Chief Robey in Prime TimeThese three letters...

Chief Robey in Prime Time

These three letters were an exchange between a Howard County couple and County Executive Charles I. Ecker over the county police chief's April 5 appearance on the ABC-TV newsmagazine, "PrimeTime Live."


We were embarrassed and ashamed of the actions and attitude of the Howard County Police Department toward the rape victim in the referenced news report.

It seemed to us that Chief James N. Robey was more concerned with the questioning of the lie-detector technician's results than the trauma to which he and his department subjected the rape victim. Mr. Robey not only appeared unable to look at the crime from the victim's standpoint but when confronted with the department's enormous error in judgment, he became defensive and righteous, rather than humble and apologetic. . . .


How could anyone justify having a man subject a young girl to detailed questions after such a tragic experience? This "girl" should be commended for her courage. Our hearts go out to her.

No wonder rape victims are afraid to come forward. We hope you are planning swift action to see that this never occurs again.

!C. W. and Sally Layman



Thank you for your letter of April 7, concerning the "PrimeTime Live" television program. Unfortunately, "PrimeTime" "slanted" the program to be anti-police. It is a shame that "PrimeTime" did not show the approximately two hours of tape it shot as a result of the interview with James Robey. What it did was "pick" segments that portrayed the Police Department and Chief Robey in a light that is 100 percent wrong.

Chief Robey is not heartless, the Police Department is not heartless and they do have concern for all victims, including the young lady who was the subject of the show. For some reason, "PrimeTime" did not choose to say that the Police Department continued the investigation as best it could on limited information.

The police did ride through neighborhoods where the young girl thought she was taken when blindfolded. The police rode through these neighborhoods listening for sounds she heard. Also, "PrimeTime" neglected to say the reason the Police Department did not use the fingerprint was because it was not usable.


Chief Robey and the Police Department work very closely with the Sexual Assault Center. The Sexual Assault Center has high praise of not only Chief Robey, but also of our police force. I believe if you read the article in The Sun on April 12, you will find a more accurate report of the case reported by "PrimeTime."

I generally do not watch "PrimeTime," or "20/20" and other programs of that nature, although I did watch the one concerning the Howard County police. The reason I do not watch these type shows is, in my opinion, they present a one-sided "slanted" story. . . .

Charles I. Ecker

Ellicott City

The writer is Howard County executive.



In regard to your letter dated April 18, you implied that we should read the article in The Sun on April 12 and not watch such shows as "PrimeTime Live" or "20/20."

We have enclosed all the articles of which we are aware concerning the 19-year-old rape victim that was not believed by the Howard County police because of a lie detector test until another person was raped and collaborated the information.

. . . All the written words concerning this case do not agree with yours that "PrimeTime Live" portrayed Chief Robey in a light that was 100 percent wrong.

Other pieces, including an editorial in The Sun for Howard County on April 13 and a column by Kevin Thomas on April 16, said, "Some would argue that there was a mistake, and Chief Robey simply doesn't get it" and "Chief Robey's response to questions about the department's handling of the 1992 rape investigation was outrageously insensitive" and "According to the girl's father, after the polygraph test, he had to pressure a police detective to order a composites sketch of the suspect drawn. At one point, the detective apparently exasperated by the father's persistence, asked flippantly how many rape cases he had investigated. That totally uncalled-for comment alone deserved an apology."

We are sure that "PrimeTime Live" was aware of the conclusion of the story before it proceeded with its investigation. However, that does not mean that the basic story was incorrect. Thank God for such shows making us aware of the enormous atrocities occurring in our back yard.

We think your position of support of Chief Robey indicates that you do not understand or comprehend the crime of rape and how the Howard County Police Department traumatized the 19-year-old victim.


!C. W. and Sally Layman


Worst of 2 Worlds

In response to the articles regarding the incorporation of Columbia, there are many reasons to question the efficacy and responsiveness of the Columbia Association to the needs and desires of the residents of Columbia.

Here are two:

* Street lighting.


Communal Mailboxes that are located at the end of streets are not well-lighted. In fact, on my street there is no lighting at all. Will we have to wait for someone to be robbed or murdered while getting their mail before sufficient lighting is installed? It is not an acceptable answer to reply that this is a county function, because a municipality would be responsible for street lighting and would take appropriate action far more quickly than the county has done. Also relevant is the fact that without the covenants near and dear to the Columbia Association, the residents would have the freedom to choose to have mailboxes in front of their homes and be able to light them as much as they wanted. . . .Right now, we have the worst of both worlds, private covenants providing constraints on choice and public lack of funding to make what is required safe.

* Fees for health clubs and pools.

Columbia property owners are assessed high fees to maintain recreational facilities that include health clubs and pools. Unfortunately, for the residents, none of these fees entitles them to actually use any of these pools or clubs. Doesn't contract law specify that services must be provided for consideration (charges) and vice versa? How is it that residents are contractually obligated to pay for these services and yet get no services in return?

If we have to pay to keep up the pools, then we should have pool privileges. . . . I was shocked to learn . . that 43 percent of our fees were earmarked for recreational facilities, including pools.

That means I am paying approximately $400 (43 percent of my fees) a year for which I am receiving no benefit or service. If I want to use a pool at all, I have to pay at least $225 more. Use of the health clubs would be an additional $400 to $500 a year. As for these "health clubs," . . . I am effectively subsidizing the workouts of mostly upper-middle class people.

These clubs should be privatized as quickly as possible at a time when governments all over are privatizing many functions of far more weight than health clubs. Again, we are caught in the web of a combination public and private organization. Are the health clubs public places or private ones? If they are public, why can't I use them for no extra charge like the library? If they are private, how dare they assess me for them through the bank that holds my mortgage?


To give a point of reference, in Bowie taxes are about one-half the fees in Columbia yet that city handles its own street lighting, snow removal and garbage pickup twice a week. Bowie residents' taxes are deductible on federal tax returns; our fees are not.

As Milton Friedman said in "Free to Choose," "You may decide to live in one community rather than another partly on the basis of the kind of services its government offers. If it engages in activities you object to or are unwilling to pay for, and these more than balance the activities you favor and are willing to pay for, you can vote with your feet by moving elsewhere."

If the Columbia Association does not become more responsive and representative and if we cannot form a municipality that will, moving may be the best solution for some of us.

loria Fitelson


Tainted View?


This letter is probably a darned if you do, darned if you don't response to recent correspondence that implied that those who opposed incorporation were tainted by the Columbia Association and that this contamination was what made them the opponents of a democratic process in Columbia.

I am a member of the Owen Brown Village Board. As an elected representative on the village board, I find that my views are considered part of the "vested interest" by those advocating incorporation.

I find it interesting that those who are elected to advocate for their villages are not allowed to participate in the democratic process of the dialogue regarding the incorporation of Columbia as it is defined by the proponents of incorporation.

In my somewhat naive concept of democracy, I always have believed that the open discussion on any particular subject required both sides to be heard. I am now informed that because I choose to be involved in my community by serving on the board I am denied a voice in the subject of incorporation. . . .

For the record, I am opposed to incorporation for two reasons:

One, I believe that Howard County does an excellent job of governing the community and providing needed services. I do not believe that we need the extra layer of government and bureaucracy that result from incorporating Columbia.


Two, a new layer of bureaucracy in Columbia would ultimately increase the tax burden of all citizens in Howard County in order for the county to continue to provide the same level of services. . . .

It is intriguing to me that at a time when most areas of the country are trying to downsize government and lower taxes, in Columbia we have a group that is trying to add a layer of government and increase taxes.

But, then, that is the tainted viewpoint of the disenfranchised in this debate -- a member of a village board.

Wanda Hurt


Timeless Hatred


The recent tragedy in Oklahoma makes us all pause and wonder what we can do or could have done to prevent such a horror. The answers are probably as diverse as the political spectrum, but I know there is too much anger and hatred everywhere.

Some of us attended a Holocaust memorial service recently in Columbia, and I was struck with the comparisons -- both tragedies due to hatreds in many ways fostered by people for their own sad reasons.

President Clinton spoke so movingly at the memorial service and urged us to speak out against the hatemongers, to stand up and be counted for the principles of brotherhood and love that make us strong. There is always room for different opinions, for different ideologies, but no one has the right to be the only voice, the only opinion.

Carole Fisher

Ellicott City

10,000 Words


The Sun's color photo of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City after the bomb explosion was absolutely spellbinding (April 20).

As Theo Lippman Jr. wrote about the photo of FDR in the same issue, "This picture . . . is one of those rare ones that is really worth 10,000 words!"

I am keeping that photo on my desk so that I am reminded daily, not only of the appalling destruction practiced by terrorists, but of the execution of helpless children and adults as well.

Melvin D. Reuber


Shameful Cartoon


Usually I appreciate the cleverness, innuendoes and thought-provoking nature of political cartoons. Some, however, seem to miss the point or show an insight into the thoughts of the cartoonist that would be better left hidden.

This was the case with the Mike Lane cartoon of April 22. Rather than lift up the good in the efforts of the Oklahoma City rescuers or show the drama of the FBI search or the emotion of loss in a city, Mr. Lane chose to glorify the negative. He truly stepped into the pigpen on this one.

I'm sure the truck rental businesses weren't proud to be %J included, nor the truckers of America. . . .

The most disgusting feature, of course, is the depicting of "kills" of children on the side door. I fail to see the humor, the "statement" or any redeeming editorial value in this repugnant cartoon.

Perhaps what bothers me most is that The Sun editorial staff cared so little for these children and for the loss suffered by their families, Oklahoma City and our nation . . . that they allowed this distasteful cartoon to be printed. Shame on all of you.

Doug Stiegler