The Baltimore Sun

Preservation meshes with good medicine

The Sun's article "Houses stripped of protection" (Nov. 26) stirred up memories of a similar situation in Towson.

Baltimore County lost one of its few remaining pre-Revolutionary War farmhouses when the Greater Baltimore Medical Center decreed it to be in bad shape and to stand in the way of a future building ("County unlikely to grant historic status to house," April 30, 2003).

Thankfully, also in Towson, Sheppard Pratt Hospital's historic buildings were saved by creative thinking by hospital administrators and architects ("Preserving Sheppard Pratt's legacy," Aug. 21, 2002).

I strongly urge Mercy Medical Center and City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. to take another look at possible ways to protect the heritage and uniqueness of Baltimore.

Surely doing so is compatible with providing good medicine for the community.

Carol Allen


The writer is president of Historic Towson Inc.

Preservation battle well worth fighting

Sir Winston Churchill wrote that, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."

His plea was to save great architecture to inspire us to greatness. Mediocrity, in buildings or books, benefits no one.

Baltimore's historic preservationists have wasted a lot of energy and credibility in losing battles to save a mock-Tudor car showroom (the Odorite Building) and stained-glass windows in the Basilica of the Assumption that dated back only to the Truman presidency ("Basilica window change is approved," April 14, 2004).

Now the city is threatened with the loss of genuine architectural gems - Mercy Medical Center's row of 1820s-vintage rowhouses ("Houses stripped of protection," Nov. 26).

Here is a preservation fight worthy of battle.

Gary F. Suggars


Secrecy shrouds the public's business

Anyone who is concerned (as I am) about the possibility of the last 1820s-era rowhouses in downtown Baltimore has a lot more to be worried about than the razing of our physical history ("Houses stripped of protection," Nov. 26).

Note that the key players in this issue (Mayor Martin O'Malley, City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. and the Baltimore City Council) seem to have passed the relevant amendment in a way that intentionally circumvented the laws requiring open hearings and public comment (i.e., outrage).

The Baltimore Development Corp. likewise has a pattern of resisting public meetings.

So is this kind of secrecy now the new way of doing the people's business in Baltimore?

And what's with the Catholic Church and demolition these days? (Mercy Medical Center is a Catholic hospital.)

Was the razing of the Rochambeau merely a preamble?

Harry DeBusk


McFadden belongs on list of candidates

The Sun's article "Miller vacancy creates vacuum" (Nov. 26) attempts to identify possible successors to the Senate president, but left out the most powerful name which should have been on the list, Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden.

Mr. McFadden, the outgoing Senate majority leader, is not only the second highest-ranking member of the current Senate but, with the departure of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele from the scene, will become the most influential African-American in Annapolis.

As the chairman of the Baltimore City Senate delegation and a man who has served in the Senate for as long, and in some cases longer, than the candidates for president The Sun's article mentions, Mr. McFadden deserves to be at the top of any list of candidates for leadership.

Hassan Giordano


Slots could be key to saving open space

A recent letter writer urged that the question of slot machines in Maryland should be put to a statewide referendum and questioned why the public should subsidize the horse racing industry ("Put vote on slots on the next ballot," letters, Nov. 23).

I agree that bailing out or subsidizing private businesses with public funds runs counter to the American capitalist economic model; however, our economy has become addicted to that drug and it would be too traumatic to withdraw the medicine at this point.

Farmers, truckers, watermen, biotechnology companies and ranchers would quickly go out of business if it weren't for public subsidies of various sorts.

I do not deny that the Maryland racing industry has been poorly managed for decades. However, I believe there is more at stake than enriching the bank accounts of a few racetrack owners.

If the horse racing industry dies in Maryland, the thousands of jobs that depend on that industry will be lost.

The industry's demise could lead to huge public costs to provide more infrastructure as the lands that were once used to breed and train racehorses plus the ancillary recreational facilities are converted into suburban developments.

I don't like the idea of allowing slots in Maryland. However, if it will help preserve open space and bring in more revenue for our state, I think slots need to be tried.

Stephen G. Gunnulfsen


Low taxes make up for clogged freeway

With regard to the letter "Delaware is delaying I-95 improvements" (Nov. 27), I think one should consider several factors.

Delaware has tax-free shopping. And Delaware's property tax rate is a mere fraction of Maryland's tax rate.

For these two advantages alone, I'd gladly deal with a minor traffic issue - my bank account would afford me peace of mind.

Additionally, Delaware has the slots gaming that some polls indicate that most Marylanders want.

So Delaware's policies can't be all that bad, I'd say.

Jack Noppinger


Hypocrisy taints immigration debate

I believe English should be the official language of the United States ("More states, cities pass 'official English' policy," Nov. 23). At the same time, I'm sick of the hypocrisy over illegal immigration.

Not one of the 9/11 terrorists came from south of the border. Not one.

Then there is the cry about immigrants taking jobs from Americans.

But just think: Where are your clothes made? Where are your dishes made? Where are your shoes made? Where are your favorite electronic gadgets, appliances, computers, etc., made?

Probably not in the United States.

If Americans are so worried about American jobs, then buy American. It's as simple as that.

Let's stop being hypocrites.

Judy Berlin


Perhaps Hussein could restore order

Our government invaded Iraq to destroy Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were there ("Top lawmakers urge Bush to push Iraqis toward peace," Nov. 27).

Perhaps the time has come for the Iraqi government to issue a pardon to Saddam Hussein, let him return to the presidency and let him restore order to the country.

Oscar Schapiro


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