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Discipline officers for car accidents

I had the distinct honor of serving in the Baltimore Police Department for 25 years. And from the time I joined the department until my retirement, I can't think of any single daily operational issue that perplexed the department's supervisors more than dealing with the appalling accident rate ("Police at the wheel," editorial, June 6).

As The Sun's editorial noted, the consequences of these accidents go well beyond the expense to taxpayers of repairing police vehicles. Lives are literally at stake. Somehow, something has to be done.

I'd be willing to bet that if you looked closely at the statistics regarding preventable accidents, you'd find two recurring themes: first, the age of the officer and second, the years of experience in the department that the officer has.

Youth and inexperience are deadly.

All manner of disciplinary action has been tried over the years in an effort to curb these accidents, with little success.

It's my humble opinion that only a serious threat to an officer's livelihood will have any chance of getting his or her attention.

I suggest the department consider implementing stiff fines for any preventable accident along with other appropriate disciplinary actions.

I also believe that preventable accidents should have a direct bearing on an officer's ability to be promoted to any rank.

Interested parties will fight any change that might affect an officer's pay, but the price of doing "business as usual" on these preventable accidents is unacceptable.

Jack Spiese


Map makes clear rate hike is unfair

As a social studies teacher, I always stressed the importance of being able to read and understand a map. Sunday's paper reinforced my teaching. The Sun's map of electricity rates per kilowatt-hour was an excellent tool in examining the facts surrounding the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. electricity rate increase ("Costliest power in deregulated areas," June 11).

Like many ratepayers, I was not pleased about the impending rate hike and suspicious of the large bonuses that BGE executives stand to make from the proposed merger with Florida's FPL Group.

Now, with the help of The Sun's rate map, I am certain that my feelings are justified and that there is very little truth to the BGE's explanation of this debacle.

As the deal stands now, the region will become the eighth-most-expensive electricity market in the country.

Despite the $1 million that BGE has recently spent in a PR blitz, there is no way to justify this gouging of the consumer.

We are being told that our rates will be competitive with those of other Northeast utilities. But one need only examine the map to see that rates in the Northeast are among the highest in the country, and that Maryland is geographically not in the Northeast.

Thank you for putting the facts of this matter into such an easy-to-read format.

Patrick M. Radomsky


Legislators lack clear energy plan

Let me get this straight. The General Assembly is going into special session, doesn't have a clear plan and isn't including the leaders of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. or Constellation Energy in its discussions ("Stakes high for action on energy," June 11).

That means they are negotiating with themselves.

Is it just me or do others see the stupidity of this exercise?

Jeff Jefferson


Financiers must be responsible for data

It is somewhat of a relief to read that the Veterans Administration believes that the personal data of millions of veterans contained on a laptop stolen from the home of a VA employee may have been erased by the thieves ("VA chief says data may have been erased," June 9).

It looks like real trouble for millions of Americans who have served their country was avoided - this time.

But the worry and financial hardship created by identity theft will be a reality for the American people as long as credit card companies and other financial institutions allow transactions to be performed with only a minimal check to verify that the personal information provided is legitimate.

It is time for the credit card companies and mortgage companies to start bearing some of the financial loss incurred when they allow fraudulent transactions to take place as a result of their lax policies.

John Tully


Estate tax affects only the wealthiest

I'm writing to set straight the impression given by Friday's editorial cartoon, which illustrates a GOP talking point by showing the inheritance tax as the grim reaper, taking some poor taxpayer's last possession, his T-shirt ("Another View," June 9).

Historically, countries all around the world have used an estate tax as a way to create revenue.

The basic concept is quite simple: The country in which you lived, made your fortune and eventually passed away believes it is proper to collect a tax as a payback to the society that provided you the opportunity for success.

The Republicans in Congress argue that small business owners and small family farms are the ones who are hurt with the estate tax.

This is simply not true.

While the law may affect a small portion of family farms, the vast majority of people who would owe any substantial amount are those with the very wealthiest of estates.

The attempt to repeal the estate tax is simply another attempt by the Republican-controlled Congress to pay back the wealthy families and the leaders of corporations who support them.

Lloyd Lachow


Cartoon distorted role of 'death tax'

Unless the poor devil wearing his last T-shirt in Mike Ramirez's editorial cartoon Friday is also still clinging to his last $2 million, the misnamed "death tax" couldn't lay a hand on him ("Another View," June 9).

Only the richest estates pay any federal tax.

I realize that political cartoonists deal in hyperbole, but shouldn't their depictions have at least some basis in fact?

Roscoe Born


Obnoxious to root against home nine

As a long-time Orioles fan, I resent the comments of the Red Sox fan who challenged our commitment to the team ("Fair-weather O's fans need to show heart," letters, May 31).

The real Oriole fans do go to the games and cheer for their team, although it hasn't been easy the last few years.

What makes it more difficult are hordes of rival fans descending on our park and trying to take it over with loud, organized cheering for their team. Personally, I find that behavior obnoxious for visiting fans in someone else's city, and it's an unpleasant experience for hometown fans to endure.

Of course you cheer for your team, but it's not polite to flaunt your success in front of your hosts.

Surely, Red Sox fans can understand the pain of watching your team lose too many times.

Nancy Cantville


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