Letters To The Editor


October 16, 2005

Security isn't key to reforming youths

The correlation of community safety with the presence of razor wire, handcuffs, locked doors and other forms of physical restraint in the treatment of juvenile offenders that was suggested by The Sun's editorial "Where will our children go? (Oct. 9) and has been suggested in the comments of public officials represents erroneous thinking about how to correct the behavior of these children.

The placement of the children remaining at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in out-of-state facilities may hamper their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community by distancing them from their families and the resources these programs successfully incorporate into the youngsters when they do return home.

The lack of a secure environment is not the issue. And the question is not whether facilities can help youngsters overcome problems that become evident in antisocial behavior.

Programs in states other than Maryland certainly do work successfully with these offenders.

The real challenge confronting leaders in Maryland is to encourage programs like those we envy in other states to establish similar treatment facilities within our borders.

These programs have the willingness to do just that if Maryland provides an atmosphere that supports private treatment programs.

David B. Mitchell


The writer is a retired Circuit Court judge.

Demolition destroys Hunt Valley anchor

The demolition of the Elizabeth Gardner House is a loss for not only the Hunt Valley community but all of Baltimore County ("Hunt Valley demolition jolts preservationists," Oct. 13).

Anyone who drove by the Elizabeth Gardner House knew this was a special place.

This home at the corner of Shawan and York roads was a historic anchor for Hunt Valley. Indeed, when developers renovated Hunt Valley Mall, they picked architectural styles similar to those of the Gardner House.

Now, thanks to BB&T Bank's hunger for a branch at this location, the Gardner House is, literally, history.

In a county teeming with hundreds of vacant lots, BB&T insisted on this site for its bank. Bank officials swatted away the concerns of historic preservationists as if they were mere nuisances.

Throughout Baltimore County, other businesses are actually working to repair and enrich historic landmarks. In northeast Baltimore County, at least two competitors to BB&T have pledged $15,000 to renovate the Perry Hall Mansion.

These banks know not only that this is the right thing to do, but also that it will earn them good will in the community.

In BB&T's rush for a demolition permit, it somehow missed this message.

David Marks

Perry Hall

The writer is vice chairman of the Baltimore County Historical Trust.

City parents' apathy causes school woes

One small paragraph in the article about Aileen Mercado's experience teaching in the city schools is all anyone needs to know as to why the city school system is in such poor shape ("Helping pupils, other teachers," Oct. 13).

That paragraph notes that only one parent showed up for back-to-school night.

No amount of money, no increased spending per pupil, no new textbooks and computers will overcome such apathy.

The school systems that are successful are those that have the highest percentage of parents involved in the system.

The parents of Baltimore need to look in the mirror, because the school system's problems begin and end with them.

Keith DiNardo


Aileen Mercado "was looking forward to introducing herself to her pupils' parents at back-to-school night, but only one shows up" ("Helping pupils, other teachers," Oct. 13).

If you are searching for a reason for poor academic performance in the city schools, you do not need to go far beyond this quote.

Larry Johnston


Religious beliefs not relevant to court

For the president to say that the religious beliefs of Harriet Miers were a determining factor in her nomination to be a justice on the Supreme Court is an outrage ("Religion had role in Miers pick," Oct. 13).

"Shared values" or "similar viewpoints" (code words though we understand them to be) may be acceptable criteria as a president considers candidates for such an appointment, although I would hope a reverence for justice and the Constitution, as well as an ability to be objective and fair, would carry far greater weight.

But religious beliefs -- that is, the nominee's interpretation of Scripture or her preferred liturgical practices - should have absolutely no place in that consideration.

My United States remains a secular nation. But I fear that very precious and fragile reality is being squandered by a frightening mix of hubris and ignorance that is evident at the highest levels.

Hugh Silcox


Capital gains rule unfair to singles

The Sun's article "Couples are eligible for tax exemption of up to $500,000 in sale of home" (Oct. 9) struck one huge nerve.

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