Fund treatments that work In February, the Maryland...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

March 03, 2001

Fund treatments that work

In February, the Maryland Drug Treatment Task Force recommended adding $300 million in funding for the treatment of substance abuse in Maryland over the next 10 years ("More funds eyed to aid addicted," Feb. 7).

Critical to the success of this effort is closer monitoring of treatment programs to ensure their effectiveness.

On that point, I hope state and city officials pay careful attention to the federal research investment in their own back yard.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in Bethesda has embarked on an ambitious effort to test promising drug addiction treatments in community settings.

The program, the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN), is analogous to the large-scale multi-site clinical trial networks that have been used so effectively to evaluate treatments for medical conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

The current CTN consists of 14 regional nodes spread across the country from Seattle, Wash., to Miami, Fla. We are fortunate that the mid-Atlantic node is headquartered at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus.

Each node is evaluating a range of treatment protocols -- everything from new medications to novel psycho-social therapies.

As these treatments are further refined, they will become the evidence-based standards for treatment that Maryland and other states are so desperately seeking.

I applaud the vision of the state's task force and hope area leaders will honor NIDA's national commitment by investing only in those addiction treatments based on sound research.

Geoff Mumford, Washington

The writer is director of science policy for the American Psychological Association.

Gun crime merits more ink

Baltimore's housing commissioner made a series of bigoted, mean-spirited and downright obscene remarks to people regarding their sexual orientation and was arrested -- rightfully so.

Mayor Martin O'Malley came to the man's defense, although certainly not to the defense of his actions.

After the commissioner went through alcohol treatment and counseling and publicly apologized to the gay and lesbian community, the mayor allowed him to return to work.

William Welch Jr., one of three members of the Baltimore Liquor Board, fired a handgun in the proximity of three or four or more people over a "walking-around money" election dispute and was arrested -- also rightfully so. Mr. Welch was convicted on criminal charges, given suspended jail time and probation.

Sen. Clarence W. Blount came to Mr. Welch's defense, was quoted as saying "He [Mr. Welch] got into a `little difficulty' and sponsored Mr. Welch's reappointment to the liquor board by Gov. Parris N. Glendening. All this without so much as a "sorry about that, folks" from either party.

Mr. O'Malley and his housing commissioner got front-page, first-section coverage for several days over the first incident. Mr. Blount and Mr. Welch got a relatively obscure write-up on page three, section B for the second ("Welch kept on liquor board despite handgun convictions," Feb. 17).

While the actions of both the housing commissioner and Mr. Welch were, to say the least, reprehensible, I believe Mr. Welch's irresponsible and dangerous criminal activities deserve more exposure to public scrutiny and (I hope) censure than The Sun has given it.

After all, vitriolic bile and associated verbal garbage is hurtful and wrong, but a bullet can be forever.

Alan Billings, Catonsville

City needs modern buildings

Why do Baltimore's new downtown buildings have to appear so staid and archaic ("A beauty within, a beast without," Feb. 18)?

The new Marriott Waterfront hotel could have been a showplace for future development along the Inner Harbor East. Instead it looks like a resurrection of the recently demolished, decades-old Southern Hotel on Light Street.

It is wonderful that the West Side Master Plan has been revised, so that what is now called the "Market Center Renewal Area" will retain at least two-thirds of its 400 or so structures, most of which were once marked for demolition.

It's fine to preserve those 19th- and early 20th-century commercial edifices and, as a board member of Baltimore Heritage and the Architectural Advisory Board of the Committee for Downtown, I applaud that victory.

But will the city's future office buildings and hotels all be so architecturally conservative that they appear to be as a thing of the past even before they are occupied?

Isn't it time for the city to encourage developers to explore contemporary architectural design?

Bennard B. Perlman, Baltimore

Perkins will open doors for Towson

I was disappointed by Alice Lukens' article on Mark Perkins, the newly appointed president of Towson University ("Chief `doesn't see barriers,'" Feb. 13).

The article didn't fully value Mr. Perkins' remarkable achievements in securing new resources (including faculty positions) for our academic programs and revitalizing the very ambitious academic mission of this institution.

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