Round up criminals without expanding federal authorityThis...

Letters to the Editor

February 18, 1999

Round up criminals without expanding federal authority

This letter is regarding the article ("Freed suspect arrested by FBI," Feb. 6), which stated that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had arrested a suspect in an armed robbery and carjacking on April 20, 1996.

The reason for the FBI involvement was that Baltimore prosecutors and judges had botched the case, according to The Sun. The article described how a number of citizens involved in the incident were pleased with this development.

It is important for all of us to be safe from the threat of violent crime. If local officials are not responsibly doing their duty to punish violent criminals, The Sun is doing a public service in pointing that out.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. The involvement of federal officials in this case is wrong and illegal, whether or not the accused men are guilty of the original crime.

The U.S. Constitution gives federal government limited, explicit powers. The purpose of giving the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce was to address situations where no single state would logically have sole jurisdiction.

Richard J. Wiegand, Millersville

Keep telling the story of homicide's high price

I was impressed with your editorial "Getting away with murder" (Feb. 14) and hope it is a continuing campaign, similar to the Reading by 9 effort.

Perhaps it is too hard to do, but publishing photos of the 300-odd people who were murdered last year might make a substantial impression. I am old enough to remember when Life magazine printed photos of every soldier who died in Vietnam one week. I have always believed it was a turning point in impressing to the American public the price of war.

Michard Morrell, Baltimore

Congratulations on the Feb. 14 editorial on murder in Baltimore.

That is precisely the kind of hard-hitting, direct, out-of-the-box thinking that this issue deserves and requires.

Lester M. Salamon, Baltimore

Our public officials misplace their priorities

As Rome burned, Nero fiddled. While Nero's behavior is probably apocryphal, the lasting image is relevant to the situation in our state. Consider these stories in the news recently:

The cost of paying for deferred maintenance and construction in our public schools statewide is estimated at several billion dollars. Neglected maintenance can have severe safety consequences, as illustrated by the plight of a Baltimore City school student who was scalded in a school bathroom by a faulty boiler. Further, suburban sprawl has overcrowded many schools, sometimes forcing students to attend classes in trailers.

The Baltimore City court system is unable to cope with the backlog of criminal cases, resulting in the release of alleged felons. The remedy will undoubtedly require more judges, prosecutors and administrative staff and more facilities. The cost will be expensive, most likely requiring an infusion of state aid.

While these problems have been mounting, what have our elected officials been doing? In part, spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums for millionaire athletes and team owners. These projects are touted as sound economic investments. Maybe good investments for design and construction firms but not for people.

It is unconscionable that politicians have allowed the educational and criminal justice infrastructure to deteriorate while throwing money at entertainment infrastructures.

Indeed, we should question their competence and demand that they get their priorities in order.

Theodore A. Kluga, Annapolis

Showing birds as beggars is fuzzy but irresponsible

I bet you never thought you would get a letter objecting to a cover photo as innocuous as that of Feb. 4, which shows a man solicitously feeding pigeons and gulls at the Korean War Memorial.

Unhappily, the photo and caption do not just evoke warm feelings of man bonding with nature, but they also show a lack of editorial judgment when it comes to promoting good conservation.

A better caption might have been "What's wrong with this picture?" Sure, it's great to feed the birds. In fact, all across America, it is a popular pastime that benefits wildlife in winter and immeasurably enriches the lives of those who do it.

However, to make birds become beggars and scavengers is not responsible conservation.

And although it is difficult to tell from the photo what is being fed to the birds, it looks like bread. Human food, especially bread, is not good for birds.

Finally, the potential for disease transmission from birds to humans is exacerbated by feeding birds from one's hands. Nasty stuff can come from contact with pigeons, not the least of which is tuberculosis.

The bottom line is that it is inappropriate to feed birds in the manner The Sun so warmly portrayed. Your readers do deserve a few feel-good photos in contrast to the stress, tension, and warfare that is often the daily fare.

But how about exercising the judgment that is needed to portray effective conservation in action?

Richard J. Dolesh, Brandywine

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