Letters To The Editor


October 17, 2007

Preservation law saved Locust Point What do the obituary of Baltimore legend Ann Shirley Doda ("She stood up for Locust Point," Oct. 12) and the article about the reuse of Fort Howard ("Former fort to house vets," Oct. 12) in Friday's Sun have in common?

The underlying federal law that made the U.S. Department of Transportation build a tunnel for Interstate 95 instead of a bridge over Fort McHenry and made the Department of Veterans Affairs think about alternatives to demolition at Fort Howard.

That federal law is Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. It requires federal agencies to think about historic preservation alternatives before damaging historic places.

While Ms. Doda was the force behind the I-95 tunnel, Section 106 required highway planners to listen to her.

Similarly, Section 106 made sure the VA looked at alternatives, which led to reusing Fort Howard for veterans.

Nancy Schamu


The writer is executive director of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers.

The Block's blight drags down the city

Is anyone surprised at the violations by clubs on The Block ("Five clubs on Block cited for violations," Oct. 11)?

Baltimore's seedy red-light district is embarrassing, at best, and a hindrance to the city's economic and social progress.

There are cities (think of Montreal and Amsterdam, for instance) that, to some extent, have done their red-light districts right. But Baltimore is not such a city.

There was a time when burlesque shows and famed performers made The Block quite a different place than it is today.

But that was decades ago, and things have changed.

Even the recent opening of Larry Flynt's Hustler Club hasn't seemed to revive the area or make it anything more than an eyesore and the butt of many jokes.

Simply put, The Block's drawbacks for the city outweigh any purported benefits.

Tourism may fuel business on The Block, but The Block is by no means essential to tourism in Baltimore.

Drug use, prostitution, underage drinking, health code violations and crime are generally not attractions that draw visitors. In fact, they're exactly the kinds of things we're looking to eradicate in Baltimore.

It seems to me that the only people who derive any true benefit from The Block are the club owners themselves.

But that comes at the expense of many - and particularly of the women and girls employed by the clubs who apparently see no better employment options for themselves.

Caitlin Rettaliata


Let the public vote on taxes and slots

So now we will have a special session to enact new taxes and raise old rates. Gov. Martin O'Malley also boldly suggests that the issue of slots might be deferred to a future referendum ("O'Malley confident on session," Oct. 16).

If the governor really wanted to be bold, he would postpone a special session and put the issues of slots and new taxes to the electorate, as separate proposals.

Where is the leadership in this state?

F. Patrick Hughes


Arts help schools add planning time

My children go to Roland Park Elementary School, a school where teachers have both individual and collaborative planning time worked into their day. And I understand that this is not the only school in the city system that has managed to allow both kinds of planning time ("Teachers call for ouster of Alonso," Oct. 10).

At Roland Park Elementary, there is one "special" class nine days out of 10 in a two-week period. The special subjects are art, music, language, library and physical education.

This structure allows for ample planning time for other teachers during the "special" classes within the school day.

Other schools may have devised other ways to work in such planning time.

Given that the arts and physical education are a very important part of the development of our children, shouldn't the school system be looking into ways to provide them to all children - which would help allow collaborative planning time for other teachers in the city public schools?

Allyson Mattanah


No one has a right to a dangerous dog

I am tired of reading that the problem with dangerous dogs is not the fault of the dogs themselves but of their owners ("Limits on pit bulls ignore real problem," letters, Oct. 13). This may be true, but it's also irrelevant.

The fact is that certain types of dogs are bred to meet the needs of humans who want to own a dog that is dangerous to other dogs and humans.

It makes sense to take preventive action against this menace.

Instead of waiting until a dog has maimed or killed someone, we should forestall that outcome by banning breeds and mixed breeds that are vulnerable to being turned into killers.

The best way to deal with the dangerous dog menace is to ban dangerous dogs.

And no one has a Second Amendment right to own a pit bull.

Paul Romney


Award helps Gore sound the alarm

Kudos to former Vice President Al Gore for his well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize ("Award echoes global `alarm,'" Oct. 13).

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