March 20, 2009

Creamery violates conservation pact

The Baltimore Sun's article "Plans for creamery puts farmers at odds" (March 8) was generally a fair representation of the controversy. However, it failed to place this issue in the more general context of conservation easements.

A legislative audit report on the Maryland Agriculture Land Preservation Foundation recently concluded that "the cumulative cost of easement acquisitions in MALPF's Annual Report ... exceeded the amount on the state's accounting records by $153 million."

The report went on to say that "MALPF did not ensure that counties performed inspections to ensure landowners were complying with easement agreements."

MALPF is the easement holder for the Bellevale Farm property where the proposed creamery would operate.

So the following questions are appropriate: Are preservation programs operated efficiently and openly? Are the taxpayers of Maryland getting anything for the money they invest in these programs?

Wally Lippincott, the Baltimore County preservation program manager who was quoted in The Baltimore Sun's article, said the creamery is an operation "producing local products for people who have helped pay for preserving this land."

Suggesting that what taxpayers got for the million dollars the state has invested in a conservation easement on the property is the opportunity to buy locally grown produce shows an innocence of any understanding of broader easement issues.

Being able to buy local produce is good; transferring $1 million to private hands for the privilege is problematic.

In this time of diminished respect for taxpayer money, Marylanders are paying large sums of money and getting not more preservation but less.

Carol Trela, Baldwin

The writer is secretary of the Long Green Valley Association, which is a party to a lawsuit against MALPF that seeks to enforce the conservation easement on the Bellevale Farm property.

Cheney shows gall by attacking Obama

It is incredible that even a man as arrogant as Dick Cheney would have the unmitigated gall to criticize the Obama administration after it has been in office only a few months ("Cheney takes aim at Obama," March 16).

Having been the vice president, and many would say much more than the vice president, during the Bush presidency, eight years that will be remembered as the nadir of American history, this man somehow believes he has the right to judge the efforts of those who are attempting to clean up his mess.

After reading this article, I cannot help but believe that nothing would please Mr. Cheney more than another terrorist attack on America.

Of course, the possibility of such an attack remains, especially since the Bush-Cheney administration, in the seven years following 9/11, failed to locate, capture or even put a scratch on Osama bin Laden.

Doug Ebbert, Bel Air

Learning to love aliens among us

As a white, male, native-born American, I was outraged by the account of the 8-year-old boy suddenly suffering from deep depression because his father, a hardworking African immigrant, was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and will probably be deported ("Failing families," Commentary, March 11).

No civilized nation would tolerate such a state of affairs. In fact, it broke my heart just to read about it.

I would like to quote Leviticus 19:33-34: "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God."

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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