Letters To The Editor


June 13, 2008

Closing Rosewood will open new doors

I am troubled that The Sun would print a one-sided report of a few families' efforts to keep the Rosewood Center open ("Families fight for Rosewood," June 1).

I care deeply about this issue because I am the mother of a profoundly disabled 25-year-old man in Montgomery County. My son will move later this year into a house he will share with two other disabled men.

I know that he is among the lucky ones: Many people are waiting for such community supports.

Confining disabled individuals in institutions such as Rosewood typically costs three or four times per person what providing them the support they need to live in the community costs. Yet outcomes in the community are much better for people with disabilities, their families and their communities.

Across the United States, institutions to house the disabled have been downsizing and closing for decades. Ten forward-looking states now have no such institutions at all.

Community supports are designed for each person, one person at a time.

Families of those who need such services should sit down at the planning table so that they can learn what is possible. Families can be helped past their fear of the unknown.

But it defies understanding that a few families of people in institutions suggest that our state should spend ever-increasing public funds on old buildings and inefficient, expensive, substandard models of support when so many of our fellow citizens are still waiting for a little help.

We should applaud Gov. Martin O'Malley for considering the needs of all Marylanders with disabilities and not being sidetracked by the fearful few.

Sue Swenson, Maryland

The writer was U.S. commissioner for developmental disabilities under President Bill Clinton.

Connecting dots to Smart Growth

Monday's Sun offered fertile ground for connecting the dots on Smart Growth and environmental protection.

While the front page reported a revival of the growth debate in Frederick ("Frederick revives debate on growth," June 9) and posed questions about whether the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is too cozy with farmers ("Bay advocates called soft on farm pollution," June 9), later pages featured Bernie Fowler's annual Patuxent River "wade-in" test ("Fowler stands by his 'beautiful lady,'" June 9) and an article about a PBS documentary about the success of the Inner Harbor ("Harboring success," June 9).

How should the dots be connected?

Maybe it is obvious that paving over the farms around Frederick would do more lasting harm to the bay than bad farming practices, which can at least be changed.

Maybe the Inner Harbor's inventive reuse of fallow land can show Frederick how growth can be promoted in the right places, growing up instead of out.

Maybe Mr. Fowler's persistence over decades can remind the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that stewardship of the land is not only an attitude to be encouraged (with a carrot) but also one to be enforced by lawsuits and fines (a stick).

Maybe with $4 gas fewer people will be able to afford to build on or live on outlying farm soils.

Maybe such high energy costs will make traditional farming and local food more worthwhile again.

Perhaps there is hope in these stories that we can find a perspective that will make us all better off in the end.

Klaus Philipsen, Baltimore

The writer is a board member of 1,000 Friends of Maryland.

Regulations focus on large polluters

Gov. Martin O'Malley should be commended for focusing new animal feeding operation regulations on the largest poultry operations with the greatest potential impact on the bay ("Bay advocates called soft on farm pollution," June 9).

Those who have read the revised regulations know that all of the poultry operations covered by the original regulations will still face additional regulations. However, the revised regulations will make compliance less onerous for midsized operations than for larger poultry operations.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was not always a friend of Maryland agriculture. A decade ago, it tried to make villains out of farmers as the cause of Pfiesteria.

However, the CBF has since listened and learned that farmers are adapting the latest science and technology to grow crops for food, fiber and fuel using environmentally beneficial practices.

Working as a team rather than as adversaries, government, agriculture and environmental groups will achieve a much cleaner bay.

Lynne Hoot, Edgewater

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, a private group that works with farmers on waste-management plans.

Make immigrants respect our laws

The writers of the letters "Immigrants' work boosts economy" and "Pikesville poorer for raid on plant" (June 11) clearly oppose the immigration raids against a Postville, Iowa, employer ("Iowa immigration raid felt in Pikesville stores," June 6).

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