Balto. Co. officials just tried to resolve neighborhood...


May 15, 2001

Balto. Co. officials just tried to resolve neighborhood dispute

The Sun's article on development approval processes in Baltimore County paints a cynical and misleading picture of elected officials' involvement ("Community rift shines light on county methods," May 8).

Our responsibility as elected officials and government employees is to serve the public -- and that includes helping neighbors resolve their differences.

Virtually every time elected officials or one of their staff get involved in a zoning, permitting or development issue, it is at the request of the community, a citizen or a developer. In the case The Sun reported, both Ernest and Ruth Baisden and the Poor Boys garden and plant center sought and received our help.

Our inability to resolve this dispute is unusual.

Elected officials and their staffs are involved in thousands of controversial issues each year. Some 98 percent of our efforts to help people with opposing views to work things out together succeed.

That saves the public the expense of long, expensive legal processes. Those successes are generally not reported.

We will continue to assist citizens when they bring problems to us. Can you imagine the headline if when people came to their elected representatives for help they were told, "Sorry, we can't get involved in that"?

Robert J. Barrett


The writer is senior executive assistant to Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Attacks on Bush damage our nation's unity, image

The recent spate of negative ads attacking President Bush tells me that the destructive, "win at any cost" forces within the Democratic Party, which we saw in the recent presidential election, are still very much in control. These forces could care less about the damage they do to American national unity and image aboard.

There was once a consensus of patriotic opinion that the country's good required opposing parties to unite behind their new president. Apparently, the Democratic Party has rejected this wisdom and is now planning to subject us to negative campaign ads on a continuous basis.

It's bad enough that the last campaign began more than 18 months before the election. Now, I gather, we are to fill up the remaining 30 months with vitriol as well.

John D. Schiavone


In the Mideast, which side is using excessive force now?

Do you think the Palestinians who bludgeoned to death two Israeli schoolboys used excessive force ("Two Israeli boys killed on a hike in West Bank," May 10)?

Susan Vick


Taxing residents is no way to bridge city's budget gap

It's the same old story: The mayor wants to raise taxes on folks who live in the city.

Why not gather some intestinal fortitude and impose a commuter tax on folks who work in (and for) the city and live in surrounding counties? It is particularly depressing for those who remain to pay higher taxes while police and other city employees reside in the suburbs.

Another one-time suggestion to solve the immediate problem: If it takes $5 million a day to run the city, furlough half of city employees each Friday in July and August. Everyone, including the mayor, deputy mayors, city council members and rank-and-file employees, would "invest" in the city's budget to the tune of one day's pay for four pay periods.

Employees would get much-deserved long weekends and the mayor would have his $20 million.

C. L. Norris


Nonprofits should share cost of supporting the city

Having nonprofits pay an energy tax is fair ("Religious leaders protest tax plan," May 8).

Nonprofit groups such as churches and schools enjoy the use of city streets and other services paid for by residents' tax dollars. They should share in the costs.

Bob Maddox


Banning pit bulls won't stop dog attacks

As a veterinarian in Baltimore, I was appalled to read that the City Council is close to ratifying a ban on pit bulls ("Council agrees to ban pit bulls," May 8).

Pit bulls have been responsible for some terrible attacks on humans and animals, but many are wonderful animals.

Just as with the humans, upbringing has more to do with dogs' bad behavior than genetics. We would not consider putting the relatives of violent criminals in jail to protect against potential crime. Why consider such an approach with dogs? Rottweilers, for instance, are responsible for more fatal attacks on humans than pit bulls, yet they are not included in this ban.

This bill will have disastrous effects:

Pit bull owners will hide their dogs -- these animals will not get training, rabies vaccines and other health care.

Many responsible pit bull owners will choose to move out of the city rather than put their beloved pets to sleep -- a problem for a city already losing taxpayers by the thousands.

Irresponsible owners may release their illegal dogs onto the street to avoid fines or worse.

If the attacks that have occurred so far are horrifying, consider the nightmare of packs of abandoned, starving pit bulls roaming our alleys.

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