Letters To The Editor


April 19, 2006

New rules protect city's historic core

Years of a David vs. Goliath fight to protect the historic scale of this community ended quietly on April 10 with final passage of the Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Plan.

Despite the tremendous odds against us, we succeeded - with the help of City Council President Sheila Dixon - in getting the height limit for new buildings in Mount Vernon legislated at an average of 86 feet (including rooftop mechanical devices), with lower height limits near the Washington Monument and higher ones in the northern part of the neighborhood.

We retained community control of the architectural review process and confirmed the authority of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) to require even lower heights on a case-by-case basis. We even defeated language that would have allowed CHAP decisions to be appealed to the Planning Commission.

This win on every front for the community resulted from a widespread backlash to the awful vision of skyscrapers being promoted by the leadership of the Charles Street Development Corp.

Lost in all the smoke and fire around the height battle has been the groundbreaking language that was also adopted, which provides protection against demolition of our historic structures.

For that, we have Otis Rolley III, director of the city Planning Department, to thank.

We may not have agreed with much of his original plan's language, but this provision is perhaps the most progressive of any preservation language in the state and bodes well for putting a stop to the needless destruction of Baltimore's irreplaceable historic assets.

This is good legislation, and we are thankful to have it.

Paul Warren


The writer is vice president of the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.

Time to re-regulate the energy markets

Isn't it ironic that Republicans blame Democrats for attempting to use a free-market approach to electrical utilities by deregulation legislation in 1999 ("Democrats distort state's agenda," letters, April 15)?

I think that all the Republican legislators who voted against the deregulation legislation in 1999 should stand up and take a bow. Who are they?

Meanwhile, instead of providing leadership on this issue, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said that he wants to be a "neutral broker."

The governor is like a chameleon on a plaid jacket; he doesn't know which color to become.

He has said that a 72 percent electricity rate increase "will not stand." But apparently he will not stand either - to take any initiative.

The term "free-market utility" is obviously an oxymoron.

I say that utilities should be heavily regulated, and that the General Assembly should require re-regulation if it is called into special session.

Otherwise, let the governor handle this hot potato.

November is coming soon.

G. Edward Horak


What is PSC doing for state consumers?

Since Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is so fond of the Public Service Commission, I would like to know where its members are ("Campaign sparks fly over BGE," April 13).

Shouldn't the commission be negotiating with Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and Constellation Energy on behalf of the public?

It would be reassuring to know that the PSC is protecting the public.

K. Riley


Has union stood up for city's children?

My question to Marietta English, the president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, is this: If the teachers, the paraprofessionals, the families and the students of Baltimore truly "insist" on being involved in forming the solutions to the failing city schools ("School takeover an abuse of power," letters, April 15), why is it that they did and said so little until the state tried to rectify problems they had largely ignored?

I suggest that it is Ms. English, not state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick or Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is playing pure partisan politics instead of looking out for the welfare of our children.

It seems to me that they, again, are the losers because of the teachers union's insincere protestations about the state takeover plan.

Gail Householder


Give county credit for graduation rates

The Sun's excellent article "Md. counties praised in graduation study" (April 5) suggests that educational achievement is dependent on family income.

But it is important to remember that many people say that African-American male students are doing poorly, including middle-class kids, and they suggest that the latter will not study because they do not want to "act white," or because they listen to rap music or some such thing.

Baltimore County's public schools disprove that theory.

Indeed, if family income is destiny, why are graduation rates in Baltimore County as much as one-third higher than those of the Montgomery County and Prince George's County school districts, which have similar - if not higher - average family incomes for African-Americans?

My guess is that gap is a measure of the quality of the Baltimore County public schools.

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