LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

City is still in need of affordable homes

The Sun's article "Housing decline hits area unevenly" (Feb. 25) celebrated the fact that the city has seen substantial gains in housing prices in many areas.

This is indeed good news for revitalization efforts in the city. But reading between the lines, and noting the ZIP codes where some of the largest increases have occurred, I can't help but wonder just what impact this has on those neighborhoods.

And I wonder if the price increases are being driven by speculators investing in cheap, substandard housing.

Neighborhoods are not helped when deteriorating houses remain vacant while speculators wait for a rising tide to cash out.

There is a good dynamic at work in the city housing market, but we also need to increase and preserve the city's stock of decent housing that working families can afford.

Can children of longtime residents now afford to buy a house where they grew up as properties are rehabbed and sold at rising rates?

It is high time our City Council passed a strong inclusionary-zoning bill to offset speculation and gentrification and increase the supply of affordable housing available to city residents.

Helene F. Perry

Baltimore

Good news for those who like to breathe

Tuesday brought a breath of fresh air to Central Maryland as we were greeted by two headlines that bode well for easier breathing, an activity I believe is of much value - one on Baltimore passing a law freeing public places from the proven hazard of secondhand smoke ("Smoking ban wins approval," Feb. 27) and next to it a headline about cleaner cars ("Senate passes 'clean car' bill," Feb. 27).

As a person with asthma who is concerned about the alarming rate of cancer in the Mid-Atlantic region, I celebrate both actions and thank the City Council and Mayor Sheila Dixon as well as state lawmakers and Gov. Martin O'Malley for taking these much-needed, healthy steps.

Chris Muldowney

Baltimore

Now it's state's turn to pass smoking ban

Hats off to the members of the Baltimore City Council for standing up to the pressure of the tobacco and restaurant-bar industry and doing what they were elected to do: Protect all the citizens of Baltimore ("Smoking ban wins approval," Feb. 27).

Let's hope the General Assembly of Maryland will now wake up and do its job ("Governor for smoking ban," Feb. 28).

As of today, if you work in a bar or restaurant, your health doesn't matter to many legislators.

This is absolutely absurd given the known harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

Like the City Council, the state legislature needs to do what it was elected to do: Pass a state smoking ban and protect all the workers in Maryland - not just those who don't work in bars and restaurants.

Warren Guenther

Baltimore

Smoker will stop visiting the city

Thanks to the City Council's ban on indoor smoking, I'm sorry to say that I will no longer visit the Inner Harbor, see the Orioles play at Camden Yards, or do any of the fun activities in Baltimore ("Smoking ban wins approval," Feb. 27).

These day trips were like a one-day vacation for me. I would spend the entire day walking along the promenade, shopping at the Inner Harbor, and stopping for a few drinks at a local bar.

But as a smoker, I will not spend my hard-earned money where I'm not wanted.

Baltimore has forever lost my business, and I'm sure other people feel the same way.

William Paul Tollberg

Dundalk

ICC puts brakes on transit projects

The Sun's article "Three mass transit projects delayed" (Feb. 23) overlooked the clear link between the delays on critical projects such as Baltimore's Red Line and the state's pedal-to-the-metal approach to the Intercounty Connector project in Montgomery County.

The ICC would claim most of the state's available transportation funds for just an 18-mile highway, even if the state imposes a $7 daily toll for the road and devotes a share of tolls from all over Maryland, including the Bay Bridge and the tunnels, to help pay for the ICC.

I would like acting Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari to explain why the grossly expensive ICC takes priority over popular transit projects, especially when Maryland is finally getting serious about reducing auto emissions.

Nancy Dunn

Baltimore

Murder of Israeli merits no mention?

A quick read of Tuesday's Sun would make one think the Israelis are out oppressing Palestinians again.

One headline reads, "Palestinian killed in West Bank raid by Israel" (Feb. 27).

The headline neglects to emphasize what is buried in the text of the article: that the city of Nablus is a hotbed of terrorism; that explosives factories there were dismantled; and that terrorists run freely through the community.

The Sun even puts quotes around the words "terrorist infrastructure," as if its presence was just an Israeli claim.

The bigger travesty is that the article made no mention of a much greater tragedy that happened the same day: A Jewish father of three was murdered during his prayers.

He was alone, engrossed in meditation, when terrorists who had stalked and planned his murder stabbed him brutally to death. His name was Erez Levanon. He was an innocent 42-year-old man murdered in cold blood.

When the Israelis inadvertently kill during a police action to protect a population as soldiers are attacked with stones from the street and rooftops, this is news.

But a dead Jew and the tears of thousands apparently is not news.

Is the blood of a Jew not red enough for The Sun?

Samson Wach

Baltimore

Arrogant president perpetuates war

In The Sun's article "British pullout eyed as Iraq turning point" (Feb. 22), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying, "Why are thousands of additional American troops being sent to Iraq at the same time that British troops are planning to leave?"

The simple answer: arrogance on the part of President Bush, who doesn't really want anyone else to share in any perceived "victory" and glory.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

How could DJS miss a nurse's warning?

As a fellow nurse, I am proud of Janis Miller for standing up for her moral principles and advocating for her patients at the Bowling Brook Preparatory School despite being chastised for her concerns ("Nurse reported school's methods," March 1).

I am deeply shocked and dismayed that her letter to the state Department of Juvenile Services was ignored until a death took place.

We are so aware of child abuse these days that bystanders have been known to call 911 if they see a parent slap a child in a grocery store.

How can the state ignore a nurse's observations?

Ellen S. F. Eisenstadt

Owings Mills

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