Drug clinics, communities can cooperate
Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration should be praised for its efforts to reform Baltimore's antiquated zoning laws ("Easier OKs for clinics sought," Aug. 8). These reforms, if passed by the City Council, will permit drug treatment centers to deliver patient care in areas zoned for medical offices.
The city will need additional funds to open new public drug treatment centers. Nevertheless, the removal of illegal zoning barriers to treatment expansion is an important step in Baltimore's efforts to bring effective help to the approximately 65,000 drug-addicted city residents who currently cannot get access to treatment because there aren't enough centers.
Baltimore has developed one of the nation's premier drug treatment systems. Rigorous scientific research shows that patients served by our drug treatment centers are significantly less likely to be involved in drug use and criminal activity. And the organization leading this important work, Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems (BSAS), applies the same rigor it uses to monitor patient outcomes to maintaining positive provider-community relations.
With our grant support, BSAS and its treatment partners have worked over the past year with the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) and local community associations to develop "good neighbor principles" to encourage constructive, ongoing interactions between neighborhoods and drug treatment centers.
For example, drug treatment center leaders have agreed to attend community association meetings regularly, provide education sessions on addiction and encourage a member of the community to apply for a place on their board.
CPHA and BSAS staff provide technical assistance to providers and community associations on how to deal with any program-related issues. They also help the organizations channel the energy of patients in recovery to contribute to their community.
With treatment providers, recovering individuals and communities working more closely together, we will be able to improve the quality of life in Baltimore.
The writer is the director of the Open Society Institute - Baltimore.
Economic despair around the corner?
President Bush tells us that we are turning the corner on the economy. But what frightens many Americans is what is around that corner ("Economy moves to front of presidential campaign," Aug. 15).
The president's advisers have told us that us outsourcing middle-income level jobs overseas is good for America. But the new jobs created by this economy pay, on average, much less than the jobs that have been lost.
President Bush took a balanced budget and a national debt that was shrinking and turned it into the worst deficit in the history of the nation.
We saw American workers' pensions and health benefits disappear into thin air and the executives who looted them bailed out with golden parachutes.
Since Bush took office, millions of Americans have lost their health insurance. Millions more are struggling to afford to keep it.
And this administration is systemically rolling back hard-earned overtime pay rights by changing the Department of Labor's overtime rules.
Many Americans are afraid to go around that corner with Mr. Bush.
Wayne A Brooks
GAO's work remains objective, balanced
I respect Matt Buck's opinion, but I believe that he is reading too much into our recent name change ("GAO's new name suggests loss of political objectivity," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 12).
While our new name, the Government Accountability Office, better reflects who we are and what we do, it does not have any implications for how GAO does its work.
All of GAO's work is designed to be professional, objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair and balanced. This objective is timeless in nature and critical to GAO's overall credibility and effectiveness.
David M. Walker
The writer is comptroller general of the United States.
Let voters put slots debate to rest at last
As a lifelong registered Democrat, I would like to send the following message to our governor: I did not vote for you because of your willingness to legalize slots in Maryland, as you seem to think. Instead, I assumed that even a Republican would be preferable to having a Kennedy in the State House. I admit that I was wrong, and I will never make that mistake again.
Unless I am the only voter who cast my ballot for that reason, the governor is being presumptuous in his repeated suggestion that the people voted for slots when they elected him.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch's idea for a referendum would settle the matter once and for all ("Md. treasurer supports slots machine referendum," Aug. 12), which is probably why Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is opposed to it.
'Sensitivity' helps in war on terror
Sen. John Kerry has been criticized for saying he would conduct a more "sensitive" war on terrorism ("Cheney mocks Kerry's use of 'sensitive' about terror," Aug. 13).
Sensitivity is awareness of one's environment, the consequences of one's behavior and potential threats. It is a type of intelligence.
A global effort to reduce terrorist acts, and win hearts and minds in the Arab world requires acute awareness of potential threats, as well as the social and psychological consequences of behavior.
Robert E. Griffin
Forty Fort, Pa.
Phelps earns medals for helping children
Kevin Cowherd's column "Let's not sink Phelps in a sea of expectation" (Aug. 9) posits the tongue-in-cheek question of whether there's anything left to learn about any aspect of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps' life.
But two little-known tidbits about Mr. Phelps show what an excellent role model he is for young people. He is an effective spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and for Pathfinders for Autism, a group founded by B.J. Surhoff.
Mr. Phelps has spent many hours working with and helping groups of these children at events and occasions that were not covered by the media.
While too many pro athletes garner coverage for serious felonies and outrageous behavior, Mr. Phelps already has earned gold medals from the kids at our Boys & Girls clubs for his integrity and caring.
Donald Wayne Mathis
The writer is executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County.