Editorial cast doubt on abilities of police...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Editorial cast doubt on abilities of police officer

After reading the Jan. 25 editorial, "Using deadly force," I was haunted by the sentence, "Sgt. Bellido de Luna is a traffic officer who responded to the call because he was nearby."

This suggests that Sgt. A. J. Bellido de Luna's training is restricted to traffic issues and that he irresponsibly responded to a call he was unprepared to handle. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Sgt. Bellido de Luna is a Howard County police officer who also heads the traffic division. The additional training officers receive when they take on a "specialty" position only increases their skills and knowledge. The men and women of the Howard County Police Department give 110 percent of themselves to the community. As a highly regarded source of local news, I believe you have a responsibility to not provide the public with information that may weaken their confidence in our police officers.

Darcy J. Bellido de Luna

Columbia

The writer is the wife of Howard County Police Sgt. A. J. Bellido de Luna.

'Greenwash verbiage' on Patapsco plans

The resignation of Charles Wagandt as chairman of the Patapsco Valley Greenway Committee may relieve him of the discomforts of a bad public perception of conflict of interest, but his handing over leadership to a landscape consultant does little to address the concerns of taxpayers about the environment and good government.

Until we can get some really straight talk about just why the Patapsco plans (all versions) must be predicated on otherwise indefensible construction projects within the state park, we will continue to raise questions.

Why have we yet to see any serious environmental review? Why has there yet to be any opportunity for public participation in the decision-making process (not to be confused with invitations to public relations presentations)?

Why are so many county and state staff working on the (closed) steering committee for the Greenway Committee if the committee is a private group, sometimes even referred to as a "grass-roots group," and recipient of public grants? Where are the public records on expenditures of the public funds? Who is in charge that can provide answers?

Let the developers and consultants do their thing for restoration and historical preservation outside the park, and let them do this on their own nickel or with carefully stipulated development loans -- not Program Open Space funds. Meanwhile, citizens interested in keeping the public lands public and the public purse accountable deserve much more than hollow greenwash verbiage.

Vivian Newman

Marriottsville

Route 144 project not fully understood

While I do appreciate the publicity in The Sun Dec. 5 ("Losing a slice of their life"), it is clear to me that your reading public probably does not understand a number of issues.

I would urge everyone who uses the Route 144 and Route 32 corridor, especially those who frequent the fairgrounds, businesses, shopping center and who may use the proposed public golf course and county offices, to review this proposed traffic nightmare.

Not enough of the general public understands the ecological ramifications of this plan. As designed, it will affect other waterways and wildlife habitat. Much of the topography is unsuitable for this design.

Although the article gave an affected number of acres as 3, the actual number to be lost to [our] farm for this project is approximately 7. Though the article stated that the farm comprises 96 acres, only 71 are farmable. So the net loss is not 3 from 96, but 7 from 71 -- quite a difference.

I would think that someone besides the owners of affected properties would take a leadership role and step in to offer the State Highway Administration some options and alternative designs so that future users of this interchange will not bemoan what we are about to get stuck with.

Teresa Stonesifer

West Friendship

Student work camp raises questions

I am concerned about the purpose and quality of the work camp for trash cleanup proposed at Wilde Lake High School to train ninth- and 10th-graders during the summer. I believe that any Columbia Association funds spent on teen-age programs should be more meaningful to the students for their future.

First, the Columbia Association and the Howard County Board of Education, which has offered free space for this program, should always try to include all of its residents in any summer program. This project excludes all other ninth- and 10th-graders from participating and sharing in the proposed free package plan memberships. Although Atholton is in this area, its students are excluded from participating.

Second, all Columbia households pay an assessment fee to CA. This entitles them access to any CA facility or program. I also thought the Board of Education had a similar policy that extends to all county students. The proposed program sets a bad precedent, particularly when CA is offering an incentive of free package plan memberships to 80 students. The projected expenditure for 80 free package plan memberships is about $40,000, and another $33,000 toward staffing, for a total of $73,000.

I believe that $73,000 would be more wisely invested for a teen program, maybe in cooperation with other organizations. These funds could possibly provide scholarships, computers, books and mentoring math and science programs, to name a few.

In Owen Brown, Cub, Girl and Boy Scouts have volunteered to help keep open space and lakes clear of trash for years without compensation.

Columbia Council member Norma Rose indicated that the criteria for selection should also be exclusively drawn from Wilde Lake High. In my view, this violates CA's hiring practices for equal employment opportunity.

If this plan is modified to be inclusive and more meaningful than trash pickup, then I can consider it. We have a surplus this year so if it is financially feasible to give away 80 package plans, then by all means make it an open to all eligible Columbia ninth- and 10th-grade students.

Pearl Atkinson-Stewart

Columbia

The writer is the Owen Brown village representative on the Columbia Council.

Spelling bee changes send wrong message

It is clear to me the only thing the Jamaican spelling bee team did wrong was study too long and too well in order to be the best ("Spelling bee's new ruling stings Jamaican competitors," Jan. 13).

Why are people being punished for being the best at what they are trying to do? Jamaica has been holding its spelling bee in August for 40 years. That was never a problem until they won. This is another example of American racism on an international level. If a white American can't win, then change the rules. Scripps-Howard was wrong to change the rules and disqualify the Jamaican team and should immediately reverse its decision.

Any speller who wants to be as good as Jody-Anne Maxwell just needs to study as long and as hard.

This incident sounds like the rule changes implemented in college basketball in the 1960s just as Lew Alcinder (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), at the time the best high school player in the country, was about to go to college. Sudden changes made dunking the ball illegal. I see little, if any, difference in this situation.

John A. Wheatland

Columbia

Trial is crippling the presidency

The impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate is nothing short of an attempt to tear down the institution of the presidency and set the bar as to what alleged deeds constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors" so low as to cripple the office for decades to come.

President Clinton has stated many times that he accepts responsibility for any inappropriate actions. But the so-called "Constitutional conservatives" in the House and Senate deny the fact that the Founding Fathers created the Constitution as a dynamic, evolving document. They ignore the bipartisan calls for "censure and moving on."

As chairwoman of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee, I state our utmost support for our president and for a solution to the current situation that preserves the dignity of all involved.

Wendy Fiedler

Columbia

Disgraceful show by Republicans

Not since the election of John F. Kennedy have I taken such a personal interest in the man holding the office of president. This is truly a witch hunt aimed at the president, in effect since he took office in 1992.

I do not feel that these issues should even be considered under the law of impeachment. The Republican Party has disgraced not only itself, but this country. Were we all judged by standards or levels of truth to determine job retention instead of job performance, the entire country would be unemployed.

President Bill Clinton has run this country in a meritorious manner. We stand with respect toward him as a good leader for this country. Given these circumstances 100 times over, we would vote again for Mr. Clinton.

Janet Fant

Columbia

Governing country by random sample?

The White House, in recent years, has depended on professional poll results to decide what position to take on some new theme for this week or perhaps the next month.

Even some legislators have the bug and have fallen into the same trap. The real question is from where do the professional pollsters conduct or build their source base: random sampling? A tried and proven predictable base? Just a built-in computer base? Have you been polled? Do you know of anyone who has been called by a national, state or local polling business? I do not.

James M. Holway

Ellicott City

Pub Date: 1/31/99

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