There is no question that affordable housing is a necessity in Baltimore ("Housing bill targets income diversity," Nov. 30).
However, it is also a necessity in Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Anne Arundel counties and in the rest of the metropolitan area - in places where service jobs for moderate-income residents are more plentiful than they are in the city and there is a far greater shortage of affordable homes.
As a resident of Baltimore, I wonder if the efforts of the City Council and some housing groups will once again place the city at a distinct disadvantage by requiring set-asides from builders in Baltimore that are not implemented across the metropolitan region.
Unless and until the entire metropolitan area is engaged in an affordable housing initiative, it is irresponsible and fiscally unsound for the city to "go it alone" - and perhaps even discriminatory to saps like me who keep paying an outrageously disproportionate property tax bill to live in the city.
Regional issues require regional solutions.
And city leaders should not assume their constituents are on board with this housing bill.
The writer is president of the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association.
Bill could renew exodus from city
I recommend that Baltimore does not enact any kind of "inclusionary housing" law because I don't believe it will create a utopian city where people of mixed incomes will live "side by side." Instead it may indeed spur a new exodus of middle-income residents from the city ("Housing bill targets income diversity," Nov. 30).
I believe any damage such a bill may do would be lessened if new low-income housing is scattered throughout the new developments.
But if the bill includes language allowing developers to place low-income housing off site of the main project in other parts of a neighborhood, I fear the law will not only create new clusters of poverty but also begin to erode communities struggling to remain stable.
Razing rowhouses isn't the only option
Dr. Larry Fitzpatrick's comments are an example of what happens every time a preservation argument comes up in this town ("Mercy more critical than old rowhouses," letters, Dec. 1): Sides are taken, and it's either save the buildings or tear them down.
But this does not have to be an either/or dispute. Other cities find ways of incorporating old buildings into new ones.
Washington offers many examples of this kind of approach to preserving the fabric of the city.
And the presence of these rowhouses doesn't stop Mercy Medical Center from designing a new tower; it means it has to design a tower that respects the existing architecture rather than obliterating it.
Why do Baltimore's major organizations and their architects so often show such a total lack of imagination?
The writer is a member of the architectural review committee for the Mount Royal Improvement Association.
Secretary dedicated to mission of agency
I am writing in response to the editorial that claims that Dr. Eric Keroack is unqualified to serve as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services ("What others are saying," Nov. 28).
Dr. Keroack has made a career of caring for women and families as an OB-GYN for nearly 20 years. In private practice, he regularly provided services such as family planning and prescribing contraceptives to his patients.
In his role at A Woman's Concern pregnancy counseling clinics in Massachusetts, Dr. Keroack provided ultrasound services for pregnant women.
However, counseling women on the use of birth control was beyond the scope of his work at AWC.
Dr. Keroack is committed to fulfilling the duties of each program run by the Office of Population Affairs.
The department looks forward to his effective leadership of that office.
Adm. John O. Agwunobi
The writer is an assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Smoking ban limits freedom of choice
As a nonsmoker I feel the city should not have the right to dictate that bars and restaurants be nonsmoking ("Panel backs ban on smoking," Nov. 21).
One of the great things about America is freedom of choice, and no local government should be allowed to take that right from anyone.
So I think we should let the owners of each restaurant and bar decide whether they want to have a business that caters to smokers or to nonsmokers.
Each customer could then have a choice about whether he or she wants to give an establishment his or her business, and the owners could control their own destiny by making their own decision about how to run the business based on their customers' choices.
The right of choice is not a right that I want to see taken away from anyone - smokers, nonsmokers or bar and restaurant owners.
Storm victims stiffed as billions go to Iraq
It is disgraceful that our government is pouring billions of dollars and thousands of troops into another country in the name of building democracy while, at the same time, it has been illegally denying aid to citizens here at home who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina ("FEMA must resume housing payments," Nov. 30).
Mayor sets example by doing jury duty
Surely, no one is busier with important matters than Mayor Martin O'Malley. Not only is he the chief executive of Baltimore, but he is in the hectic process of making the transition to becoming Maryland's governor in January.
His "to do" list must run pages with each one labeled somewhere between "critical" and "can't wait."
It is thus very impressive that Mr. O'Malley did not seek to evade or postpone his jury service in Baltimore but instead came in, patiently waited and made himself available for several trials as a potential juror ("O'Malley answers the call for jury duty," Nov. 28).
Our system of civil and criminal justice cannot operate efficiently and fairly if citizens evade jury service or believe they are too important or busy for jury service.
In Maryland, all citizens ages 18 to 70 are expected to serve when called and the courts must strive to ensure that a fair cross section of the community is in the jury pool.
We find that when jurors do serve on juries they frequently find the experience both interesting and rewarding.
Mr. O'Malley has set a fine example for all of us in responding to the call for jury service.
Dennis M. Sweeney
The writer is a judge on the Circuit Court for Howard County and chairman of the state's Committee on Jury Use and Management.