The Baltimore Sun

Too much clutter tarnishes harbor

Once again, we get another great idea for the Inner Harbor. This time it's gondolas in the air ("On cutting edge of urban transit," March 12).

Of course we all know that gondolas belong in the water. But once we ran out of open land around our harbor, we built piers for our townhouses and marinas for our yachts. So we are left only with air space at the harbor.

When is enough enough for our Inner Harbor?

I remember in the 1970s when we spent millions in taxpayers' money to clear up the land near the harbor and create a park.

Many of us were happy with this jewel right in the middle of the city. Then came the tarnish of Harborplace.

When will they leave the Inner Harbor alone?

Louise Alder


The writer is a former chairman of Citizens for Protection of the Inner Harbor.

New ethanol plant threatens Curtis Bay

The article about the possibility of a new ethanol plant in Curtis Bay sent chills up my spine and steam out my ears ("State dreams big on biofuels," March 10).

I am beginning to think that we who live in Curtis Bay are just a bunch of guinea pigs used to test out new products and to see how much pollution can be jammed down our throats.

Curtis Bay has had enough. This is overkill.

We are trying to revive our community, attract new homeowners and make our community the best it can be.

Would this plant have putrid odors the way a paper factory does? What about the bacteria involved? How would they affect our health?

Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

There have to be other places in Maryland where this plant can go - perhaps somewhere far away from residents.

Linda Bardo


The writer is the president of the Community of Curtis Bay Association Inc.

Overburdened area deserves a break

Without a doubt, Marylanders need to take steps now to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and natural gas. Still, in our rush to embrace renewable sources of energy, we must take care not to trample over people who are working hard to improve their community.

Unless you live in Curtis Bay, you probably haven't thought twice about Zymetis Inc.'s proposal to build an experimental plant there that would use bacteria to convert garbage into biofuel ("State dreams big on biofuels," March 10).

But consider what residents of the 21226 ZIP code already have to deal with: one biodiesel producer, the nation's largest medical waste incinerator and numerous petrochemical facilities.

Sadly, this concentration of heavy industry hasn't translated into financial benefits for the people of Curtis Bay.

According to a recent report from Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance, almost 60 percent of Curtis Bay families earn less than Maryland's self-sufficiency wage, compared with less than 6 percent of those in Roland Park.

These statistics also indicate that Curtis Bay residents are doing more than their fair share to conserve energy.

They are far less likely to own cars - and more likely to walk, bike or use public transit to get to work - than other Marylanders are.

So let's give Curtis Bay a well-deserved break and locate this bacteria-powered ethanol plant elsewhere.

Rebecca Kolberg


Don't blame court for foolish growth

I can understand the frustration Smart Growth proponents feel over the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision on the Terrapin Run project ("Court limits master plans," March 12).

But frankly, I think that blaming the judges is misplaced. The judges correctly interpreted the law, even though the law is severely flawed.

Instead, those opposed to Terrapin Run should seek to unseat each member of the Allegany County Council who backed the exemption to the master plan to allow the development.

And we should all do the same thing for any state delegate or senator who is not opposed to tightening Smart Growth policies statewide.

Kevin-Douglas G. Olive


Holding our leaders to unfair standards

With the latest political sex scandal in full swing, we can expect the predictable outpouring of righteous indignation against former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer ("Sex ring scandal topples Spitzer," March 13).

Quite honestly, I don't see what the big deal is.

So he allegedly paid a hooker. He didn't rape anyone, he didn't molest a child, and he didn't perpetrate a dangerous or harmful crime upon a nonconsenting person.

But amid all the calls for Mr. Spitzer's resignation, did anyone stop to consider the ridiculously unrealistic expectations we as a society have for our political leaders?

We expect them to be dedicated super-achievers, selfless public servants and charming generators of charisma.

We expect them to have a private life that withstands public scrutiny and judgment, a feat no human could possibly accomplish through honest means - then we act surprised when they fail to live up to their polished, wholesome image.

Now everyone wants to bash Mr. Spitzer, the star lawyer who made a living prosecuting corporate crooks and successful candidate for governor, because it turns out he, too, has a bit of a dark side.

But the question for me is not whether he should be faulted for not living up to some storybook ideal.

The question is why we would ever expect that he would.

Philip Kaplan


It's time to tax all Internet sales

Letting people buy wine over the Internet is one thing ("Panel corks bill on buying wine via Internet," March 8). But isn't it time to tax all sales over the Internet?

I can buy a book from Amazon.com and pay no shipping fees and no sales tax, and do the same thing for tools, clothing and on and on.

Both local stores and the state of Maryland lose out.

Can Maryland still afford this giveaway?

Arthur Milholland

Silver Spring

'Diner guy' enriched the lives he touched

Back in the 1980s, Gov. Harry R. Hughes appointed me to his Drug Abuse Advisory Council. The chairman of that group was Howard "Chip" Silverman ("'Chip' Silverman, 'diner guy,' dies," March 8).

I was just a teenage kid at the time, but he welcomed me and my input to the group warmly.

We often had the council's lunch meetings at his favorite restaurant, Sabatino's in Little Italy, where he would regale us with stories of life growing up in Baltimore and his roles in Barry Levinson's movies.

Mr. Silverman was a larger-than-life character who made a lasting impression.

Rest in peace, Mr. Silverman. We're all a little richer for having known you.

Paul Comfort

La Plata

The writer is county administrator for Charles County.

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