Bell's RecordWhile reading John P. Greenspan's letter...

Bell's Record

While reading John P. Greenspan's letter (Oct. 30) concerning Judge Robert Bell, I was struck by what seemed to be an obvious misstatement of Judge Bell's record.


Although Mr. Greenspan did not identify the four-month period to which he had reference, I reviewed Court of Appeals cases for the period May, 1991, when Judge Bell joined the court, through August, 1992, and I could find no four-month period during which Judge Bell did not vote to affirm a conviction in an appropriate case.

In fact, he has authorized opinions affirming convictions. With all due respect, Mr. Greenspan should check more carefully the record before purporting to state what it shows.


It is also important to point out that the responsibility of a judge of the Court of Appeals is to review cases before it to ensure that the proper procedure, as prescribed by the rules, has been followed and that the law appropriate to the case has been applied. A Court of Appeals judge must not prejudge cases or have a predictable disposition for every case.

Instead, such a judge has a responsibility to be objective and careful to see that the law is followed. That is what Judge Bell has done throughout his entire career.

He is not predisposed to decide cases in a certain way or, as Mr. Greenspan implies, to vote against the death penalty, whatever the facts and posture of the case. Judge Bell follows the law, and we can be assured that he will continue to do so, whatever the case or issue.

Elijah E. Cummings


Ill Defined

The words "competition" and "efficiency" can be very misleading when they are used in connection with health insurance.

In private health insurance plans, competition boils down to selling policies to many people who are young and healthy and employed, and avoiding those who are unemployed, or old, or ill, LTC or likely to become ill.


Efficiency includes terminating the policies of people who get ill too often, or stay ill too long, or who cannot keep the premium payments up to date.

Top officers of competitive, efficient private health insurance companies are often able to pay themselves obscenely large salaries.

People who cannot qualify for private health insurance, or who lose it, must rely on public programs, which are paid for largely by the taxes of people who are also paying for their own private health insurance.

Some people say that a government health insurance plan would be neither competitive nor efficient. I think I know what they mean.

Wallace Kendall

Ellicott City


Car Competition

Letter writer Ernest M. Stolberg (Oct. 27) claims that the Japanese have "already accomplished" increased automotive fuel efficiency. In reality, the gap between the corporate average fuel efficiencies between the U.S. and Asian manufacturers has closed drastically in the last 10 years as the Japanese have migrated into the lucrative, large-car market segment.

Within this segment, American vehicles are significantly more efficient than their Japanese and German counterparts.

Example: the '92 Pontiac Bonneville, introduced to rave reviews by automotive critics, is faster, larger and more fuel efficient than the new versions of both the Mazda 929 and the Acura Legend sedan. In fact, the '92 Bonneville is the most fuel-efficient full-size car you can buy in America.

Mr. Stolberg goes on to say that we have lost market share to the Germans and Japanese because of our fuel inefficiencies.

I offer the following edification: The German auto makers' share of the U.S. market has been decimated by the advent of the Japanese into that segment, while the likes of Cadillac and Lincoln have seen increases, albeit minor, in theirs.


Furthermore, Volkswagen has all but been banished from the U.S. market by its competitors, while GM's upstart Saturn has eclipsed not only VW, but the likes of Mitsubishi, Isuzu and

Subaru in a very short time.

Clearly fuel economy can and will be improved, but irrational legislation by a government as unenlightened and ponderously inefficient as ours represents the straw that would indeed break the back of the American auto industry.

Mark C. d'Agostino


Track Record


I read with great interest The Sun's Oct. 25 article about the possibility of the prototype "maglev" trains being showcased in Baltimore.

While I am excited about Baltimore's playing host to cutting-edge technology and having a Towson consulting firm, (KCI Industries, Inc.) awarded a $900,000 contract, I feel that at the present time this may be wasted money. Various problems exist with our current passenger rail system, and the maglev has yet to prove itself.

The problem with Amtrak trains is vandalism. The Sun (Sept. 19) states that Amtrak's most dangerous corridor in the country (due to stonings) is in Baltimore.

Other articles have mentioned hazards such as kids tossing cinder blocks from bridges or putting washing machines and similar obstacles on the tracks. Will KCI Technologies calculate the effects of a maglev train colliding with a washing machine at 300 miles per hour?

The life-threatening problems posed to Amtrak trains traveling at 100 mph will increase proportionately with maglev trains reaching speeds of 300 mph. Does the estimated cost of a billion federal dollars include the security personnel required to ensure the safety of these trains?

While Amtrak has operational predicaments, the maglev trains have their own inherent problems. These trains have not been road-tested.


Since no one can ascertain the health effects of the electromagnetic fields generated, or what would happen in a power failure, perhaps it would be wise to wait. There are certainly other sectors in Maryland with a proven need of these funds now.

Kenneth Sands


There's Only One Flag House

Your article of Oct. 26, "Old neighbors Little Italy and Flag House don't speak," by Rafael Alvarez, has done untold damage to the reputation of our historic landmark, the Flag House.

The correct reference in your article should have been "the Flag House Court or Housing."


It is increasingly difficult to attract visitors and volunteers to our national historic landmark, which is in the inner city.

Not only this article but previous ones have referred erroneously to "the Flag House." Again, I would like to emphasize that we are the Flag House. The housing units across the street are properly called the Flag House Court or Housing. Your continuing incorrect reference is doing us irreparable harm.

The Flag House, located at 844 E. Pratt Street, built in 1793, was the home of Mary Young Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, Sept. 12-14, 1814.

The Star-Spangled Banner, now hanging in the Smithsonian Museum, was made by Mary, her daughter and her mother in this house.

It is a small museum run and financed by a group of private citizens and is open to the public and to countless school children.

I= In the future, we will appreciate your correct reference.


J. Prentiss Browne


The writer is president of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum.

Going for Broke

The topic of conversation at our dinner table recently was the bankruptcy of a client and friend.

After explaining the term bankruptcy to my 10-year-old daughter, her response was:


"Oh, I guess that means our government is bankrupt."

8, Can anyone disagree with her assessment?

Francis J. Clark Jr.