Letters To The Editor


October 12, 2005

Blackwater Refuge faces critical threat

Tom Pelton's article on the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge should serve as a call to action for concerned citizens throughout the Chesapeake Bay region ("Blackwater preserve's natural balancing act," Oct. 2).

Not only is Blackwater Refuge a national treasure for its wildlife habitat, but marsh complexes such as those at Blackwater help protect low-lying areas from flooding - a lesson we have all re-learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This marsh complex - the subject of millions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded restoration projects - is now under threat from development.

The full extent of the threat is not yet known: the (developer-funded) impact study is unlikely to be available before planning approval is granted.

Without a full accounting of the costs - social, environmental and other - of development, it is impossible for communities to make good choices about how to grow.

The tax revenues from development are a seductive vision that obscures the congested roads, overcrowded schools and loss of affordable housing that accompany poorly planned growth.

Studies from American Farmland Trust in Wicomico County have shown that replacing farmland with suburban development is a fiscal drain on a community, as each acre of suburban development costs $1.21 in services for every $1 of tax revenue it provides.

The good news is that there is still a chance to help decision-makers weigh the costs and benefits of the Blackwater proposal.

A public hearing this week on growth allocation and later hearings on site design provide an opportunity to tell the full story.

Eileen McLellan

Rob Etgen


The writers are, respectively, the policy director and the executive director for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

`Modest proposal' is positive for bay

I was surprised and disappointed at The Sun's editorial "Mr. Ehrlich's modest proposal" (Sept. 30). Positive, affirmative steps taken to clean up and restore the bay should be lauded and not met with criticism.

The editorial failed to recognize that the Corsica project will be a pilot project utilizing state-of-the-art water quality monitoring to demonstrate the effectiveness of a major investment in restoration in a single watershed.

The targeted investment in upgrading the Corsica River wastewater treatment infrastructure will pay for on-the-farm nutrient and sediment reduction and decrease urban storm-water pollution. This should provide the proof that the restoration techniques being proposed throughout the multistate watershed will result in enhanced water quality for the bay.

While it will take billions of dollars to restore the bay, we need to make sure those expenditures are wisely planned and effectively directed to maximize improvements in water quality and watershed health.

David Bancroft


The writer is executive director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Early civil rights law omitted counties

I think The Sun missed an important part of the story of the state's 1963 non-discrimination in public accommodation law ("Racial bias revealed along U.S. 40 in 1961," Oct. 8).

The 1963 law did not apply to the counties of the Eastern Shore and to some in Western Maryland. Those counties only supported the bill provided they were exempt from it.

Ironically and sadly, Maryland passed a state law banning discrimination in public places that only applied to one half of the state. This led directly to justifiable protests (and riots) on the Eastern Shore.

The Sun's article leaves the impression that Maryland was a progressive southern state when, in fact, the opposite was true.

Only the federal government and the supremacy of its landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced Maryland to extend the 1963 accommodation law statewide a year later.

Dudley Thompson


Miers doesn't meet court's standards

I have no problem with the notion of a Supreme Court nominee having had no judicial experience. Indeed, some of the greatest court minds in recent history have come from non-judicial backgrounds ("Specter rebukes conservatives," Oct. 10). The record proudly cites the accomplishments of justices such as Robert Jackson, William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, Louis Brandeis, Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren.

But to paraphrase Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Harriet Miers is no Earl Warren. She is not even a Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She is a White House crony.

That is why senators must ask the penetrating questions they should have asked of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and demand more satisfactory answers than the ones they received from him.

Any nation that can produce and benefit from the legacy of a Douglas, a Warren, a Brandeis or an O'Connor should not have to settle for a dangerous second best simply because she is the boss' crony.

We deserve better than Ms. Miers.

Michael R. Cavey


Oliphant offers elitist pedantry

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