City helps merchants as it pushes forward on west side...


March 18, 2001

City helps merchants as it pushes forward on west side project

The Sun's readers deserve a more accurate picture of the city's acquisition and relocation efforts in the west side than was presented in the editorial "Deficit-ridden city has money to burn" (March 11).

For decades, the city has acquired properties, through negotiation or condemnation, as a catalyst for redevelopment.

The process, based on federal guidelines, has been consistent: Two independent appraisals are done to arrive at fair market value; the higher of the values is offered to the property owner. If it is accepted, settlement occurs; if it's not accepted, the property is acquired through quick-take condemnation (which requires the approval of the Board of Estimates) and the value is determined by a court.

Every merchant has a choice between relocation and going out of business. If he or she chooses the latter, inventory is appraised to establish its wholesale value and the city pays the merchant that value, including any funds raised through the public sale of merchandise.

In addition, this administration, in conjunction with the private west side renaissance group, has created a Merchants Assistance Fund to provide "gap financing" at below-market interest rates.

Throughout the west side process, the challenge has been to balance a variety of interests -- including historic preservation and sensitivity to displaced merchants -- while maintaining the progress necessary to produce successful redevelopment.

Progress is already visible and significant. As The Sun's editorial "West side revival depends on governor" (Feb. 14) said, "Anyone doubting the wisdom of spending more taxpayer funds on the west side should stroll around the area. It is taking off in amazing ways. A critical mass is forming." We agree.

We will continue to pursue the west side -- this administration's No. 1 bricks-and-mortar project -- with integrity, professionalism and vigor.

M.J. Brodie and Sharon R. Grinnell, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the president and chief operating officer of the Baltimore Development Corp.

Police deserve support from their local paper

As a member of the Baltimore County sheriff s honor guard, I am saddened at having to attend another young law officer's funeral. Officer Michael J. Cowdery Jr., like many before him, was earning a living by trying to make life easier for the law- abiding citizens of Baltimore City.

I was also saddened, not to mention irate, at The Sun's article "Police handling of teen killing found lacking" (March 10).

In this case, the Howard County police, under intense pressure to determine the shooter who left one dead and one seriously wounded, made hundreds of decisions. Yet The Sun proudly pointed out by that some of those decisions may have caused great inconvenience to some witnesses. And the entire article lambasted the entire police force.

It's truly a shame that the only game in town, The Sun, regards the police as the bad guys and courts the common criminal.

The police, especially in Baltimore, have a tough enough job to do without being continuously blind-sided and beaten up by The Sun's sickening liberal agenda.

Larry Komenda, Abingdon

Cutting mass transit funds hurts the working poor

The governor initially proposed $69 million in state mass transit expenditures. His philosophy was that state expenditures on mass transit and car-dominated transit should be equal.

Now the House of Delegates has trimmed the mass transit budget to $39 million ("House gives a tentative OK to budget," March 15). Shouldn't there be a corresponding cut in highway spending?

An unequal standard for transportation spending perpetuates the status quo by encouraging people of means to rely exclusively on their cars. The victims are the working poor without automobiles, whose mobility is at the mercy of under-funded mass transit.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

`Trickle-down' economics adds to inequality, debt

There they go again -- another Republican president is advocating enormous tax cuts, skewed disproportionately to the wealthiest Americans, based on imprecise, long-term projections.

We did this in the 1980s. And "trickle-down" economics produced results: The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, the deficit quadrupled and, after three tax increases, we're paying it off. Why are we even considering doing this again?

The country would be better off giving every taxpayer a tax cut of $2,000. That would put quick cash into the economy.

Of course, some big GOP donors might be disappointed by a level playing field.

Richard L. Ottenheimer, Baltimore

New lyrics could save state's stirring song

There has been much press lately regarding the song "Maryland, My Maryland" and the proposal to have it stricken as our official state song.

When I first moved here from New York and read the words of the song (I can't say that I have ever heard them sung) I thought they were funny -- and didn't take offense at being called "Northern scum."

Still I agree that these are not the words we want to represent our state. But perhaps there is a simple solution.

Similar problems beset "Deutschland uber Alles" of Germany and "La Marseillaise" of France; they were solved quite simply by writing a new text.

Why doesn't the assembly hire someone to do that? Or maybe we could hold a contest.

"Maryland, My Maryland" is a stirring song and part of our history. Why scuttle the whole thing?

Kathy Rus Parkton, Baltimore

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