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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Block a new blow to city's heritage

As radio ads for Mercy Medical Center might put it, "Dreaded demolition deemed doable for downtown dwellings" ("St. Paul houses spared for now," Dec. 9).

No one believes in good works that help people more than I do - whether creating a place for quiet contemplation, which was the argument for tearing down the Rochambeau, or healing the sick, as is now the rationale for applying for a permit to tear down some of the city's oldest buildings.

But is the loss of still more of the city's character worth it for the immediate convenience of having a cleared site?

And can anyone show me an example of an historic structure that lends soul to a neighborhood and whose salvation was later considered a mistake?

Why must the city's precious identity be eroded in the name of progress for a single institution?

Something is truly wrong with a (it would appear) perfectly legal process whereby the city schizophrenically empowers its planning commission to identify and protect historic structures, then blithely allows them to be torn down.

Or, as the ad writers might say, "I deplore this destruction and define it a dastardly deal. Don't do it."

William Donald Schaefer

Baltimore

The writer is the comptroller of Maryland.

Care is more critical than old rowhouses

City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. should be congratulated rather than castigated for trying to bring better quality health care to the citizens of Baltimore ("St. Paul houses spared, for now," Dec. 9). Preservationists such as former state Sen. Julian L. Lapides are the ones who should be taken to task.

Mercy Medical Center owns those rowhouses. The decision to tear them down and build a new inpatient tower on private property for the benefit of the people of Baltimore is commendable, and should be left up only to Mercy.

It seems to me that Mr. Mitchell is the only one in this debate who puts citizens' health care ahead of bricks and mortar.

Joseph Lee Krome

Owings Mills

Study group offers a way out of Iraq

As the situation in Iraq continues to become more chaotic and the tragic loss of American and Iraqi lives and resources accelerates, the Iraq Study Group has presented a comprehensive set of thoughtful, bipartisan recommendations to our government ("Time running out in Iraq, panel says," Dec. 7).

The president and the executive branch should ignore the nitpickers and naysayers and make every effort to implement these recommendations.

The ISG, under the wise and seasoned leadership of James A. Baker III and former Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, may well have given us one last chance to achieve some kind of success - or at least to cut our losses - in Iraq.

This group should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, along with Rep. Frank R. Wolf, who initially suggested the formation of the group.

E. Niel Carey

Ellicott City

Finally, some voices of reason regarding the war in Iraq.

All hail the new chiefs. I hope they will guide the way out of this senseless and disgraceful situation in Iraq.

That would lift a great weight from the chest of the nation.

Jaye Dansicker

Sparks

Why must the help come from overseas?

While NASA is planning to send taxpayers' money to the moon ("For NASA, a plan to colonize the moon," Dec. 6) and the Bush administration pours our treasure into the bottomless pit of the war in Iraq, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is subsidizing the cost of heating oil for 400,000 needy American families ("Venezuela helping city woman," Dec. 7).

What is wrong with this picture?

Arthur Pierce

Randallstown

Mandating exercise while ruining recess

While employers are promoting healthy living by creating exercise programs, which are sometimes mandatory, the national trend is to scale down or even eliminate recess for children ("Employers promoting heathy living," Dec. 8).

Does this make sense to anyone?

Ingrid Schoeler

Catonsville

Redefining morality isn't role of courts

The editorial "Defining fundamental rights" (Dec. 7) fails to address the problems that upholding same-sex marriage on the grounds that marriage is a fundamental right would create.

But if marriage is deemed a right to be applied on an equal basis, how could there be any restrictions against polygamy or even communal marriages?

How could any possible definition of marriage which accepts some forms of marriage while rejecting others be sustained and not be rejected as discriminatory?

Marriage is rooted in a moral and religious covenant, not a government institution.

This morality clearly defines what constitutes a marriage, and our laws are based on this morality.

The role of the courts is to interpret the law, not to define or redefine morality.

If the government or businesses want to recognize or give benefits to same-sex couples, as some businesses already do, then that must be done through a means other than recognizing same-sex marriage through the courts.

James Mullen

White Hall

The rich control too many resources

The latest study of the distribution of the world's wealth suggests that America's estate tax should be increased, not repealed or reduced ("Richest 2 percent own most of world's resources," Dec. 6).

Too few have too much in this country - the top 1 percent of income earners holds 32 percent of the nation's wealth - while too many have too little.

Those who have taken risks to rise in their careers deserve their reward. But how much reward does one need to live comfortably and care for one's family, now and in the future?

Do the rich really need to pass on fortunes while millions live in poverty?

Then-Sen. John Edwards' talk of the "two Americas" during the 2004 election campaign seems increasingly prescient.

Robert J. Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Pig races unfriendly to Muslim neighbors

I was deeply saddened by The Sun's article "Plan to build Texas mosque sends neighbors into uproar" (Dec. 8), which shows that some Texans are less than welcoming to their Muslim neighbors.

It strikes me that while the Muslims in that area have proceeded peacefully to care for their faith, their children and their elders, Craig Baker has demonstrated the hatred and spite that are in his heart.

He says he has to go through with his threat to race pigs on Friday (the Muslim holy day) so that he does not look like a total idiot.

However, if he canceled his plans, he might "look like" a person of decency and character.

Sister Eileen Eppig

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

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