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The Baltimore Sun

Affordable housing makes growth work

One of the key lessons learned in St. Mary's County about growth that is now relevant to the base realignment and closure process was buried deep in The Sun's article "BRAC team faces 'challenge'" (June 16): "Officials in all three Southern Maryland counties said they are grappling with a scarcity of 'work force' housing affordable to schoolteachers and other middle- and lower-income residents."

Much of the planning for the impact of BRAC in the Fort Meade area has focused on transportation and schools. But affordable housing is the issue that integrates all of the impacts the process will have on our communities.

Without affordable housing in the area, either the schools won't have all the teachers they need or teachers and many others will be clogging our roads (and worsening our air pollution) as they struggle with long commutes that will burn up much of their budgets on gas.

Teachers and those who work in public safety, child care, food service and a host of other fields deserve the dignity of being able to afford to live near where they work.

Those of us who live in the Fort Meade area don't look forward to the traffic jams and dirty air the BRAC process may cause. But these can be ameliorated not only by more road construction and better public transit, which we sorely need, but also by a change in housing policy.

The simplest solution would be for Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold and the County Council to create a policy that requires inclusionary zoning for work force housing.

Phyllis Johnson


Preserve panorama of the city skyline

Not long ago, the Baltimore skyline was as static and unchanging as a prairie. However, it has changed in the past couple of years, and in the near future, it will be dramatically augmented by skyscrapers and developments stretching from Camden Yards to Harbor East.

This is an exciting time, and I welcome its arrival.

However, the development on the south side of the Inner Harbor has become excessive.

I loathe the idea that the day will come when all the views of the city's skyline from the south are partially or totally obscured by a strip of exclusive residential properties.

This kind of building spits in the face of Baltimore's blue-collar past.

I would welcome the exercise of restraint along the Key Highway ("Dixon backs shore park," June 17) - before we end up with three or four different "downtowns" instead of one dominant one.

J. D. Lovejoy


City must return to 'zero tolerance'

Dan Rodricks is absolutely correct when he calls for the city to return to the successful "zero-tolerance" policing policies ushered in by former Mayor Martin O'Malley ("City taking 'weird turn' for the worst these days," June 21).

It is a tactic that makes sense and has shown positive results.

But true zero-tolerance policies also include fighting grime.

That is why I disagree with Kim Martin, the Charles Village resident who is upset that the city gave her a citation for putting her trash out early.

While I sympathize with her feelings about the emotional roller coaster of city living, I think she is completely wrong for complaining about the city's "overzealous regulation of minor offenses by citizens."

Crime and grime go hand in hand. If either gets out of hand, the other will soon follow.

And it seems to me that both are again getting out of hand in Baltimore.

John Tully


Dixon fundraiser raises ethical issues

Apparently there is no law prohibiting a Baltimore employee - Bill Gilmore, director of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts - from soliciting cash contributions for the mayor's political campaign ("Think of her as a patron of the arts," June 15).

But the fact that this conduct is not expressly illegal doesn't make it right.

And even if this fundraiser breaks no law, it certainly reinforces the image that in Baltimore, "You gotta pay to play."

Lindsay Silbert


A new school chief or a miracle worker?

As a Baltimore teacher, I wish new city schools CEO Andres Alonso the very best. The school system has been in shambles for years, and it will take a radical change just to bring it up to minimum standards.

However, I think The Sun's article "Alonso gets ahead by putting kids first" (June 17) was a well-written fluff piece.

According to the article, Mr. Alonso is loved by principals, students and all other administrators. He stands his ground in spite of being a soft-spoken administrator.

Yet where in the article was there a sentence, a word, of criticism? Are Baltimore's schools getting, in Mr. Alonso, a miracle (which they certainly need), as the article implies, or someone who is highly qualified but has faults - like all people and administrators?

What have Mr. Alonso's relationships with teachers and teachers unions been like? There was not a word about that in this article.

The Sun always seem to forget that the greatest allies of students are the teachers.

Yet we are placed in second-class status by this paper and the city and its administration.

Should teachers welcome this new addition to Baltimore, or prepare for a hired gun who will do some union-busting?

We just don't know. And this article seems to go out of its way to present only one, glowing side of this new addition to the school system.

Myles Hoenig


Medicaid red tape a modest barrier

The Sun's article on the red tape that must be overcome to receive Medicaid benefits empathizes with a poor woman who has diabetes and arthritis and would "rather not work anymore" ("Red tape delays healing," June 17).

I, too, have diabetes and arthritis and would rather not work anymore. However, I do not receive governmental aid, and work I must to put food on the table and meet my financial obligations, which include paying for health insurance and paying the taxes that support Medicaid and food stamps.

The woman in the article faces a problem: She must obtain two documents to qualify for Medicaid and have her health care paid for. This has proved difficult because of a cumbersome bureaucracy.

I, too, face challenges to get my health care.

I must rise at 5:45 a.m. and drive 45 minutes to work. I do this every weekday, and have done so for 35 years.

It is hard for me to sympathize with a person who chooses not to work and complains about the daunting task of assembling two documents.

Andrew Goldfinger


Remember refugees from Palestine, too

I am very grateful to see published mention of the Iraqi refugees and the huge humanitarian crisis created by war ("U.S. must do more for Iraqi refugees," Opinion

Commentary, June 20).

Yes, we can and must do more for the Iraqi refugees - but we also must honor and respect the millions of Palestinian refugees and those forced into exile and poverty by Israel.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

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