Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

More arrests will never solve the drug problem

Sunday's front-page article "In shift of strategy, city police pursue low-level drug dealers" (Feb. 1) leaves the reader with more questions than answers.

I can understand that using undercover drug purchases to reduce drug dealing has proved effective in court and results in more prison time for dealers. But I wish the article had offered some analysis of why this tactic works any better in the long run than other strategies the police have used.

It seems to me that as long as there are people who want to buy drugs, new crops of dealers will make themselves available and adjust their ways of operating as they need to.

And I still believe that until we figure out how to approach the drug problem with compassion, love for fellow humans and an understanding of what causes people to become addicts and how to address the issue at its very core, we will be facing a drug problem until the end of our days.

Pamela Tanton

Baltimore

Changing college aid harms middle class

Over the last year, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has shown himself to be a principled man on the issue of taxes. One can only wish that he possessed the same level of integrity on the matter of helping middle-class Marylanders to pay for their children's college education ("Ehrlich wants scholarships to be need-based," Jan. 29).

Last fall, the governor and his advisers floated the idea of doubling the tuition at our state universities. They also came to the troubling and misguided conclusion that increasing tuition would encourage students to graduate faster. Thankfully, the administration wisely backed off both proposals.

Now it seems that the "trash-the-middle-class" gang on the governor's education policy staff is up to its old tricks. The proposal to reduce merit scholarships, if implemented, will be just another blow to the efforts of bright, dedicated students to attend state universities.

For the middle class, the governor's policy on higher education seems to be developing into a case of higher costs and little education.

Patrick Weadon

Severna Park

Aid should reward hardworking youths

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed the elimination of the Hope Scholarship and shifting millions of dollars in state aid from programs based on academic ability to those based on need ("Ehrlich wants scholarships to be need-based," Jan. 29).

What does this say to the college-bound student, like my son, who has worked and studied hard for 12-plus years only to find out that because he and his family are "middle class," he may not be able to go into teaching without borrowing from Mom and Dad or taking a bank loan?

Students who achieve honors such as being named to the All-Maryland Academic Team and the dean's list, while working a part-time job to help pay their bills, need to see that this is worth the effort.

If the governor wants to help the needy, that's fine - if they are also academically qualified. But just throwing money to those in need does not solve the problem.

Robert W. Scheufele

Rosedale

Forcing light rail to start again?

I was dumbfounded to read that the Maryland Transit Administration plans to shut down the south half of the light rail line to expedite its double-tracking project ("State to close light rail line to add track," Jan. 30).

The MTA's apparent reasoning defies logic. Double-tracking the line is necessary, the agency says, to increase business. So to do so, it then seems to say, we must first drive off the existing business.

Granted, the light rail has never been an outstanding success. Nonetheless, it has slowly (and painfully) built up its ridership. Now the MTA seems to want to wipe the slate clean and start again.

Is this a responsible way to manage a system that represents both a large fiscal investment and the foundation for future growth?

Herbert H. Harwood

Baltimore

Favoritism is routine in state agencies

I don't understand anyone being surprised at the idea of favoritism in granting contracts at the Maryland Transit Administration ("E-mails raise questions about MTA contract," Jan. 29).

Favoritism is a daily fact of life in all aspects of state government. From the heads of agencies chosen even though they have no qualifications for the job to promotions and even job assignments and vehicle or equipment assignments, favoritism goes on at all levels of state government.

Charles W. Yowell

Baltimore

Using 'information' to coerce women

Cal Thomas had at least one thing right: "Information may be the key to reducing the number of abortions" ("Reducing abortion through information," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 28).

Information is key: medically accurate, comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education has been proved to decrease the numbers of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and abortions.

But so-called informed consent laws have nothing to do with real choice. Choice is about making a thoughtful decision based on accurate information - and that is almost always what women who choose abortion have done.

Requiring a woman to "receive" medical information that is irrelevant, exaggerated or even false (such as suggesting the disproved link between abortion and breast cancer, which is still included in some biased information statutes) is a blatantly coercive tactic designed to prevent women from acting as the autonomous moral agents they are.

John W. Nugent

Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

'Potent pleasures' a plague to parents

What was The Sun thinking when it published a large article on the wonders of marijuana on the back page of the "Arts & Society" section ("Plumbing the potent pleasures of puffing pot," Feb. 1) ?

Parents have a challenging time in today's world trying to set limits and teach children right from wrong.

Advertising, movies and music glorify drinking and drugs, which are illegal activities for children. Let's not have our one and only newspaper in town do the same thing.

Lissa Abrams

Baltimore

No secrecy shrouds the deaths in Iraq

The letter "Secrecy at Dover shows Bush mindset" (Jan. 30) surprised me. Press coverage of the arrival of bodies from overseas deaths is cruel and unusual punishment for the grieving families. I applaud President Bush's restrictions on press coverage. A "reality show" of grief-stricken strangers would do no honor to our fallen heroes.

The writer of the letter and columnist G. Jefferson Price III ("What does George Bush have to grin about?" Jan. 25) imply that showing such respect is "sickening secrecy."

But there is no secrecy. We're getting daily body counts.

S. M. Schmidt

Baltimore

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