fahrenheit 9/11?

President Bush didn't produce or pay for the Swift boat spot, just as Mr. Kerry did not produce Fahrenheit 9/11 or MoveOn.org's ads. Like the Swift boat ads, partisans are responsible for the funding and the productions.

But only Mr. Bush was called on by The Sun to denounce the work of such partisans.

At least try to be fair. Or, to paraphrase The Sun's own words, "If you can't write without being fair, perhaps you shouldn't write at all."

Vince Clews


Bush can't meet landslide billing

Zev Chafets' column "Don't be surprised by Bush landslide" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 6) is a sloppily disingenuous vehicle to cheerlead the duped into another disastrous voting decision.

Why will President Bush defeat Sen. John Kerry by a landslide in November? According to Mr. Chafets, it's because Mr. Bush is not Satan, we are not living in hell, it's not the Great Depression, Iraq isn't Vietnam and Mr. Bush didn't start the Islamic jihad against America.

In other words, things could be worse, so why vote against the incumbent? In addition, Mr. Kerry is "a bad candidate" and "a weak campaigner."

I don't know which president Mr. Chafets has been observing, but many of us out here see Mr. Bush as a clueless leader dispensing bologna like the corner butcher, backed by a cast of throwbacks, fundamentalists, war-mongers and, worst of all, greedy vultures feeding on the profits generated by our taxpayer-funded adventure in Iraq.

And that is merely the tip of that iceberg.

Dennis Kaplan


Attack on elitists isn't substantiated

Zev Chafets predicts that Sen. John Kerry will lose the 2004 election ("Don't be surprised by Bush landslide," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 6). One of his reasons is that Mr. Kerry represents unbearable people who consider themselves morally, intellectually, culturally and socially superior.

Who are these people? Mr. Chafets doesn't bother to say.

This ad hominem accusation of elitism, wholly unsubstantiated, is mired in subjectivity.

Presuming to know the states of mind of others is offensive and unwise; opinion based on that presumption must be correspondingly doubtful.

Daniel Fleisher


U.S. must pressure Israel toward peace

The Sun's editorial "A hold on settlements" (Aug. 8) is exactly correct when it states that Israel must freeze all new settlements in the occupied territories and negotiate with the Palestinians in good faith.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict enflames the Arab world, not only against Israel but against the United States.

There will never be a fair peace in that region until the United States is willing to stand up to Israel and to the wealthy, influential, pro-Israel lobby. And we will never be free from terrorism until we stop financing and supporting Israel's occupation of the Palestinians.

Ray Gordon


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