LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Nothing sinister in Ehrlich's role in Elk Neck site

David Nitkin and Rona Kobell's article "Education center-resort rising quietly at Elk Neck" (Dec. 8) illustrates slanted reporting against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

In a front-page story positioned directly under another Hackerman land story co-authored by Mr. Nitkin ("Hackerman says secrecy about deal wasn't his idea," Dec. 8), the reporters take 65 paragraphs to create an impression that Mr. Ehrlich has done some nefarious backroom dealing with a "wealthy businessman" and campaign donor (John C. Erickson of the Erickson Foundation) to build a $30 million education center, camp and corporate retreat (NorthBay) in Elk Neck State Park.

The article says that critics think the "project raises significant public policy questions" and "see parallels between NorthBay and the Ehrlich administration's aborted plan to sell 836 acres of protected forest in St. Mary's County to construction company owner Willard J. Hackerman."

To add to the sinister plot, the scribes say, "the mission of the camp is also troubling to some, with its apparent emphasis on serving Christians and faith-based groups" such as the "YMCA, Young Life, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts" in addition to public school students.

But there's one problem. According to the article, "Planning has been in the works for years. The foundation searched for land and signed a lease to build within the park borders in 2002, during the Glendening administration."

In fact, the plan was a done deal when Mr. Ehrlich took over.

Yet in the whole story no details or critical analysis of how this deal began and was approved under former Gov. Parris N. Glendening were given. Only some reflections by his former natural resources secretary, J. Charles Fox, about some final site negotiations were mentioned.

Don't a journalist's First Amendment rights include an obligation to be objective and tell the entire story?

Geary Foertsch

Lutherville

NorthBay project always public plan

As a former Critical Area Commission member, I chaired the first public hearing on the NorthBay project in the town of North East ("Education center-resort rising quietly at Elk Neck," Dec. 8).

The hearing was well-publicized and fairly well-attended by local residents. To suggest that this project has been some sort of secret is totally inaccurate.

And readers should also be made aware that this project started and was supported by the previous administration. Indeed, the plan for this project was a done deal prior to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. even taking office.

And although many commission members had personal reservations about this private facility on public land, it is not in the purview of the commission to decide on land use. The commission's legal authority was to review the project to see that it conformed to the applicable state laws and regulations.

But commission members were quite blunt with the Erickson Foundation on the need to avoid impacts to buffer areas whenever possible.

David Bourdon

Huntingtown

Pressure on Israel opens path to peace

The Sun's editorial "Seize the peace" (Dec. 5) makes a good point that the death of Yasser Arafat created an opportunity for real peace. Unfortunately, there will be no peace as long as the United States panders to Israel instead of being an honest broker for peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has gotten everything he wanted from President Bush and a compliant Congress. So why should Mr. Sharon make any concessions to the Palestinians?

The United States needs, for the first time, to pressure Israel to get serious about the peace process by withholding the $3 billion in aid we give Israel every year.

Only then will peace be possible.

Ray Gordon

Baltimore

Repeal archaic laws limiting liquor sales

It's nice to see the Supreme Court finally considering overturning the archaic law banning interstate sale of wines ("And a case of Md. wine for the Supreme Court," Dec. 8).

Now, if we could just get rid of another ridiculous local prohibition - the closing of liquor stores on Sunday.

Why should I have to go pay a premium at a package-goods store just because I want to have a beer while I watch the Ravens and did not remember to buy it Saturday night?

This is an outdated rule used to appease the churches, and it must be repealed.

Nikki Brockhoff

Perry Hall

Former sex offender has served his time

I take exception to the fact that Anne Arundel County police have distributed fliers warning the citizens and neighbors of the presence of Mallory Vernon Nicholson in their vicinity after his release from prison for child-sex-related crimes ("Anne Arundel police alert community that convicted sex offender has moved in," Dec. 3).

I have two young children of my own, but that does not sway me from the belief that the man has served his time and is reporting to the authorities as required for parole.

The sentence he served is not "life," and his insistence that he is innocent of the crime of which he was convicted will be sorted out by his maker.

My other concern is that the police do not do the same for those convicted of murder, assault, rape, theft and a host of other crimes.

How many have been released for far more convictions and yet live unnoticed within our neighborhoods?

Stephan B. Brooks

Reisterstown

Mute swans do pose threat to bay, wildlife

I believe that we all must work together to save the Chesapeake Bay, one of our country's most treasured jewels. That includes the little things such as controlling the population of the non-native, non-migratory mute swan ("Mute swans not the threat the bay faces," letters, Dec. 6).

Gerald Winegrad's column "Protecting swans harms native wildlife" (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 30) clearly demonstrates the dangers this bird poses, all of which I've witnessed during my lifelong residence on the waters of the bay.

On a personal note, I watched as a pair of these large birds attacked my 75-pound black Labrador while she was swimming off our shore last summer.

Their beating wings could easily break a man's arm, so I was understandably anxious with their belligerent and aggressive pursuit of my dog.

On the informal advice and implied consent of a high-ranking state waterfowl management official and a local Department of Natural Resources enforcement officer, I dispatched the pair of troublesome swans.

No longer will they harass and drive off the beautiful native tundra swan and myriad other species of native waterfowl that gather to winter along our shore.

Henry A. Fleckenstein Jr.

Cambridge

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