On July 20, 1994, Max Obuszewski, a local peace activist, was arrested at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory after refusing to stop the distribution of leaflets opposing the work of the APL in nuclear weapons research.
On Jan. 9, 1995, facing a charge of trespass before Howard County District Court Judge Louis Becker, Mr. Obuszewski was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in the Howard County Detention Center -- a sentence we consider excessive.
Judge Becker based his decision on the argument that the APL is a private, rather than public, institution. In his opinion, the nuclear weapons contractor can now exclude anyone critical of its research.
Peaceful distribution of flyers had been an accepted practice at the APL for almost 10 years. The APL recognized the right to such protest and accommodated itself accordingly.
The board of directors of Baltimore Jobs with Peace brings this to your attention for several reasons. We remind you that the APL received $239 million in 1993 for weapons research and development. It is one of the top 100 Department of Defense contractors.
Baltimore citizens' tax dollars support this work. All we need to do is to look around us to see the greater need for services which sustain life and revitalize our community.
This is what the Empowerment Zone is all about: ". . . the holistic healing of the patient called Baltimore."
Secondly, this case represents an infringement of our basic freedom of expression. When individual citizens can no longer express their opinions and raise questions in a peaceful manner, the freedom of expression of all Americans is jeopardized.
To add insult to injury, Judge Becker said Mr. Obuszewski was to begin serving his sentence on Sunday, Jan. 15, to honor Martin Luther King Jr.
We are puzzled and offended by his reasoning. Is this any way to "honor" one of the greatest proponents of peace, non-violent protest and freedom of expression?
In our opinion, Judge Becker has misunderstood and violated both the memory and principles of Dr. King, if not the Bill of Rights as well.
Sister Cynthia Nordone
The writer is executive director of Baltimore Jobs with Peace.
Ruth Shriver (letter, Feb. 2) warns us that the spineless politicians who love the balanced budget amendment will continue to spend and can always balance the budget by raising taxes.
This is exactly what I want them forced to do -- raise taxes when they want to fund new expenditures. New spending mandates must then stand the test of taxpayer scrutiny regarding the benefit (and who benefits) in relation to the cost (to the taxpayer).
This insures a level of accountability that I suspect would have killed much of the deficit spending legislation over the last 15 years.
Deficit spending is taxation with delayed representation -- it seems painless at the time and is nearly irreversible to those later stuck with the bill. One-third of our tax dollars are now consumed by debt service for programs enacted years ago and of questionable value today.
I'm not suggesting we will have better foresight than our predecessors, but at least spending initiatives will be more seriously evaluated and challenged. Going back to the voters with tax increases has an amazing way of causing politicians to consider the public interest rather than their own.
Balancing the budget raises the bar of accountability for politicians; they clearly understand that tax increases can be fatal unless the freight-paying taxpayer is convinced the expenditure is worth the cost.
To those who insist balanced budget supporters show how they plan to do it, the answer is a simple "who cares?" Actually we all care very much how they do it, but by far the more important thing is that they do it.
We will be watching carefully because the impact of tax increase legislation will be on us now.
It won't be easy, it won't be painless; but it will be openly and thoroughly debated with the specter of potentially enraged taxpayers only one election away.
I am reasonably certain a lot of cutting will occur before my taxes go up -- those who don't have the courage to make cuts won't last long.
W. D. Sauerwein
Use Computers for Traffic Woes
The answer to speeding and traffic-signal running is very simple. Technology is here. Why not use it?
First, we need to eliminate the outdated belief that traffic summonses must be signed by the driver. Nuts! The owner who has the vehicle registered should be held responsible for anything that happens in the use of his vehicle.
With the technology available today (computerized cameras, radar and all types of computers for every purpose), detectors can be set up on highways, major intersections and bridges, and can be moved periodically.
They would be portable units and would not be noticeable to the drivers.