The Sun was incredibly forgiving in its recent editorial about Baltimore's scandalous water billing system ("Tax sale timeout," March 25), particularly since The Sun's own reporting has convincingly shown the Department of Public Works' incompetence and mendacity, its manipulation of citizens, and its outright fraudulent and systematic overbilling. People have even had their homes confiscated because of this system of incompetence and extortion, yet the mayor has had the audacity to assert that nothing can be done about this because to do so might damage the city's bond ratings.

I suggest we need a new perspective on the matter: Baltimore city government seems to be adopting a Third World model in which ordinary public functions, like water provision and the policing of traffic (especially red-light and speed cameras), are not seen primarily as obligatory services to the public but as systems for revenue generation — i.e., extorting money from the population. If this is indeed the case, why do we tolerate it? Why does our government in Annapolis or our government in Washington do something about this?

Drage Vukcevich, Catonsville