The Baltimore Sun

State land purchases preserve treasures

Tom Horton's column "Swans' winter message" (Commentary, Jan. 9) not only was pure poetry but also vividly made the case for permanently protecting our ecological treasures.

Many people have excoriated the O'Malley administration for its purchase of the Foster property in Worcester County at a time when Maryland's fiscal state mandates belt-tightening. But it is important to realize that the money used to purchase this biologically important land does not come from the general state budget fund that is facing deep cuts but from a special fund wisely set up years ago to offset the loss of open space to development by placing a tax on the transfer of real estate.

The Program Open Space money has been used to buy most of Maryland's forests, parks and wildlife refuges over the years, as well as to help counties purchase recreational lands. It is critical that the money is used to purchase important parcels of land when they are available.

I applaud Gov. Martin O'Malley, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot for voting for the purchase of the Foster property, and I hope that they will also approve the other proposals for land purchases in Cecil County and Southern Maryland that will come before the Board of Public Works next month.

I also thank Tom Horton for helping us to understand one of the numerous reasons why we should all support such land acquisitions.

Ajax Eastman, Baltimore

The writer is a member of Maryland's state parks advisory commission.

Charges against Dixon way out of proportion

Even as a person who has long since fallen into despair about the future of the city, I cannot help but notice that Mayor Sheila Dixon has done a creditable job, and done so with dignity. It has also become obvious that someone has long been obsessed with bringing her down ("Evidence, sympathies could vie in Dixon case," Jan. 13).

Going after this competent, dedicated mayor of a city desperately in need of her leadership because of some petty mistakes is not a reasonable pursuit.

If Ms. Dixon is guilty of the charges against her, then restitution, a fine and a public rebuke are in order, not a nationally covered indictment for misconduct that can't hold a candle to the myriad government atrocities we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, Baltimore

Keep the death penalty to deter violent crime

The push to abolish the death penalty is one of the worst initiatives in Maryland in recent decades ("Call to end death penalty," Jan. 14).

With violent crime increasing, such flawed legislation would only encourage criminals to continue committing violent crimes that might otherwise warrant the death penalty.

I resent paying taxes to support the life of a criminal in a state penitentiary who deserved the death penalty.

I say keep the death penalty as it is a deterrent to violent crimes and violent criminals.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

Teacher, taskmaster will be sorely missed

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Emma Louise Fowler ("Emma Louise Fowler," Jan. 13). For hundreds of baby boomers in Northwest Baltimore like me, Mrs. Fowler was our first exposure to swimming and proper behavior in the water. A true taskmaster, she made swimming fun and always stressed safety first.

I can still see her standing at the edge of the shallow end of the pool at the Jewish Community Center in her regulation swimsuit and bathing cap, whistle in hand.

Thank you, Mrs. Fowler, for a job well done.

Richard Crystal, Baltimore

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