Taking two sides on pollution and building highwaySince I...


September 16, 1997

Taking two sides on pollution and building highway

Since I have been concerned about the Pfiesteria crisis in the Pocomoke River, I was pleased to read The Sun's Aug. 29 editorial, ''Bigger problem than Pfiesteria.''

The problem of pollution, says the editorial, cannot be solved by any scientist or government.

Readers are asked if we are all willing to support environmental regulations to reduce agricultural runoff, to let dandelions grow in our yards, to take mass transit once a week, and to make other personal choices to reduce pollution. If we are not, the editorial warns, then we cannot wring our hands when fish are found rotting in the water.

The problem of pollution is so large that it can even be found in another Aug. 29 editorial, ''A highway whose time has come.'' This editorial enthusiastically supports the planned construction of the Inter-County Connector, a highway designed ''to relieve -- frightful congestion on the Capital Beltway.''

The ICC ''would traverse streams'' (i.e. destroy wetlands) and is vehemently opposed by environmentalists. But the editors support the ICC, apparently believing that the only way to alleviate traffic congestion is to build bmore roads for more cars. Shall we start wringing our hands?

Rebecca Leamon


What liberals have done for nation

I saw an interesting bumper sticker. ''Visualize: No Liberals.'' TC That seemed a reasonable challenge. I considered a nation with no liberals.

And therefore, no pure food and drug laws; no child labor laws; no occupational safety laws; 16-hour work days; no paid vacation or sick days or health insurance benefits; racial segregation still in place; no truth-in-advertising; Jewish and Muslim children forced to hear Christian scriptures and Christian prayers in public schools; back-alley abortions still prevalent; no Social Security; the Vietnam War still raging; no environmental protection laws.

Well, it certainly would be a different nation without the liberals, past and present, who brought about these changes in our society.

I wonder why anyone would prefer to live in such an illiberal nation.

John V. Chamberlain


Former boy scout Gore is dishonest, or worse

Vice President Al Gore, an experienced politician and longtime member of the Democratic Party, would have us believe that he didn't know, doesn't remember, wasn't informed and won't do it again. We are drawn to conclude that Mr. Gore is either dishonest, deceitful or incompetent or worse, all of the above.

ouglas Hoffman


Citizen review of police needed

The NAACP has long believed in civilian review of excessive force complaints against police departments around the country a way to investigate independently and resolve issues of possible misconduct. As reports of excessive force by police increase around the country, we reiterate our support of citizen oversight in the most egregious cases.

Here in Baltimore, we have an unfortunate situation where people are openly and sharply criticizing Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy for her decision not to send a controversial police shooting incident to a grand jury for possible criminal charges.

While I disagree with the decision by the state's attorney, I have a great deal of respect for her and the level of commitment she brings to her work. In my opinion, calls by some for her to step down are both premature and unwarranted. Such a reaction ignores the fact that her record in its totality has been exceptional.

There are sharp disagreements regarding the shooting of James Quarles and people have strong and emotional opinions on both sides. Good police officers must be free to do their jobs effectively and good citizens must be free enough to speak out.

That is just another reason why we need to broaden the process of police review to also include fair-minded citizens who can make informed decisions that are swayed less by politics or emotion. We at the NAACP believe this is a good-government approach that goes to the heart of how a democratic society ought to operate, and we strongly support the creation of such a review board here in Baltimore.

Will it prevent shootings similar to the Quarles incident? The answer is no. Only a greater sense of tolerance and a healthy respect for the law will do that. However, it will help take the edge off potentially volatile situations -- after the fact. It will also provide a greater sense of comfort to everyday citizens who want to believe the best about the police who are sworn to protect them.

Kweisi Mfume


The writer is president and CEO of the NAACP.

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