LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Make port security a funding priority

I am very concerned about the priorities the Bush administration betrays by reducing Homeland Security Department funding to the port of Baltimore ("Port funds cut 60%," May 10).

When my freshman class of the General Assembly took a tour of the port in 2003, we were informed that just under 2 percent of incoming international cargo was searched or checked.

I was aghast - 2 percent. But we were assured by the former state administration that it was going to use increased homeland security funds to improve this statistic.

Despite Martin O'Malley's five-year crusade, first as mayor of Baltimore and now as governor, to increase port security, the only statistic that seems to be changing is funding - and federal security funding for Baltimore's port is being cut 60 percent this year.

Because Baltimore has the largest roll-on, roll-off port in the East and the 14th-largest international cargo port in the country, we need to re-examine the security of our waterways.

Unscreened cargo could be an easy vehicle of national devastation, and Baltimore's port could be a vulnerable target.

I think it is time for the Bush administration to rethink its position on port security funding.

Jon Cardin

Annapolis

The writer represents the 11th District in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Juvenile murderer belongs behind bars

There was nothing "troubling" about the evidence, the police tactics or the judge's exercise of discretion in the case of Devon T. Richardson, a juvenile who used a rifle to murder a 67-year-old woman during her daily walk ("Two wrongs," editorial, May 9).

Mr. Richardson confessed to police, and acknowledged his crime in court.

His confession was corroborated by the statements of his accomplices.

Mr. Richardson was advised of his Miranda rights, which he voluntarily waived. The police had no legal obligation to secure an attorney or to notify a parent prior to their interview.

The judge who heard Mr. Richardson's case declined to transfer it to the juvenile courts, most likely because of the horrendous nature of the offense.

Despite the implications of the editorial, there was nothing unlawful or unfair about the conduct of the police and the courts.

Indeed, the only act of misconduct that I can discern was the one by Mr. Richardson when he chose to aim a rifle at another human being and pull the trigger.

Commitment to the Department of Juvenile Services lasts only until an offender's 21st birthday. The vast majority are not kept beyond their 18th birthdays.

Committed juveniles may be "placed" for commitment in a community setting, or permitted to earn home passes, depending upon their placement.

As The Sun well knows, the juvenile justice system is not designed to punish the offender or to protect the public.

I can think of no better place for Devon Richardson than prison.

Laura Mullally

Towson

On-screen violence worse than smoking

After reading The Sun's front-page article "Tougher film ratings loom if actors smoke on screen" (May 11), I have to wonder: America, what have we become?

What are we doing?

I cannot watch movies or television shows without seeing women being brutalized and raped, police officers being shot, children being abused, violent fights, gun love of every sort, gross autopsy photos and the list goes on and on.

And smoking a cigarette is the thing some people have determined to be offensive?

America seriously needs to check its priorities.

William Cristiano

Severna Park

Greenmount gathers forces for change

What a limited, pessimistic view of the Greenmount Avenue area the article "Turnaround elusive for gritty Greenmount" (May 10) presented.

After 21 years of working at Greenmount and 22nd Street, I believe the turnaround of the Midway-Barclay community has already begun.

There is good news:

The churches of the Greenmount corridor have chosen to remain and minister not only to the spiritual needs of the community but also to the daily needs - food, shelter, clothing, and referral and counseling services.

Two outstanding public elementary schools (just check their test scores), Cecil Elementary and Dallas F. Nicholas Elementary, continue to educate our children and serve their families.

Telesis Corp. has submitted to the city a final plan for the redevelopment of nearly 300 boarded-up properties in the Barclay area and a redesign for the Homewood House in the Midway neighborhood ("D.C. firm to redevelop city's Barclay properties," Jan. 11, 2006).

In addition to the work of People's Homesteading Group in the historic 400 block of E. 22nd St., the city Planning Commission has also approved a developer's plans for new construction on Boone Street of five townhouses for homeownership. Work is slated to begin this spring.

Neighbors, new and old, young and seniors, continue to gather and work on issues of neighborhood safety and environmental justice as they work to rebuild the neighborhood.

In 1993, 13 young men from this community were buried at St. Ann's Catholic Church; in the past three years, we have buried none.

Greenmount Avenue between North Avenue and 25th Street is so much more than meets the eye.

The forces for positive change are in place.

Sister Jeanne Barasha

Baltimore

The writer is an administrator at St. Ann Catholic Church.

GOP plays politics as death toll rises

The Sun's article "GOP moderates warn Bush they might stop backing war" (May 10) reported that a group of congressional Republicans warned President Bush "about the dangers that 'war fatigue and war weariness' pose for Republicans in the 2008 elections."

How telling a statement this is about the real concerns that Republicans have about the war in Iraq.

Geez, I would have thought the main concern would be about our precious men and women in the military services who are being killed or physically and psychologically maimed in this war, not to mention the thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens killed.

I wonder how many parents, spouses, children, friends and loved ones of our service members share this concern about the impact the war might have on the 2008 elections.

I wonder how many families that have been forever ripped apart are thinking about how the war might impact the 2008 elections.

Indeed, the concern of congressional Republicans is very telling about the real impetus behind this war - politics and money.

This war was never about liberating an oppressed people from a tyrant. It was never about ensuring humane treatment of the Iraqi people.

It was never about weapons of mass destruction.

It was always political.

And a close bedfellow of politics is greed - greed for power and money.

Karen Holloway

Baltimore

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