Governor, legislators should better support community...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 05, 2000

Governor, legislators should better support community colleges

I have been reading with great interest The Sun's articles concerning funding for improvements needed at Maryland's community colleges, and particularly at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County ("Colleges need costly repair, report says," Dec. 25 and "State funds sought for community colleges," Dec. 28).

Their point that the community college's value as a resource to our county and the state's economy often go unrecognized is absolutely on the mark.

I know that when county and state delegations debate fiscal realities, a struggle for funding does occur. And major capital improvements are often shelved or deferred because of the pressing financial realities of the moment.

However, when a thriving economy provides a huge surplus, it is incumbent upon the state's chief executive to spread the money as fairly as possible among the state's underfunded needs.

New field houses at state universities and more private-sector involvement in education can be pondered, but reality dictates that the state's money should be spent where it will do the most good.

The community colleges should have been a target of opportunity for the governor.

Del. Nancy Hubers of Essex was right about the University of Maryland's alumni power in Annapolis. But perhaps under those Terp mantles one might find some hearts that know a real college bargain for Maryland's citizens?

Certainly those legislators should be persuaded to vote greater funding to maintain and preserve institutions that provide so much for so little to so many.

Richard A. Uhler

Monkton

Fund the city's needs, not College Park field house

The governor has proposed that the state spend $55 million for a new arena at the University of Maryland ("Colleges get $1.23 billion for building," Dec. 17). This is a vast sum to be spent solely for sports and recreation for a relatively few citizens.

Such a sum certainly would be better spent reducing some of the rot in Baltimore, which has become a national disgrace.

G. Marshal Naul

Chestertown

To cut crime, new mayor must take a new approach

Now that Baltimore has a new mayor, a renewed effort will be made to curb the crime, violence, killing and drug traffic in our city. Any effort to accomplish this will be worthless unless radical change is made in our judicial and penal systems.

First, our courts must stop slapping wrists and telling felons to be good citizens or we'll just have to put you in jail.

Second, a place must be made to isolate the criminal element from decent citizens. Money can always be generated for ballparks and convention centers. Why can't we generate an equal sum for prison construction?

Third, an adequate staff of judges and prosecutors must be generated. Violent and hardened criminals must not be allowed to walk because of delayed trials.

Fourth, the penal code must be changed in respect to punishment of crimes involving drugs. Importing and large-scale distribution of drugs should be treated as a capital offense.

Fifth, give our police officers a break: Let them do the job they are paid to do and help them if at all possible.

I wish the new mayor well and hope he can accomplish his goals. But without a radical change of tactics, the gentleman will merely be spinning his wheels.

William L. Scott

Baltimore

Pursuing drug traffickers is no way to curb crime

A recent letter suggested that "the problem in the past with shutting down Baltimore's open-air drug markets is that suppliers and consumers simply shuffle to another nearby location . . ."

The solution, it said, is for the police to "shut down the illegal pharmacy before it has the opportunity to set up shop" ("Police must do more than just move drug markets," Dec. 29).

As a shop cannot be shut down before it is set up, I assume the writer meant this satirically, as a comment on the proven futility of decades of drug prohibition.

If we wish to eliminate the crime that comes with drug prohibition (which is the vast majority of violent crime in the city), then we have two choices.

We can treat currently illegal drugs the way we treat alcohol and tobacco: tax and regulate their sale.

Or we can have the government take over the drug market and distribute drugs at cost.

If, however, we wish to continue to be victimized by violent crime, and attempt to imprison the one in eight adults in Baltimore who is a drug addict, then we can continue drug prohibition.

Henry Cohen

Baltimore

Scott Joplin's rags belonged among century's great music

National Public Radio and its experts and listeners who listed their top 100 American musical contributions of the 20th century missed a major chord by ignoring Scott Joplin ("NPR compiles list of century's top works of music," Dec. 17).

He captured the mood of an era-- the opening of the 20th century -- as well as any composer ever did.

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