Passive sensors can help the police stop drunken driving
In response to The Sun's article on passive alcohol sensors ("Device to check sobriety worries civil liberties groups," Sept. 12), I'd note that the only people who have anything to worry about from the use of this device are drunken drivers and drinking drivers under age 21.
The Maryland attorney general's office has informed me that "as long as a vehicle has been lawfully stopped ... a law enforcement officer may, without violating the Constitution, use a passive alcohol sniffer device to detect the presence of alcohol on a motorist's breath."
While everyone's constitutional rights must be protected, I am just as concerned about our citizens' ability to pursue their most basic right to life, liberty and happiness -- which is all too often taken away by drunken drivers.
The passive alcohol sensor is an unobtrusive and objective means to rid our roads of alcohol-impaired drivers.
If our state is serious about waging a winning war on drunken driving, we must give our law enforcement officers all the reasonable tools they can use to get the job done.
Bill Bronrott, Bethesda
The writer represents District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates.
As an adult, Bush has shown more compassion than Gore
Myriam Miedzian's column "Growing up is hard to do," (Opinion
Commentary, Sept. 12) did not tell any stories about Al Gore's boyhood treatment or mistreatment of animals. We were only informed of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's activities.
But now that both presidential candidates are grown men, it is far more important to note that Mr. Bush, with Dick Cheney in full support, has declared that he would sign a ban on of partial-birth abortion, the extremely cruel brain suction abortion procedure used to kill babies just moments before they would have been born alive.
Al Gore, supported by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, has declared he will not do anything to limit this appalling procedure's practice in our nation.
The citizens of 27 states have passed laws against partial-birth abortion only to have the U.S. Supreme Court, early this summer in the Nebraska test case, judge such laws unconstitutional.
Mr. Bush has shown, better than Mr. Gore has, that he's heard when the people have spoken, that he recognizes cruelty and injustice when he sees it and that he is willing to defend those who cannot speak for themselves.
Doris Deal, Catonsville
It's self-righteous Dr. Laura who may represent a threat
The Sun's recent article about "Dr. Laura's" TV show mentions her belief that homosexuality "undermines the strength of the family" ("'Dr. Laura' arrival met with protest at WMAR," Sept. 12).
I am puzzled as to how homosexuality could possibly threaten my family.
We feel much more threatened by self-righteous, self-appointed experts such as Dr. Laura.
Judi Hammett, Baltimore
In a time of peace, why spend so much on war?
If, as The Sun recently reported, the United States is spending $290 billion on defense and Russia is spending $5.1 billion, then something is rotten in Denmark, only this time it is in the United States ("Russia confronts reality in cutting its military forces," Sept. 9).
How can we possibly be spending this much money in peacetime -- and Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney think we should spend much more for defense?
Perhaps it would be better to spend less money, but spend it wisely and cut out the enormous waste we hear so much about.
Stan Janofsky, Baltimore
Paralyzed woman's story was an inspiration
How I admire Rebecca Faye Smith Galli ("Paralysis can renew life's goals," Opinion
Commentary, Sept. 11). I haven't cheered anything in more than two years, which is how long I've been in a wheelchair.
I, too, once boogied with the best and, oh, how I've missed it. I consider myself so lucky that I can get to see my 12-year-old grandson play soccer.
But here this wonderful, wonder woman plays soccer as a goalie with her five-year-old son.
She puts me to shame. All I can say is God bless and you go, girl.
Mary Bee Crivello, Baltimore
Spill, coverup show environmental ineptitude
It was enormously frustrating to read that more than 10 million gallons of raw sewage had poured into Baltimore's harbor and that it was more than three days before the public was notified ("Public not told of spill for days," Sept. 12).
Clearly, the city's health department and Department of Public Works failed miserably in their core tasks.
Although assorted city officials later mouthed words of apology and explanation and issued dashed-off policy papers about future spills, the sad truth is that unless Mayor Martin O'Malley makes dramatic structural changes, those departments' ongoing ineptitude will continue to threaten to the city's public health.
Unfortunately, the recent spill is only symptomatic of a larger problem.
Another example is the city's mishandling of the situation in the Clarkson Street community, where a warehouse was used to store chemicals illegally ("Paying the price for lax enforcement," June 3). City officials have had to scramble for months to repair community relations.
Also miles of streams throughout the city continue to have extraordinarily high levels of bacteria but remain unmarked as hazardous and zoning, housing and sanitation rules enforcement remains ineffective and unfocussed.
In addition, it has taken more than two months to find a half-hour on the mayor's schedule for concerned environmental and neighborhood leaders to bring these kinds of concerns to his attention.
Regrettably, a fundamental indifference to environmental health, so pervasive in the city's previous administration, seems to be still well-established in the current administration.
To avoid the disastrous headlines but, more important, to protect the public's health, the mayor must quickly answer for the problems with personnel, communications and accountability in the city's departments that address the environment.
Terry J. Harris, Baltimore
The writer is president of the Cleanup Coalition.
The only reason for Baltimore to have a public works department and a health department is to serve the public interest.
But the public's interests were damned by all those who participated in covering up for three days the spill from a public works department facility that allowed raw sewage to gush into the harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
Those who were party to the decision not to alert the public should be relieved of further city service.
David Kirby, Baltimore