Thanks for the great writeup about our gyros ("Best of Baltimore," Sept. 19)! We truly appreciate the love!!
Sip & Bite
Best Missing Categories Thanks for your Best of Baltimore issue (Sept. 19). No issue of that sort can cover everything-and boy, oh boy, did you prove that. More than a million people attend classical music concerts in the Baltimore area each year. That should be more than enough to warrant several categories and winners.
Let me help: BEST FREE CONCERT SERIES: The Bach Concert Series aka http://www.BachinBaltimore.org. This series is in its 25th year. Attendance has doubled in the past five years and doubled in the five years preceding that. The group puts on a concert on the first Sunday of every month in the Inner Harbor (at Christ Lutheran Church) with a full professional orchestra, choir, and soloists. Six area high schools participate each season. It is nothing short of awesome.
BEST ORCHESTRA: The BSO. It's world-class right here in the heart of Baltimore.
It would be worthwhile to also name the best up-and-coming performer, the best string player, the best new music group, and so on.
Baltimore is a rich, diverse city with a big conservatory of music and many colleges and universities. How about branching out a bit more next year and covering some of that?
T Herbert Dimmock
Greenmount West is Best I am writing to respectfully request that you make a correction to the recent reference to the neighborhood of Barclay as the "Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood" (Best of Baltimore, Sept. 19). While Barclay is a great place, it is not the community that is home to the many assets listed on the award-including the Open Walls project (there is one piece in Barclay, the rest are in Charles North and Greenmount West), all of the artist housing buildings are in Greenmount West (Copycat, Annex, Area 405, Cork Factory, and the City Arts Building) as is the new Design School, which is NOT a MICA project, but a Baltimore City Public School.
Legalize It Instead of dealing with fundamental causes, the anonymous letters regarding prostitution in specific Baltimore neighborhoods ("Road to Perdition," Mail, Sept. 19) recommend enhanced enforcement of criminal laws. What both writers overlook is the fact that it is the very criminalization of prostitution that has created the problems with which they are plagued. The individual-rights-nullifying act of criminalization has not rid the country of prostitutes; it has simply created a black market where all the secondary ills associated with the industry are given free reign to fester and multiply outside the bounds of ordinary society. One only has to look at European nations (or even Nevada) in which prostitution is legal to see the marked difference between the open and black markets. What is required is to return the government to its role as the defender of individual rights with the consequent decriminalization of prostitution and the instantaneous evaporation of the black market.
Amesh Adalja, MD
Load of gentrification Your article about Load of Fun ("Load of Trouble," Mobtown Beat, Sept. 11) includes the statement: "Others in the community blame the changing nature of the neighborhood".
We are provoked to write and tell your readers about an emerging project called "Gentrification (K)not," which will take place in and around the Station North area of Baltimore City in June 2013.
The focus of this project is to explore, examine, and create alternative ways of thinking, being, and doing so that gentrification does not occur during the restoration and revitalization of Station North.
Let's be clear: we are NOT against the revitalization of Station North. We ARE concerned that gentrification-a traditional consequence of neighborhood revitalization-does not result from the development of the area.
For the purpose of this project, we define gentrification as the dynamic that emerges when poor urban neighborhoods-through a process of renovations, restoration, and residential shifts-change in ways such that current residents can no longer live or work in their neighborhood.
It is our desire to prevent this dynamic from emerging and we need your help. So we are looking for people, artists, activists, academics, and others (even politicians) who are interested in participating in exhibits, events, and dialogues throughout June 2013 (kNotGentrification@gmx.us).
Bail Study Fail I just finished skimming the Justice Policy Institute's study on the bail-bond industry ("Study Examines Baltimore's Bail System," Mobtown Beat, Sept. 11). It has 47 pages, 88 footnotes, and not one interview with a person who works in the bail industry. It uses a century-old article from a defunct newspaper in San Francisco as authority for the proposition that the industry is corrupt. One footnote cites "Materials made available at the information table during the Maryland Assembly, 2011" as a source. Other footnotes reference promotional materials promulgated by an insurance company in Calabasas, Calif.
The study has one quote from someone at Baltimore's Jericho House that appears to be derived from urban myth: "If you miss a payment they snatch you up and put you back in jail." This is fiction. In order to revoke a bail, a bondsman has to tender 10 percent of the bail amount to the court in cash. If a guy isn't paying his bill, a bondsman is not likely to add to his losses by paying money over to the court. Usually bondsmen revoke bails only when there is a risk of flight or some other major noncompliance by the defendant.
The study's basic premise is that Maryland should mimic the federal pretrial supervision system. That would mean regular visits with probation officers and random urinalysis. It may work in the federal system, which has a much smaller volume than Maryland's courts, but it would be a disaster if implemented in state courts: State employees don't work nights and they usually don't make appointments for fixed times. In order to comply with the pretrial supervision, defendants who work nine to five will have to take half-days off. That's what happens right now in Maryland with supervised probation.
The study's authors need to broaden the scope of their inquiry if they want to improve the administration of justice. If they really want to assist defendants, they-and City Paper-should explore the reasons why it takes 17 hours on average for a defendant to see a commissioner at Central Booking. (Hint: Commissioners, like most state employees, don't want to work night shifts. They wait until morning to see most of the defendants.) Allowing for various other delays, it takes a full day to do a walk-through at Central Booking. This is much more unjust than any of the alleged abuses of the bail-bond system.
Then there are cash-only bails, which is the new practice in Towson. I've complained to the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities about these.
There are a lot of unjust practices in the judicial system. JPI's report does not make a positive contribution to public discourse.
Fair Deal Bail Bonds
Correction: The Best of Baltimore award for Best Pool (Feature, 9/19) contained inaccurate information about the pool at the Hopkins House apartment complex. They do not have open admission available to the public. City Paper regrets the error.