Letters To The Editor


November 03, 2003

Color of bridge isn't a matter for the mayor

While I am generally a fan of the mayor, I have to confess to some irritation when I see him, or any other public official, use the power of his office to attempt to override decisions arrived at by individuals or bodies who are expert in a particular arena.

We all seem to have visceral reactions to color and to "art," but when I read that the mayor thinks the colors on the Howard Street Bridge would be better decided by public opinion instead of art experts and "the artistic dictates of yesteryear," I am reminded of the abysmal job our schools (and our culture) do in educating all our citizens about art and architecture ("City seeks help coloring in the Howard St. Bridge," Oct. 29).

The mayor's reaction to one part of the color scheme neglects the composition afforded by viewing all the painted bridges in sequence and ignores the fact that this bridge cannot be seen in isolation.

And heaven help us when those who confess to having little knowledge or understanding of aesthetics proceed to use their authority to override the decisions and recommendations of those who do.

James B. Pettit Jr.


The writer is a project manager for an architectural firm.

Does Baltimore really need a bridge painted to look like a John Deere tractor?

Mayor Martin O'Malley's decision to assert his own taste in place of a perfectly fine color scheme - one developed by an artist who devoted years to the bridge - is a step too far.

Very few people hire big-city mayors to design color schemes, and even fewer vote for visual artists to run big cities. But each is an expert in his or her own field, and deserves respect as such.

Gerry Hanlon


Panel chose colors with great care

My heart sank when I read about the painting of the Howard Street Bridge ("City seeks help coloring in the Howard St. Bridge, " Oct. 29).

Ten years ago, I was one of 12 professionals who served as grants judges for the Design Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). It was our panel that reviewed the proposal by Stan Edmister, the artist who designed the color scheme for the city's bridge proposal.

We felt his creative and integrated approach to art in public places would serve as an example of the way art could bring excitement and visual interest to the usually bland design of public structures.

I spent more than 100 hours reading the proposals and participating in discussions. I'm sure the other panelists, who came from all over America, put in as much time.

Now all of our hard work, as well as Mr. Edmister's, may be overturned by a politician's whim.

If the NEA's grant for Mr. Edmister's design is not honored, Baltimore should return the money.

Dick Leitch


Setting a precedent for public input?

It is wonderful to see that Mayor Martin O'Malley has finally recognized the value of citizen involvement and input in making decisions about their neighborhoods ("City seeks help coloring in the Howard St. Bridge," Oct. 29). His decision to allow citizens to vote on the colors of the Howard Street Bridge should be precedent-setting, as it allows a referendum to revisit a decision already made by a city agency.

Perhaps this epiphany will lead to a vote by the citizens of Woodberry on whether they want to revoke the city's decision to place a private school's stadium in their midst.

Of course, to really advance this new spirit of citizen involvement, the most meaningful action would be to allow public access to the Baltimore Development Corp. meetings where the future of the city is determined, and which are closed to both the free press and the citizenry.

I applaud the mayor and urge him to continue on his new path.

Jim Emberger


Appoint Schaefer to convention board

I consider Mayor Martin O'Malley's dismissal of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s advice to appoint William Donald Schaefer to the board of Baltimore's convention bureau to be insulting to Mr. Schaefer and to be nothing more than bad politics ("Schaefer critical of mayor's comment," Oct. 30).

Mr. Schaefer would bring some public confidence back to an organization that has been under fire for the past year because of mismanagement and poor leadership.

Mr. O'Malley should put politics behind him and appoint Mr. Schaefer to the board.

Davis Maloy


Bolivians reacted to failure of `reforms'

The Sun's editorial "Bolivia, the latest revolt," (Oct. 27) suggests that the hundreds of thousands of Bolivians who took to the streets to demand the resignation of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada for his attempted sell-off of natural gas to a multinational corporation were rejecting democracy.

The Sun says the Bush administration's "pro-democracy, free-trade, anti-drug policies collided" with the protesters' concerns.

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