December 10, 2008

Continuing carnage ruins city's progress

In the article "Killings rose as police cut OT" (Dec. 8), city police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi is quoted as saying, "We're not putting a price tag on public safety" ("Killings rose as police cut OT," Dec. 8).

And yet there was an astonishing increase in the number of murders in Baltimore during November, one that has continued into December - just as overtime cuts led to a reduction in the number of law enforcement officers on our streets.

What is wrong with this picture?

Baltimore is trying desperately to attract law-abiding, hard-working, values-driven, tax-paying people into the city. It has invested countless millions into improvements which have made Baltimore a vibrantly beautiful city.

At the same time, rampant gang activity and an ever-thriving drug culture threaten to undermine all our best efforts to redefine ourselves as a safe, desirable urban environment.

Are we supposed to take comfort in the fact that lesser crimes such as robberies fell in November while murder increased?

We need to follow the example of cities like Los Angeles that have increased the number of police officers in spite of budget woes.

There is, in fact, no price tag that can be put on public safety.

Myra MacCuaig, Baltimore

Teenager's blood unfit for front page

The Baltimore Sun has reached a new low with Tuesday's garish 9-inch front-page photograph displaying the fresh blood of an innocent murder victim, 14-year-old Ronald Jackson ("A good deed goes bad," Dec. 9).

Imagine how his family felt upon seeing this image.

This is beyond callous; it is obscene.

Mary Skeen, Baltimore

Stilling great voices dims 'cultural center'

The bankruptcy filing by the Baltimore Opera Company is a full-blown tragedy for patrons of the arts and for the image of the city ("Baltimore Opera seeks Chapter 11 shelter," Dec. 9).

For too long, Baltimore languished under its reputation as a whistlestop between New York and Washington, a place where crabs and oysters were abundant but certainly not a place to go for an enriching cultural experience.

But with a first-rate symphony orchestra and opera company, times had changed in recent years.

The Baltimore Opera Company's production of Aida was as good as you could find anywhere in the civilized world. But now the Lyric Opera House falls silent under the crushing weight of too little income and too much debt.

The title of "cultural center" that has been bestowed upon the neighborhood where it stands now rings hollow to the ears of serious music lovers, and I fear that, once again, Baltimore will revert to whistlestop status.

Whatever can be done to ensure that the economic collapse of the Baltimore Opera is no more than a brief hiatus should be done.

We need the glorious music of the masters and the equally glorious voices that perform it. We need the culture.

Our civic pride and love for the great city we call home demand it.

Alan Walden, Baltimore

Flood of bad news a bad omen for city

What a cheery front page on Tuesday ("Sun's parent files for protection from creditors," "Baltimore Opera seeks Chapter 11 shelter" and "A good deed goes bad," Dec. 9).

What on earth has happened to this city?

Mindell Siegel, Baltimore

Embryonic cell work still a waste of funds

Here we go again talking about plans to finance embryonic stem cell research ("An about-face on stem cells," Dec. 1).

Apart from ethical concerns about that work, embryonic stem cell research is full of promises that hold no certainty of success.

It has not yet produced a cure for anything. Such cures may now be 20 or more years down the road or may not be forthcoming at all.

On the other hand, work using other available sources of stem cells (adult stem cells) has resulted in many cures.

Embryos are not the only source of stem cells.

The taxpayer money Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to spend on embryonic stem cell research will only fill the pockets of those engaged in that kind of research.

Charles J. Scheve, Towson

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