Owings house deserved better fateWell, it's happened once...


March 18, 1996

Owings house deserved better fate

Well, it's happened once again, developers, politicians and greed have triumphed over preservationists and common sense. The once elegant Samuel Owings house has been reduced to a pile of rubble.

The pre-Revolutionary War home of the founder of Owings Mills has gone the way of the cooper's shop, the old Owings Mills school, the Ten Mile House and its blacksmith shop and much of the Cradock estate of Trentham. All met their demise in the name of progress.

So now we will have another characterless, bland office tower and County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger has some new political allies and campaign supporters. But what about our history? What about the promise, just weeks prior to the demolition, to preserve the house by relocating it?

Apparently that was just a stalling technique until the developers could catch everyone off guard and have their way. Really, was there ever any intention on the part of the owners, developers and the county executive to save this important part of Baltimore County history?

I have just one last request of the owners, please don't add insult to injury by naming the new office tower the Samuel Owings Building.

Ronald W. Robinson


Schmoke admitting Clarke was right

Now Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke wants to give parents public school choice to make funding for individual schools dependent upon pupil enrollment and provide ''consequences for poor performance.'' Where have I heard that before?

Several months ago, Mayor Schmoke decided that EAI could not be financially rewarded for offering no tangible student achievement in the Tesseract program. Gosh, that sounds familiar.

The mayor decided that his economic development agency was a train wreck and installed fresh and experienced leadership. How ever did he think to do such a thing?

It's certainly nice to know, after years of the mayor defending his abysmal record of leadership in Baltimore, that while he may be the quarterback, Mary Pat Clarke wrote the playbook.

T. Carter Coates


Mountain bikes not pollution source

The city's reservoirs are surrounded by hundreds of miles of impervious roads that are traveled by thousands of pollutant-spewing cars. Nearby forests and wetlands are replaced by buildings and parking lots. Hemorrhaging farm land turns tributaries brown, kills aquatic life and clots reservoir coves with topsoil.

Public works officials, however, have identified the real reason for declining water quality mountain bikes on reservoir trails. Kayaks also are targeted for expulsion, even though they are subject to the same regulations that other boats must comply with and applicants must sign the same liability waiver.

John Roemer IV


Compelling evidence against Alger Hiss

Perhaps the only positive vote for the supporters of Alger Hiss is the fervent hope that the attention spans of today's readers and students of history are as short as studies suggest they are.

Reporter Tom Bowman did a commendable job of balancing the two sides of the Hiss story in his March 9 article; however, he leaves the final word to Hiss supporter, Bard College president Leon Botstein.

Every couple of years someone turns up another piece of evidence which supports Whittaker Chambers' assertions about Hiss being a spy for the Communists in the 1930s.

Or some semi-former Communist archivist, unqualified to do so, ''completely and unequivocally exonerates'' Hiss, only to recant a couple of weeks later saying he really didn't mean it sorry.

The Sun's March 6 article about recently revealed NSA footnotes to a 1945 KGB telegram mentioning Hiss' code-name ''Ales'' is not the first time knowledge of this name has surfaced.

Whether Alger Hiss was a dedicated enemy of the U.S. or a well-connected socialite intellectual who dabbled in espionage as one might dabble in tarot-card reading, the point is clear: Alger Hiss was an agent of Soviet communism engaged in espionage against his country while in the employ of the State Department of the United States.

This is not the fantasy of ''right-wing enemies'' or Whittaker Chambers or Richard Nixon.

One difference between great men and small men is the willingness to accept responsibility for one's actions regardless of the consequences.

Whittaker Chambers admitted his mistakes and worked until his death to repay his country for his association with communism.

Alger Hiss, on the other hand, continues to malign Chambers and Nixon, while pretending we can't read or remember the truth.

John A. Cadigan


State should operate any slot machines

A March 6 letter by former Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, ''Tracks need slots to save our racing industry," is on the right track but has the wrong solution.

Are the race tracks worried about attendance or revenues? If slot machines are allowed at Maryland race tracks as at Delaware race tracks, I sincerely believe racing in Maryland would be secondary. A good way to ruin racing in Maryland is to convert race tracks to gambling halls.

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