Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 13, 2006

Open space critical to the state's future

Land conservation is more critical now than ever before ("Md. open-space program lags behind development," Aug. 7).

As of 2003, almost 20 percent of the state's lands had been developed and another 20 percent had been permanently protected. That leaves 60 percent of Maryland's lands adrift, their future undecided.

A real estate transfer tax funds Program Open Space, Rural Legacy and other conservation programs that protect and preserve our undeveloped fields, forests and farms. This tax is artfully crafted so that, when none of the funding is diverted, land preservation can keep pace with development.

But the recent diversions of more than $400 million in land preservation funding to the state's General Fund have left our natural lands at risk of development.

While that full amount will never be repaid, we must ensure that future cuts to this program are prevented.

Polls show that more than 80 percent of Marylanders support open-space preservation.

In this election year, it is critical for all the candidates running for office - and the candidates for governor in particular - to pledge to end the raids on open-space funding.

The future of our state's undeveloped lands - and therefore of the Chesapeake Bay - depends on it.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel

Baltimore

The writer is a staff attorney for Environment Maryland.

Restoring respect for Earth in GOP

Dan Rodricks gets it right on the conservation issue in the GOP in his column "Restoring balance to the bay and to the GOP" (Aug. 6).

For more than 10 years, a national organization of Republicans for environmental protection, REP America, has sought to bring about the balance in the party that Preston Padden, Bob Amdur, Tom Moore and Bob Welte are seeking to bring to Talbot County's Republican central committee.

Conservation once enjoyed bipartisan support through the efforts of informed Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, former U.S. Sen. Charles M. Mathias and former Rep. Connie Morella.

Reaction from many of the Republican party faithful and right-wing interest groups like the Club for Growth to these stalwarts, however, has frequently ranged from tepid support to outright hostility.

The GOP has lost much of its voter appeal in blue states such as Maryland as a result.

Here's hoping the Rockfish Republicans prosper.

Tony Cobb

Catonsville

The writer is director emeritus of REP America and a former member of the central committee of the Maryland Republican Party.

Lieberman takes rap for Bush's failed war

It's about time somebody lost his or her job over the administration's ill-conceived, poorly executed, and tragic misadventure in Iraq.

It's just ironic that the first head to roll may be that of a Democrat, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman ("Lieberman beaten in Conn. primary," Aug. 9), while many of the Republicans who devised this disastrous policy have been re-elected, promoted, awarded presidential medals of freedom or given cushy jobs at the World Bank.

I hope the voters in other states follow the lead of Connecticut Democrats so that the Republicans, who are the real authors of this folly, will soon join Mr. Lieberman in the unemployment line.

Bill Meyer

Towson

Vote in Connecticut shows public anger

Ned Lamont's Democratic primary victory over incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in Connecticut on Tuesday should be taken as a warning to Democrats who have supported the debacle in Iraq ("Lieberman beaten in Conn. primary," Aug. 9).

So-called Democratic leaders who have equivocated or attempted to straddle the issue should realize they are out of touch with Democratic voters, who demand a challenge to President Bush and his failed policies.

For Republicans, it should be taken as an omen that their unfettered allegiance to a Republican president whose legacy is attached to that failed enterprise in Iraq will not sit well with a voting public that mostly rejects the present stay-the-course policy in Iraq.

The Connecticut vote was the opening salvo from the people indicating that business as usual is going to be challenged.

Dave Lefcourt

Ellicott City

Will prayer garden enhance city block?

Two key questions have received little notice in the debate over whether the Archdiocese of Baltimore should be permitted to tear down the Rochambeau: How would the venerable apartment house look if it is rehabilitated and, conversely, what would the specifics be for the "prayer garden" proposed for the high-profile corner of Charles and Franklin streets ("City says hands are tied in demolition decision," Aug. 8)?

In contemplating the future of the site it is well to remember that years ago an ill-conceived effort to "modernize" the exterior of the Rochambeau's ground floor disastrously cheapened its architectural character.

Simply removing those tacky accretions now would be comparable to peeling the ubiquitous fake stone fronts from so many of the city's 19th-Century row houses, which has restored their dignity.

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