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'Renaissance' hasn't helped core of the city

By my count, several high-profile media have declared that Baltimore has experienced not one but two "renaissances" in the past few decades. And now we've been told that Baltimore is among the top 10 tourist cities in the world ("Charm City is a winner, the experts now believe," May 29).

These declarations might have some merit if the idea of a "renaissance," or rebirth, were confined to certain ZIP codes, particularly those closest to the Inner Harbor (Canton, Fells Point, Harborplace, Federal Hill, Locust Point) and the outer rim of the city.

Clearly, the bankers, the developers, the investors and the politicians who feed them are having a grand old time.

But if you were to visit our ZIP code, 21223, you would wonder if Baltimore was at war.

In our ZIP code, at least 60 percent of our people ages 16 to 64 are not working.

Walk with us in the direction of your choosing and count the "abandominiums." Ask the people about their rents, their landlords, their electricity turnoffs, their water turnoffs, Mayor Martin O'Malley's unnecessary phone tax burden and Baltimore's heating oil tax.

Ask about all the arrests, the murders, the rapes, the assaults, the robberies.

Ask about what happens to our sisters and brothers who are dumped at Central Booking for crimes such as public urination (in a city with very few public restrooms). Ask about our youths. Our undereducated, our uneducated.

A city is its people - all its people. And one out of five Baltimoreans lives below the poverty level.

There can only be a renaissance if everyone is seated at the banquet table.

In ZIP codes such as 21223, the people are not being reborn. They are dying.

Brendan Walsh


The writer is a co-founder of Viva House.

Buying back guns is a waste of funds

Here we go again: Another attempt to stem gun-related crime by purchasing guns from the public ("Despite broad criticism, city revives gun buybacks," June 1).

Don't get me wrong, the police are well-intentioned, and if the program results in one life saved, it will have a benefit. However, the likelihood of that happening is relatively remote, and for the obvious reason - criminals will not be turning in their guns.

Stacks of turned-in weapons can be misrepresented as tangible evidence that something positive has been done to reduce gun crime. This has a soothing effect on an apprehensive public, creating a false sense of security.

But this is a false assumption, because that pile of "tangible" evidence is nothing more than a collection of weapons that most likely never would have been used in the commission of a crime.

The program might also make a mayor who would be governor look as if he has done something innovative in the fight against crime - and that's a vote-getter.

But the money spent on such buyback programs could be better spent.

Robert Di Stefano


Ground-rent sale should shock city

What kind of a city do we live in where greedy real estate investors take the home of Vietnamese immigrants because of a few hundred dollars in unpaid ground rent ("Home lost over ground rent," June 2)?

Imagine that the fruit of the immigrants' $55,000 investment is awarded to the clever ground-rent owners, who turn it over for $98,000 while the homeowners stand by and watch helplessly.

Why did no city official intervene and explain to these uninformed people the shocking possibility of losing their property?

Ruth Cohen


Ehrlich takes side of big business, again

There he goes again: Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. denies state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.'s request to join 12 other states in a legal challenge to the Bush administration' new rules that would soften mercury emission restrictions for power plants ("Ehrlich bars Md. challenge of EPA rules," June 1).

Mr. Ehrlich here shows once again that when the interests of the citizens come in conflict with the interests of certain big businesses, he sides with big business - just as he has on slots, minimum-wage increases, health care for workers of large companies and now the quality of the air we breathe.

When is he going to start being a leader and do what's best for the citizens of Maryland?

George F. Harrison Jr.

Bel Air

Proper parenting can curb violence

The Sun's article on the growing problem of aggressive behavior in girls highlights one of the main reasons our school systems lose many male and female students through high drop-out rates and lose teachers who retire early or transfer to another subdivision or into private schools ("In girls, aggressive behavior is becoming a bigger problem," May 29).

It is difficult to nurture a learning environment when students or outsiders are fighting within our schools.

We need to put more emphasis on the number of children without two-parent families and recognize the value of parents and other adults who set a responsible example instead of trying to be friends to children.

Acting friendly is good. But children have friends; they need parents and other adults who act their age.

Walter Hayes


The writer chairs an advisory council for the Baltimore County public schools.

Palestinians pose real barrier to peace

The real barrier to a Palestinian state and to peace is the Palestinians themselves ("Israel is real barrier to Palestinian state," letters, May 29).

If the Palestinians stopped their terrorism, there would be no need for a fence to protect Israelis. If the Palestinians stopped trying to carry bombs into Israel to bomb pizza parlors and buses, there would be no need for long waits at checkpoints.

Two facts are perfectly clear:

If the Palestinians put down their bombs and arms, there would be peace.

If the Israelis laid down their arms, there would be no Israel.

Jerome S. Wittik


Movie manipulates boxer's life for profit

In his discussion of Ron Howard's new movie, Cinderella Man, Michael Sragow brings to light how the movie has distorted the real life of Max Baer ("For drama's sake, a boxer's integrity is KO'd," May 29).

Mr. Howard has turned from a good director into a manipulator of truth for profit with an all-out assault on Mr. Baer's life. The saddest part of this is that uninformed moviegoers will go away believing him.

The public ought to KO this movie.

Stefan N. Miller


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