The Baltimore Sun

Public needs access to more of the bay

When I first moved to Maryland, I was shocked at the very limited number of access points to the Chesapeake Bay for boaters, swimmers and anglers who do not live on the bay. What we have, in essence, is a public body of water supported by billions in federal, state and local taxes that a relative handful of developers and landowners are allowed to treat as their own private marina.

And while the column "Blocked from the bay" (June 24) is helpful in bringing this pitiful state of affairs to public notice, it also illustrates the meek attitude of state and local officials in their acceptance of the status quo.

For instance, according to one planner the column cites, environmentalists who want more public access to the bay must "partner with developers" because the "only alternative ... will be to wait for bridges to be realigned so that old structures can be used as fishing piers."

But the column doesn't mention another alternative. Since the state - with its "flush tax" and warning signs on storm drains - acknowledges that the bay is a public resource, it must also acknowledge the other side of that equation: The state must restore to citizens the access to the bay to which they are entitled.

Other states do not permit the shores of such navigable waters to be so locked down.

Some states, such as California, have the legal power, after a review process, to take easements that allow the public to use sections of the coastal areas.

Maryland could do the same thing, and it is long past time for the state to do so.

Kathleen A. Roso, Catonsville

Limit the impact of damage limits

The Sun's editorial "Justice ill-served in 'Valdez' case" (June 27) is correct: The litigation took entirely too long to resolve and the Supreme Court opinion too narrowly confines the idea of punitive damages that punish egregious misconduct.

Lower federal courts and state courts should not apply that opinion beyond the maritime context - for example, to lawsuits for personal injuries caused by defective products on dry land.

Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.

The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

Divisions erode authority of court

Our U.S. Supreme Court has become a disgrace - not necessarily because of the substance of its decisions in recent high-profile cases, but because most of those decisions were decided by 5-4 votes ("Judging the Supreme Court," editorials, June 27).

If each of the justices were following his or her oath to uphold the Constitution without injecting his or her own personal views, one would expect virtually all decisions to be unanimous or nearly unanimous.

For more than two centuries, the Supreme Court has been a place any citizen could count on as a final and just authority affirming our constitutional rights.

But over the last decade, the court has reduced its status to nothing more than another politically and ideologically divided government body influenced by winds of public opinion and special interests.

The justices on our Supreme Court need to take stock of themselves, their oath of office and their critical role as members of a nonpartisan body charged with strictly interpreting our Constitution as it is written.

The court must deliberate as long as it takes to arrive at cohesive majority decisions and speak with one definitive and authoritative voice.

Craig DeMallie, Towson

Mayor's good work merits our support

Congratulations to C. Fraser Smith for putting into words the feelings of so many Baltimore residents and those in Baltimore County who are friends of our city ("City Hall: a soap opera in many acts," Commentary, June 29).

We are so proud of the job Sheila Dixon has done in her short time as mayor.

She listens and she acts. This hardworking, intelligent woman has all the right instincts and values to keep moving Baltimore forward. We believe in her.

When this hullabaloo is over and the investigation is put into the proper perspective, maybe someone should investigate the investigator.

Beverly R. Stappler Laurence A. Stappler, Baltimore

Dixon investigation no joking matter

I was very disappointed to see the gossipy column "Send me a man who shops" (June 25) in The Sun.

It was out of line for Laura Vozzella to sling mud and make light of a situation most of us regard as serious and disturbing.

We are talking about the mayor here, not one of the superficial women from Sex and the City.

The following day, it looked like The Sun was trying to redeem itself with its editorial "It's not just personal" (June 26). That editorial offered a more thoughtful analysis of the investigation.

That's the kind of writing we expect from a paper such as The Sun.

Nancy Hirsche, Baltimore

Yuppie blight is now old news

The Sun's article on the gentrification of Locust Point was about as untimely as a news article can be ("Harbor neighborhood suffers growing pains," June 23).

The yuppie blight has been encroaching on the blue-collar way of life in the point for at least 10 years now. As a lifelong resident who moved from there in 2006, I am happy to be out of the area.

I couldn't help but focus in on developer Patrick Turner's comments on the neighborhood moving in the right direction. All because some upscale grocery store is moving in?

Well, here's a dose of reality for Mr. Turner: There's nothing like coming home after a double shift at work and not finding anywhere to park.

Or hearing sledge hammers, drills and other loud construction equipment as four houses in your immediate vicinity are being gutted and renovated for the first, second or perhaps even third time.

Or walking outside your door on a Friday night to find a group of ex-frat boys whooping and hollering as they go down the avenue, only to find them later urinating on your fence or vomiting in the alley.

A spa, a gourmet food store and other such yuppie atrocities aren't very good measuring sticks for the "revitalization" of a neighborhood.

George James Martsoukos, Brooklyn

Topping off tank a waste of fuel

For many of us, it has been a habit to top off our fuel tank when refueling ("Fuel prices also pinch city and counties," June 24).

The fuel tank's capacity is designed to allow a driver to cover a large distance without the need to stop to refuel. However, most drivers seldom approach using the full range of their vehicle on a day-to-day basis.

Accordingly, topping off the tank causes us to haul around unnecessary amounts of fuel.

A better approach would be to fill the fuel tank to only three-quarters full after the tank has reached its one-quarter level.

Such an approach would reduce the amount of extra fuel in the tank.

James M. Hall, Baltimore

Dubai firm is now a customs partner

In 2006, DP World, a giant international shipping firm from Dubai, attempted to buy a U.S. terminal operator. Although the fact that the purchase wouldn't have meant that DP World would manage port operations, the deal prompted a hue and cry about allowing "terrorists" to operate our ports.

Leading the battle to cancel the deal were many foolish members of Congress, who refused to understand what the deal was all about. So DP World dropped out of the deal.

Ironically, it was recently reported that DP World has been certified as a partner in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

The certification is based on DP World's commitment to international security standards.

What a world.

M. Sigmund Shapiro, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of a freight-forwarding firm.

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