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Posted 7/11/2001

I'm glad to hear that The Nose is a tree-hugger; it's always good to have friends in high places (The Nose, June 27).

The trees in Baltimore's public rights-of-way belong to the citizens of Baltimore--we pay for them with our tax money and we have laws to protect them. The City Tree Ordinance states that no tree may be removed unless it's a hazard to public health, safety, or welfare. Certainly, this was not the case on Monument Street. So what happened? And better yet, what is being done to prevent this from happening again?

I feel sorry for residents of the area. They've been robbed, and their neighborhood will never be the same--at least not in their lifetimes. Planting new trees will not redress their loss. It will take many years for new trees to reach the stature of what is gone.

One of Mayor O'Malley's initiatives is an "aggressive tree-planting campaign." This is good. But if we are to increase our number of trees, we must increase the survival rate of the trees we already have and we must lower the costs associated with every tree. This doesn't include spending money to remove large, healthy trees--our best trees--then spending more money to start over again.

The Environmental Cabinet is sitting on a document, "Recommendation to Reduce the Conflicts Between Sidewalks and Trees," which addresses situations such as Monument Street. The introduction to that document reads like this:

"Trees are an important part of a Baltimore's infrastructure. They provide shade and cool the air, lowering temperatures throughout the City. They filter pollution and particulates, cleaning both our water and air. The presence of trees has been shown to have positive psychological benefits--reducing stress and improving health--some studies even link trees to reduced rates in crime. Trees help define the personality of the City, providing much of what is unique and attractive in our communities, and offering a sense of stability and place."

Gary Letteron

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has been sending its own Three Stooges tree trimmer to the Hamilton and Beverly Hill neighborhoods in Northeast. Their subcontractor, the Penn Line Co., came by in May and hit the 3200-3300 blocks of Bayonne Avenue, the 5700 block of Sefton Avenue, and the 3300 block of Frankford Avenue, among others. There didn't seem to be power lines in the latter area, but the trucks looked the same as the ones that had been on my street.

I wrote a letter of complaint to my City Council members and cc'ed BGE's vice president for community relations. I was paid a visit by a supervisory BGE employee with a forestry background. He explained that they have to cut anything within 7 feet of a power line, healthy or dead, and it has rules to follow about how far down to cut (the next cross branch, I believe). This has made for some pretty horrible-looking amputees. At least the ones behind my house weren't too bad, although there is less shade than before. I'm probably spending more on air conditioning. Hmmm . . .

City Council member Lisa Stancil got back to me almost immediately, council member Kenneth Harris a few weeks later. I got the sense that unless I wanted to launch a grass-roots crusade to save the trees, there was little they could do beyond calling someone at BGE and inquiring what was up.

The forestry guy from BGE did say he was shocked by the quality of the work done on Sefton, but his subcontractors told him they weren't the ones who cut that tree. Whether they were telling the truth or not, I can't say. Anyway, if the trucks in Mount Vernon were white with red lettering, it may have been the same bozos.

Andrew Shore

Doing the Math
Regarding Molly Rath's article "Between the Lines" (Mobtown Beat, June 27): Can anyone logically equate homosexuality with heterosexuality? How is it possible to equate that which is normal to that which is abnormal? How can one discriminate against that which is unnatural? Whatever happened to logical deduction? Logic is the science of reason. People who argue with logic need psychological help.

Leo Williams

Divine Intervention
I'd like to set the record straight concerning Marie Capp's letter to your paper about my supposedly positive comments on David Shapiro's performance in the musical Divine (The Mail, June 27).

Frances Milstead, mother of Glenn Milstead (aka Divine), did ask if I would attend the opening night performance of the Queer Café show to see if the musical-in-progress did justice to her son's memory. I found the show to be simplistic, under-rehearsed, and misguided. When Mr. Shapiro approached me after the performance and asked me for my comments, I simply said, "There were moments when you reminded me of Glenn." To be exact, those moments were: 1) the opening tableau when Mr. Shapiro momentarily appears in a fairly accurate facsimile of the Van Smith-created red fishnet dress made famous by Divine in John Waters' classic 1972 film Pink Flamingos and 2) one silent, forlorn moment when Mr. Shapiro, alone on stage, struck a Divine-like pose. I never stated I thought Mr. Shapiro captured Divine in "a most favorable light."

For Ms. Capp to say she heard someone say that I supposedly said such and such is nothing more than hearsay. She never actually talked to me. I wish she would get her facts straight.

Steve Yeager

Correction: Policy of truth: Depeche Mode's "A Question of Love" was sung by Martin Gore, not David Gahan, as stated in last week's Music feature. We regret the violation.

Editor's note: City Paper staffers and contributors took home eight awards, including seven first-place honors, in the Maryland chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists' 2000 awards, presented July 7 at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn.

Copping top prizes in the division for weekly newspapers with 10,000-plus circulation were senior writer Brennen Jensen in the feature-reporting category for "Glory Hole" (Dec. 6); contributing writer Michael Anft, general reporting, for "A River of Trouble" (July 5); contributor Michael Corbin, public-service reporting, for "The Needle and the Damage Undone" (Oct. 11); online editor Tim Hill, Web design, for City Paper Online); art director Joe MacLeod, graphic design, for "Ooh, Scary!" (Oct. 25); contributing artist Chuck Shacochis, illustration, for the cover of the Aug. 9 issue ("High Life"); and contributing photographer Christopher Myers, general feature photography, for his photo essay "Shooting Baltimore" (Sept. 6). Staff writer Tom Scocca earned second place in sports reporting for "Glove Story" (July 19). Congratulations, folks, and thanks for the great work.

And speaking of awards . . . it's time to bestow your own honors upon the best of Charm City. Go to this year's Best of Baltimore Readers Poll ballot. You just might win you some fabulous prizes yourself.

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