If you really would like to promote home ownership in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates, your article correlating vacancy and murder is a bad promo.

If you really would like to promote home ownership in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates (as I would), your article correlating vacancy and murder is a bad promo ("Vacants to Violence," Mobtown Beat, July 17). The facts you reported are indeed shocking and scary, a typical angle in crime-news reporting, but it is only one slice of the reality.

I am an owner-occupant in East Baltimore Midway on a block where nearly half the houses are vacant, and predictably, there was a murder here this year. It appears on your map. I didn't know the young man who died, but I helped clean up the blood the next morning. Neighbors who knew him did not know him well. They were sobered but not panicked. Police said it was "gang-related." I felt deep grief.

That said, there are a few things I would like to tell everyone considering buying a house and living in a neighborhood with high vacancy rates and gang violence: 1) My wife and I have been welcomed here by our neighbors. 2) We do not feel personally threatened by gang violence. 3) Housing prices and taxes are very low.

Gregory Hartzler-Miller


Cross over Crossings From Baltimore City Power Ranking (Mobtown Beat, July 17): "[CSX], in the middle of a massive expansion that will bring more and bigger trains into our area, should maybe spend less time suing accident victims (as they did the truck driver, for mussing up their train) and more time improving safety precautions around crossings."

You obviously fail to comprehend that the installation of highway/rail crossing protection (be it a simple sign, flashers, gates, or elimination with overpasses) is done at government expense and dictates, not the railroad's. The typical grade crossing installation with gates and flashers runs into the low six figures per crossing. The railroad simply maintains the apparatus (if any) after installation, including replacing the all-too-frequently broken crossing gates.

Feel like faulting the Maryland MTA for the frequent collisions between Light Rail cars and automobiles/pedestrians? Or do you only feel like going after other peoples' money, as usual?

Alexander D. Mitchell IV


Correction: In last week's Baltimore City Power Rankings (Mobtown Beat), we said Renita Franklin-Thrower was hired to run the Mayor's Office of Employment Development (MOED). She was actually hired as the sole employee of MOED's green jobs training program. City Paper regrets the error.

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