Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 02, 2003

Cities remain at the heart of our culture

When I saw the headline "Is it too late for cities?" (Dec. 8), followed by the statement "Let's get on with developing human communities instead of trying to fight the battle of saving obsolete ones," I just shook my head in disbelief.

I mean, really, can you imagine the world without New York, London, Paris or Rome? And what would one propose as the alternative?

All cities, great and not-so-great, face problems and constantly have to reinvent themselves. But the article inexplicably fails to consider the value of the cultural, architectural and historical assets of cities. And if we give up on cities, would that mean moving the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Paramus, N.J., or the Capitol to Gaithersburg?

And what would we do with landmarks such as Grand Central Station or the Washington Monument? Should they be reproduced in miniature in our new "human communities"?

There is history, meaning and beauty in cities that cannot be replaced. Yes, even in troubled Baltimore.

If you're not convinced, I suggest heading to Mount Vernon, one of Baltimore's older neighborhoods. Within an easy walk you can climb to the top of the Washington Monument for a bird's eye view of the city; peek inside the incredible library at the Peabody Institute to see its unique combination of great books and architecture; ponder and learn about centuries of art at the Walters Art Gallery; and experience the beauty and serenity of the Basilica of the Assumption, America's first cathedral.

Then stroll over to downtown's west side to witness how cities reinvent themselves. The $700 million redevelopment effort the area is currently undergoing is among the largest downtown revitalization efforts in the country.

Is it too late for cities? Of course not - they are the heart of our civilization.

I'm more worried about the future of the suburbs.

Tyler Gearhart

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Preservation Maryland.

Only Christians see a `son of God'

The editorial "Goodwill toward men" (Dec. 25) about the beauties of the spiritual side of Christmas was an eloquent plea for peace and goodwill. However, it erred in stating that "People of all faiths - and even non-believers - can cherish the story of a child born among barn animals, recognized by shepherds and wise men as the son of God."

Most non-Christians do not believe that an infant (or anyone else) can be recognized as "the son of God."

Any human has the capacity to choose godly ways and to devote himself or herself to a path toward higher spirituality, and some succeed better than others.

Such success makes them very fine human beings who deserve honor and emulation.

But this does not make a person "the son of God," except in the mind of a believing Christian.

Judy Chernak

Pikesville

Cronyism renders state jobs pointless

I can't decide which is more foolish - a government having employment positions awarded as rewards to political minions or government employees who hold jobs so insignificant that they are able to hope that no one notices them and their work come time for a change ("Md.'s change of power is creating job anxiety," Dec. 26).

Some people have been pressuring me for years to take a "government job," saying that I would be a huge asset to the public if I did.

But the presence of the two attitudes noted above has kept me from giving the idea even a nanosecond of consideration.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Baltimore

Will Townsend offer taxpayers a rebate?

Since Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's loss in the election, she has been a virtual no-show at her office ("Townsend makes a rare appearance since election," Dec. 23). Can we taxpayers anticipate reimbursement for two months of her $100,000 annual salary?

And who's managing the crime-control and economic development aspects of her duties?

Arthur W. Pulket

Bel Air

Parting pay suggests Norris will be missed

If the success of the city Police Department depends, as the mayor says, on the plan and not the man ("Norris quits, to lead state police," Dec. 20), why did the man, Edward T. Norris, receive an outlandish severance package?

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Jails aren't best way to control crime

The writer of the letter "Jails are best way to control crime rate" (Dec. 14) is flat wrong when he suggests that the way to protect public safety is to spend more money locking up more Marylanders.

The conservative states of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, along with many other states, have diverted parole violators into community treatment or abolished mandatory sentences and returned sentencing discretion to judges. Both of these are reasonable and balanced approaches to public safety that we should try here in Maryland.

New York provides the best and most recent example of how a state can stop wasting money on prisons and have better public safety outcomes. In 2000 and 2001, under a Republican governor, New York's prison population declined by 2,665 inmates.

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