Vigilance Isn't VigilantismResponding to the editorial...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 14, 1993

Vigilance Isn't Vigilantism

Responding to the editorial "Vigilance, not Vigilantes" (Oct. 27), I can't comprehend the logic in your response to Melanie Gutjahr's request that the names of convicts being released from prison be made public within the area in which the release is being made. Personally, in a case were the crime was bodily harm such as rape or murder, not only the name but the picture should be published.

When I use the word "published" that is exactly what I mean. This paper publishes births, weddings and deaths. Why not the fact we have a potential criminal in our midst and be alert to the fact? I don't buy that line of reasoning that because the state releases a criminal, he has paid his debt to society. In case of murder or rape, he owes society a debt he can only hope to pay by living the rest of his life as a law-abiding citizen.

The notion that people would be unduly alarmed is foolish. They know the criminals are running loose. If there was a chance they may be identified, it may help to give the public some feeling of security. Most everyone realizes that the state no longer feels it has a duty to protect them; it is more concerned about the welfare of the criminal. Law or no law, the public is arming by the millions to try to protect themselves.

We no longer believe the state can rehabilitate the criminal. The record speaks for itself. Every day we are told that the death penalty does not deter crime but look at the number of murders now as compared to 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, we never locked our doors. It is bad news to read how the courts and prisons coddle criminals, but it is much worse to see the media doing it. We will soon be at the point of no return to civilization.

Charles W. Ahalt

Columbia

All-Year Schools

I am very disturbed by an article that appeared Oct. 24, "Response Mixed At Meeting On All-Year Schools." I attended the forum in Howard County about the proposal and the author of that story could not have possibly been there. The response was in no way mixed; rather, the audience was largely opposed to the idea. It is interesting the media was able to find and quote a person who was in favor of the proposal when there were so many who were strongly opposed.

The media can be very influential and I feel that your article will be read and sway many that maybe it is a good idea for Howard County to go to year-round schools. In the interest of representing all of those in Howard County, I am requesting that you retract your reporting that it was a mixed response. . . . You need to get your facts straight about the story.

Betty Lou Chadwell

Mount Airy

Tobacco Lobby

For more than a year, tobacco industry-supported organizations such as the American Smokers Alliance have been urging their members to go to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for legal help.

In addition, the ACLU has been siding with the tobacco industry in opposing anti-tobacco legislation.

I wondered why a seemingly reputable organization would be doing this, but now the mystery has been solved.

A report released by several public interest organizations revealed that the tobacco industry has contributed in excess of $500,000 to the ACLU. Phil Gutis, an ACLU spokesman, acknowledged the contributions and tried to defend them. . . .

There is no defense for this kind of influence-buying. If the ACLU wants to retain its integrity and the confidence of the public, it should refuse any future tobacco industry contributions.

John H. O'Hara

Bowie

CA's 'Savings Provision'

The Columbia Council had its annual "retreat" at the Belmont Conference Center. The cost for this weekend retreat was $5,000. According to a Sun reporter . . . the theme of this particular weekend was what to do with all the funds which will become available after the Columbia Association (CA) has accomplished the "deficit reduction" by the year 2000.

I feel that the people of Columbia should have some input in this, either by plebiscite or by a general questionnaire. If there is indeed as much money available as CA claims, perhaps it is time to repeal the "savings provision" as the first item of business.

In the '70s, CA was on the verge of bankruptcy. At the behest of the Rouse Co., CA's parent company, the Maryland legislature in 1978 passed a law known as the "savings provision." It was specifically tailored for CA. It was designated as emergency legislation, and gave CA the right to commit "breach of contract," or better "breach of covenant," with impunity.

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