Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 20, 2008

City's violence strains its health

As an occupational therapist new to Baltimore, I was pleased to see David Kohn's article that addressed the link between environment and health outcomes ("Violent neighborhoods are bad for your health," July 17).

Since arriving in Baltimore, I've been providing home care services largely in traditionally violent West Baltimore neighborhoods.

And I've been astonished to see that the average age of my patients here has dropped more than 20 years from that of the patients I've seen doing similar work in other cities; instead of patients in their 70s and 80s, I'm seeing patients as young their early 40s and 50s faced with chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

As therapists, we attempt to instill in our patients the idea that recovery and health are not just about alleviating a set of symptoms. We aim for a holistic approach in which optimal health is gained through meaningful activity, decreasing stress and finding safety in the home environment.

Living in violent and impoverished neighborhoods creates significant barriers to achieving these objectives.

Jacqueline Roche, Baltimore

Poor eating habits plague urban poor

Having spent several years working in poor communities in Baltimore, I'm sure that there are many children who go hungry and suffer from malnutrition ("City plans hunger fight," July 16). However, when I look at the eating habits of many of the residents of those areas who can afford to feed their families, I see that their food choices are often terrible.

Many people prefer greasy meats and heavy starches. Their fruit dishes are often over-sugared and the vegetables full of meat fats and cooked until all the nutrition is gone.

Even the free meals served to kids in school programs are full of junk-laden un-foods (fake cheese, adulterated juices etc.).

Add to that the lack of grocery stores and restaurants that serve healthy fare, and you have a recipe for poor health.

Yes, poverty is a problem.

But people who are scared to try new things and habitually eat unhealthy foods may be just as big a contributor to the overall health problems that plague poorer city residents and their children.

Ben Cohen, Owings Mills

Why was felon back on streets?

The Sun's article "Sweep aims at the most dangerous" (July 13) contained many important facts. However, one that jumped out at me was Baltimore Circuit Judge Lynn Stewart allowing probation for Jerrod Rowlett.

As the article reported, this thug "racked up a dozen criminal charges at an early age."

Now 23, his first arrest was when he was at 16, for first-degree murder. He was next convicted of carrying a handgun and later of assault. For each charge he was given a five-year suspended sentence.

He was later arrested in 2006 for dealing heroin and in 2007 for shooting someone twice.

For both offenses, Judge Stewart allowed Mr. Rowlett to walk.

He was then charged in April 2008 for a gun violation, and in May was arrested for attempted first-degree murder.

To me, the issue is: Why isn't Judge Stewart being investigated if not charged with negligent dereliction of duties as an officer of the court?

Even if Mr. Rowlett had been clerking in Judge Stewart's court and was president of the local Parent-Teacher Association, he should not have been allowed back on Baltimore's streets.

H. L. Goldstein, Towson

New leadership boosts the city

Since moving to Baltimore in 1984, I have never been more hopeful for the future of our city.

The recently released test scores for Baltimore's schools tell me we have finally found a superintendent of schools who understands what is necessary for the city's children to excel in school ("City schools post big gains," July 15).

Together, city schools CEO Andres Alonso, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and Fire Chief James S. Clack have combined to produce the kind of leadership we need to become a thriving, first-class city.

Above all, credit needs to go to Mayor Sheila Dixon, who appointed our current police commissioner and fire chief and continues to demonstrate that she knows what our city needs to thrive and is able to make those things happen.

Amid high energy costs, economic recession and a host of other bad news, there is more than a little reason for all who care about Baltimore to be hopeful.

Robert Mordhorst, Baltimore

Protect the public from free market

The Sun's editorial "A loss of trust" (July 15) rightly criticizes banking and investment company executives for their "freewheeling business practices in recent years" and notes that the "real-estate bust" is a "painful lesson about the importance of ethical behavior in a free market economy."

I certainly agree that ethical behavior in the marketplace would be nice. But history tells us that it isn't going to happen.

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