Letters To The Editor


October 13, 2002

Smart Growth rewards efforts to stop sprawl

The one good thing about George Liebmann's scattershot critique of Smart Growth is that he at least believes that it is in the best interest of all Marylanders to work toward smarter, more sustainable patterns of growth and development ("Time to enlist new forces to fight sprawl," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 2). Unfortunately, many of his facts are wrong.

Mr. Liebmann's most glaring error is his statement that the state is subsidizing sprawl by devoting 80 percent of its school construction program to new buildings. In fact, $974 million of the $1.2 billion budgeted for public school construction in the last five fiscal years -- about 80 percent -- has been targeted to older schools for renovations, expansions and improvements.

And in some cases, we are replacing schools in the heart of older communities.

Mr. Liebmann calls for a shift from bureaucratic solutions to an approach that enlists local communities and the private sector in tackling growth-related challenges. But by harnessing the state's $22 billion budget to steer and shape development, that is exactly what Maryland's Smart Growth initiative is achieving.

State agencies no longer fund new infrastructure and services outside established communities and designated growth areas. And, coupled with a raft of new incentives supporting urban revitalization and land preservation, Smart Growth is rewarding efforts by local officials and developers to fight sprawl.

In 2000 and 2001, Baltimore alone benefited from about $135 million in private investment tied to the state's historic preservation tax credit.

Is state government doing enough? No. But the important thing is that we've taken the first steps with programs and policies that are beginning to make a difference.

Now it is up to the citizens of Maryland and the next administration to decide how Smart Growth continues.

Harriet Tregoning


The writer is special secretary for the governor's Office of Smart Growth.

Fight over judges will hurt both sides

The Sun takes President Bush to task for his nomination of Judge Dennis Shedd to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because, in its view, President Bush is motivated by conservative political ideology ("A court uneven," editorial," Oct. 3).

But that indignation disappears when Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats delay, obstruct or vote against nominations such as those of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen and Miguel Estrada because they don't fulfill the liberal agenda.

Sadly, both liberals and conservatives will suffer for their insistence on staffing courts only with judges who meet certain ideological criteria.

Both sides will suffer under the tyranny of an increasingly activist judiciary that flouts the separation of powers codified in the U.S. Constitution as legislators increasingly place power in the hands of the judiciary and abdicate their duty and responsibility to establish the laws that govern this land.

Scott Appelbaum


Heed CIA's warning on Iraqi terrorism

CIA Director George J. Tenet's advice that to attack Iraq now would increase, not lessen, the likelihood of Saddam Hussein terrorizing our country must be heeded ("CIA report on Iraq opens Congress talks," Oct. 9).

Common sense alone has said from the outset of Mr. Bush's incessant saber-rattling that letting the dogs of war loose on Iraq would set loose such terror.

One corners a rat at one's deep peril.

Frederick C. Ruof


Don't put off war to remove Hussein

The calls to contain Saddam Hussein are a policy of denial -- one that only puts off the inevitable task before us.

The United States may have contained the Soviet Union but that did not bring down its Stalinist system. Only when we actively engaged in bankrupting them through a costly arms race did their walls fall.

Containment policies are like making minimum monthly payments on a maxed-out credit card: You build up interest over a long period of time and live in the hope that the bill will just go away. But in the end, the full debt on that card must be paid off.

We've allowed denial to be our policy for 11 years. We didn't solve the Saddam Hussein problem sooner -- we hoped he would go away.

He didn't, and it's time we stop living in denial about the Baghdad tyrant.

Forrest Spencer


Consider the toll a war will take

The administration has failed to make a case for action against Iraq. Although he leads a deplorable regime, Saddam Hussein poses no demonstrable threat to the United States or our interests.

No credible link between Iraq and terrorism has been demonstrated, despite extraordinary efforts to do so. And even if Iraq were to develop weapons of mass destruction, it would lack the capability to deliver them to our continent.

The president is desperate for a Republican victory. The use of a trumped-up war to distract the public from problems at home is a tried-and-true tool of politicians.

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