Homeowners need help from a lawyer

The Baltimore Sun

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell should to be applauded for his efforts to encourage the state's 33,000 lawyers to volunteer to help people at risk of losing their homes in the foreclosure crisis ("A cry to help save homes in Maryland," July 8).

While Legal Aid, the state's largest provider of free legal help to low-income Marylanders, has devoted substantial resources to helping people under the threat of foreclosure in Prince George's County, Baltimore and throughout the state, the staggering numbers of homeowners falling behind in their mortgage payments far exceeds the number our resources enable us to help and now includes many homeowners who do not financially qualify for our services.

One lesson we have learned, however, is that a lawyer has an essential role to play in finding equitable remedies to this burgeoning crisis.

By having an attorney on his or her side, the homeowner brings any foreclosure prevention discussion to a level where results can happen, especially if court action looms.

In most cases, this doesn't mean litigation. Lawyers work with brokers, banking loan officers and housing counselors to add only what a lawyer can add - the understanding and ability to articulate the rights of the homeowner.

My experience with the private bar in Maryland, which provides substantial support to Legal Aid, gives me confidence that its members will step up to the plate and respond enthusiastically to Chief Judge Bell's call to action.

Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr., Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Maryland Legal Aid.

Time to push police for more candor

It's about time someone did something about misconduct in the Police Department ("Jessamy pushes on lying by police," July 11). Who knows how long such conduct has gone unchecked?

Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the city police union, has some nerve to call what Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy is trying to do "unfair."

Police officers are not above the law. Our justice system does not work unless the officers work within it.

Lying about evidence only taints a case. It causes mistrials and charges to be dropped against some people who are likely to be guilty.

The police need to give the state's attorney's office clean evidence and let the city prosecutors do their jobs.

We are supposed to be able to trust the men and women who are sworn to protect and serve.

Cheryl Ragsdale, Owings Mills

City can't afford to lose more trees

The Sun's equivocation on the issue of the impending development of the Baltimore Country Club land in Roland Park is a shame ("Talk it over," editorial, July 6).

Roland Park, in addition to being simply a very attractive place, is architecturally important as America's first and most emulated planned "streetcar suburb."

The city should not even contemplate granting the Baltimore Country Club/Keswick Multi-Care Center rezoning request.

Baltimore's tree canopy is small enough as it is.

To allow the further felling of trees to make way for a grossly inappropriate modern development in the midst of a historic landmark such as Roland Park would make a travesty of our elected officials' claim to be environmentally conscious.

Cyd Lacanienta, Baltimore

Club land not core of Roland Park

I have lived in Roland Park most of my life, and I happen to know that the piece of property under discussion in the Keswick Multi-Care Center controversy is not in the center of Roland Park but across the street from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute playing field and a few blocks north of a nursing home ("A more sensible site for Keswick center," Commentary, July 10).

What I want to know is where do the opponents of this project expect to go when they have gotten too old to maintain their magnificent mansions?

Jane T. Swope, Baltimore

Do warm schools hurt test scores?

I read with interest the article about the lack of air conditioning in the Baltimore County public schools ("Air conditioning is hot topic," July 6). But it did not address one point that I believe is most important.

The High School Assessment tests are given at the end of May when school buildings are very warm. The assessments include the tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind law as well as tests required for graduation.

Has anyone ever considered that the students may not do well when taking these tests in hot classrooms?

Maybe that is the reason the surrounding counties with air-conditioned schools have higher test scores.

Nancy Reigle, Towson

The writer teaches math in the Baltimore County public schools.

Utility bills cost classroom funds

Reading the article about air conditioning for schools in The Sun, I was reminded of a little-known fact about schools and school buildings: Typically, the highest single expense item in a school's budget is the cost of utilities ("Air conditioning is hot topic," July 6).

Heating a school building is more expensive than the cost of books, teachers or technology. Cooling a building in summer typically costs even more than heating that same space in winter.

Installing more air conditioning systems will increase spending for utilities. When school funds are used to pay utilities, that money is not available for education needs such as books or teacher salaries.

Is this the best way to use our education dollars?

Carl Schuetz, Timonium

Rove must answer Congress' queries

Again last week, we saw the arrogance of former White House adviser Karl Rove as he refused to testify before House Judiciary Committee ("Rove ignores congressional subpoena," July 11).

There is no doubt that Democrats in Congress have been trying to nail Mr. Rove by any means necessary for years. However, this controversy is a serious matter.

When the Justice Department is known to prosecute people or fire people based on their political ties, the United States is taking a step toward tyranny.

Mr. Rove needs to testify before the American public and state what he knows of the matter. To let him get away without doing this would set a dangerous precedent that could allow public officials to hide behind confidentiality to avoid accountability.

Ryan Martin, Essex

Small aircraft aid small towns

The recent column by Chuck Collins and Sarah Anderson ("Seeking a sign of CEO excess? Look up in sky," Commentary, June 27) couldn't have missed the mark more by characterizing smaller aircraft as corporate jets for the rich.

Contrary to what the giant airlines would have you believe, these small aircraft are used mostly by businesses and organizations that serve as a lifeline to smaller communities that are largely ignored by the commercial airlines. In fact, 85 percent of the businesses that use general aviation are small to mid-sized.

Additionally, farmers, manufacturers, charities and medical personnel utilize small airplanes to give rural communities access to goods and services they may not otherwise be able to receive.

These pilots play by the rules while building and sustaining the communities that are the very backbone of our nation's economy.

Mike Henry, Easton

The writer is airport manager for the Easton Airport.

Provoking Iranians isn't in our interest

The Sun's editorial "Saber-rattling" (July 11) describes the military threats that the U.S. and Israel have been making against Iran and Iran's response to them.

The editorial makes two important and correct points. A House resolution seen as calling for a naval blockade of Iran is needlessly provocative, and an unprovoked attack on Iran by Israel would inflame the region with little benefit for U.S. interests.

The United States must not allow Israel to drag us into another disastrous war - this time with Iran.

Our elected officials need to begin to dialogue and negotiate with Iran, a country that is no direct threat to us.

We need a Middle East policy that finally puts America's interests first, not Israel's.

Ray Gordon, Baltimore

Take flag display to White House

On the letters page on July 4, there was a picture of James F. Barry of Chestertown, who planted more than 4,000 small white flags in his yard to remind us of the painful losses in Iraq ("Moving monument for fallen soldiers," July 4).

A larger version of this display of flags should be planted on the lawn of the White House, as close to the building as possible.

Henry Seim, Glen Arm

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