No FavorsYour Dec. 28 editorial about Amtrak's troubles...


January 16, 1994

No Favors

Your Dec. 28 editorial about Amtrak's troubles was timely if woefully ill-informed.

Your statement that cuts in maintenance have led to a recent raft of derailments is absolutely false. Reports of recent Amtrak accidents have never even suggested that lack of maintenance was a factor.

Rather, these derailments were due to the gross negligence of others who have ignored operating warning signals at grade crossings, failed to advise the railroad in a timely manner when a large load became stuck on a rail crossing and whose barge struck a bridge spanning a non-navigable waterway.

If The Sun has proof that lack of maintenance contributed to any of these recent accidents, it should publish the information forthwith. Otherwise, Amtrak deserves an immediate, unconditional apology.

The statement that "public inter-city rail transportation will never be a profit-making enterprise" is also untrue. Amtrak has consistently held that with the proper amount of capital investment in track and rolling stock it can operate at a profit.

Its current sad state is due largely to a strange mixture of neglect and interference from the federal government.

Having failed to kill it outright, the Reagan and Bush administrations did the next best thing and starved Amtrak, driving it to the low point that it has now reached.

The dead hand of Congress has also had its turn at the throttle, requiring Amtrak to operate trains that are clearly unprofitable and saddling Amtrak with an outdated route system that is not responsive to the travel needs of the 1990s.

With adequate capital investment and a modern, customer-oriented route system, there is every reason to expect that Amtrak can and would operate at a profit. Experience to date with the Auto Train and Northeast Corridor service, both profitable, shows that it can be done, given the chance.

Amtrak's future depends upon informed public support of investments in modern rail transport, not mindless propaganda. The Sun's editorial hasn't done Amtrak any favors.

Walter Gay


Reporting a Crime

Your paper's reporting of the shooting of a night supervisor at the American Cafe at Owings Mills mall was reporting at its worst.

The articles not only included the 16-year-old suspect's name, but also the high school he attends.

Perhaps your reporters are not aware of the racial make-up of this community in northwest Baltimore County known as Randallstown.

It is no secret that some whites are moving from the area because of the influx of black families.

The articles of your reporters only contribute to the flight of white families from a racially mixed community. There are those who need only the slightest of excuses to move.

The shooting incident is a horrible one, and I hope the guilty will receive justice. However, don't encourage your reporters to go off half-cocked before they have correct information.

I believe the youth arrested, his family, the high school and the Randallstown community deserve an apology from The Sun.

Percy Alston


Jews and Israel

Warren I. Cohen's Jan. 2 article, "American Jews and Israel's Hope for Peace," wrongly asserts that American Jews have "blindly" supported Israeli policies, "right or wrong," and therefore have "themselves posed a major obstacle to peace."

Contrary to Mr. Cohen's belief, the organized American Jewish community is composed of a diverse group of individuals who regularly express their opinion on numerous issues affecting Israel. American Jews, however, are united in their understanding of Israel's security needs.

Israel has the only democratically elected government in the Middle East, and American Jews have long recognized that only the citizens of the Jewish state can make decisions regarding their security.

As a result, the American Jewish community has generally avoided criticizing Israel's policy of establishing security settlements in the administered territories, where Israel's presence is the result of a war forced upon it in 1967 by Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces.

Of course, the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict has not been Israel's settlement policy, but rather the refusal of Arab states, except Egypt, to recognize Israel's right to exist in peace and security.

Now that the PLO has seemingly accepted Israel as a permanent fixture in the region, there is hope that peace will finally be a reality.

Should the peace accord fall apart, it will not be the fault of the American Jewish community, but rather the simple failure of the PLO to live up to the letter and spirit of the Sept. 13 agreement signed on the White House lawn.

Sanford V. Teplitzky


B6 The writer is president, Baltimore Jewish Council.

Eager House Feels Sabotaged

I am voicing disapproval of a statement made about the EageHouse Restaurant in Elizabeth Large's Dec. 11 review of the 1994 Zagat Survey of Maryland and the District of Columbia restaurants.

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