Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 22, 2006

Judges overlook ground rent abuse

The scandalous behavior of those involved in the misuse of ground rents and the laws governing them should be of concern to everyone in Baltimore ("Clerk of court reviews suits on ground rent," Dec. 19).

The lawsuits filed by bottom feeders are reprehensible. But at least we understand their motivation - greed.

What is mystifying is that so many of these lawsuits were heard in Baltimore courts by some of our elected judges and not one of them publicly questioned this blatant misuse of an archaic set of laws until The Sun published its reports.

Were the judges blinded to any sense of moral justice?

Do they not view themselves as leaders of our community and keepers of the social contract governed by our laws?

Some judges personally witnessed the unnecessary havoc and pain wrought by this misuse of the ground rent system. Yet they remained silent.

Who should we hold more accountable for this debacle: The individuals who used loopholes in the ground rent system to secure wealth and made no bones about that their greed? Or the judges who quietly ruled in their favor, knowing they were supervising a travesty of justice but remaining silent?

Michael Seipp

Baltimore

Issue bonds to retire ground rent system

The Patterson Park Community Development Corp. has had its own problems with the ground rent practices described in The Sun's recent articles, so we applaud the series "On Shaky Ground" (Dec. 10-Dec. 12).

Therefore, we enthusiastically endorse three changes to the existing law ("Check the records," editorial, Dec. 20).

First, creation of new ground rents should be banned as they serve no purpose that cannot be served by an ordinary financial instrument - that is, a mortgage of some kind.

Second, all existing ground rents should be recorded or registered so that they become an easy-to-access part of the public record.

Finally, no one should lose their house because they didn't make a $24 payment.

However, we would take this a step further: The state should create an agency that would work to eliminate all existing ground rents as follows:

The state should issue a tax-exempt bond whose proceeds would pay off all existing ground rent holders who have registered in accordance with the new law suggested above. All ground rents not registered in three years would expire.

The agency would collect all ground rents but use the difference between the 6 percent ground rent capitalization rate and the tax-exempt bond rate both to fund the agency and to retire all the ground rents as the bond gets paid off.

In this way no new ground rents could be created, all existing ground rent holders would be paid off and, over time, all existing ground rents would disappear.

Ed Rutkowski

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Patterson Park Community Development Corp.

Use Jessamy's raise to reopen shelter

I found it ironic to read on page 1 of Thursday's Sun that Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's salary will be increased from $142,055 to $225,000, an increase of approximately $83,000 ("Jessamy to be city's highest paid," Dec. 21) and then read that a homeless shelter is being shut down because of very correctable conditions ("Violations force shelter to close immediately," Dec. 21).

What's going on here?

It seems to me that it would have taken only a small part of the $83,000 to make the corrections needed to the homeless shelter, without displacing the occupants.

J.E. Tomassoni

Annapolis

Raise may recruit new city prosecutor

Hip, hip hooray for Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy getting a whopping 58 percent raise ("Jessamy to be city's highest paid," Dec. 21).

I applaud the raise.

Now perhaps the job will be attractive enough for someone else to run successfully for the position.

And, then, if we are lucky maybe, just maybe, more criminals might get prosecuted in this crime-ridden city.

G. Koolhof

Baltimore

The real calamity is war's death toll

As he was sworn in as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates warned, according to The Sun, that "failure in Iraq would be a `calamity' that would haunt the United States for years" ("Defense chief is sworn in," Dec. 19).

Here we go again with empty but self-serving rhetoric to protect the pride of President Bush and his sidekicks.

But what really is an ongoing calamity is the needless deaths, torture and maiming of the U.S. military men and women.

These are the people who are suffering and dying daily. Their loved ones will lament their loss for the rest of their lives

Where is the moral compass of a president and an administration which is so indifferent to this suffering?

As their feet trample through the blood of our fallen sons and daughters, we hear a smoke screen of platitudes. But will you find any member of the administration who has a family member in harm's way?

President Bush threw a rock into a hornet's nest. But he is willing to cover himself with others to take the stings rather than retreat in the way common sense would dictate.

Fred Everhart

Columbia

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