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Protect funds, lands set aside for open space

Missing in the coverage of the debate over the sale of open space lands and the diversion of land conservation funding is this reality: This problem is not confined to any one branch of government, administration or party ("It's pivotal year for Md. land protection," March 11).

More than one governor and General Assembly have diverted land conservation dollars for other purposes.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, with legislative approval, was the first to divert these funds. In his second term, Gov. Parris N. Glendening diverted funds. And this year, for the third year in a row, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposed budget seeks to do the same thing.

This year, the 100-plus groups that constitute the Partners for Open Space coalition say enough is enough.

The coalition supports legislation to ensure that the diversion of dedicated funds for land conservation occurs only when it is absolutely necessary and to ensure an open and public process when the sale of state land is proposed.

Fortunately, a growing number of legislators from both parties agree. This year, the General Assembly has an opportunity to set Maryland's nationally recognized land conservation programs on solid footing, now and for the future.

Public land sales deserve citizen input and legislative oversight from conception to execution. And we must invest the taxes paid for land conservation into the programs designed to preserve our heritage, wildlife habitats, farmland and the bay.

Marcia Verploegen


The writer is campaign director for Partners for Open Space. The letter was also signed by six other members of its steering committee.

Multilingual Pledge means no disrespect

I'm not sure if Charles Linton really thought about what he was saying before stating that broadcasting the Pledge of Allegiance in other languages was "like wearing a cross upside-down in a church" ("Student protests foreign Pledge," March 10).

Wearing an upside-down cross to a church is offensive and blatantly anti-Christian. More than likely, a person doing such a thing would have thought about the action and realized it would be offensive.

But I highly doubt the faculty at his son's school sat around the table and said, "Hey, let's try to be anti-American," and somehow came to the conclusion that broadcasting the Pledge in languages other than English would be the best way to do that.

T. J. Tumach


Objections to Pledge irrelevant, hostile

If only Patrick Linton were fortunate enough to attend City College in Baltimore, where we were regularly made to recite the Pledge in Latin ("Students protest foreign Pledge," March 10).

Each objection the Lintons offer to reciting the Pledge in foreign languages is irrelevant and factually incorrect.

Rather than using war as an excuse to assume a hostile attitude toward other cultures (as represented by their languages), it would be more patriotic of Patrick Linton to question why we are a country at war in the first place.

Jay Dover


Supermarket shows commitment to city

David Hillman and his associates should once again be applauded for believing in Baltimore ("Downtown supermarket could come by November," March 11).

Their commitment to the redevelopment of the west side is evident in Mr. Hillman's determined pursuit of a grocery store in the downtown area.

This may very well help create the critical mass needed to attract and retain residents to downtown.

Thomas J. Vicino


Replace the JFX with light rail link

This is one Baltimore resident and taxpayer who wholeheartedly agrees that the idea of razing the elevated portion of the Jones Falls Expressway is a splendid one ("Razing JFX downtown would end an obscurity," March 10).

My only difference with Dan Rodricks and the planners responsible for this delightful infrastructural heresy is what to put in its place.

I think Mr. Rodricks' idea of a canal is a good one. But a better one would be a light rail link between Penn Station and the Shot Tower Metro station.

That would give downtown Baltimore a transit loop like the one in Chicago.

We could then sack the entire Downtown Partnership and the city Parking Authority, raze the parking lots they've squandered public funds subsidizing and create more space for an inner-city renaissance

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.


Raze expressway north to city line

I found The Sun's article "Rethinking life without the JFX" (March 9) interesting and a bit amusing.

Interesting because the city spent tens of millions to build the Jones Falls Expressway and recently more than $20 million to improve it.

Amusing because its proposed removal is based on accommodating a residential neighborhood that doesn't even exist.

Prior to 1958, the communities of Mount Washington, Hampden and Woodberry had beautiful views of the rather pristine and rustic Jones Falls Valley. But that ended with the construction of an unattractive, noisy and polluting concrete runway that catered to those who had abandoned the city for the sprawling suburbs.

Where were the developers and planners eager to support our residential neighborhoods at that time?

If the powers that be decide to remove the JFX from Fayette Street north, how about continuing past Guilford Avenue to the city line?

Mike Cook


Sarbanes serves, exits with dignity

Sen. Paul. S. Sarbanes' retirement, while well-deserved, will deprive Maryland of a distinguished public servant ("Sarbanes won't seek 6th term," March 12). He has served his state and his country with integrity, honor and wisdom.

As a young woman, I worked in some of his campaigns and never doubted that I was involved in a good cause. He was kind and thoughtful, and while never a flashy, publicity-seeking politician, he has proved to have intellectual qualities far above the norm.

He has announced his retirement now with his usual quiet dignity. I wish him a long, healthy, happy retirement.

Velva Grebe


Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes' decision to step aside is consistent with his unselfish approach to legislation that put principled results ahead of limelight and headlines.

Mr. Sarbanes will go out on top, with a proud record of public service and a wonderful reputation for integrity.

Francis J. Gorman


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