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

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Rising crime takes terrible toll on the city

Mayor Martin O'Malley has suggested that figures indicating a rise in crime in Baltimore are subject to interpretation ("Rise in violent city crime takes officials by surprise," June 8). How about my interpretation, Mr. Mayor?

Between July and December 2004, there were eight shootings within walking distance of my home, a block near Patterson Park that is prized by rehabbers. Results: three dead, five wounded.

Another neighbor was held up in an armed robbery and recognized the criminal, who was then arrested. The perpetrator had three prior armed-robbery charges. Last I heard, he was out on the street again.

Around that same time, I discovered a spent bullet (not a shell) on the pavement a few doors from my home.

Recently, nine of my neighbors had their cars vandalized - an all-too-frequent crime on our block. In 2004, my car was vandalized three times.

A friend's son elsewhere in the city was shot in the head and died, at age 18. Another friend in a residential section above Northern Parkway fortunately fended off two would-be kidnappers and carjackers, but not before being severely pistol-whipped in the face.

Two blocks from that woman's house, other friends had a bike stolen from their yard and their auto was severely damaged by a hit-and-run driver.

I am only one person in Mr. O'Malley's city. How many others can reel off a list of crimes, many of which never get reported in the newspaper?

Yet only recently has Mr. O'Malley put down his guitar to - by his own admission - concentrate more on his job.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

Loretta J. Willits

Baltimore

Liberal responses to crime fail city

While efforts are under way to have Maryland's highest court eliminate the death penalty ("Death-row inmate's lawyer makes case to appeals judges," June 8), we are also seeing the effects of the liberal approach to crime, which has manifested itself in Baltimore.

In a city long plagued by violence and rampant drug use, "tough on crime" Mayor Martin O'Malley is finding crime rates rising ("Rise in violent city crime takes officials by surprise," June 8). His solution? Failed liberal ideas such as gun buybacks ("City police end gun buyback early after expending funds," June 8).

The liberal mindset is also fueling the effort to eliminate Maryland's death penalty.

It is clear that the approach to crime of the Democrats, from former Gov. Parris N. Glendening's death penalty moratorium to Mr. O'Malley's failed leadership, will never solve the problem.

As an attorney, I have seen all too clearly the problems with our state's justice system, the revolving door for violent criminals and the abuse of discretion by politically appointed judges.

This is why it is so critical that those who believe in punishing crime and seeking justice for victims, and believe the most heinous of crimes deserve the ultimate punishment, elect those who will go to Annapolis and fight for a criminal justice system that is fair but tough on crime.

Greg Kline

Severna Park

Get the taxpayers a good deal on slots

Now we know the true reason for slot machines in Maryland is not to aid education, but to prop up the horse racing industry and help prevent Magna Entertainment Corp. from going broke.

Our politicians, many of whom have been receiving political contributions from Magna, may accomplish this by supporting a highly addictive form of gambling that would soak the poor.

If a slots bill is enacted, Maryland should at least get the best deal possible for the taxpayers by awarding the slots venues based on competitive bidding, not just giving slots to Magna.

Its stockholders couldn't care less about Maryland's financial needs.

Irving Goldstein

Baltimore

Focus on one faith flirts with tyranny

To Marcia Thompson Eldreth, who fashions and sells "national Christian flags" and "sees in the United States a Christian nation," I must point out that this nation consists of people who represent hundreds of religions, not just hers ("Creating a Christian flag for God and country," June 12).

There are also those who believe in basic human values and morals and subscribe to no particular religion at all.

This nation was founded as a refuge from religious tyranny. Is Ms. Eldreth trying to undo that freedom and have it all her way?

Sandra B. Shapiro

Baltimore

Why was it that when I read "Creating a Christian flag for God and country" (June 12), I kept hearing in my mind "Onward Christian Soldiers"?

To fuse patriotism and religion is an exercise in tyranny, intolerance and oppression.

Arthur Laupus

Columbia

Right-wing 'patriots' betray basic values

Public editor Paul Moore's column "Decision-making raises questions for Sun readers" (June 12) quotes a reader's opinion that people who question John R. Bolton's fitness to be our ambassador to the United Nations are "Democrats, socialists and other nonpatriots."

This reader voices again the view of this country's extremist faction that they and they alone are "patriots," and anyone who disagrees is "nonpatriotic."

Many of the these flag-jackers sneer at true American values, such as freedom of speech and press, and many of them advocate "control" of our "out-of-control" courts, when an independent judiciary is fundamental to our system.

They're in a poor position to be playing patriot games.

Roscoe Born

Sykesville

Students sometimes need a cell phone

G. Jefferson Price III favors harsher penalties for students who break the rules against cell phone use ("In school, they're a distraction; in cars, they're a danger," Opinion * Commentary, June 7). And I agree completely that they are a distraction and should not be used for chatting during school.

However, Mr. Price then goes on to say that he would like the school board to ban students from bringing cell phones to school in the first place. This is where my problem arises.

Since I am a student who is not quite old enough to drive, my mother picks me up from school. She takes the subway from her job in downtown Baltimore and picks up her car at the train station. Sometimes, her train is delayed. In such a case, she calls me on my cell phone to reassure me that everything is OK.

On a larger scale, however, suppose (God forbid) there was a fire, a school shooting or some other disaster.

Without a cell phone, a trapped student would be unable to call 911.

Gila Heller

Baltimore

The writer will be a 10th-grader at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School in September.

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