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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

House new residents near Charles Street

The Dixon Transition Team Report, issued last week, calls for "improving the Charles Street-North Avenue corridor and refurbishing central Baltimore ... the section north of Mount Vernon and south of 33rd Street," according to The Sun ("So much to do, so little time," editorial, Feb. 4).

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At the same time, an alert new city administration wants to attract new residents who will be coming to the metropolitan area as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure plan, which will bring many thousands of workers from Virginia and New Jersey to jobs at Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground ("City invites BRAC growth," Feb. 5).

These two concepts suggest that new and renovated housing between Mount Vernon and Charles Village - with nearby rail connections from Penn Station to Fort Meade and Aberdeen - could create a "win-win" picture for newcomers, for city enthusiasts and for efforts to reduce gas consumption and pollution.

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Residents in mid-city neighborhoods are already commuting through Penn Station to employment centers in Washington in increasing numbers.

The area near Charles Street and North Avenue offers a huge opportunity to expand this practice.

Alan Shecter

Baltimore

The writer's family company owns the Charles and Everyman theaters and other commercial properties in the Station North area.

Study isn't needed to end ground rent

I was encouraged to read in The Sun that Gov. Martin O'Malley is lending his support to plans to revamp the arcane system of ground rents ("Ground rent called unjust," Feb. 6).

But the words in the article that really caught my attention related to creating a "task force" to study the legislation.

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Don't do it. Creating a task force is no more than code by the opposition for "let's study it to death." And perhaps along the way the legislation will be blocked or be so watered down as to be ineffective.

Just get on with passing the legislation.

It is long overdue.

Franklin Shekore

Columbia

Council is culpable in rowhouse razing

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Now that Mercy Medical Center has apparently prevailed in its bid to demolish another artifact of Baltimore's history, the role of the City Council in allowing this to go forward should be fully acknowledged ("Challenge to razing dropped," Feb. 6).

As the city rushes toward a mayoral election, with some members of the council pursuing the job, elected officials should be wary of supporting legislation that betrays their allegiance to large, moneyed interests of the city's power elite.

Especially deserving of scrutiny, in the aftermath of the decision by Baltimore Heritage to drop its challenge to the demolition, is the behavior of City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a notable mayoral hopeful.

The councilman is responsible for the amendment that removed protections for the historic properties Mercy will now reduce to dust and rubble ("Houses stripped of protection," Nov. 26).

It appears that Mr. Mitchell's allegiance to Baltimore's past is history; how can he presume to lead in the future?

A. I. Schneiderman

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Baltimore

Targeting Mitchell sends chilling signal

Not only does Harbor Bank's asking Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. to take an unpaid leave send "a chilling message to professionals - especially young professionals - that running for public office might well compromise their ability to support themselves and their families" ("Unceremonious boot," editorial, Jan. 31), it also sends the chilling message that if you are an honorable public servant, the powers that be in City Hall may create some fictional brouhaha to derail you.

Mr. Mitchell has done nothing but serve his constituents in the most honorable and effective manner.

Baltimore would be fortunate to have at its helm a man of such integrity.

Mike Harris

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Baltimore

Let public decide on death penalty

The best way to settle the death penalty issue is to put the question on the ballot and let the people decide ("Is death penalty a deterrent or an atrocity?" letters, Feb. 3).

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

One optical scanner isn't nearly enough

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State Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone's proposal to "add one optical scanner to every precinct in 2008," while retaining the state's paperless touch-screen machines, is only the latest evidence that she is not qualified to supervise the state's election system ("Voting reform seen unlikely until 2010," Feb. 2).

The argument made by those who want to delay replacing the touch-screen system boils down to this: Election security isn't worth the money. But what, pray tell, is more important than the integrity of the ballot - the heart of any democratic system of government?

Florida, the state that sparked all this concern over voting technology seven years ago, has announced that it's giving up on the touch-screen machines and moving to optical scanners.

How can Maryland do any less?

Michael Berla

Columbia

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Stereotypes still limit black actors

I can't believe that J. Wynn Rousuck analyzed the continuing lack of well-rounded roles for black actors, on stage and on film, without mentioning Robert Townsend's great 1987 movie Hollywood Shuffle ("Play exposes persistent stereotypes," Feb. 4).

Her description of the actor who was told to play a role for TV "more street," which is a code for "more black," exactly reflects the experience of Mr. Townsend's character in his search for acting roles.

Mary E. Butler

Ellicott City

End the war to pay for health care plan

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Former Sen. John Edwards claims that the more than $100 billion annual tab for his national health care plan would require a tax increase ("Health care plan would raise taxes," Feb. 5).

But there is an alternative source for these funds: Get out of Iraq.

George Lucien Gregoire

Baltimore

Sacrifice of veterans secures freedom

Thank you for publishing Lt. Col. Chris Lozano's poignant journal entry from the Iraq war ("Serving honorably, making a difference," Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 1).

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Whether or not one supports the U.S. presence in Iraq, it is clear that those who put themselves in harm's way deserve our greatest respect and appreciation.

Reading this column elicited in me the same response I had to the movie Saving Private Ryan - I wanted to do nothing more than hug a war veteran and thank that person for his or her sacrifice.

It also reminded me that the freedom we have to live, work and worship in this great land has always been made possible by people such as Colonel Lozano.

John Crooks

Baltimore


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