The look of downtown can make a difference in Baltimore's...

Letters to the Editor

August 04, 1998

The look of downtown can make a difference in Baltimore's 0) vitality

Christopher Muldor raises important issues about the relationship between aesthetics and urban health in his criticism of a Downtown Partnership of Baltimore proposal to improve the appearance of Charles Street, but he confuses aesthetics with attractions and unfairly denigrates both as superficial fluff ("Will Charm City be saved by attractive sidewalks?" July 30).

Why people move (or move back) to a particular place is not well understood. But, contrary to Mr. Muldor's statements, there is evidence that middle-class people are moving to Baltimore because they are attracted to the lifestyle around the Inner Harbor. There is also evidence that aesthetic reasons like cobblestoned and tree-lined streets have played an important role in their choice of neighborhood.

It is true that the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor has not stopped the deterioration of much of the city, nor has it stemmed the outflow of population. Of course not. How could it? But that redevelopment was the springboard for the revitalization of the neighborhoods surrounding the Inner Harbor and has encouraged many people to remain in or move to those neighborhoods.

Among other reasons, they chose these communities not only because they are as safe as the suburbs but also because they feel safe. Aesthetic improvements such as lighting and attractive sidewalks contribute to these feelings.

It seems reasonable to assume that providing an aesthetically appealing environment in areas beyond the Inner Harbor -- around such entities as the University of Maryland complex and Johns Hopkins Hospital -- also could attract more middle-class residents.

This is not to say that proposals such as that of the Downtown Partnership should be supported uncritically. But to dismiss aesthetic improvements as superficial may discourage the residence of those doctors at the University of Maryland whom Mr. Muldor seeks to attract.

George Wagner

Baltimore

The writer is a doctoral candidate in urban affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

DNA dress is an example of thirst for sensationalism

We are defining ourselves as a society that thrives on sensationalism. Bold headlines in the paper that focus on DNA tests of a dress involved in a presidential dalliance is the ultimate ("Lewinsky dress to get a DNA test," July 31).

This is truly a graceless age. We're all in it together, and we generate the social reality in which we live. Clearly, we have met the enemy, and it is us.

Ellen Young

Lutherville

Lying about adultery is hardly surprising

Adultery and lying go hand in hand. Every male adulterer is a liar to his wife, if to no one else.

To ask the president of the United States to his face if he committed adultery would be something he would naturally deny (even under oath). And then to spend millions of dollars, using the courts, threatening prosecution and using undercover tapes to prove he lied -- that's entrapment.

Sylvan Wolpert

Baltimore

Killer of 17-year-old girl should not be allowed life

I read with great sadness the murder of young Shen Dullea Poehlman, allegedly strangled by John Albert Miller, a transplanted Rochester, N.Y., man ("Carroll girl, 17, found slain in Reisterstown," July 30). It is another murder in a society desensitized to it.

If found guilty, this man will no doubt be sentenced to life in prison because of Maryland's liberal system, his three squares a day paid for by taxpayers.

What perplexes me is this evolved sensibility we as a society have in dealing with people who commit heinous crimes when it comes to punishment.

"Eye for an eye" is dismissed by bleeding hearts as cruel and no more honorable than the crime itself. They feel some sort of moral urge to rehabilitate criminals.

This man allegedly lured an innocent 17-year-old girl to his apartment and killed her. And to punish him, we would keep him alive?

No, a state execution of Shen Poehlman's murderer will not bring her back, but it will represent a more legitimate hand of justice.

Rick Perry

Baltimore

5/8 Rights and freedom are the battle cry for many well-meaning libertarians, but these issues teeter precariously on the scale with crime and punishment.

The issue of rights not only concerns paranoid schizophrenics such as Russell E. Weston Jr. or others so afflicted; it concerns potential victims as well.

If such mentally afflicted Americans are not legislatively held to a higher standard of accountability, as suggested in Frank Roylance's story ("Schizophrenic D.C. murder suspect reflects national health dilemma," July 28), these individuals should not be held to a lower standard of punishment under law.

If, on the other hand, these individuals are given lesser punishments with insanity as a defense, doesn't it make sense that they should be held to a slightly higher legal standard of accountability?

Claire Ficker

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