The wrong way to reorganize City Council

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 26, 2002

As a former four-term member of the Baltimore City Council, I support downsizing the council.

However, I strongly oppose the method proposed to voters in Question P, which would create 14 single-member districts to replace the current six three-member districts ("An argument for Question P," Oct. 17).

My experience on the City Council, and in working with councils with single-member districts, suggests a need for multi-member districts.

Baltimore's City Charter provides extraordinary power to the council over land use and finance. And all zoning changes and many conditional uses, urban renewal changes, property condemnations, sales of city-owned property and tax abatements must be approved by the council.

The council is guided by the member or members of the district affected. And as in any question of political power, there must be checks and balances. Multi-member districts can provide such balance within the council.

I am also concerned about needlessly dividing neighborhoods. Having experienced the redistricting that followed the 1990 Census, I know it was extremely hard to change district lines and comply with the federal laws that guide redistricting, without dividing neighborhoods.

That problem would only be exacerbated by going from six to 14 districts.

I believe we should have another chance to do downsizing right by creating six or seven two-member districts.

We don't need 14 little fiefdoms.

Anthony J. Ambridge

Baltimore

The writer is president of Lambda Development LLC.

Orthodox Jews remain in the city

I read with interest the article on Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s visit to the Northwest Baltimore orthodox Jewish community, which I took part in ("GOP's Ehrlich spends day appealing to state's voters across ethnic lines," Oct. 21).

However, I feel compelled to call attention to an error in the article, which said the event took place in Pikesville. In fact, the school that hosted Mr. Ehrlich is in Baltimore.

And, although this may seem to be a fine point, I have noticed that the media has somehow gotten into its head that the orthodox Jews live in Pikesville.

I have seen this erroneous perception in both print and electronic media.

In fact, although our community does spill over the northwest corner of the city into the county a bit, the vast majority of us live in Baltimore City, and we have the property tax bills to prove it.

Just as a rough indication, 25 of the 29 orthodox synagogues in the area are in the city.

Jews have a history in Baltimore of more than 150 years. The Lloyd Street Synagogue downtown, which you can still visit today, was built in 1845.

And although the Jewish population has shifted steadily northwest over the years, today's orthodox population is firmly committed to remaining in Northwest Baltimore.

Tzadik Vanderhoof

Baltimore

Hunters seek game, not `ultimate power'

Gordon Livingston's comparison of the actions of the suburban sniper with those of a hunter was offensive for many reasons ("What can explain sniper's twisted acts?" Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 11).

Probably most offensive, however, is that the writer sought to take advantage of our fears regarding the sniper tragedy to cast aspersions on those with whom he disagrees.

But unlike a sniper, the hunter pursues game to gather food. The thrill of hunting lies not in the exercise of "ultimate power," as Mr. Livingston asserts, but in procuring game for the table in a manner that brings the hunter closer to the land and the natural environment on which we all depend.

Hunters are America's conservationists.

In fact, the word "conservation" was coined by a hunter to describe methods of land management that would ultimately restore America's wildlife and a considerable amount of the natural habitat on which that wildlife depends.

These methods have brought our environment a long way from the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

And for more than 65 years, sport hunters have provided an important and reliable source of funding for wildlife restoration projects throughout the United States and abroad.

Today, America's hunting traditions continue to produce new generations of conservationists, as parents take their children afield to teach woodsmanship and the importance of good land stewardship.

More than anything else, the hunting ethic stresses community service -- as is evidenced by the many conservation and charitable organizations founded and run by hunters.

Mr. Livingston would find it difficult indeed to show a connection between the ethic of America's sport hunter and the antisocial behavior of the sniper.

Mark A. Hepp

Darnestown

Protecting citizens is gun control's goal

Although he provides a myriad of statistics, the writer of the letter "More gun control won't stop violence" (Oct. 12) fails to include the fact that the United States greatly exceeds all counties in the free world in per capita deaths from homicide, suicide and accidental deaths by firearms.

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