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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

City needs a way to stop evictions

The article about the West Baltimore family who may lose their home as a result of problems recertifying their eligibility for Section 8 housing aid underscores the urgent need for full implementation of the city's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness ("If subsidy is lost, family's home is, too," April 30).

The DuBose family is just one of many households that face eviction from publicly subsidized housing.

But surely it's in no one's interest for this family - or any household - to be on the streets. The social and economic consequences of homelessness are far more "cumbersome and costly" than the costs of preventing the problem.

This year, with the release of its plan, the city vowed to end homelessness - rather than just manage it. The plan rightly calls for "a mechanism to ensure that all residents of publicly subsidized housing facing eviction are first referred to eviction prevention services."

The DuBose family needs such a mechanism now, and the city - together with service providers and advocates - should work with haste to ensure we have such a safety net for all families at risk of eviction to the streets.

If we are to build a future without homelessness, we must dedicate resources to both preventing households from losing their homes and rapidly rehousing those experiencing homelessness.

Adam Schneider, Baltimore

The writer is a community relations associate for Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Lack of leadership on path to peace

There must be more on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mind than the Israeli barrier ("Israeli barriers on Rice's mind," May 4).

By now, everyone knows that peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is in America's national interest. It is also vital to America's interests in the Middle East. But unless a president provides the leadership needed to make that happen, there will be no such peace.

The only way to end this 60-year conflict is through presidential leadership. That means bringing the two sides together, offering a solution and using relentless pressure, tenacity and, if necessary, gentle threats to achieve that solution.

But this is the kind of leadership that has been missing for the last seven years.

No amount of pronouncements or visits by Ms. Rice or by President Bush will substitute for the missing leadership.

Fariborz S. Fatemi, McLean, Va.

The writer is a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Troops deserve place on Page One

Front-page articles get attention, particularly in the Sunday edition. The Sun's choice of articles for Sunday's front page included articles on a school for Towson, the presidential campaign, Microsoft, marshes and mercury, and a criminal.

The war in Iraq was on Page 3A ("Faulty wiring killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq," May 4).

As a longtime subscriber, I am disappointed.

Our troops deserve regular front-page coverage.

Herbert R. O'Conor III, Towson

Still need voices decrying inequity

It is amazing that there has been so much concern over the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s remarks ("Rejection of Wright comes way too late," letters, May 1).

It seemed to me that Sen. Barack Obama's major speech in Philadelphia was very enlightening: He explained that most black people are acutely aware of the many injustices that they endured during slavery and that continued even after laws freed African-Americans and gave them citizenship rights. It would probably be hard to find an African-American today who does not experience daily some example of discrimination.

However, many of us whites today are unaware of this and feel that all racial discrimination is over because of the laws forbidding it.

Don't we still need prophetic voices to point out things that our government has done that were wrong and in conflict with our stated beliefs that "all men are created equal"?

Ellen Tharp, Catonsville

Racing takes turn toward barbarism

Boxing seems to me to be a stupid activity in which grown men punch each other senseless. But at least boxers know the rules and agree to the beatings.

This past week brought another acclaimed horse race, the annual running of the Kentucky Derby.

Two years ago, Barbaro was the darling of the track, but after his injury at the Preakness, we suffered with him until his eventual death. Now, again, a magnificent animal has been euthanized because of a racing injury ("Derby death leads to more scrutiny for sport, track," May 5).

There is a strong racing tradition in Kentucky, Maryland, New York and other areas.

But I consider this a cruel, barbaric sport in which fine animals are urged to do more than is natural or possible.

I will never again watch a horse race. Never.

Molly Kinnaird Johnston, Glen Arm

Meeting the menace posed by our lawns?

It is all well and good to stop mowing our lawns ("The well-manicured lawn: a global menace," Commentary, May 1). But our politicians and laws are significantly behind the times.

Several years ago, I did my part to stop global warming by letting a part of my otherwise well-manicured lawn grow.

The tall grass provided additional habitat for wildlife and swayed gently in the summer breeze. But my next-door neighbor complained with an anonymous note in my mailbox.

I ignored him. He then escalated his complaint and contacted officials of Baltimore County, who sent out an inspector, who informed me that I could cut the grass or face a fine and/or jail time - after the county had cut the grass and sent me a bill.

How much warmer must our planet become before our laws will be in sympathy with - and not counter to - our natural splendor?

Paul Konka, Phoenix

Andrew McBee's column "The well-manicured lawn: a global menace" presents an important message.

I have long been puzzled by Americans' obsession with lawn care, which damages the environment while providing no practical use of increasingly precious real estate.

I urge everyone to abandon his or her high-maintenance grass in favor of gardens, low-maintenance ground cover or even allowing nature to move back in.

Grant Hamming, College Park

The writer is a student at the University of Maryland, College Park.

I was very interested in the column that noted the environmental damage caused by the use of gas-driven lawn mowers and trimmers. I think, however, that the article missed the most obvious solution to the problem.

What about the good old-fashioned push-reel mower and hand-held trimmers?

As a 63-year-old single woman, I struggled for years with gas mowers. A few years ago, I bought a push mower, and I have been using it ever since.

I had knee surgery last summer, and had to hire the boy next door to take care of the lawn for most of the year, but I am back at it this year.

In a time when obesity (especially childhood obesity) is on the rise, using a push mower is an excellent opportunity to save the environment, get some fresh air and sunshine and work off some of those extra pounds while strengthening muscles.

Lawn too big? Split the task with your sons or daughters.

An extra benefit is that a reel mower is easier on the grass you are trying to cultivate, because it cuts the grass rather than tearing it, as power mowers do.

Push mowers also cost less to buy, and involve no additional fuel cost.

And hand-operated trimmers do a fine job of trimming around sidewalks and curbs.

Diane Rust, Halethorpe

In my neighborhood, springtime begins the annual battle against the lawn weeds and the spraying of toxic chemicals on lawns.

Despite a growing body of research linking neurotoxic, carcinogenic and endocrine disruption effects in humans and pets to lawn chemicals, the spraying continues.

Some of the once-common herbicides are now banned because of health risks to children. Studies have linked some herbicides to cancers in dogs.

So how did we as Americans get sold on the myth of the perfectly manicured lawn as beautiful?

To me, what would be really beautiful would be a habitat that allows birds, insects, animals, plants and humans to live in harmony.

Leslie Ebert, Catonsville

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