Letters To The Editor


November 02, 2003

Plan for Pimlico doesn't protect its neighbors

Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector's decision to introduce a bill on behalf of Pimlico Race Course and its new owners leaves little doubt whose interests she represents on the Council ("A 700-room hotel, theaters sought for Pimlico racetrack," Oct. 24).

Ms. Spector should be advancing a proposal that would mitigate the potential negative impacts on the neighborhoods near Pimlico if the state allows slots at the tracks.

She should be advancing proposals that would use the city's control of zoning and the "planned unit development" agreement to require Pimlico to provide additional security and better lighting in the neighborhoods, and other measures that could revitalize the areas south of Northern Parkway while shielding them from the downsides of legalized slots.

Such proposals have worked for casinos in other cities, such as Detroit, simultaneously providing local residents jobs, boosting property values and causing crime to decline.

The decision to advance plans for a 700-room hotel, theaters and concert halls at the site does nothing to ensure that Pimlico will live up to its responsibilities to the communities around it. Furthermore, it runs counter to Baltimore's plans to revitalize downtown as a destination and a place to live by providing new entertainment venues downtown.

The city should enforce the land-use agreement, not use it as justification for plans to expand beyond the capacities of the neighborhoods and the streets that border Pimlico.

A Pimlico surrounded by the hastened urban decay and crime that such a large venue might create is not acceptable.

Mike Chittenden


Two years a threat to our basic values

Last Sunday marked the second anniversary of the USA Patriot Act. Signed into law on Oct. 26, 2001, it provides the federal government with expanded powers to fight terrorism. Some of the expanded powers, however, run counter to our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

For example, the law includes an overly broad definition of terrorism that could allow government action to be directed against protesters and organizations that voice disagreement with the policies of our leadership.

In September, the Bush administration proposed an expansion of the Patriot Act's law enforcement powers. This expansion would significantly undermine the fundamental liberties guaranteed to all citizens in the Constitution.

We are deeply concerned about this plan, which would, for example, allow subpoenas to be issued without approval from judges or grand juries.

The need to protect against security threats to America must be balanced with the need to preserve the very liberties that are the foundation of this country.

Gail Sunderman


The writer is co-president of the League of Women Voters Baltimore City.

Limiting liberty won't secure safety

After reading James L. Martin's column "Three cheers for Ashcroft and his efforts to keep us safe" (Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 28), I feel prompted to respond that we must not confuse political dogma for patriotism.

The Patriot Act - which perhaps could better be labeled, as the old adage suggests, the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel Act - erodes basic freedoms and opens too easily the opportunities for abuse.

I am reminded of the sage words of a true patriot and Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Michael C. Llufrio


Abortion litmus test for federal judges

The Sun's editorial questioning the nomination of Claude A. Allen to the federal appeals court drew my agreement for the first three paragraphs ("Questions about Mr. Allen," Oct. 28). Then it identified Mr. Allen as a "born-again Christian," and I wondered if this was a disqualifier - would The Sun have identified his religious affiliation if he were a Jew or an atheist?

The Sun went on to write that Mr. Allen "has taken positions on reproductive rights" that "raise serious concerns about his ability to divorce his ideological views from his role as a judge."

As I understand it, Mr. Allen agrees with the right to reproduce, but not with the right to stop reproduction halfway through the process. That appears to be mainstream to me.

By the time I finished the editorial, I realized that The Sun's objection to Mr. Allen has nothing to do with geography, ratings or legal experience. It is all about abortion.

Apparently, deeply held personal beliefs on abortion of the sort held by practicing Catholics will no longer be tolerated on the federal judiciary by the Democratic Party or by The Sun's editors.

Julian Bauer


Cartoon insulted lovers of Limbaugh

Mike Lane's Oct. 27 editorial cartoon depicted a "typical" Rush Limbaugh listener as an overweight, mindless dolt who is lamenting the prospect that he must now think for himself while Mr. Limbaugh is in a rehab center for his prescription drug addiction.

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