The Baltimore Sun

Enriching youths pays big dividends

The Sun's article "Enriching parks and self-esteem" (July 23) offered welcome recognition of the fact that, despite the challenges and threats city youths face, the majority of our city's young people welcome the opportunity to work hard and improve their communities.

The article correctly notes that programs such as the Civic Justice Corps helps get those youths "off the streets." I would add that these programs also provide essential job skills that will prepare Baltimore youths for jobs in the emerging green economy that are vital to creating a cleaner and greener Baltimore.

The Parks and People Foundation is proud to be one of the partners in the program.

The program is an important rung of our "green career ladder," which works to develop, through education and job training programs, our next generation of environmental stewards.

We applaud leaders at the city and state level for creating opportunities to connect young people to the outdoors and to jobs.

The young women and men profiled demonstrate that there is a demand for such opportunities and that increasing our investment in young people will provide dividends for years to come.

Mary L. Washington, Baltimore

The writer is assistant director of the Urban Resources Initiative for the Parks and People Foundation.

Camps give kids a taste of green

The Sun's article "Enriching parks and self-esteem" (July 23) failed to mention that the Civic Justice Corps was a personal initiative of Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Toward the end of the legislative session, he instructed the Department of Natural Resources to put this program together, which it did in record time.

For city kids, the departure from the solid surface of asphalt to the "green" that the program provides satisfies their souls and alerts their minds to all kinds of new ideas and possibilities for their young lives.

Having visited this camp and talked to and listened to the youngsters, I can say that many doors are being opened for these youngsters - and that's all to the good.

Thank you, Mr. O'Malley.

Chris T. Delaporte, Pasadena

The writer is a former Baltimore director of parks and recreation who is a now consultant to the state parks superintendent of the Department of Natural Resources.

Foolish to oppose a local windmill

I was shocked and saddened when I read about neighbors in Baltimore County resisting a windmill being built in their neighborhood ("Residents to appeal windmill," July 24).

Finding alternative energy sources is not just a matter of lowering utility bills; it is socially responsible.

Maryland faces an energy crisis. Our power supply is old and is not keeping up with rising demand. Our transmission system is antiquated and may soon be unable to transport enough electricity to meet our needs.

We need to reduce the demands on the current system by finding alternative sources of energy and practicing conservation.

I applaud homeowner Barry Antonelli and his builder for their efforts.

I hope their good efforts will open the door for many such energy-efficient homes.

Denise Budnitz, Baltimore

Doing more to aid profligate debtors?

Now that the federal government is about to commit billions of tax dollars collected from responsible citizens who live within their means to bail out those who bought houses they could not afford ("Housing rescue bill OK'd," July 27), perhaps it is time to focus on helping those who borrowed more than they could afford to repay to buy a home to pay for their other excesses - such as luxury cars that may also be in danger of being repossessed.

Also, let's not forget about their boats and country club memberships; we wouldn't want to have these folks suffer the indignation of having to wait in line for tee times at municipal golf courses behind those of us involuntarily picking up the tabs on their houses, now would we?

Mark Haas, Timonium

Attacks on Obama appear two-faced

What gives with Sen. John McCain?

He had been attacking Sen. Barack Obama for failing to visit Iraq or to seek other sources of information overseas. Then Mr. Obama goes overseas and does just that, overshadowing Mr. McCain's campaign. And now the McCain campaign is complaining that Mr. Obama should be at home talking policy with the American people (which he has been doing for some 18 months) ("Obama calls for U.S.-European unity," July 25).

Is Mr. McCain just not with it, or is he being two-faced?

Philip L. Marcus, Columbia

Most Iraqis want occupation to end

Sen. Barack Obama was correct when he said the Iraqis "do not want an open-ended presence of U.S. combat forces."

What he said is neither rocket science nor political. Anyone who has been paying attention during these last six disastrous years of war in Iraq should have figured out by now that the war has always been about occupation, occupation, occupation.

It does not matter what Iraqi you consult or what opinion poll: Almost unanimously, Iraqis want the occupation to end. The efforts by the Bush-Cheney neoconservative cabal to change the debate with chaff about timelines and deadlines are just talk.

The truth is and has been that most Iraqis want us out.

The sooner this administration and its allies learn to accept that and work with the Iraqis for an amicable end to the occupation, the better the chances will be for good relations in the future.

Fariborz S. Fatemi, McLean, Va.

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

Now is a good time to raise the gas tax

The opposition to raising the federal gas tax by the writer of the letter "No time to raise federal gas tax" (July 23) needs to be confronted with some points about the merits of the issue.

Our "high" gas prices are still much lower than those in Europe, where taxes account for most of the cost of gas.

Over the long term, the demands of frugal European consumers have fostered the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles, many of which are now available in the United States.

Furthermore, in Europe, fuel tax revenues have financed elaborate infrastructures for public transit that reduce the need for car ownership.

Since more fuel-efficient engine technology is available, and our public transit networks (i.e., light rail, Metro, etc.) beg for expansion, I think it's time for Congress to increase the gas tax.

James Bauernschmidt, Severna Park

Programs can help feed city's hungry

The idea that one in eight families who bring children to the University of Maryland Medical Center's emergency room are undernourished is appalling ("Help for hungry people," editorial, July 18).

The most important way to address the problem is to increase access to, and participation in, key federal nutrition programs that are available but underutilized in our city.

The food stamps program, for instance, provides important help for low-income families to purchase food. The Woman, Infants and Children program provides nutritious food for pregnant women and young children.

The federal summer meals program provides healthy nutrition for children during the summer months when school is out, and the school breakfast program boosts nutrition, learning and test scores.

The federal dollars that pay for these programs also help create growth in Maryland's economy.

Kimberley Chin, Baltimore

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

The writers are, respectively, the director of Maryland Hunger Solutions and the president and CEO of the Community Action Partnership.

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