Shortage of shelter will continue to kill

Kudos to Dan Rodricks for his compelling account of one man who nearly froze to death and another who found him ("A homeless man lay on railroad tracks in the snow," Feb. 16).

Charles (the man on the tracks) is one of at least 50,000 Marylanders who experience homelessness annually. Fortunately, because of Jim Fielder's intervention, he won't yet be among 100 or more who die each year because of it.

But with Maryland's insufficient investment in emergency shelter, we can expect ongoing instances of weather-related illness, injury and death.

According to state records, people were turned away from shelter on 37,038 reported occasions in fiscal 2004 (a number that, astonishingly, is almost high as the 38,390 individuals sheltered), and the state's Emergency and Transitional Housing and Services Program has been level-funded or had its budget reduced over the past 10 years.

Emergency shelter, of course, is never the entire answer.

Until Maryland seriously invests in structural solutions to the problems of poverty - in comprehensive health care, affordable housing and sufficient incomes - thousands of Marylanders like Charles will remain on the far side of the tracks or, worse yet, on them.

Kevin Lindamood


The writer is a vice president of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Port deal portends a real catastrophe

It is beyond comprehension that the federal government has secretly negotiated to hand over operations at U.S. ports to agents of a foreign government that is not friendly to our country ("For Bush, a backlash over ports," Feb. 23).

This is one plot even our best fiction writers couldn't imagine.

The pictures of Arabs cheering and dancing in the streets during the events of Sept. 11, 2001, seem to me only a tiny precursor of what is to come.

Maybe those street-corner nut jobs one sees ranting and warning that the end is near actually had it right all along.

Judith Miller

Queen Anne

Canceling port deal would be devastating

Objections to the port deal have brought out all of the politicians ("Growing criticism puzzles many in shipping industry," Feb. 22). They are lining up to object to the purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. by Dubai Ports World (DPW), a state-owned company from the United Arab Emirates. But the objections smack of racism.

P&O; Ports has been a British company for years. Other companies that work at the port are also owned by foreign interests. But no objections have been raised to the ownership of any of these companies.

If the governor cancels the contracts the state has with DPW, it will be a devastating blow to the port, its workers and the Maryland economy.

Scrutiny of the new owners and vigilance on the part of the Department of Homeland Security make sense.

Canceling the contracts with the state does not.

John Blom


The writer is a longshoreman at the port of Baltimore.

State's vote count must be verifiable

Thanks to the untiring work of Del. Elizabeth Bobo, the answer to verifiable voting for Maryland is at hand ("Voting machine maker says new system doable by fall," Feb. 18).

To go on any longer working with the Diebold machines, which are made by a manufacturer that is unable to give the voting public any real evidence its electronic machines are accurate or secure against tampering, would not be acting responsibly to safeguard government "of the people, by the people and for the people."

The State Board of Elections must respond positively and without delay to see that a tried-and-true verifiable voting system is installed in time for the November elections.

Elizabeth W. Goldsborough

Owings Mills

Voting on marriage a threat to rights

A recent headline asked, "Who's afraid of a marriage vote?" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 15).

I, for one, am.

It has to do with limiting and taking away my rights - by a tyranny of the majority.

The fear of such tyranny is one reason our nation's founders established a republican form of government with checks and balances. It's why we protect freedom of religion, among other rights.

As our nation has grown and changed, so has our understanding of what being equally "endowed by our Creator" means.

Nowadays, you don't have to be a white, male property-owner to vote.

Similarly, people of African descent are no longer counted as three-fifths of a person.

The principal question here is equal protection and recognition under the law. The dignity and legality of my family and children should not be subject to a popular vote.

If we had done that 40 years ago, "mixed-race" marriages would likely still be illegal in some parts of our country.

Establishing a family of one's own choosing is one of the most basic human rights I can conceive. I commend the leadership of the General Assembly for standing up to fear and prejudice on this issue.

While I understand that many will not approve of the way I construct my family, I do expect my government to respect it.

Further, no heterosexual marriage has anything to fear because of the way my family loves and cares for one another.

John Hannay


MTA did right thing by restoring route

The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) has done what too few governmental bodies seem capable of doing - make a mistake, listen to the people, then correct the mistake, all without great fanfare or debate ("No. 23 bus returned to Saratoga St.," Feb. 18).

The MTA's decision to return bus No. 23 to its former route was responsive to the citizens affected, and a smart business move.

The folks who work at the MTA have a thankless job trying to manage the impossible traffic mess of a sprawling metropolis. This is to say thanks to all of them for listening to us.

Gary Gamber

New Windsor

Developers drink up far too much water

I applaud The Sun for its coverage of the water supply issue in Maryland ("Not a drop to drink," editorial, Feb. 15).

This is a subject that has been "percolating" for more than 20 years. However, none of our elected officials has had the political fortitude to just say "enough."

To the contrary, development continues to proliferate at a record pace.

Need I ask why? Because most politicians' campaigns are heavily financed by corporate developers.

These developers have not only the capital to finance political campaigns but also enough money that even if their projects are not initially approved, the threat of a lawsuit may enable them to proceed.

Why should something as innocuous as the viability of aquifers stop them?

They don't have to live with the consequences of water shortages, do they?

Cheryl E. Thomas


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