LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Temporary park use isn't CHAP's concern

As a former staff member of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, I take exception to the editorial which argued that CHAP "fell down on the job" in resolving community concerns about the recent art installation at Mount Vernon Place ("Art for whose sake?" March 22).

CHAP has no authority regarding how public space is to be used. It is authorized to review permanent physical alterations of properties designated within historic districts or as city landmarks.

The only reason that this project came to CHAP's attention was to ensure that the work involving the placement of cloaks on bronze sculptures did no permanent damage.

With due diligence, CHAP, in consultation with the bronze conservator who works with the city, determined that the fabrics and dyes used in this art project would not permanently affect the public artwork.

We also got assurances from the Maryland Institute College of Art that none of the other temporary art installations would cause any permanent harm to Mount Vernon Place.

This artistic controversy may help sell newspapers and attract people to comment on The Sun's Web site. But it is not a historic preservation concern.

Fred B. Shoken

Baltimore

The writer reviewed the Mount Vernon Place art project for CHAP before his recent retirement from the agency.

City's permit rules must be revised

While I agree with the basic argument of the editorial "Art for whose sake?" (March 22), I would like to correct one item: I have not asked for a public hearing on the issue of how permission was granted for this project to go forward.

Artist Lee B. Freeman and his advisers obtained the permit for this fence project after following the city's existing rules. But those rules are clearly flawed. And the fact that the permit was issued without a public hearing is troubling.

I propose to change the approval process so that no city-owned park space is completely closed for more than 72 hours without a public hearing and City Council approval.

My proposed legislation would provide the necessary exceptions for construction and public safety. Closing public access to a park for two weeks in the name of art, however, is not one of those exceptions.

William H. Cole

Baltimore

The writer is a member of the City Council.

No need to kill pigs to practice surgery

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine continues to use live pigs in training future surgeons even though 90 percent of U.S. medical schools no longer use this practice.

And as Dr. Barbara Wasserman makes clear in her column "Hopkins should stop using live animals for surgical training" (Opinion

Commentary, March 20), using and killing live pigs in surgical training is not necessary.

As an alumnus of Johns Hopkins, I call for the medical school to put a stop to these unnecessary practices.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

Cutting handouts could help fill jobs

I sympathize with businesses having trouble staffing their enterprises ("Summer worker drought looms," March 24), and I have a feeling that the government has more to do with their troubles than they may think it does.

An editorial that appeared in the paper on the same day as the article cited above noted that nearly 351,000 Marylanders receive food stamps ("Feeding the hungry," March 24). Thousands of Marylanders also receive welfare, government vouchers to help pay for housing and assistance with electricity and heating bills.

By the time the government gets done confiscating almost half my paycheck to pay for all this, it is difficult for me to pay for rent, electricity and heat.

If we didn't pay people in this country to sit on the couch and wait for money, maybe we wouldn't have to go to Central America to get laborers to fill entry-level jobs.

Brian C. Block

Hanover, Pa.

Visit to Mideast wasn't about peace

The Sun's article "Cheney assures Israel on security" (March 23) describes remarks made by Vice President Dick Cheney during his recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr. Cheney showed how hypocritical the U.S. Middle East policy is when he said "tough decisions and painful concessions on both sides" were needed, but the U.S. "will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security."

In fact, because of the influence of the powerful and wealthy Israel lobby, the U.S. will never pressure Israel, period, no matter how brutal its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians is.

Ray Gordon

Baltimore

Centuries-old prison isn't a healthy place

As a history buff, I appreciated Julie Bykowicz's story regarding Andrew Stritch and the Maryland Penitentiary ("Tales of the Penitentiary," March 25).

But as a psychiatrist who works with offenders with mental illness, I have to wonder about the wisdom of housing individuals in a prison so old that appropriate renovations cannot be made.

Dr. Erik Roskes

Baltimore

Monuments to past deserve more respect

An interesting photograph in The Sun showed a youth photographing a skateboarding companion ("Over and under video," March 18).

The caption noted that with "temperatures in the 50-degree range, teens spent the first day of their spring break skateboarding in Baltimore." And the image certainly was eye-catching, with one teen in mid-air, framed by the face, extended arms and camera of his friend.

What was not noted was the structure, partially visible in the background, from which the aerial feat of Nico Trevizo was achieved.

It is the Maryland Line Monument, which was erected in 1901.

It was dedicated to the "Maryland Line" that allowed George Washington's troops to escape the field of battle at Brooklyn, N.Y., in August 1776.

By saving Washington's army from almost certain capture, these Marylanders played an important role in achieving American independence.

Skateboarding is a fine art for teens to pursue. Their skill and their evident youthful dexterity are admirable to behold.

I do wish, however, that public monuments were not used in this manner.

Can we imagine a monument to those who have lost their lives in Iraq in the last five years used in this way? It would be a real insult to the recently dead men and women who have sacrificed their lives in behalf of the rest of us.

Public statuary represents something "monumental" about American ideals. It is also intended to call to mind the sacrifices and strivings of past Americans.

These memorials are supposed to be reminders to the living generations of their connection with now-dead but nonetheless honorable generations gone before.

I wish that Baltimore's elected and appointed officials would do more to protect our city's monuments.

All too often, these beautiful memorials and works of art are abused, misused, neglected or, worse, forgotten. It should not be this way.

The Maryland Line Monument should be moved to a place where it would be better appreciated.

It stands sandwiched between the Lyric Opera House and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, on a small island of land, practically unseen when the trees around it leaf out.

Traffic whizzes by it. Naturally, it is overlooked - its meaning forgotten.

Young people who skateboard are great; so is the impulse to have reverence for the deeds and people of the past.

Alan Gephardt

Baltimore

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