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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Continue the work to house the poor

Although tensions between church and state make for interesting reading, we fail to see a reason for conflict in The Sun's article "City renews effort to clear camp, citing health risks" (June 10).

The article notes that the city has adopted a "Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness" based on a Housing First approach and that church officials pledge to continue their admirable work to get homeless people back into the mainstream.

This sounds more like a match made in heaven than a standoff of warring factions.

The extreme vulnerability of homeless folks is hardly shocking to those of us working in the trenches on this issue.

Homelessness makes you sick. Indeed, a study by the same Boston-based physician who developed the vulnerability survey cited in The Sun's article concluded that those living on the streets are three to four times more likely than their housed counterparts to die prematurely.

This is as true at the park in front of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church as it is under the Jones Falls Expressway or in an abandoned building or for anyone living anyplace not fit for daily human habitation.

Perhaps the most promising solution to homelessness was forged out of the same park 2 1/2 years ago when more than two dozen park inhabitants were housed and given intensive supportive services.

Today, more than 85 percent of the people in that program remain stably housed and off the streets.

So what's the problem here? The city should continue to prove the effectiveness of the Housing First model while the church fulfills its deep commitment to serve the poor on its own property.

The results of this vulnerability study should just strengthen everyone's determination to house people, now.

Jeff Singer Kevin Lindamood, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the CEO and a vice president of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Transit real key to saving fuel

While The Sun's suggestion that we reduce the maximum speed limit certainly makes sense ("Economize at 65," editorial, June 10), there are more powerful ways we could reduce our dependence on oil - ways that would ultimately enhance our economy, security, public health, environment and quality of life.

This country needs to take seriously the need to expand clean, efficient transportation choices. With gas prices soaring and roads getting more clogged by the day, we cannot wait any longer to make public transportation a priority.

This country needs to make it a priority to invest in light rail, commuter rail, rapid bus service, high-speed intercity rail and other forms of modern public transportation.

I, for one, would love to have the opportunity to use such transportation.

Shanna Borell, Abingdon

Speed limit cut unfair to the West

Lowering the speed limit in the West and Southwest would not have nearly the effect on fuel consumption that clearing the traffic jams would have here in the East ("Economize at 65," editorial, June 10).

Having driven in the West numerous times, I would guess that all the cars in a year gliding across Nebraska at 80 miles per hour may use less fuel than our cars use in a day blasting from traffic jam to traffic jam in Maryland.

Let's fix our problems first.

David J. Heston, Glen Arm

Visiting Maryland from Colorado, I bought and read The Sun on Tuesday.

I suggest that before you start evangelizing for a national speed limit of 65 miles per hour, The Sun's editors drive from Fort Morgan, Colo., to Ogallala, Neb., on Interstate 76 and Interstate 80, or perhaps from Bennett, Colo. to Burlington, Colo., on I-70. Perhaps then you might understand how those of us from the West might not agree with this suggestion.

Ken Willis, Westminster, Colo.

Reward drivers of efficient cars

The Sun's editorial "Economize at 65" (June 10) proposed establishing a national speed limit not to exceed 65 miles per hour to save fuel. While I applaud almost any effort that moves us toward energy independence, this move would clearly impact energy-conscious drivers and drivers in Western states unfairly.

Why penalize drivers of high-mileage vehicles along with those of gas-guzzlers?

If we really want to motivate energy consciousness on the roads, let's only allow cars that exceed a threshold miles-per-gallon rating in the passing lane or in an HOV lane.

Then you'll see how popular small cars become.

Jerry Solomon, Ellicott City

Alaska offers only a few months of oil

Drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge would be a shortsighted way to supply about six months' worth of U.S. oil consumption 10 to 22 years from now ("Limits on drilling squeeze oil supply," letters, June 11).

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the United States consumes more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil per year while U.S. proven oil reserves are less than 21 billion barrels.

The EIA's statement on ANWR in May finds, based on different estimates of the amount of recoverable oil in Alaska, that "cumulative oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR from 2018 through 2030 [would amount] to 2.6 billion barrels in the mean-resource case, 1.9 billion barrels in the low- resource case, and 4.3 billion barrels in the high-resource case."

The 2.6 billion barrel estimate represents about four months of U.S. oil consumption. Is that worth destroying one of the last great wildlife refuges in Alaska?

Why should our generation use all the oil? How about saving some of this 200-million-year-old resource for our grandchildren?

It's time to work to conserve energy and save our petroleum reserves for the future.

Roger Fitzgerald, Hampstead

A narrow victory for the rule of law

Americans should be glad our Supreme Court re-established the rule of law by extending habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo prisoners ("Terror suspects' rights upheld," June 13). But that 5-4 decision is scary. I'm afraid we're only one "conservative" justice away from having a Supreme Court majority that thinks a president - as commander in chief - can spy on American citizens without warrants, imprison people without charges, condone torture, OK assassinations and invade countries on a whim.

Sen. John McCain wants more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.; he's said so. That's sufficient reason to vote for Sen. Barack Obama.

Greenville Whitman, Rock Hall

Harbor holds key to new city slogan

The headline on Edward Gunts' column "Harboring success" (June 9) reminded me of when the city was selecting a new slogan and came up with the generic, unimpressive, forgettable, commercial-sounding "Get In On It."

My sister (a retired English teacher) was visiting from out of state, and came up with a much better city slogan: "Baltimore: Harboring a Great City."

Marge Mitchell, Baltimore

Poets flourish in collaboration

Kudos to The Sun for the fine article and excellent photos concerning Josephine Jacobsen and Elizabeth Spires ("A Long Flowering," June 8).

This has proved to be a truly inspired collaboration between two brilliant poets, both of them intellectually and artistically superb as well as (I have to say it) beautiful.

In fact, my father, R. P. Harriss, a former Sun editor and writer, ran for some years a small magazine (with the rather unfortunate name of Gardens, Houses & People) to which his good friend Ms. Jacobsen contributed a handful of poems.

Generous soul and wise critic that he was, he told Ms. Jacobsen that she should send them to The New Yorker.

The Sun's article tells the rest of the story.

Clarinda Harriss, Towson

The writer is a professor of English at Towson University.

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