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Father Knows Best

Posted 3/21/2001

The recent story by Molly Rath ("Leap of Faith," March 7) was indeed inspiring to those of us in this city who are dangerously close to losing all hope. I did encounter one problem, and that was the failure to identify the former pastor of St. Edward's Church as Father Maurice Blackwell. I had to read the paragraph referring to Father Blackwell several times before I realized she was talking about my friend and spiritual adviser. Father Maurice Blackwell has been called by God to minister to his flock, and I count myself fortunate to call this wonderful spirit-filled man a friend. He may not currently be assigned to a parish, but he continues to minister to those who are in need. He is currently using his many talents and gifts as executive director of Maryland One Church One Addict. How truly blessed we in this city are to have been gifted with the presence of a Father Maurice Blackwell. I am more than sure the failure to identify Father Blackwell as "Father" was an oversight on City Paper's part. I just felt the need to correct the record and let your readers know the former pastor of St. Edward's church is still called Father Maurice Blackwell.

Jacquiline B. Johnson
Baltimore

Bus-ted
The piece on activists who wish to change the traffic patterns in Mount Vernon and Charles Village, making one-way routes two-way, did not mention their intent to also move the bus lines (Mobtown Beat, Feb. 28). They say they think we will find it worthwhile to walk an extra block or two to board them. I wouldn't.

The paragraph quoting planner Gerald Neily on Otterbein would be more accurate with this bracketed insertion: "When the city moved to market it as an upscale area, [the low-scale people were sent away and] the traffic patterns were actively modified. . . . They did what they had to do--and it worked."

Sally Goodspeed
Baltimore

Down to Brass Tax
I was amused to read the spate of letters characterizing Wiley Hall III's assertion that the Founding Fathers would have supported an inheritance tax as left-wing (The Mail, March 7). I first heard this pro-tax sentiment expressed by Kevin Phillips, a certified conservative and former aid to President Nixon! And many millionaires seem to agree with him.

These readers act as if the inheritance tax is a crippler of wealth when, with the tax as it is now, we have more millionaires now than at any other time in our history.

The letter writer who mentions the Boston Tea Party might be interested to know it was held in response to corporate power.

In any case, that the wealthy paid more in taxes from 1940 to 1960 helped create the largest middle class in the history of the world. As Republicans (and Democrats) have been whittling taxes away with loopholes and write-offs, the gap between the rich and poor has widened. I suspect that the progressive tax, a bastion of liberalism, has created too many people who, now living comfortably because of them, have become conservatives. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

T. Bayard Williams
Baltimore

Don't Bury Woodberry
In regard to Michael Anft's article on the "fragmented" discontent in Woodberry over the proposed 70-acre land grab by Loyola College (Mobtown Beat, Feb. 21), I wonder who, if anyone, is reading between the lines.

I've been involved with the Jones Falls Watershed Association nearly from its inception in 1997. I used to dive, catch crawdads, and scrape leeches in these streams. Funny, I attended nearly every board meeting of Jones Falls Watershed, yet I never heard any vote (like the one supposedly called in April 1999, according to the article) to endorse Loyola's project to wrest this land from our "weak" public fists.

Who, of all the decision-makers and everyday folk, is bringing the real issues to the table, the issues that force minds to consider sidestepped questions? Take transportation. The article focused on Loyola's 675 cars' worth of parking lots, yet there are four other developments poised and ready for Woodberry. Are as many as 1,700 extra cars good in anyone's neighborhood? How about the issue of urban ecology? Why should my kid and her friends not be able to play with the water spiders and musical gurgles in our neighborhood streams? Must "E. coli bacteria" be in their vocabulary?

Perhaps it is true that the adult world is more complicated. Perhaps certain areas of Woodberry's woods are, say, "high quality," yet other areas are waiting to mature or damaged and awaiting reforestation. And the wildlife-habitat damage done by the 1930s-era city dump (removing 30 acres of forest) and the '70s-era sanitary landfill (which stripped 20 acres of beauty)--are these not testimonies to our benumbed throwaway consciences? (But these things are so easily hidden from the drive-by commuters and ignored by those who are time-strained.) We, the Urban Forest Initiative and neighbors, see future plantings, we see reforestation, we see land held in trust for generations to come. This is what we are working for.

I must contest the article's declaration that only a "dozen activists" were working toward neighborhood cohesiveness, with visions, and funding, and meetings. In Woodberry, those volunteer activists have garnered more than 31 endorsements from state- and citywide organizations that believe we should hold dear the last of our public open green spaces, especially in urban areas. More than 300 committed volunteers put in more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service. We have more than 150 children's and some 4,000 adult signatures on a petition to "save the woods" of Woodberry.

Finally, I hope your readers realize that these areas along the Jones Falls such as Woodberry can be great "living classrooms," close to home and schools, where many can learn environmental-restoration skills for future careers, realize the nature of our surroundings, and gain a greater sense of place and responsibility in our community at large. What will it be, Baltimore? Great urban parks or great urban parking lots?

Jan Danforth
Co-founder, Urban Forest Initiative

Baltimore

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