Anne Arundel County needs aid to enforce state laws in prisons
The recent letter "Failing to prosecute prison crimes imperils officers and citizens" (Aug. 27) expressed concerns for the safety of state prison guards and outrage over my attempt to obtain state money for the citizens of Anne Arundel County, who must bear the substantial burden of prosecuting crimes occurring in state prisons.
First, I continue to prosecute crimes affecting public safety such as assaults on guards and escapes.
Second, Anne Arundel County and four other Maryland subdivisions have the burden of prosecuting the vast majority of crimes occurring in state prisons. One-half of the prison crime occurs in the six state facilities located in this county, while only a small fraction of the prison population comes from this county.
Third, the state provides no funds to Anne Arundel County for this service. The county provides all the money and personnel. However, the state does provide the vast majority of the funds and personnel for the defense of inmates whom we ultimately prosecute.
Fourth, if I do not use Anne Arundel County resources, ultimately provided by the county's taxpayers, the state can prosecute the inmates itself, using the attorney general's prosecutorial resources.
Fifth, I have now spent more than a year trying to make the point with the state that county taxpayers should not have to shoulder the prosecution burden alone. Our county executive and the senior state senator agree. Even state officials have expressed agreement and promised money to provide my office with an additional assistant state's attorney.
Based on that promise, the county executive included that attorney in my 2001 budget and the county council approved it. I have interviewed attorneys and am ready to hire one -- yet, no money.
While I am frustrated by this, I do not believe for a second that I am endangering the public. If state officials feel a need to second-guess me, they certainly have the authority to prosecute themselves.
Frank R. Weathersbee
The writer is state's attorney for Anne Arundel County.
Restaurant proposal sounds more like a nightclub
The Sun quoted Papermoon owner Un Kim saying, "I just want a restaurant with a liquor license" ("Diner owner, residents spar over planned club," Aug. 29).
If that is her genuine desire, now is the time to prove it to the neighborhood, rather than continue to promote a nightspot that has been soundly rejected.
But, based on her recent presentation to neighbors, Ms. Kim's proposed restaurant still relies on a 2 a.m. closing, seven nights a week. As before, the proposed building features a 25-foot ceiling, sound system, balcony and a large, central bar and lounge area, suitable for dancing.
We do not consider this a restaurant.
Our city has many popular and successful restaurants, with liquor licenses, that emphasize dining, not hanging out. They do not stay open until 2 a.m. on any night of the week.
We urge Ms. Kim to honor neighbors' concerns and stop trying to persuade us to accept what is obviously a nightlife establishment. That tired, old horse is dead.
Candidates should debate on the commission's terms
I have heard more about the presidential debates than I need to hear.
Al Gore did say he would debate "anytime, anywhere." But what Texas Gov. George W. Bush has agreed to is not what I want as a voter.
I want debates on the issues, and I want at least most of them to be conducted under the auspices of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
If Mr. Bush continues to play games with the American voters, he will come in second in November.
Phillip Paul Weiner
In Chad, oil revenues won't help those in need
When we learned in 1994 that the pipeline deal was going through, most people in the Chadian village where I was a Peace Corps volunteer were thrilled. "Prosperity at last," they said ("Where oil flows, future holds promise, threat," Sept. 3).
Village skeptics, myself included, knew the money would never trickle down. We had just seen Idriss Deby's government boldly steal millions from the U.S. Agency for International Development -- money that was specifically earmarked to pay almost a year's worth of back wages of striking government workers.
The main beneficiaries of that pipeline will be the oil executives and the men with the means to build roads, refineries and ships -- along with us, the Western consumers with our ever-hungry gas tanks.
That's a sad fact, but one I was glad to see addressed by my local paper.
Phonics-based instruction commands bipartisan support
Mike Bowler took a cheap and uninformed swipe at the Democratic Party when he stated that phonics "is despised in some Democratic circles" and that "it's hard to imagine Gore posing a convincing argument against phonics in a nationally televised debate" ("Reading may be issue in presidential election," Aug. 27).
The Democratic Party has been instrumental in passing federal phonics-based legislation and in the promotion of local phonics programs.
For example, speaking in support of the federal Reading Excellence Act, Sen. Edward Kennedy stated that "a fundamental part of teacher education is training teachers in the best research and practice in ways to teach reading, including helping children develop skills in phonics, sound-and-symbol relationships, and reading comprehension."
And in December 1999, Rep. Benjamin Cardin obtained a special $250,000 appropriation for the Baltimore Reads' after-school tutoring program, a program supported by The Sun which is hardly an obstacle to systematic and intensive phonics.
Support for intensive phonics is as bipartisan as patriotism and apple pie.
Expand Balto. Co. prison without hurting local business
As a resident of Towson Park, I am resigned to seeing the expanded Baltimore County Detention Center as I look out the window each morning. What I cannot resign myself to is fiscal irresponsibility.
Part of the rationale for expanding the jail at the present site is that the county already owns the land.
However, the county is not content with using the properties it currently owns; it apparently wants to build an entrance off of York Road and, to do so, take four business properties.
Surely, Baltimore County can find an entrance to the jail without using the properties of ongoing businesses.
Herbert B. Shankroff
Alvarez's road trip revived pleasant memories
Rafael Alvarez's article about his road trip was most delightful ("Road ends, and memories stir," Aug. 27). I smiled reading the complete story.
It brought back memories of when my young family loaded up our station wagon and headed for Ocean City for our annual vacation. It's been a while since our children were little, but now as adults we still head for Ocean City, even from out-of-town, for our family reunions.
Of course, we always talk about the memories from the years before. The article was a good occasion to remember again the role that family and vacations have played in my life.
Marlene R. Marne