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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Closing old prison is a real triumph

Gov. Martin O'Malley made a wise choice in selecting Gary D. Maynard to head Maryland's correctional system. Mr. Maynard is a well-respected and experienced leader in the field who has successfully held a variety of leadership positions in a number of jurisdictions.

Mr. Maynard's bold and decisive action in closing the old Maryland House of Correction is extraordinary both in the courage it demonstrated and the competence with which it was accomplished ("Violent prison shuts down," March 18).

Those of us with similar long histories in the corrections business marvel at his ability to swiftly and thoroughly close this facility without incident.

Something that took years of consideration, musing and inaction by prior administrators and politicians was solved with good planning, necessary secrecy and the undeterred resolve to finally do the right thing.

Mr. O'Malley, Mr. Maynard and all the staff involved in this process deserve special praise for an action that has been contemplated for years but took vision and guts to carry out.

Safety for staff and inmates will be enhanced by the demise of the old prison.

Perhaps the leadership in the Pentagon and Walter Reed Army Medical Center have something to learn here.

George Lombardi

Jefferson City, Mo.

The writer is a retired director of prisons for the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Comments condemn the sin, not the sinner

Leonard Pitts Jr. missed the point about Gen. Peter Pace's statement that "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way" ("The general's visceral view of immorality," Opinion * Commentary, March 18).

Mr. Pitts incorrectly interprets General Pace's comments to mean that he condemns homosexuals.

But if one read the general's comments carefully, it is clear that he does not condemn homosexuals but "homosexual acts."

The general condemns homosexuals no more than he condemns heterosexuals. He does, however, condemn the immoral acts people of any sexual persuasion may commit.

His comments are no more prejudicial than the old adage: "Hate the sin but love the sinner."

I think the general deserves an apology from Mr. Pitts and others who have taken his comments out of context and have labeled him as a bigot and someone who insults soldiers.

Joseph M. Koper

Hunt Valley

General keeps pace with nation's morals

It is interesting that in the same edition of The Sun that carried Leonard Pitts Jr.'s column "The general's visceral view of immorality" (Opinion * Commentary, March 18), in which Mr. Pitts called Gen. Peter Pace and people like him "bigots" for believing homosexual acts are immoral, The Sun also printed the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey that found 50 percent of Americans view "homosexual behavior" as morally wrong ("By the Numbers: Modern Morals Barometer," March 18).

Utilizing my intellect and critical reasoning, as Mr. Pitts recommends, I find it must follow that Mr. Pitts believes that the 50 percent of the American people who, according to this respected survey, agree with General Pace are "bigots" and don't know the meaning of the word "moral."

Joseph Erving

Timonium

Tolerating bigotry hurts our military

As a former Marine and a gay man, I'm outraged at Gen. Peter Pace's bigoted remarks about homosexuals in the military ("No apology for remark on gays," March 14).

He should resign as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Honorable men and women who are gay and lesbians serve in the U.S. military.

Our national defense is threatened when bigotry is tolerated in our military.

General Pace needs to resign. If he does not, he should be fired.

Mark P. McElreath

Towson

Investing in transit creates alternatives

The tirade by the Cato Institute's Thomas A. Firey against using gas taxes to pay for transit systems deserves a rejoinder from someone not wrapped in the strictures of a reactionary think tank ("Don't raise gas tax without reforms," Opinion * Commentary, March 13).

It should be pointed out that his assessment that transit systems are prodigiously expensive and have few riders was printed a day after an article in USA Today indicated that transit ridership last year was the highest that it had been since 1957.

I think that as the price of gas rises inexorably, Marylanders will discover -- as I did more than a decade ago -- that commuting via public transit is convenient, enjoyable and quick and that public transit is well worth public funds.

In contrast, gold-plating the freeways seems the height of civic madness.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

Enough is enough for BRAC process

As a resident of Harford County since 1981 and after constantly reading about the cost and influx of people to this area associated with the base realignment and closure process, I for one would rather see our elected officials persuade the federal government to keep the bases in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania open ("The BRAC effect: Dodging roadblocks," editorial, March 18).

Harford County schools and the schools, roads and communities in the surrounding area are congested enough now.

When is enough enough?

Martin Sadowski

Fallston

Pressure politicians to end the robo-calls

It was no surprise that the state Senate Finance Committee rejected legislation that would have prohibited automated political phone calls to voters on the do-not-call list ("Ban on political calls killed," March 9).

Just asking politicians to give up a means of campaigning for votes and contributions should not have been expected to work.

When I receive such a political solicitation, I let the solicitor know that the fact that the solicitation occurred guarantees that I will make no response to the appeal.

If enough people do that, politicians might get the message.

V. R. Carlson

Baltimore

'Family circus' still abusive to animals

The Sun's feature on Nicole Feld sheds no light on the controversy over the continued use of animals in the circus ("The family circus," March 14).

It seems the entire Feld family would rather go into a cage of hungry tigers than admit that more and more people believe the use of animals as entertainment is wrong.

Most of those people don't care if there is one circus ring or three; they care about animals being hit and whipped, chained and caged, and forced to perform tricks.

RaeLeann Smith

Norfolk, Va.

The writer is a circus specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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