The Baltimore Sun

Red Line compact is worth celebrating

I enjoyed Jean Marbella's column "All Aboard: Green Line, Red Line, Yellow Line, home" (Sept. 14), which mentioned the signing of the Red Line Community Compact on Sept. 12. But it's unfortunate The Baltimore Sun didn't pay more attention to this significant event.

Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari and many other signers of the compact have recognized that the Red Line will be more than just a transit line from Point A to Point B.

As an infrastructure project involving an investment of more than $1 billion, the Red Line will leverage neighborhood revitalization. It also could be a source of better-paying jobs and apprenticeship opportunities for local residents as well as new work for local small and minority-owned businesses.

We at the Citizens Planning and Housing Association got a taste of these possibilities three years ago. As Red Line planning was getting under way, we led trips of interested Red Line-area residents to Boston, Denver, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. - all cities with new light rail or bus rapid transit lines.

During these trips, we saw impressive examples of transit agencies working hand in hand with citizen leaders and local governments to maximize a new transit line's positive impact.

To Ms. Dixon's tremendous credit, in May she launched the Red Line Community Compact as a formal effort to bring such practices here to Baltimore for the Red Line. Since then, the compact has had input from hundreds of citizens and organizations, including CPHA.

Here in Baltimore, we don't have enough examples of creative, innovative and collaborative best practices when it comes to transit planning. It is certainly worth celebrating them when they come along.

Mel Freeman, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

City parking tax hike may drive firms away

On paper, this increase in the city parking tax may have appeal - at least for those who collect it but don't have to pay it ("City OKs parking tax raise," Sept. 16). But as a small employer, my law firm has a difficult time finding employees willing to pay already high downtown parking fees on budgets often stretched taut as a rubber band. It is likely that this tax hike will cause the budgets of some who drive to snap, particularly those paying rising medical insurance costs and fuel costs.

Offering assistance with parking expenses is not an option for most employers. And our clients are already displeased by the high cost of parking when they visit us downtown. When our lease is up in a few years, we will need to join many other employers who have fled the city for the suburbs.

Has the City Council considered this reaction to the parking tax hike?

Jim Astrachan, Baltimore

The writer is a partner in a downtown law firm.

Palin would dictate our daughters' choices

The Baltimore Sun reports that a 35-year-old mother is impressed by "personable" and "down to earth" Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but admits to being a "little bit" bothered by Mrs. Palin's anti-abortion position ("Women energized," Sept. 13).

This registered Democrat has three sons, and concedes that if she had a daughter, "the last thing I would want is for someone to tell her what she could or could not do." But evidently she thinks it's OK for Mrs. Palin to dictate to my daughters.

Words cannot describe how angry this makes me. No one who supports abortion rights should consider voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.

Judi Hammett, Catonsville

Hiding behind gender to ward off scrutiny?

As a woman, I'm highly offended by much of the media's treatment of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin - not because reporters are attacking her, the way the writer of the letter "Gibson's ambush very unfair to Palin" (Sept. 16) suggests, but because they should be tougher.

The primary candidates faced months (years, even) of tough scrutiny. Should Mrs. Palin receive special treatment because she's a woman, because she's likable or because she's new to the national stage?

If Sen. John McCain and Mrs. Palin truly want to change Washington and move beyond the secrecy and incompetence of the Bush administration, they can't hide behind Mrs. Palin's gender to avoid legitimate media scrutiny.

Kimberly Bonnette, Baltimore

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