MONTHTeaching children to read at an early...


November 13, 1999


Teaching children to read at an early age has become a top school priority. But how to do it best is the unanswered question. How did you teach your children to read? What techniques have you used that worked well with children? What method didn't succeed?

City and counties must pull together

Baltimore City awaits hopefully the new ideas and energy of a new mayor. Martin O'Malley carries on his shoulders not only the hope of the city, but that of the surrounding counties.

The city's success is inexorably tied to the counties' -- and vice versa. But for more than 30 years, most talk of collaboration between them has been just that, talk.

Small successes have included a short-lived agreement on arts funding that fell apart in the early 1990's. Collaboration also created the Baltimore Metropolitan Alliance, which has had some success promoting economic development.

Regional cooperation must be high on the new mayor's agenda for two reasons. First, it is mandated by the federal government: To receive much of the federal funding available, the city and the surrounding counties must collaborate on transportation and water and air quality.

Cooperation has faltered recently, most notably on transportation issues. Millions of federal dollars are at stake.

Regional collaboration is also critical to generate revenues and retain local populations. To pay for crime-fighting and education and battle its budget deficit, the city must raise revenues without raising tax rates. Economic development is the only way to do this.

The city competes on a world stage. It competes for economic activity, not with the cities of Philadelphia or Richmond, but with those regions -- and even with the region of Leipzig, Germany.

To compete globally, we must collaborate regionally.

In the past, this collaboration was viewed by some as one jurisdiction being dependent on the others. But the truth is that all jurisdictions are interdependent.

For the good of the entire region, the new mayor should seize this hopeful moment to invigorate regional collaboration.

Mel Mintz, Baltimore

The heart of Maryland

In order to truly revitalize, Baltimore must act as the heart of the state, with people flowing through like blood in a healthy body.

Several techniques can bring people to the city and liven it up:

The city should allow street vendors to openly sell their products in booths on the street -- newspapers, hot dogs, t-shirts.

All great cities allow this practice. It draws people onto the street, creating a positive image.

Implement a system of trolleys -- originating in Charles Center and running to Fells Point, to Federal Hill, to Johns Hopkins University. This would improve the flow of people.

Add lights to the ramps leading into downtown Baltimore, so people driving Interstate 95 say, lets go that way.

Also, add lights throughout the city --on buildings, around the harbor and on streets. Nobody likes dark allies.

Finally, open a city-operated, modern youth hostel for international visitors, with a bar and restaurant. This would help bring travelers here.

Alexander Hill, Baltimore

Say no to billboards

Close your eyes and picture a beautiful, vibrant, healthy Baltimore neighborhood. Does that vision include a 14-by-48-foot billboard? Probably not.

The Baltimore City Council has a golden opportunity to make a real difference in the city's future quality of life by banning new billboards -- not just for a year, but forever.

For most city dwellers, the issue is simple: Billboards are incompatible with livable communities. They're are a visual blight. They lower property values and detract from the quality of life.

Billboards also send an unspoken message to criminals: No one cares what the neighborhood looks-like. Go ahead and paint graffiti, throw trash and deal drugs.

My neighbors and I recently spent hours at the zoning board fighting a proposed billboard that would have loomed over our neighborhood -- and communities all over the city spend time and money in such battles.

These resources could be better spent improving our city: keeping the streets clean, organizing neighborhood watches and providing other services.

At some point, we need to realize that some business activities are toxic to communities. Billboards are one such activity.

Karen DeCamp, Baltimore

Official set wrong tone with inaction

Michael Napoli was a wonderful, kind and zestful teen-ager who loved life. His shining eyes were always glowing, full of the love in his heart.

On April 24, his life ended violently. His family must now live with the emptiness and heartache caused by the inexperienced driver who caused his death.

His family and friends will never see Michael again, never laugh with him again, never hug him again and never again enjoy his smiling, shining eyes.

Much has been written about the issues that surround this case.

I will not repeat all of the distortions that are in the report on the accident, despite the clear testimony of seven eyewitnesses.

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