Budget cuts hurt young Rita Fisher
On July 26, The Sun published a number of letters from irate Baltimore County citizens who condemned the Department of Social Services and the police for not protecting 9-year-old Rita Fisher. May I ask how many of them went along with the majority of county citizens over the past 17 years who voted for two ''budget cut'' presidents and a ''budget cut'' congress?
It was precisely these elected officials who consistently cut funding to the Department of Social Services since 1980 as wellas the Republican Congress who cut the funds from the Crime Bill that were supposed to help the police intervene when children and youth were found to be at risk.
If county residents really want to help the Rita Fishers of this world, tell them to get a referendum on the ballot to provide even one more social worker at the DSS office that handled the Fisher case. Let the social worker be paid with county funds. That's called ''control at the local level.''
It's right up the alley of our citizens who have shown their anti-federal government sentiments at the ballot box over and over again. Let them put their money where their mouths are.
Tobacco industry not organized crime
In regard to the July 25 news brief, ''FBI goes on line in search of tobacco whistle-blowers," what a novel application for the Internet -- witch hunting.
The FBI is always advancing forensic science, but the cigarette industry isn't in the same class with organized crime, terrorism or serial killers. Tobacco is still absolutely legal.
The way the tobacco industry has been targeted by our government is alarming. Apparently, the recent $368 billion civil settlement hasn't slowed the anti-smoking Gestapo.
Since enjoying a cigarette is a lawful pursuit, why does the FBI need to be involved at all?
R. H. Ellis
Artscape needs better dance floor
I could't agree more with your glowing assessment of Artscape (editorial, July 30). It is invariably one of the high points of my year in Baltimore, and this year was no exception.
My one complaint pertains to the reserved seating area in front of the Decker Stage. Year after year, this fenced off area remains largely empty for most of the weekend.
Decker Stage features a lot of energetic, eminently danceable music, and yet there's no place for the dancers among us to get the jitters out of our bugs.
Certain styles of dance (swing, for example) are impossible on the hill, all are uncomfortable, and all obstruct the view of those who are just there to lay back and watch the show.
Next year, let's leave that area open for fun and frolic. Isn't that what Artscape is supposed to be about?
Another used book store in the city
In his July 25 Opinion Commentary column proposing the conversion of the Odorite Building into a ''mega-bookstore,'' Fred B. Shoken said Baltimore ''isn't a very good place to buy books.''
Recanting somewhat, he quickly added that there are some great places to buy used books, such as Tiber and Kelmscott on 25th Street and Allen's and Normal's on 31st Street.
But, unfortunately for your readers, he neglected to mention another of Baltimore's treasured used-book stores -- BNN Books, also on 25th Street, which has been in operation since 1993. All its books are donated and it is run by volunteers.
Proceeds from the BNN bookstore benefit the Baltimore News Network, a nonprofit corporation established by a group of concerned citizens to provide an outlet for progressive viewpoints. BNN accomplishes its goals through book and film discussion groups, educational forums and publication of its newspaper, The Sentinel.
I invite Mr. Shoken and your readers to visit BNN Books. Its wide variety of inexpensive books please book lovers Tuesday through Saturday, 11: 30 a.m. to 6 p.m. BNN Books is not a mega-bookstore, but it's big on commitment and free thought.
Highway lighting tested in daytime
A letter to the editor (July 17) concerning highway lighting may perpetuate a common misperception. The State Highway Administration (SHA) welcomes the opportunity to clarify the situation.
The new lighting along Radio Tower Drive in Baltimore County is connected to the lighting installed as part of the I-695 (Baltimore Beltway) widening project.
SHA runs 24-hour, 30-day tests on all new highway lighting to ensure proper operation for long, continuous periods.
In this case, the new lights on the Beltway did not function correctly. Once the contractor corrects the problem, SHA will conduct another 30-day test.
The cost of the tests is minimal, but there is a huge return in terms of motorist safety.
Highway lighting allows motorists to see the roadway and other motorists more clearly. Lights also make stranded motorists more visible and less likely to be hit.
SHA believes you cannot put a price on safety.
David J. Malkowski
The writer is metropolitan district engineer for the State Highway Administration.
Jessup prisoners punished unfairly
I am writing on behalf of the families and inmates involved in the continuing lockdown at the Maryland House of Correction Annex at Jessup.
After enduring a particularly cruel lockdown of five weeks with no family contact at all, the men were finally being given back some privileges -- limited phone calls, one family visit per week.
Now, due to the actions of one inmate and an attempted stabbing of a corrections officer on July 23, 1,500 men have been locked down again. I am writing to draw the media's attention to this matter and to ask family members to write the warden, the governor and the commissioner.
These men are being severely punished for something they did not do, and we, the families, are being cut off from them at a time when they need our support and love.
Barbara L. Chadwick