Letters To The Editor


September 19, 2005

The Gulf Coast victimized twice

The people of the Gulf Coast have been doubly victimized in the past weeks. First by Hurricane Katrina, then by their own government.

The response of the federal government to this natural disaster has itself been a complete disaster, resulting in too many tragedies for families and communities.

It didn't have to be this way. Thirteen years ago, I led the effort to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the aftermath of Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew.

As the chairman and later ranking member of the subcommittee that funded FEMA, I worked to fix an agency that was broken.

Our work was done on a bipartisan basis, with then-President George H.W. Bush, then-Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card and Senate Republicans.

Through the appropriations process, we worked to reform FEMA to transform it into a true "all hazards," independent agency that reported directly to the president.

In the process we:

Developed an agency that stood prepared to respond to all hazards - from tornadoes to terrorists.

Created its risk-based mission.

Focused FEMA on the 3 "R"s - Readiness, Response and Recovery.

Mandated that FEMA be headed by an emergency management professional or someone with experience running a large organization.

FEMA became depoliticized and professional, an effective agency working for America. But this is not the FEMA that responded to Katrina. And today's FEMA is not the FEMA I fought for.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those lost in this terrible tragedy. But words and prayers are not enough. Action is necessary. FEMA must become FEMA again.

We must work to make sure that what happened in New Orleans will never again happen to any state, to any community or to any family faced by a disaster.

Barbara A. Mikulski, Washington

The writer is a U.S. senator from Maryland.

Canton high-rise a loser for city

Jill Rosen's fine article "Proposal for high-rise in Canton resurrected" (Sept. 14) shines a welcome light on the troubling plans of untroubled developer Cignal Corp. That effort fully deserved its announced burial just weeks ago.

First District Councilman James B. Kraft, a tireless advocate of community interests, spoke for Southeast residents in refusing to sponsor any change in the Lighthouse Point Planned Unit Development.

In his winning campaign, he properly called this district Baltimore's "economic engine."

That engine has been purring, but should Cignal, with the help of Mayor Martin O'Malley's planning director Otis Rolley III, succeed in pushing this project, it will stall.

Why? Here are just three of many reasons: reduction of precious parking spaces, near certainty of traffic gridlock and resulting downgrade in the quality of life that has brought so many families to our delightful neighborhood.

If this plan goes through, economic loss will occur (except for the developer) and - more importantly -an increasingly vibrant community will be derailed.

Baltimore will be the loser.

Milton Bates


Skyscrapers make the city a city

Mary Sagel is not a minority. Most residents of Baltimore are very happy to see the interest in developing new mixed-use projects in our city. Such dense urban developments retain undeveloped land, bring amenities to communities, and provide new housing for our quickly growing region ("Proposal for high-rise in Canton resurrected," Sept. 14).

We want tall buildings because they make our city a city. We are not a minority, we just have no sympathetic ear at The Sun.

The paper's visceral hatred for tall buildings does a disservice to its readers by portraying all new development over four stories as a David vs. Goliath fight between heartbroken-but-tenacious homeowners and faceless corporate developers.

The Icon proposal would replace a parking lot. The structures' narrow profiles preserve all existing sight lines to the water and the marina.

It is a good plan that would fill an underused gap on Boston Street with an exciting landmark.

Walkability of the area will improve, relieving congestion on Boston Street

Let's give our city vibrant landmarks, even if they are tall.

Ray Dubicki


Cut-rate land deals show little integrity

The City Council's judiciary and legislative investigation committee should look into the improper sale of city properties for amounts well below their appraised value ("Council panel decries sale of lots below appraisals," Sept. 13).

Mayor Martin O'Malley and his buddies on the Baltimore Development Corp. are thumbing their noses at the residents of the city while handing out plum deals to developers. This illustrates the mayor's lack of respect for his duties and for the people who reside in Baltimore.

Such deals are the worst kind of big city politics - and come at the expense of the city's integrity and its people.

Sheila Faulstich


Fund treatment, not new needles

I was saddened to see the article on the young addict (who asked that her last name not be used) and a full photo exposing her horrible addiction ("Reaching out to the fringes," Sept. 14). As a parent who has lost both a husband and a daughter within 50 days of each other, it cut me to the heart.

Some may think that the needle exchange is a wonderful thing. It keeps the incisions clean and prevents the spread of AIDS or hepatitis.

But if you think about it, needle exchange won't stop the drug-using. It won't stop the dealers, and it won't stop death. Your needle can be spick-and-span but your body will always be polluted if you keep on using.

We should take the money spent in this program and put it toward treatment. That is where the real need is.

God help these young people.

Monica Bozman


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