Letters To The Editor


May 22, 2004

Plan won't alter role of panel in preservation

The title of the article "City's Planning Department to oversee landmarks agency" (May 18) points to a misunderstanding of the changes proposed by Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Under the mayor's plan, the Department of Planning will not oversee the city's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP). On July 1, CHAP will join the Planning Commission in overseeing the city's Department of Planning. The CHAP will not be subordinate to the Planning Department.

And neither the legislation that was pulled nor the planned administrative transfer of staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development to the Planning Department will in any way change the authority and responsibilities of CHAP.

By providing more staff and resources to this important commission, the mayor's plan will create an opportunity for CHAP to serve a much greater, more proactive role in the city's development, planning and preservation efforts.

With a small staff, CHAP has protected more than 8,000 buildings in 27 historic districts, as well as 120 local landmarks. It has administered local rehabilitation tax credits, pre-approved 590 projects and awarded historic property tax credit certification for more than 300 completed rehabilitation projects, leveraging $132 million in local investment.

We are excited about how much more we will be able to accomplish with an entire department working in concert with CHAP.

Historic preservation generates tourism revenues and jobs and improves the city's tax base, all while enhancing Baltimore's unique image.

And the Department of Planning will ensure that preservation is integrated with the study of the real estate markets, as well as transportation opportunities, infrastructure improvements and commercial redevelopment.

Otis Rolley III


The writer is the director of Baltimore's Department of Planning.

Staffing shortages hurt child welfare

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. may have kept his promise not to raise taxes, but he has yet to keep his promise to end the hiring freeze in state child welfare agencies.

Although limited exemptions to the freeze can be requested when employees are fired, retire or find employment in another state agency, they take weeks to approve. In the meantime, some local departments are experiencing critical staff shortages that approach 30 percent.

Studies overwhelmingly show that manageable caseloads and a professionally trained and supervised work force are pivotal to good outcomes.

The federal children and family service reviews have found that the frequency of contact with caseworkers is a strong predictor of good outcomes for clients. And a 2003 General Accounting Office report identified large caseloads and worker turnover as obstacles to timely completion of protective service investigations and permanent placements for children.

In short, a badly understaffed child welfare work force is costly.

We have read about the large-scale child welfare disasters in Florida, New Jersey and other states. Surely we need to recognize that Maryland's time is coming.

Janice Fristad


The writer is executive director of the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Reckless tax hikes put burden on public

I've lived in Maryland for just one year, but in this brief time, officials on various levels have approved knee-jerk increases in my county income taxes, car registration fees and property taxes. I've also seen brain-dead ideas to increase state taxes, the sales tax, real estate transfer taxes -- and let me not forget Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's bright ideas to tax his constituents' cell phones and energy bills.

All of this nonsense painfully highlights the need for Maryland government at all levels to live within its means.

We need to get rid of state officials who view the people of Maryland as their own personal piggybanks they can shakedown to continue funding bloated budgets.

Maryland sorely needs more public servants, instead of liberal-minded self-servants who recklessly raise taxes and fees that many cannot afford.

Jack Conners


Move to Baltimore saves time, trouble

I have to disagree with state Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan's letter "Moving into the city is no Beltway solution" (May 15).

Moving into Baltimore five years ago was my solution. When I lived in Baltimore County, I had to travel around the Beltway to get to my job in the county. I sat in traffic for 45 minutes in the morning and afternoon.

I value my time and would rather spend it doing something more enjoyable than sitting in my car. I made the decision to move to Baltimore, and now enjoy a 20-minute, congestion-free reverse commute to Baltimore County. What an improvement.

Yes, I still work in the county, but moving to the city worked wonders for my time.

We don't need more highways; we just need to learn how to use and maintain those we have efficiently.

Jessica A. Keller


Teaching students who show no respect

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