Shortage of drugs isn't the reason for city's recent...


November 24, 2001

Shortage of drugs isn't the reason for city's recent violence

Thank you for the editorial stressing the need for appropriate treatment options for criminal drug addicts in Baltimore ("Spike in city killings linked to drug famine," Nov. 11). However, the premise in the title, that the recent rise in homicides is because of a scarcity of illegal drugs, is only very weakly supported.

It doesn't make sense that all illegal drugs in the country were consumed in the few weeks between Sept. 11 and early October, which The Sun has identified as the beginning of our violent crime wave ("City police to redeploy officers," Nov. 7).

I know that in my neighborhood the drug trade carries on, and anyone can still come to the street corner near my house and purchase a variety of illegal drugs.

Violence begets violence, and local murders reflect the global culture of violence that the United States models.

In continuing to cover our outrageous level of addiction, I hope The Sun will consider issues of war affecting our local community - such as behavioral manifestations of our culture of glorified violence; the installation of groups in power in Afghanistan committed to heroin production; and the reduction of money available for local drug treatment and prevention programs as our budget shifts to fund war.

Tim Gardner


Harm-reduction measures fight drugs more effectively

The drug war fuels crime and violence, while failing miserably to prevent use. Despite decades of zero tolerance, heroin use among high school seniors is at record levels ("Spike in city killings linked to drug famine," editorial, Nov. 11).

But there are cost-effective alternatives. Switzerland's heroin maintenance trials, modeled after methadone maintenance programs pioneered in the United States, have shown such promise at reducing drug-related disease, death and crime that they are now being replicated in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

And providing chronic addicts with standard doses in a treatment setting can eliminate many of the problems associated with black market heroin use.

If expanded, prescription heroin maintenance could deprive organized crime of its core client base. This would render illegal heroin trafficking unprofitable and spare future generations addiction.

Harm-reduction policies have the potential to reduce the perils of both drug use and drug prohibition.

Robert Sharpe


The writer is an officer of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation .

Single-member districts bring council, citizens closer

The League of Women Voters welcomes the opportunity to work with other community organizations to change the City Charter to provide for 14 single-member districts ("Coalition of activists, unions begins push to trim City Council by 4 members," Nov. 9).

The league has led and supported efforts to establish single-member districts since the 1991 election.

With one member, rather than the present three, per district, citizens could hold each council member accountable for his or her actions. And the proposed 14 single-member districts would bring the council closer to the neighborhoods than the present six districts do.

Loretta Richardson

Millie Tyssowski


The writers are, respectively, president and coalition liaison for the League of Women Voters.

Chain stores would ruin the charm of Ellicott City

It was with great disappointment that I read of the possibility of a national chain opening on Main Street in historic Ellicott City ("Ellicott City's Main Street works to rebuild," Nov. 12).

What gives the historic district its unique appeal is its lack of chain stores. Perhaps Jared Spahn, president of the Ellicott City Business Association - and coincidentally owner of Old Town Construction, the company building the new store - should try to attract more tourists by advertising the fact that Main Street does not have any national chains.

Joe Sugarman

Ellicott City

A gender-bending statue won't enhance Penn Station

Thanks but no thanks to the offer of Jonathan Borofsky's gender-bending sculpture ("Female, male, monumental," Nov. 14).

Penn Station needs no embellishment - it is its own monument, and one of our grandest. The city created a tour de force with the new plaza. Let's not clutter it up.

Judith Lipman


Surely Baltimore can do better than the 51-foot sculpture "Male/Female."

As a lifetime Baltimore taxpayer, it ticks me off that nine so-called art experts are trying to thrust this monstrosity on us.

R. A. Bacigalupa


Buying up image deprives others of a chance to react

I am extremely annoyed that issues raised by the Catholic League incited a citizen to purchase all copies of the postcard reproduction of Andres Serrano's image "Piss Christ" at the Baltimore Museum of Art gift shop ("Talk radio listener takes matters into his own hands," Nov. 13).

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