Detention center railroaded by Ruppersberger
Your article extolling County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger's management style ("Towson jail plan is show of power," July 13) left me, and I'm sure many of my neighbors, livid.
While it may be true that Mr. Ruppersberger is a good manager, the way the county detention center expansion plan was railroaded through, with very little consultation with neighborhood leaders (essentially after the fact), was hardly a good example of representative government.
We residents of Riderwood Hills take pride in our neighborhood, and the last thing we need here is more traffic on Kenilworth Drive, which already has much more traffic than it can handle, or which it was ever designed to handle.
We are already dealing with congestion, noise, excessive speed and the rumbling of Mass Transit Administration buses that shake houses along Kenilworth Drive to their foundations.
This proposed prison expansion can only serve to add to the deterioration of the quality of life in our community, and is a further example of the continuing trend of urbanization that is epidemic in the Baltimore suburbs.
I urge all informed voters to vote against this plan in November when the time comes to borrow the money to finance it.
The writer is a member of the Riderwood Hills Community Association.
Troopers use cars off-duty but provide valuable services
The July 7 letter from Marty Silvert accused Maryland state troopers of getting a "free ride" and lying to the public about their off-duty use of patrol cars. He obviously has no idea about the public services troopers provide while using their cars off-duty.
Off-duty use is a benefit and a privilege, but it does not come without restriction or obligation. Each time troopers use a car off duty, they must be armed, must notify the local barracks they are in the car and, most importantly, must take appropriate police action on any situation they encounter. This includes traffic enforcement, assisting disabled motorists, or responding to assist with serious calls for police service in the area through which they are traveling.
Each day, people across our state benefit from off-duty troopers who assist them or take other police action. The action troopers take while off-duty is on their own time. They are serving for free and are not reimbursed.
Because of this policy, troopers are able to drive their patrol cars to and from their duty assignments. Coupled with troopers using their cars off-duty, there is a greater police presence on our highways and in our communities. This does have a deterrent effect -- on traffic violators and criminals contemplating where their next crime will be committed.
Yes, our troopers drive their cars to and from work and sometimes off-duty. But in doing so, they face risks. Off-duty use by Maryland state troopers is one of the best returns taxpayers will ever receive on their investment.
David B. Mitchell
The writer is superintendent of Maryland State Police.
Taxpayers forced to pay for Delaware absurdity
Nowhere in the Constitution does it say taxpayers should be held responsible for the idiocy of government officials, local, state or national.
Why should American taxpayers foot the bill to rebuild a beach in South Bethany, Del., because a few misguided city officials allowed houses to be built on their dunes years ago("Sands of Delaware slipping away," July 3)?
The owners of those houses have been fighting the rising tide since Day One of construction and they knowingly took a risk. A good northeaster or a hurricane will wipe them out for sure. Of course, then they will want the taxpayers to help them rebuild.
It would be cheaper in the long run, and more sensible, to condemn the properties, compensate the owners and haul the houses away.
Then the dunes can be rebuilt (Why not use the dredge from the harbor?) and nature may takes its course, as it always does.
Sharon B. Wharton
City workers can get raise if they join police department
Our hats are off to Mayor Martin O'Malley for showing the courage of his convictions in offering the pay raise for Baltimore police officers.
As for other municipal employees hoping to cash in on taxpayer largesse by riding on the coattails of someone else's effort, the solution is really quite simple.
The mayor's office should make every effort to see that all municipal employees are put at the top of the list of applicants who wish to apply, train or transfer to the police department, and afford themselves the opportunity to earn a share of any additional monies that may be available.
When they pass the hat, put an application in it. Nothing could be more fair.
B. David Quinn
Protect roadless forest from logging, destruction
I was glad to see The Sun's coverage of the U.S. Forest Service's draft proposal for protecting pristine wilderness areas ("Proposal would ban road-building in vast areas of forest," May 10).
However, I am disappointed that the draft plan does not reflect the forest protection vision articulated by President Clinton and embraced by the public.
While the draft plan would prohibit road building in wilderness areas, it still leaves millions of acres of forest wilderness vulnerable to logging and other destructive activities that are not dependent on roads.
Timber companies are very good at logging in roadless areas using helicopters and other creative methods.
Another loophole in the Forest Service plan is the possible exemption of Alaska's Tongass National Forest. Leaving the Tongass out of a final wild forest protection plan would be like leaving the Grand Canyon out of the National Park System.
It is up to the American people to let the Forest Service know that this draft plan does not reflect what the public wants. The service should issue a final plan that protects pristine wilderness areas in all national forests from all destructive activities, including logging and road building.
Corey William Ford
Chicken catchers look to labor union
It's about time that those who help get the chickens to the family table finally have a voice in their workplace. ("Things looking up for chicken catchers," July 12).
After reading of the working conditions of these catchers, I doubt many of us would go through their daily struggles. Those of us at the blue-collar level never reap our due reward unless we unite and have the resources to negotiate a contract.
Times are prosperous in America. With the health craze, a lot more chicken is being consumed as many shy away from red meat. Even those at the other plants will somewhat benefit by some plants becoming union. However, through my personal experience as a former employee without a union, it never quite adds up to being in a union.
Typically, union members make 15 to 30 percent more than nonunion employees, and enjoy numerous other benefits such as seniority rights, grievance procedures, health benefits and pension plans.
Those chicken catchers will come to know that "It's not just a contract, it's a lifestyle."
The writer is shop steward, Local 2100, Communications Workers of America.