Editorial could push Baltimore's leaders to show...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Editorial could push Baltimore's leaders to show leadership

The Sun's "Getting away with murder" editorial (Feb. 14) provides a sensible, detailed road map for returning account- ability to Baltimore's floundering criminal justice system.

In a city where passing the buck has been raised to an art form, it is refreshing to see one of our leading civic institutions take a clear stand on an issue that truly matters. Thank you.

In fairness, while too many public officials, including our mayor and state's attorney, seem to expend most of their energy explaining why they can't solve Baltimore's crime problem, other city leaders have worked diligently for years to make the necessary reforms. In particular, Council President Lawrence Bell and Councilman Martin O'Malley have been pressing for many of the improvements advocated by The Sun since at least 1996.

As your editorials make clear, the solutions to our city's ills are no mystery. Other cities have reined in violent crime, and much of what they have done can be replicated in Baltimore.

New York City went from 2,200 homicides per year to about 700. And Boston, a city roughly the same size as Baltimore, had 35 murders last year, compared with our 314. No reasonable person could believe this disparity can be explained away by economic or sociological differences.

We don't need any more explanations or excuses. We don't need a new study examining our progress in implementing the recommendation of previous studies. What our city needs is leadership and results.

Perhaps The Sun's insightful prescriptions will prod Baltimore's reluctant leaders into leading.

Steve Kearney, Baltimore

Justice takes a holiday in city's judicial system

About the article ("Seemingly solid case evaporates," Feb. 4): The judge is busy? The judge is out of town? The judge is celebrating his birthday?

Seems like Baltimore's judicial system is out to lunch.

Andrew Sherling, Baltimore

Druglord landlord should repay neighbors

We thank you for your article "When a drug lord is your landlord" (Feb. 14) by Jim Haner, regarding the multiple injustices the subject of the story reportedly has committed against his neighbors -- our neighbors, too.

We are appalled that anyone can extort and humiliate other law-abiding citizens and not be duly punished for his criminal deeds. There must be officials in Baltimore clever enough to prosecute this man.

In our opinion, his punishment should include financial restitution to his more than 120 tenant families plus concrete assistance to help rebuild the communities he has ruined.

Sheila M. Parker

Eileen F. Parker, Baltimore

The absolute insanity captured in the recent articles of The Sun on drug dealers owning property and abusing tenants was the tip of the iceberg. When does it stop? When do the citizens of Maryland acknowledge that we are the problem?

In a democracy, the price that is paid for freedom is responsibility for the circumstances we create by voting or not voting.

Where was the outrage at the city's Liquor Board when bribery and graft were accepted as "just part of doing business"? We would like to believe that there is a difference between payoffs for votes and drug dealers owning homes, but there isn't. If the system facilitates one, it will produce the other.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, we will convene a task force to evaluate a specific situation. We will not acknowledge that this is an indicator of who and what we have become as a society.

Stephen J. Hammer, Baltimore

Schaefer must return to Baltimore, his mistress

I would like to comment on the recent articles in The Sun regarding whether William Donald Schaefer will again run for mayor.

If there is any hope for this city that I love, Mr. Schaefer must return as mayor. He's a hard act to follow, and the reason for that is that no one could love this city more than he does. Baltimore is his mistress, and like a lost love, it yearns for his return.

We need Mr. Schaefer. Nobody does it better.

Sherry A. Parker, Baltimore

'Baffling' that ethics head wants free lobbyist lunch

How utterly baffling it is to me that state Sen. Michael Collins, chairman of the legislative ethics committee in Annapolis, would publicly assert the divine right of legislators to receive free meals from lobbyists ("Changes proposed in ethics bill," Feb. 17).

I doubt that very many of his constituents, some of whom make less than he does, can find someone who will buy them a free dinner just because they believe the local restaurants are too expensive.

As long as legislators who view tougher ethics laws with indifference are minding the store, it will be impossible to keep or maintain the kinds of reforms that are long overdue.

Richard Cross III, Timonium

It is very important to have a tightening of the state's ethics law so that Maryland taxpayers will have confidence in their government.

Potential conflicts of interests need to be stopped. Lobbying by special interests should not be out of control and hurt the public good. Proposed changes in the ethics law should be clear and to the point so they won't need to be challenged for additional interpretation.

In recent years, we have seen an erosion of confidence in politicians and government.

Incorporating changes that make sense, to tighten up the ethical behavior by all Maryland lawmakers, will be a step toward making us feel that fair rules are being practiced by everyone in public office and applied in a fair and evenhanded way.

Howard Feldstein, Cumberland

The writer is a member of the city of Cumberland Ethics Commission.

Taxpayers deserve refund for rotten government items

It is often said that we have the best government that money can buy.

Item: Bruce Bereano is pictured, after his release from criminal detention, being greeted by once-convicted former Gov. Marvin Mandel and former State Police Superintendent Larry Tolliver. Glad hands and back slapping all around.

Item: Del. John Arnick proposes that lobbyists be allowed to spend more money feeding (read bribing) legislators.

Item: Sen. Thomas A. Bromwell introduces legislation that would allow Peter G. Angelos (a Bromwell contributor) to add more to his already obscene mother lode of asbestos booty.

Item: The legislature considers changing residency requirements to accommodate Kweisi Mfume, one of its favored insiders, to allow him to run for mayor of Baltimore.

If this is the best government that our money can buy, we deserve a refund.

Dave Reich, Timonium

Baltimore's Metro needs attention

As a subway patron for several years now, I am dismayed at the downhill slide that it has taken in recent years.

What was once crowned as an opportunity to reduce traffic congestion and provide employment opportunities to inner-city people has gone into utter disrepair, indicative of Baltimore itself.

My chief complaint is that a complete lack of authority exists in Baltimore's subterranean commuter tunnels. Food, fighting and mayhem can be expected on subway cars.

My other complaint is that stations are dirty and grimy. Escalators are out of order, causing inconvenience and inaccessibility for the elderly and disabled patrons.

Howard Hoffman, Pikesville

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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