Letters To The Editor


August 13, 2008

Right way to save Mechanic Theatre

Thanks to Edward Gunts for pointing to a solution regarding the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre and its uncertain future ("Heightened drama," Aug. 4).

The architectural and cultural significance of the building is without question, as affirmed by a unanimous vote for landmark designation by Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and a flood of testimony from local and national experts.

Among historians of architecture and urbanism, Benjamin Latrobe's Basilica of the Assumption is the only building in Baltimore better known beyond the city.

The fate of the Mechanic now lies with the independent Baltimore Planning Commission, which is advised by the city Department of Planning.

The Planning Department staff opposes landmark designation for the Mechanic, on the mistaken theory that the good intentions of the current owner will result in preservation of the building.

This is very short-sighted, as good intentions have a way of disappearing with the wind.

Mr. Gunts' solution is based on the model of cooperation demonstrated in the recent landmarking of the historic home Castalia.

By bringing a proposed renovation design for that building to CHAP, the Calvert School learned that landmark status would not "freeze" the building but would allow for significant expansion and financial incentives. The school dropped its opposition, and the building is now a landmark ("Calvert School to renovate 1928 residence," May 14).

The same thing can happen with the Mechanic, if Mr. Gunts' advice is followed, and the results can be spectacular.

Michael V. Murphy, Baltimore

The writer is an architect and a CHAP commissioner.

Can Bush criticize Russia for war?

How hilarious: President Bush chastising Russia for invading a sovereign country, saying it is damaging Russia's stance in the world ("U.S. likely to target Russia economically, diplomatically," Aug. 12).

Did anybody flash on Iraq when he said that?

Ken Shapiro, Baltimore

Contempt for rights set stage for raid

Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo was quoted in The Sun as saying, "We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us" ("Prince George's raid prompts call for probe," Aug. 8). That's putting it mildly.

There were probably many causes of the obscene assault. Among them, two are conspicuous: first, our corrupt, misguided decades-long "war on drugs," whose primary beneficiary has always been the prison-industrial complex, not the public, and second, the contempt for law and justice shown by the Bush administration, which is busily shredding the Constitution - an obsession that understandably perverts law enforcement at all levels of government.

At best, the atrocity at Berwyn Heights might provoke reconsideration of these shameful policies and practices.

Joe Morton, Towson

Police need to read Fourth Amendment

Note to Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin C. High and Sheriff Michael A. Jackson: This is the United States of America, not some random police state ("Prince George's raid prompts call for probe," Aug. 8).

I commend to their attention the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It is the one that recognizes citizens' right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.

I hope a full investigation of the behavior of the Prince George's County police will be conducted and that, if warranted, all those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

C. Patrick Myers, Baltimore

Reactor will create tons of toxins

I was disappointed that Tricia Bishop's article "Nuclear plant hearing today" (Aug. 4) failed to discuss the costs or real alternatives to a new nuclear power plant.

In fact, the costs to taxpayers in both government subsidies to the nuclear industry and safety are enormous when nuclear power is compared with investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Ms. Bishop did discuss the lack of carbon emissions from the plant; however, the plant would also create tons of hazardous nuclear waste.

Why invest in expensive and unsafe nuclear power when we have myriad cheaper, cleaner and safer technologies at our disposal?

I think the Public Service Commission should say "no" to a new nuclear reactor.

Mike Sherling, Baltimore

The writer is a policy advocate for Environment Maryland.

Too many lawsuits push doctors away

While several factors are responsible for the disturbing trend identified by the study by MedChi and the Maryland Hospital Association, liability reform must be part of the solution ("Rural Maryland faces shortage of doctors," July 28).

Frivolous lawsuits and runaway jury awards threaten our entire health system, preventing medical students from choosing certain specialties because of liability costs and increasing costs for us all.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that 10 percent of every dollar spent on health care can be attributed to the costs of medical liability and defensive medicine.

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