The Baltimore Sun

County is losing affordable housing

Kudos to Josh Mitchell ("More seeking U.S. rent subsidy," Dec. 17) and to Dan Rodricks ("County AWOL on affordable housing," Dec. 20) for shedding light on the growing affordable-housing crisis in Baltimore County.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that between 2000 and 2006, the percentage of people living below the poverty line in Baltimore County rose from 6.5 percent to 8.4 percent.

Yet during this same period, Baltimore County has continued a trend of demolishing low-income rental housing.

The county talks of replacing those complexes with mixed-income housing. But the new affordable units are never on a one-to-one ratio with those destroyed. And new construction often results in replacement housing for the elderly but not for young families.

There is much the county can do to ensure all residents have an opportunity to live in safe, affordable housing.

It can reallocate funding for demolition of older housing toward renovation and preservation of this housing.

It can offer county-owned land at low cost to developers of affordable housing, and encourage developers to apply for low-income housing tax credits to build in the county.

The County Council can pass an inclusionary-zoning law and a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against people with rent subsidies.

Let's hope that the people of good will in Baltimore County will push our leaders to provide for all county citizens.

Susan Tannenbaum


The writer is senior attorney for housing for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau's Baltimore County office.

O'Malley's petulance unfair to educator

The political witch hunt that is continuing with respect to one of the finest educators and leaders in our state has left me and many others in total disgust ("Grasmick under fire but still on the go," Dec. 23).

As a taxpayer and resident of Maryland with children in its public schools, I believe it is an absolute travesty that Gov. Martin O'Malley cannot let bygones be bygones when it comes to his petty dispute with state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick when he was mayor of Baltimore.

It sickens me when I see party politics come into play in our school system.

Mrs. Grasmick has served this fine state under Democratic and Republican administrations.

I can see no reason for Mr. O'Malley's efforts to have her removed from her position - other than some sort of power play on his part because he simply does not like Mrs. Grasmick.

I applaud the Maryland State Board of Education for its vote of confidence in Mrs. Grasmick.

Mary Anne Doccolo


Year-round markets are also city gems

In her article about the Baltimore Farmers' Market under the Jones Falls Expressway ("Sales, sadness at season's farewell," Dec. 24), Laura McCandlish managed to totally disregard the year-round markets available to Baltimoreans.

The Jones Falls market is a wonderful resource and was my first exposure to the real diversity of Baltimore's population. But once I moved from downtown, I discovered other markets as well. Although I don't claim to know all of them, I frequent the Waverly Farmers' Market and Mill Valley Garden Center year-round.

On Saturday mornings, the Waverly market provides many of the same vendors and amenities as the Jones Falls market, on a smaller scale.

Please make sure not to overlook such smaller gems when writing about the local farmers' markets in Baltimore.

Steven Parke


Will labor center check immigrants?

Regarding the new labor center in Fells Point that will be federally subsidized, I wonder: Will the laborers be made to show they are legal residents? Will taxes be withheld from their wages or will they be paid tax-free ("Day-labor center opens," Dec. 20)?

Will they be screened to ensure they are not criminals sought by law enforcement?

If federal taxpayer dollars are going to this project, these are essential concerns.

Michelle Alston


Generic drugs equally effective

Unfortunately, the column by Naomi Wax was based on her opinions and not scientific facts ("The generic drug myth," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 20).

Scientists working for the Food and Drug Administration have rigorously examined the medicines cited by Ms. Wax.

Based on this scientific research, the FDA has repeatedly stated that therapeutically equivalent generic drugs can be used with the expectation that they will have the same clinical effect and safety profile as the brand-name drug.

By contrast, Consumer Lab's findings have been regularly called into question by respected organizations such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia, which sets testing standards for most approved drug products.

Consumer Lab simply does not have the experience of reviewing the volumes of data and tests that FDA scientists and chemists do.

Consumer Lab's primary focus is on running a profitable company, while the FDA's focus is on ensuring the safety and efficacy of patients' medicines.

Whose results would you choose to trust?

Kathleen Jaeger

Arlington, Va.

The writer is president and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Account of the race ignores voice of left

The article "For Democrats, tale of 2 races" (Dec. 23) purported to tell the story of the contrast between the high-profile and low-profile presidential candidacies.

The article named Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards as the former kind of candidates and Sen Christopher J. Dodd, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as the latter.

Readers might be led to infer - wrongly - that no one else is in the competition.

For example, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich is running, and in Iowa polls, he is in a statistical tie with Mr. Dodd.

So why was there no mention in the article of his campaign?

Could it have anything to do with his boldly progressive agenda, which includes ejecting corporations from the tottering edifice of the U.S. health care system, ditching NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, and so on?

Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have chosen to establish boundaries for respectable opinion. Worse still, they do so prejudicially, excluding only the political left.

Kindly take your thumb off the scale.

Daniel Fleisher


Do Sun writers have a problem spelling "Kucinich"? Or is it that Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich's message is unpalatable to the newspaper's owners?

While admittedly he ranks in the second tier of Democratic candidates, according to certain national polls, he ranks near the top in all the polls of progressive voters. Is there a valid reason why he was not even mentioned in "For Democrats, tale of 2 races"?

Please don't use control of the presses to limit our choices.

William Trolinger

Ellicott City

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