Saturday Mailbox


December 27, 2003

Integration is working for neighborhoods

Dan Rodricks wrote a provocative and perceptive column about the future of racial integration in Baltimore ("Racially integrated Baltimore? - I believe," Dec. 18). I want to add my opinion based on what has happened in the neighborhoods north of Patterson Park.

Just a few years ago, Patterson Park was given up for dead, a victim of the decades-old Baltimore tradition of massive disinvestment following racial change, exacerbated by greedy slumlords and today's urban problems, themselves a result of longstanding racial prejudice. Today, Patterson Park becomes more viable and vibrant every day as the community refused to "tip" because of racial change and negative expectations.

Patterson Park did not honor Baltimore's tradition, because that tradition is a myth that needed to be exposed. The Patterson Park Community Development Corp. and its many partners exposed the myth with massive reinvestment and community effort, house by house, block by block.

The truth is that people of all colors and incomes are eager to live in safe neighborhoods where they know their property value will appreciate faster than almost everywhere else.

Mr. Rodricks got it absolutely right that population demographics, new attitudes, unbearable highway traffic and outrageous suburban housing prices are driving people back to the city.

It may take a while, but racial integration is already happening - in Patterson Park, Forest Park and elsewhere. And it will eventually happen everywhere.

Ed Rutkowski


The writer is executive director of the Patterson Park Community Development Corp.

Fund music, schools, not far-flung wars

How sad that the young, talented musicians of the Baltimore Talent Education Center (BTEC) will have to put away their instruments because there is no longer sufficient funding for the after-school music program ("Finale for music program," Dec. 18).

This sort of thing is happening on a national scale in a country where our political leaders send $87 billion to rebuild Iraq, which we have also spent the past 13 years and more billions of dollars returning to the Stone Age.

I'm tired of hearing how we need to send money overseas to help another one of America's growing orphanage of adopted countries.

Frankly, I don't care about Iraq. I want my tax money spent here in my country. I want my kids to go to schools that are younger than I am and sit in real classrooms instead of converted trailers. I want them to go to a good college, and I want to be able to afford to send them there.

I want my tax money spent to fix the horrible transportation problems I endure so I can spend less time in my car. I want to see a police car patrol my neighborhood once in a while. I want our armed forces here in America defending our country, instead of scattered all over the world.

I want the bright, talented children of the BTEC to be able to play their violins.

I want a president who will concern himself with the problems right here in my country, and I hope that next year we can get one.

D. Ebbert

Bel Air

Negotiations work better than war

At peace vigils displaying the sign "War is not the answer," we demonstrators are sometimes challenged with the question, "Well, what is the answer?" One answer is found in side-by-side articles in the Dec. 21 Sun: "U.S., allies hoping to shine light on illicit arms market" and "Secret diplomacy led to Libyan deal."

Have we forgotten that the United Nations was conducting similar negotiations with Iraq that were destroyed by our pre-emptive strike?

These articles show that Libya is a more dangerous neighbor than Iraq was at the time of our invasion, with "tons of mustard gas and other chemical weapons materials, facilities that could manufacture germ weapons, Scud missiles and a more advanced nuclear weapons program than previously known."

Furthermore, Col. Muammar el Kadafi's Libya was found guilty of terrorism in the Lockerbie plane crash.

Negotiations don't make front-page news as armed hostilities do, or provide photo ops for the commander in chief. But neither do they cost as many lives or as much money.

This is what peace advocates mean by another familiar slogan: "Give peace a chance."

Sidney Hollander Jr.


Sharon has offered a sensible solution

Thanks at least for agreeing that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan will reduce friction ("Doing it his way," editorial, Dec. 21). But it's hard to tell whether The Sun supports his plan or not, because of such fuzzy-minded statements as: "Palestinian militants would feel emboldened to press on with their fight - because they would have no reason not to."

In fact, Palestinian militants will always have a reason to fight on, as long as Israel and the United States exist.

The Sun also suggests that "Palestinians who yearn for a peaceful solution would only feel further alienated and disenfranchised."

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