Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 16, 2003

City's lawyers work to reclaim derelict houses

The Sun did a disservice to the lawyers and law firms of Baltimore when it suggested that Baltimore's legal community has failed to support the city's initiative to reduce the number of abandoned houses that plague city neighborhoods ("Attack on vacant houses," editorial, Jan. 2).

The Sun opined: "[Mayor Martin O'Malley] thought that lawyers and paralegals would donate their time to do the huge amount of tedious and unglamorous title work. They didn't."

The facts are quite the opposite. Baltimore's law firms, including my own, have committed to help the city resolve the legal limbo of thousands of abandoned city houses that could be rehabbed or replaced if their legal title could be removed from absentee property-owners and lien-holders.

Nearly all of the leading law firms of Baltimore immediately and enthusiastically agreed to tackle the challenge of abandoned houses when we were approached by the city more than 12 months ago, and we remain as firmly committed today to helping restore city neighborhoods.

In my firm alone, 12 lawyers and seven paralegals have committed to handling 150 properties, all pro bono. Other law firms are equally involved.

If any delay has occurred in this initiative, the fault does not lie with the law firms that have volunteered their time and resources and are ready to move forward.

John A. Stalfort

Baltimore

The writer is a principal attorney at Miles and Stockbridge.

Streets also need some rehabilitation

I commend The Sun's editorial supporting Mayor Martin O'Malley's decision to invest $1 million for personnel to speed acquisition of abandoned houses with the goal of rehabilitating rundown properties and thus reviving blighted neighborhoods ("Attack on vacant houses," Jan. 2).

If the mayor's ambitious plan succeeds, the seed money will have been well-spent.

On another front, however, the city appears to be woefully negligent. I refer to the horrendous condition of many city streets and roadways.

In most older areas of the city, I cannot recall any extensive resurfacing in recent years, only patchwork here and there, much of it inadequate. And with the recent severe winter weather, conditions have become even worse.

The result is severely damaged streets that can be a delight only to owners of car repair shops.

I would like to see Mr. O'Malley order a survey of the heavily damaged streets that require resurfacing, budget restraints permitting. At the very least, high-grade patchwork should be done on streets that urgently need it.

Albert E. Denny

Baltimore

Days of free travel ended on Sept. 11

We do not let just anyone enter our homes without some knowledge of who they are and whether they have been invited. Consequently, the new Immigration and Naturalization Service proposal to document arrivals into our country, which is also our home, makes good sense and is long overdue ("INS plans to question travelers entering, leaving United States," Jan. 4). This policy should apply to arrivals from Canada and Mexico as well.

The days of free travel ended with Sept. 11, and many other nations are now requiring those seeking admission to do more than flash a passport and visa at a point of entry.

We must also find a way to prevent the making of false documents such as passports, birth certificates, driver's licenses and Social Security cards and levy stiff penalties against those who engage in fraudulent document creation.

Richard L Lelonek

Baltimore

Slots can keep funds here in Maryland

I am all for slots coming to Maryland ("No place for slots in state, group says," Jan. 6).

I like to play slots and do a little gambling. I am a responsible gambler. And I would rather spend my money in my own state than in Delaware or West Virginia.

Stephanie Rowland

Baltimore

Sell state hospital falling into disuse

I applaud Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for considering disposing of property now owned by the state and off the tax rolls ("Ehrlich eyes sale of some Md. assets," Dec. 24). And I suggest that one of the first properties he consider disposing of should be the Spring Grove Hospital Center site in Catonsville.

The hospital is little used. Most of its buildings are boarded up.

The remainder of patients could be transferred to other state facilities that are similarly underutilized, saving considerable taxpayer funds.

Wallace C. Knapp

Ellicott City

Tale of bull riders far from inspiring

Thank heavens for those amazing bull riders ("It's all mayhem, all the time," Jan. 4). This sport is right up there with the fantastic sports of pigeon-shooting, bear-baiting and cockfighting.

And it pleased me no end to learn that these brave riders can earn "more than $1 million, and tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more," and that a 14-year-old made $10,000 riding bulls and, later, at age 20, although he "ain't never had a job," made more in the Professional Bull Riders tour than I did in a year (my 27th) as a teacher in the Baltimore County public schools.

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