No paved trail for Patapsco GreenwayRe: "The Patapsco...

Letters

February 07, 1999

No paved trail for Patapsco Greenway

Re: "The Patapsco Heritage Greenway needs vigorous public oversight" (The Sun, Jan. 28).

Both the Maryland Conservation Council and the Relay Improvement Association have objected to the Patapsco Heritage Greenway and its plans for the valley.

One would hope that this would awaken the public to the need for close oversight of this quasi public/private group before they spend public tax dollars on ill-conceived plans that threatens the natural beauty of the valley that they are allegedly protecting.

There is no justification for a million-dollar, 10-foot wide paved "trail" on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River.

A paved trail will clearly damage the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay.

There is an existing, paved trail on the other side of the river, as well as the existing dirt trail on the Baltimore County side. The trails on both sides of the river link together, making a full circuit loop a reality right now.

A far better use of tax dollars would be to stabilize the existing trails with erosion control measures and new plantings.

One only has to look at the success of the packed dirt and stone Northern Central Trail in Cockeysville to see a more sensible model.

A packed dirt and stone trial is better for the environment, less costly and far healthier on the legs of the hikers, walker, runners, dogs and horses that would use it.

Geoffrey S. Baker

Ann Hackeling

Ellicott City

Students not pawns in tobacco fight

I was disturbed with elements of your Jan. 26 article, "Howard students, legislators launch cigarette tax campaign."

The article made it seem as if anti-smoking advocates were "using" young people as pawns in our attempt to raise the state cigarette tax. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Smoke Free Maryland Coalition joined forces with the Maryland State Association of Student Councils and three other organizations in 1998 to jointly fight for a $1 increase in the cigarette tax to reduce teen smoking.

The MASC and many of its local affiliates discussed the pros and cons of joining in this battle and voted as a body to join with us as a lead organization in the Maryland Childrens Initiative. As a lead organization, MASC and its elected officers pledged to make passage of a cigarette tax increase a priority.

The students at Wilde Lake High School who spoke at the event did so at their own choosing. They prepared their own talks. They spoke from the heart.

As a society often cynical about our younger generation, we should feel proud that students at Wilde Lake and most students statewide are sincere, motivated, intelligent and care about our state, its public health and the health of their peers.

Maryland students in the battle to raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack are not pawns.

They are, in fact, key movers and shakers willing to fight Big Tobacco.

Albert L. Blumberg, M.D.

Baltimore

The writer is president of Smoke Free Maryland.

Troubling patterns in police shootings

The recent shooting by Howard County Police Sgt. A. J. Bellido de Luna left John R. Sierra dead after being shot once in the chest.

Not too long ago, Sgt. Pagotta of the Baltimore City Police Department shot and killed an unarmed Baltimore motorist. There have been three other police shootings in recent memory: the Howard Street knife-wielding incident, the 65-year-old mentally-ill woman armed with a kitchen knife and the motorist on Interstate 83 who was shot and killed by a state trooper because he was reportedly getting out of his car in an unusual manner.

Last year, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office roughed up Ester M. Pena, a 58-year-old teacher on the same day that Frederick Moore, a diabetic, was beaten, bitten by a police dog and sprayed with pepper spray because of erratic behavior caused by hypoglycemic shock.

In Harford County last year, Robert Brown was shot because he had his hands in a "defensive position."

All the victims had one thing in common: No criminal record.

In less than a three-year period, five Maryland citizens, three unarmed and two brandishing knives, have been shot and killed.

There have been two publicized cases of unnecessary and excessive force and who knows how many have gone unreported.

According to an article in The Sun on July 8, 1998, "Police departments in 14 major U.S. cities fail to hold officers accountable for abusive and brutal behavior, much of it targeted at minorities, according to a new report on human rights abuses."

A group known as the Human Rights Watch, accuses local police agencies and the Justice Department of failing to come to terms with police brutality calling it a "common human rights abuse in the United States." Maybe police procedures are inadequate or are not being followed.

There is a frightening police culture in law enforcement that fosters brutality and is reinforcing the behavior of violence-prone police officers.

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