Unfair FaresRegarding the Dec. 15 article about...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Unfair Fares

Regarding the Dec. 15 article about the arrest of a light-rail rider for not having a fare card, the only revelation was that it doesn't happen several times a day.

The times I've taken light rail there is usually a crowd in front of the fare card machine (the one that isn't broken), trying to figure it out.

A few times I've missed a train because I hadn't purchased a ticket by the time the train left the station.

What is so hard about providing a machine that sells one ticket for $1.25? MTA has all kinds of buttons and other nonsense to slow the process.

Also, the reason that ridership is so low is that the same tickets can be used all day. For example: a purchase of a round trip ticket allows you to go south (from Timonium) for 90 minutes, and the the return ticket north is good till midnight (unlimited rides).

Many people give their ticket (after departing the train) to those buying tickets at the machines (especially on Saturday). This way the new rider only buys a one way ticket. Note: When a ticket is checked by a police officer it is not "punched." I guess it would make them feel like train conductors.

The solution is easy. In Europe, "generic" tickets valid for one ride are sold everywhere (fare machines, stores, schools, bars, etc.). Each train car and/or bus has validation machines. The rider is responsible to validate his or her ticket when boarding the train/bus. The ticket is stamped with a number of that car/bus, time and date. Tickets are sold in booklets of 10 at a discount; "pensioners" and students can purchase discounted tickets.

It works because the tickets are good on all forms of public transportation. That would make too much sense for the MTA, with fare structures on the Metro, bus and light rail that can confuse anyone.

A "generic" ticket is perfect for light rail and a fare machine with one or two buttons would speed the process.

Alex P. Gross

Owings Mills

Just Say No!

The mere idea of Jack Kent Cooke and his hapless Redskins moving to Laurel is an unbelievable farce. We do not want the team in Maryland, nor do we want Jack Kent Cooke stinking up the place the way Robert Irsay did with our beloved Baltimore Colts.

Cooke has got real nerve to even fathom the idea of his Redskins playing in Maryland after the way that he slighted Baltimore, a city superior to Washington in every aspect, in the expansion race. It just goes to show how Cooke stands as a symbol of the hypocrisy of the National Football League.

If all goes well, we may still get an NFL franchise from another tragic city and actually win a couple of games in our first year. It is better than having a team like the Panthers and Jaguars who FTC will be losers, like Jack Kent Cooke, for the next decade.

The Redskins in Maryland? Governor Schaefer, just say no! Please!

Todd Karpovich

Baltimore

No Smoke

The meeting of the National Football League's 28 acolytes was such a beautiful moment.

When the hallowed group had reached a decision only one thing was missing. There was no white smoke rising from the chimney.

W. K. Lester

Round Bay

Legalize Drugs? You Bet

I completely agree with Mike Littwin concerning his column, "Bad drug reaction: Whatever we do, let's not study it" (Dec. 13).

Wake up, America!

The government can continue to throw our tax dollars into a so-called "war" on drugs, but it is certainly not helping.

When news of Pablo Escobar's death reached the U.S., somebody said something to the effect: "This is a victory in the war on drugs."

Hah! Are we actually dumb enough to believe that the death of a drug lord (or many drug lords for that matter) will actually lessen the chances of your average, well-off, suburbanite addict obtaining drugs? What a joke!

It is time for the U.S. government to acknowledge that the war on drugs is failing and that there certainly is a need to at least study alternatives to our nation's crisis.

nita J. Arendt

Fallston

____________

As a registered nurse I have spent the past 10 years delivering home health services to poor inner city residents.

Drug business is conducted openly and in broad daylight on many corners. People are murdered overnight in the blocks I visit in the daytime.

Elderly folks, women and children hide behind closed doors. Youths speed along city streets in shiny red Mazdas. And it goes on.

I see a parallel here to Vietnam. Just as politicians then refused to look at other options in a military endeavor, politicians today refuse to consider other options to solve the drug crime crisis in our inner cities.

I believe that those of us in the trenches -- social workers, nurses, physicians, drug counselors -- need to make our voices heard.

We have lost the drug war fighting by conventional law and order means. It is time to research other approaches, other avenues.

It's time because tomorrow it's too late.

Three cheers for my surgeon general.

Florence M. Layton

Baltimore

Constitutional Amendment for Crime Victims

Patrick Ercolano's Nov. 27 column, "Justice and the Rights of Victims," was right on two important points. He stated that the proposed constitutional amendment for crime victims' rights is "can't miss" legislation in 1994, and he advised our legislators to scrutinize the bill closely. But let's hope the legislature examines the amendment more carefully than Mr. Ercolano. Judging from his criticisms, it appears he failed to take his own advice.

Mr. Ercolano bases his opposition to the victims' rights amendment on two arguments: that a witness would have the same rights as a victim and that a third party system would be created. All of which would contribute to delays and additional costs in the judicial process, as well as infringement on the rights of the defendant.

Contrary to his statement that there is no differentiation between a victim and a witness, the proposed amendment clearly states what is meant by a victim of crime. In no way can that definition be misconstrued to include witnesses to a crime. How he arrived at that conclusion is puzzling.

Furthermore, the assertion that this amendment creates a third party in a two-party legal system is completely erroneous. The bill specifically prohibits a victim of crime from participation as a third party. It is difficult to believe that Mr. Ercolano read the proposed bill before making his objections.

The amendment does not threaten the crucial premise that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a speedy and impartial trial. Notifying victims of criminal justice proceedings, and if they wish, allowing them to observe just as other citizens would, can hardly be interpreted as threatening defendants' rights.

Moreover, the legislature has already determined that crime victims have the right to be present and be heard under certain circumstances. The problem is that these particular laws are often ignored or even flouted by the courts. The statutory approach has not worked. Only constitutional recognition can ensure that these rights will be upheld.

In evaluating how well the amendment works in other states, the record speaks for itself. Victims' rights amendments have been passed and successfully implemented in 14 states. The courts have not been bogged down by delays; defendants' rights have not been obstructed; a third-party system has not developed; and no cause has been found to challenge the laws in higher courts.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer has pledged support of the constitutional amendment as part of his 1994 legislative package.

Recently, the Maryland States' Attorneys Association declared its endorsement of the legislation. Support for the amendment continues to grow, as leaders realize the urgency of the issue of fair treatment for crime victims.

Almost two centuries ago John Adams said that the blessings of society depend entirely on the constitutions of government. Little did he know that countless Americans would be deprived of such blessings simply because they had become innocent victims of crime. It is time we restore balance in the systems we call justice by including victims' rights in the Maryland Constitution.

Articles such as Mr. Ercolano's only serve to mislead and confuse your readers. The people of Maryland are entitled to know the truth about the proposed legislation and deserve the right to vote on it.

Roberta Roper

Upper Marlboro

The writer is a co-chair of the Maryland Coalition for a Constitutional Amendment. The letter was also signed by co-chair Anne Furst McCloskey of Towson.

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