Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 08, 2008

Pushing progress on youth smoking

As the excerpts from the blogs The Sun published indicate, some outsiders remain cynical when it comes to public health progress in Baltimore ("Smoke Screeds," Commentary, June 4). But this attitude is not justified.

From 2000 to 2006, the city's youth cigarette smoking rate fell from 11 percent to 8 percent

This steep drop will mean less suffering and death for city residents.

One reason for this progress is that companies are not permitted to sell cheap, individual cigarettes without warning labels.

The Health Department's recent proposal just seeks to have this common-sense standard be applied to cigars.

We are making progress, and we don't want to go back.

Rianna Brown, Baltimore

The writer is director of external affairs for Baltimore's Health Department.

Real charity is its own reward

Howard Castleman has it wrong: Charity does pay ("Firm reneges on scholarships," June 3).

Real charity is given with no expectation of reward or recognition in a spirit of generosity and compassion for others. If Mr. Castleman wants to be mentioned in the paper, he should buy an ad.

Thousands of dollars are contributed to charities, scholarships and special programs by Baltimore businesses every year. They are motivated by the desire to make Baltimore a better place, to support the programs their employees volunteer for and to give a helping hand to their neighbors.

That is real charity, and it pays off for all of us in a stronger Baltimore.

Just ask the people who stepped up to give money to replace the scholarships after Mr. Castleman withdrew.

Fran Gunther Minges, Baltimore

The writer is director of development for the Community Law Center.

Light rail leaves patrons in lurch

Once again, the managers of the light rail system have failed their riders.

On Wednesday, it took me 2 1/2 hours to get from the University Center stop to Lutherville.

What was the problem? We had a storm and trees had fallen along the line ("Storm tears across state," June 5).

The light rail line ran from downtown to the Falls Road stop, where it left passengers stranded for hours without knowing when a bus would arrive.

Why is it that every time there is a storm and damage occurs along the line, the Maryland Transit Administration responds as if it were the first time this had happened?

There appears to be little communication among MTA personnel or communication with its customers.

The MTA's call answering center had no idea what had happened on Wednesday, the supervisor on site I talked to did not know why it was taking two hours to send back-up buses, and the conductor thought a bus would be awaiting riders dumped off near Falls Road.

This kind of situation occurs over and over again with no apparent improvement.

When there is storm, the MTA should be prepared to implement an alternative plan.

The managers of the light rail system have a responsibility not only to repair the lines but also to manage the riders who are trying to get to their destination.

Roseann Walsh, Timonium

Townhouses ruin views of the harbor

I read the article "HarborView plans reignite debate" (June 4) and am sad to say that the spectacular view from the east side of Federal Hill Park overlooking the harbor toward Fells Point, Canton and the Key Bridge no longer exists.

Instead of being able to see sailboats catching the breeze and skimming the blue waters on a beautiful summer day, one now sees the rooftops of the townhouses that have sprung up like mushrooms after a heavy rain.

And when walking near the waterfront in Harbor East, you no longer can see Federal Hill.

What a loss for the citizens of Baltimore.

Dan Kuc, Baltimore

Why would Iran commit suicide?

The writer of the letter "Taking the threat from Iran seriously" (June 5) criticized columnist Steve Chapman for repeating an assertion by University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reported call for the destruction of Israel was a mistake in translation.

I do not presume to know the Iranian president's intent. But I recall how ready many Americans were to believe that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev intended to rain nuclear bombs on our heads when he said he would "bury" us.

Later, we learned that he meant that with the demise of our capitalist system, he would throw dirt on its grave.

So let's be careful what we believe, especially when the source of the threat is a politician. And let's remember that politicians, having big egos, are probably the least likely people to commit suicide, as Iran would surely be doing if it attacked Israel.

Richard Springer, Baltimore

Railroads' record strong on safety

The Sun's article on transportation of hazardous materials left out a number of important points ("Deadly cargo to roll on," May 25).

First, the route analysis was required by Congress, and railroads are complying with federal legislation.

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