Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 23, 2007

Sprawl has spoiled many scenic byways

There are many ways to assess or measure how smart our growth is - but losing a scenic byway designation because of growth is a tangible one ("Byways dwindle as growth comes in," Dec. 16).

For the most part, it is sprawl, not Smart Growth, that has led to the loss of the scenic byway designations The Sun discussed. Such growth is typified by residential development on large lots, outside planned growth areas, with individual well and septic systems.

Such growth is the antithesis of Smart Growth and sustainable communities. It can use up to eight times more land per household than the average home inside Maryland's growth areas.

Sprawl not only squanders valuable land but also pollutes our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay - causing four to eight times more pollution per household than households in designated growth areas do.

We need to work harder to grow smart and sustainably because Maryland is the fifth most densely populated state in the country. And projections indicate that the state will grow by 1.1 million people by 2030.

Accommodating growth in our towns and cities while preserving our rural lands is easier said than done.

But it is key to maintaining our high quality of life.

Richard Eberhart Hall

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning.

A special prosecutor for the torture tapes

Democracy depends on the belief that no one is above the law and that, ultimately, elected officials play by the rules or pay a price.

Roughly four years ago, the CIA videotaped the interrogations of two alleged al-Qaida members. It seems to be clear that the interrogations were brutal enough that they may meet the definition of torture, which is illegal.

Between 2003 and 2005, four of the top White House lawyers were in discussions about whether the videotapes should be destroyed ("CIA to give up documents on destroying tapes," Dec. 20).

The New York Times has reported that during those discussions - as incredible as this sounds - some senior White House officials vigorously advocated destroying the tapes.

If it's true that senior White House advisers failed to order preservation of the tapes or point out that destroying them was illegal, this raises questions of obstruction of justice reaching into the offices of the president and vice president.

The CIA, the Justice Department and the Congress each now claim to be investigating the destruction of the tapes.

But the best way to get to the heart of this serious matter, while avoiding political shenanigans and conflicts of interest, is to appoint a special prosecutor.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Parents responsible for juveniles' crimes

With juveniles running wild and beating people on buses and on the streets, parents should be held responsible for crimes committed by their minor children ("Teenage girl stabbed on MTA bus," Dec. 19).

These junior criminals should be prosecuted. But their parents should also be charged, and sent to an adult responsibility center for training.

There, they should take parenting classes, hear victim impact statements and sign a pledge to monitor their minor children more effectively.

If their children continue to commit crimes, these parents should be sent to jail, too.

We are tired of being victimized by kids gone wild and parents gone missing.

Dee Wright

Owings Mills

Recycling bin lines not a major issue

I can't believe what I read in The Sun: With a murder total of almost 280 so far the year, people have the nerve to complain about standing in line for two hours in cold weather to get a recycling bin ("Recycle kerfuffle," editorial, Dec. 19).

What are the priorities of these people?

Clearly the city has more pressing needs than putting more cashiers in place to take payment for a bin.

If other bin purchasers were as snarky as the writer of the letter "Hours in the cold for a recycling bin" (Dec. 19), it's no wonder city workers weren't excited to be there.

Ed Weglein

Grasonville

Trotting out faith to win an election?

As a non-Christian, I am appalled at the emphasis that has been placed on religion and faith during this presidential election season ("Huckabee rises on tide of faith," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 7).

I am a person of faith, but I do not believe faith should play a part in whom we elect.

Faith does not guarantee good character, and good character should be most important in selecting a leader.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wants the United States to become a Christian nation. So what would happen to the rest of us? Would we have to become Christians or find somewhere else to live?

And it seems the candidates have forgotten the basis for the origin of the United States - the ideas of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.

Faith should be a personal thing, not something to trot out to get elected.

We need to remember that church and state need to be kept separate.

Arlene Gordon

Baltimore

Make bus lanes part of our energy policy

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