November 21, 2008

Ensure UB building is part of city's life

As Tuesday's Baltimore Sun announced, the University of Baltimore School of Law has selected a design for its new building ("A bright new face for UB law school," Nov. 18). The city should congratulate the university and the law school for making such an exciting and progressive selection. But now the hard work begins.

It would be very easy to make this building into an inaccessible bunker. The site is difficult and detached. It is surrounded by fast surface traffic, an exit ramp from Interstate 83 and the busy intersection of Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

I challenge the university and the architects to fight the bunker mentality. Keep the building open and accessible. Work to include the university community, the Midtown neighborhood and the nearby Station North Arts District in the project.

Go beyond simply drawing pedestrians on the architectural rendering and make sure the sidewalks, entrances and surrounding streets invite real life in.

We have seen beautiful renderings of this new building. It can be a great landmark and fitting reward for staff, faculty and alumni who have built the reputation of the UB law school, a reputation based on community involvement, public interest, access and diversity.

The new building must reflect these values.

Raymond Dubicki Jr., Glen Burnie

The writer is an alumnus of the University of Baltimore law school.

Hopkins isn't where gun tracking is needed

According to the article "System to listen for gunfire at Hopkins" (Nov. 18), Johns Hopkins University students will be among the first in the city to benefit from an innovative technology that pinpoints the location of gunfire.

While campus shootings are a reality, there have been no fatal shootings this year on the Hopkins campus or in Charles Village. However, the residents of Sandtown-Winchester have suffered at least a half-dozen fatal shootings in the same period. Are they less deserving of the benefits of this technology?

This technology, like all public safety resources, should go to those most in need, not those most affluent or politically connected.

David Epstein, Pikesville

Democracy demands that some firms fail

What is great about our American democracy is that every individual and business has the opportunity to be successful and the opportunity to fail.

For instance, from the ashes of what were once economic bedrock industries such as steel and textiles came a brand-new business called computer technology that now employs millions of Americans. This new industry was energized by Bill Gates, who created Microsoft.

Out of failed airlines came another airline that saw how to provide a reliable service at a reasonable price and is extremely successful - Southwest Airlines.

The federal government wisely did not throw taxpayers' money at trying to save Eastern Airlines, Pan Am Airlines, the textile companies or, closer to home, Bethlehem Steel.

It was their time to fail, and now it appears it is the Big Three automakers' time to fail ("Manufacturers make case for $25 billion in U.S. aid," Nov. 19). Let's let them fail.

This is American democracy at work.

Ron Wirsing, Havre de Grace

Take light rail cars back to the future?

The continuing saga of the light rail system's battle with its technology makes one wonder just how far we have come ("Stopped short," Nov. 18).

After Frank Sprague perfected the trolley car in the 1880s, within 10 years its use had spread to entail hundreds of systems and thousands of vehicles around the world. Its technology remained basically unchanged for more than 75 years, and for good reason: It was simple and reliable.

Today, we have taken that simple and reliable machine and messed with it up to the point that it no longer meets its intended purpose: convenient and comfortable transportation of quantities of people.

Perhaps it is time to remove all the computers from the cars and return control of the system to the operators, so that the cars have some measure of adaptability to unusual conditions.

Certainly there would be some safety risks to this approach. But wouldn't they be more acceptable than shutting down the system for extended periods in reaction to minor bugs?

W. Van Aller, White Hall

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