LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Confront violence throughout the city

I applaud The Sun for the article that did an excellent job juxtaposing how violence is viewed in two very different Baltimore neighborhoods ("2 neighborhoods, 5 dead," June 24).

The writers were able to show the divisions that exist in this city based on race, class and neighborhood - and how those divisions are being perpetuated by the behavior of the neighborhoods' residents as well as by the power structures that dominate our city.

The Bloom Street residents, if not accustomed to living in the midst of the madness of drug-related violence, are at least comfortable enough with it to erect quickly "the kind of street memorial that is all too common in inner-city Baltimore."

On the other hand, one Federal Hill resident viewed the violence in his neighborhood as the "outside coming in."

To have one neighborhood ready with "common" displays of loss to accompany its outrage (which is only whispered behind closed doors), while another is shocked into immediate action and has the power to gather police and city officials with the snap of a finger, just shows us how far this city has to go.

A 30 percent decrease in homicides in the city so far this year is something to appreciate. But until we, as citizens of Baltimore, realize that when one of us is killed we have all lost something, no matter where the body falls, and until we can all be outraged together, there will be no fundamental change, just the ticking of statistics.

Nicholas W. Seldes, Baltimore

The writer is a social work psychotherapist at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Community Psychiatry Program.

I attended Monday's community meeting in Federal Hill and was very glad to see the strong turnout of neighbors concerned about the Federal Hill community who wanted to identify ways to address the recent violent incidents.

However, countless homicides occur in neighborhoods throughout Baltimore all year long and don't receive nearly as much attention as those that happened last weekend did.

The Sun's article "2 neighborhoods, 5 dead" called attention to the fact that such incidents are often dealt with differently depending upon the socioeconomic status of the community where they occur.

It also mentioned that it is people from the "outside" coming "in" to Federal Hill who were involved in the shootings here.

But what's most important is for all of us to realize that this is one city.

The struggles those in lower-income neighborhoods face each day often create a desperation that leads to crime, and this cycle continues to repeat itself.

Federal Hill is one of the more prominent neighborhoods in the city and has undoubtedly helped contribute to the city's economic revitalization, so I understand the attention given to the recent shootings here.

However, what happens in each neighborhood ultimately affects every neighborhood. Unnecessary violence should prompt the same attention from city officials and police and communities in every neighborhood, all the time.

Improvement won't happen overnight, but a more unified effort in struggling and stable neighborhoods alike would be a start.

Kerri Corderman, Baltimore

Gambling generates critical revenue

In "Numbers Game" (June 22), Laura Smitherman did an admirable job depicting the frustration that comes with trying to find the facts when faced with dueling ledger sheets promoted by opposing sides on the slots question.

Perhaps the title of the article says it best: Numbers can be "gamed."

But there is a way the public can check this information - by listening to the elected officials, civic leaders and business men and women who live with gaming on a daily basis.

For instance, James Goldman, president of the Harrison County Commission in Indiana, noted this year, "We bring in more revenue from [gaming] than the rest of our budget. ... We're paying for three ambulance stations around the county. ... All 10 volunteer fire departments have new equipment. And it's helped with economic development."

And Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said, "The casinos are an enormous taxpayer, both to the state and locally. They are a very important part of these communities' fiscal health."

Our industry stands behind the numbers that show the benefits of gaming. But the power of the numbers pales when compared with the testimonials of the people who live and work in gaming states and communities.

Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., Washington

The writer is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association.

Let Dixon do work a mayor must do

I am an 83-year-old Baltimore citizen who never thought much of Sheila Dixon when she was on the City Council and was very disappointed when she was elected mayor.

But now I think she is doing a wonderful job with the city she loves. If she had a boyfriend who happened to get some city contracts, so what ("Dixon funds linked to firms," June 25)?

She did nothing wrong. The Sun and other backstabbers should get off her back and let her continue to do the job at hand as mayor.

Grace Y. Jones, Baltimore

Can't UB build something better?

I am having a hard time getting excited about the proposed new "signature" building for the University of Baltimore law school ("UB gets $5 million pledge," June 25).

Peter G. Angelos' seed money comes with the provision that the building bear his family name - and that's a self-serving gesture.

But there is a more pressing concern: Would it not be more productive for UB to build new facilities for programs in entrepreneurship or engineering?

Such programs might actually boost our economy.

Jim Tabeling, Baltimore

Drilling will push gas prices down

I'll say it's an "incredible fib" - The Sun's editorial on oil drilling, that is ("The incredible fib," June 23).

No one has said that more domestic oil drilling will bring us back cheap gas. But domestic drilling is just one of many tools that can help us eventually lower the cost of oil. And in the near term, just the announcement that we will drill will send the oil futures market lower.

It's simple economics - more supply, lower price.

Jerry Danoff, Finksburg

Oil rigs cause no threat to coast

The Sun's claim that "allowing oil companies to drill within 200 miles of the U.S. shoreline would certainly have an impact - but only on the environment" was not backed by any evidence ("The incredible fib," editorial, June 23). However, there has not been an oil drilling accident off our coast for 40 years. Technology has improved to the degree where such environmental incidents are very rare.

And while there is not believed to be enough oil off our coast to solve our dependence on foreign oil, that oil can help.

I heartily support Sen. Barack Obama over this crew of Republicans headed by Sen. John McCain.

That said, a comprehensive energy policy, including leasing more offshore drilling rights, is a step worth taking.

Mel Mintz, Baltimore

Carson's honors defy trend to greed

Dr. Benjamin Carson may have been humbled by being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - an award he richly deserves, having overcome poverty and many disadvantages ("From poverty to top U.S. honors," June 20).

But on the same front page that reported Dr. Carson's award, I was disgusted to read about two men who may not have faced the disadvantages Dr. Carson faced but instead of working for accomplishments or to make a better world, they apparently only lusted after more money and thus wreaked destruction on themselves and on a reputable, long-lived company ("How unlikely ties helped to damage Ferris," June 20).

This kind of story seems to be all too common these days, as many people seem only to be concerned with enriching themselves and thus cause ruin for those who come within their orbit and for themselves.

Dorrie Mednick, Towson

Homes on Shore aren't that tacky

As a resident of the Eastern Shore, I take offense at John Woestendiek lamenting the fact that the Edouard-Leon Cortes impressionist painting left at the Easton Goodwill Store could have ended up in "a college dorm room, over a bed in some cheap Highway 50 motel, or on the faux wood-paneled walls of an Eastern Shore double-wide" ("$40,000 painting left at Goodwill," June 25).

It might have been a little kinder if Mr. Woestendiek had written "a college dorm room, church fellowship hall or furnished rental apartment."

Please don't look down your nose at the Eastern Shore, Mr. Woestendiek. We have a wonderful life down here.

Gretchen Connor, Berlin

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