LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

I don't even know what questions to ask anymore, or which city official to demand action from. The same themes continue to repeat themselves as we read over and over about the violence in our city that is just not getting any better.

I admit that I'm feeling the effects more heavily at the moment because I read about a "good kid" being killed, a kid who was working hard to progress not just for himself but also for his contemporaries ("Northeast Baltimore shooting takes life of schools advocate," Jan. 17).

But when it comes down to it, his death is no more tragic than those of the nameless "corner boys" whose deaths don't make the front page anymore.

As a lifelong city resident and a graduate of one of the last beacons of education in this city (which happens to be across the street from where this young man lost his life), I am just so tired, and so close to giving up.

Why shouldn't I? Why would I want to raise my children in a town that seems to exhibit less of a soul every day?

But I can't give up, and I can't move away, and I also hope to be able to raise my children here - because this is my home. This is our home.

While the same tired games that play out in City Hall, North Avenue and the war zone-like corners of this town seem to continue, endlessly, we must keep caring.

We must work to make progress, not just for the "good kids" but for all of us.

Nicholas W. Seldes

Baltimore

The writer is a social work psychotherapist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Gun-selling sentence looks way too light

A plea approved by Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II, giving probation to Sanford M. Adams - an outspoken firearms advocate and former gun dealer - allowed him to maintain his innocence while conceding that the state had enough evidence to convict him. He received no jail time ("No jail for gun dealer," Jan. 15).

Mr. Abrams lost his federal gun license almost two years ago for failing to keep track of hundreds of weapons in his gun shop's inventory. He continued to sell guns after his federal and state licenses had been revoked. He had 900 violations of recordkeeping regulations.

Records from last year show that Mr. Abrams sold a weapon to Keith J. Showalter, who had a criminal record and wasn't supposed to own a gun. Mr. Showalter was later killed by police after firing a gun during a domestic dispute.

Our gun laws remain weak. It is upsetting that a gun store owner could have his license revoked and then sell a weapon to a felon who later exchanged fire with the police.

The law, the investigations and the plea bargain in this case all should be reviewed.

David Boyd

White Hall

Plan for Hickey site adds to budget woes

Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan to build a new complex in Baltimore County contains some interesting numbers ("Plan would replace Hickey," Jan. 18)).

Under Mr. O'Malley's plan, $37 million would be spent for a facility that Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. claims never would hold more than 48 youths.

What's wrong with this picture? And will our governor stop blaming the state's budget shortfalls on the previous administration if he keeps adding to them in this fashion?

Charles Herr

Baltimore

Service tax pushes tech firms to flee

The writer of the letter "Service tax rollback could bust budget" (Jan. 17) argues: "Let's not just abolish the tax on computer services and have to go without some desirable public programs."

As the owner-operator of a computer services firm, let me respond by saying: Watch us move to Virginia.

Quite simply, the sales tax will force my company to lower salaries, cut staff or leave the state to stay in business.

We run a high-volume, low-margin business, and many of our customers won't pay the tax. Thus we may be forced to say "bye bye, Maryland" - and we're by no means alone in our predicament.

With today's high-speed Internet, relocating is easy.

This new tax is a sad and tragic assault on the computer services industry - one that will ultimately result in reduced tax revenues for Maryland as data centers and jobs leave the state for Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

John Eckenrode

Catonsville

It's right to defend integrity of our vote

In response to the letter "Dismissive attitude ill fit for high court" (Jan. 15), I would note that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is not "defending the patrician class" by showing a willingness to inconvenience a few people to protect the sanctity of the vote. He is defending legal American voters.

Justice Kennedy is simply recognizing that it's proper to suggest that a few folks may have to be "inconvenienced" to ensure that thousands or millions of Americans are not disenfranchised via the dilution of our vote count with illegal votes.

I would also add that the "inconvenience" at question is that a voter be asked to obtain, free of charge, an identification card proving that the person is eligible to vote.

No political party should rely on illegal voters to pad the vote count. Instead, they should go after votes the old-fashioned way - by encouraging legal voters into the fold through sound policy.

Michael P. DeCicco

Severn

Schools must grasp value of art program

Bravo to Gene Bottoms for his column on the qualifications needed for school principals ("Maryland principals must be ready to lead," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 11).

Principals should also be required to understand the importance of a balanced program of instruction that includes arts education.

Research shows that a program of arts education taught by qualified teachers improves school achievement and develops skills in creative problem-solving and group dynamics that students will need for success in the 21st century.

Richard A. Disharoon

Parkville

The writer is vice chairman of the board of the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance.

Blocking latex gloves protects the allergic

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America applauds The Sun for reporting that Johns Hopkins Hospital has taken the lead to become the first hospital to become latex-safe ("Hopkins Hospital drops latex gloves," Jan. 15) and commends the hospital for its decision to remove latex gloves and almost all latex medical products, in an effort to prevent anaphylaxis - a severe and sometimes fatal allergic reaction - among its patients.

It is estimated that 6 percent of the general population and nearly 15 percent of health care workers nationwide have latex allergies, and the numbers are growing.

I urge other hospitals, clinics and medical facilities to follow suit to ensure the safety of all patients and to drastically reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.

William McLin

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

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