An architect who really is excellent The Sun's story...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 14, 2001

An architect who really is excellent

The Sun's story about a day in the life of Bill Struever should be turned into a novel and published as a must-read summer book ("Bill Struever's Excellent Adventure," April 1). I was and continue to be amazed The Sun allowed an article to be published with such blatant disregard for facts.

As the chief financial officer of Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse, I was asked to sit with reporter Tom Pelton and review the "facts" he had uncovered during his investigation of projects of ours that received subsidy from the state, city or federal governments.

I spent three-plus hours and sent and received many e-mails from Mr. Pelton trying to give him the facts, only to be ignored. I even gave Mr. Pelton a list of 12 independent experts he could talk to verify what I was telling him.

Instead, Mr. Pelton chose to present a sensationalized misrepresentation of how we get projects done.

While citing the difficulties of two tenants (Bibelot and TidePoint Corp.), Mr. Pelton also chose to ignore, that both the American Can and TidePoint projects have had a tremendously positive impact on Baltimore.

In the case of American Can, which is fully leased and employs close to 600 people, Canton has experienced a rebirth. Businesses are thriving and housing values have increased.

In the case of TidePoint, Struever Brothers bought an empty, aging complex for $6.7 million from a Korean firm that had failed in its attempts to redevelop it, and has almost completed the transformation to a complex where hundreds are gainfully employed.

Neither of these projects, nor many others over our 25-year history, would have occurred without the vision and tenacity of Mr. Struever and the other partners of Struever Brothers.

For the editors of The Sun to allow such cheap shots to be taken at him is not only irresponsible journalism but irresponsible stewardship for the city of Baltimore.

James M. Slattery, Baltimore

The writer is the chief financial officer of Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse.

The Sun's long profile of Bill Struever unfortunately closed on a jarring note. In fairness to the reporter, Mr. Struever has many facets and a single day, however long and event-packed, is hardly enough time to understand them all. Nonetheless, the implication that he is so consumed with work that he forgets his parental duties is unfair, even if unintended.

Many of us have been privileged to know him almost 20 years, rather than hours, and know that he is complex. Yet a straight, simple line flows from Mr. Struever's days as a young father to today's dedication to school board service.

Then, he was, along with his family, determined to have his daughters learn in the public schools of the city he had already come to love.

Now, and for five years, he has averaged 20 pressure-packed, unpaid hours a week devoted to improving the quality of education for all Baltimore children.

The Sun's editorial board had it right in its enthusiastic selection of Mr. Struever as Marylander of the Year. As both businessman and volunteer, "he is driven ... by a ... strong belief that this city should aspire to greatness. He believes in Baltimore's promise. He works tirelessly to help realize it" ("Bill Struever, Marylander of the Year," editorial, Dec. 17).

Strong, justified words: They were, and are, richly deserved.

Milton Bates, Baltimore

Creationism by a new name

The Sun's article extolling the virtues of the "Intelligent Design" is old wine in new bottles ("Theory backs Darwin, adds the Designer," March 28).

Intelligent Design is not a legitimate scientific theory; it is merely the favorite tactic of biblical creationists who wish to inject their particular religious viewpoints into public schools.

This tactic emerged when they realized that direct attempts to inject Genesis-based accounts of creation into public schools stood no chance of surviving court challenges. Intelligent Design is simply old-time creationism covered with a thin veneer of scientific lang- uage.

The article cites arguments by law professor Phillip Johnson and biologist Michael Behe.

Mr. Johnson's arguments amount to little more than lawyerly rhetoric. Mr. Behe is a legitimate scientist, and the publication of his book, "Darwin's Black Box," created a bit of a stir.

However, experts have since found fatal flaws in the examples he claims prove the insufficiency of evolution by natural selection.

The article refers to unnamed scientists who support Intelligent Design but won't come forward for fear of career setbacks.

Scientists who publish weak, ideology-based arguments, unsupported by good data or experiments, shouldn't be surprised when their careers falter.

The article demonstrates two rhetorical tricks used by Intelligent Design advocates. The first is to imply that if you believe in evolution, you must be an atheist. Excuse me, but countless millions of devout people from many different religious traditions disagree.

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