Too little parking downtown at too great a costThere is a...

Letters

December 17, 1997

Too little parking downtown at too great a cost

There is a lot of talk about saving the downtown business district. Perhaps the city of Baltimore should take a hint from Santa Monica, Calif., where abundant parking is readily available and you can shop downtown for three hours and pay only about $2 to park.

I can't run a 10-minute errand in downtown Baltimore without paying between $2 and $5, and if I want to shop, sightsee or go to a movie it will be $10 for sure. Downtown needs to be accessible if it is to survive and thrive.

Kathleen Ryan

Baltimore

Eileen Rehrmann's tax idea praised

I write to comment on gubernatorial candidate Eileen Rehrmann's proposal to eliminate the state property tax.

Property tax is the least fair tax of all. It is not based on the services one receives or on one's ability to pay. I have worked hard to try to lower this tax in Baltimore County. Therefore I am supportive of Ms. Rehrmann's proposal. I don't know whether the numbers in the state budget work out under Ms. Rehrmann's proposal. I trust that she has calculated the impact.

Her proposal could lead to increased investment in the state. With increased investment comes increased jobs which leads atop greater tax revenues.

Melvin Mintz

Baltimore

Police officers must obey the law

Columnist Gregory Kane (Dec. 10) describes ex-Baltimore City Police Officer Charles Smothers as a "scapegoat" in domestic violence, implying that he was unfairly fired. What an inappropriate use of the word scapegoat.

A scapegoat by definition is one bearing blame for others, leading one to sympathize with, rally behind and applaud such a person.

Make no mistake about it, a police officer or anyone who fires a gun at another person, without justification, should not be applauded.

A police officer symbolizes order in our community and when he violates his oath by committing such a violent act, he should be prosecuted and, at a minimum, relieved of his gun and badge.

$James O'Conor Gentry Jr.

Towson

Irradiation foe showed ignorance

As one who is undecided on the subject of food irradiation, I was pleased to see the pro and con articles on the subject in the Dec. 14 Perspective section. However, you made a very poor choice in selecting Michael Colby as the author of the con piece.

When he wrote, "The gamma rays break up the molecular structure of the food, forming positively and negatively charged particles called free radicals," he demonstrated a profound ignorance of chemistry that suggests anything he writes of a technical nature should only be believed if subjected to independent verification.

Charged molecules are called ions. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. They are often highly reactive. It would be helpful to your readers if you would run another con article on food irradiation written by a technically competent person.

Maclyn McCarty Jr.

Baltimore

Without reading, we are lesser citizens

As technology pushes relentlessly toward faster, more haphazard forms of communication, and as public information is conveyed in briefer bits and bytes, it is more important now than ever before that we teach our children to appreciate the power of vigorous written expression and to experience the deep pleasure that reading brings to those who take the time to do it well. More important, our children must learn to read well in order to exercise their citizenship responsibilities with intelligence and independence.

When I was young, many elementary schools required students to recite from memory Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I still do dTC not understand why we were required to do this. Had we spent the same time trying to understand Lincoln's message as we did memorizing it, we would have been far better off.

In addition to its surpassing eloquence, the Gettysburg Address presents a challenging question: How did Lincoln, in a speech of only 272 words that was heard by very few but was read in newspapers across the country, so move a nation as to change the way we think about the Constitution and, literally, to change the course of history?

The answer, as Gary Wills shows us in his brilliant book, "Lincoln at Gettysburg," is that Lincoln's exceptionally powerful and nuanced prose moved people in the 19th century because language was taken seriously. Lincoln and his audience shared a reverence for language; his effort in crafting the speech was matched by their effort in understanding his message.

I wonder whether Lincoln's speech would move us today. Would we take the time, or have the skills, to fully understand his message, or to appreciate the artistry with which he expressed it? Or would his speech fall on deaf ears so that his message about liberty and equality would fail to uplift, to transform and to move us to greatness?

The answer, I suspect, is that too many in this country today would not be moved by Lincoln's speech; indeed, the abysmal quality of contemporary public discourse may simply reflect our collective loss of appreciation for the importance of language.

Schools must continue to stress the importance of reading because it is a powerful way for children to gain language skills that not only open worlds to great beauty and imagination, but also develop in them habits of mind with which to make informed judgments and to separate the intellectual wheat from the chaff.

Ronald S. Goldblatt

Annapolis

The writer is headmaster of the Key School.

Pub Date: 12/17/97

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