Busing students would undermine Mayo elementary The Sun...

LETTERS

April 16, 2000

Busing students would undermine Mayo elementary

The Sun was mistaken in calling Anne Arundel's school board "cowardly" ("Cowardly school board," editorial April 10).

On several occasions The Sun has downplayed the role that travel distance plays in Mayo Elementary School's parents' concern about transferring students temporarily to Annapolis Middle School.

I suggest you try riding along Route 2 through Edgewater (which will shortly become even more clogged because of road expansion) and along Forest Drive, one of the most heavily traveled roads in the state.

This exhausting daily trip for young students would do nothing to preserve Mayo elementary's status as a National Blue-Ribbon school and could hardly be called efficient.

The editorial also argued that parents gladly send children on long rides to private schools; however, these are not the same parents.

The Sun is of course absolutely correct that the racist death threat to school Superintendent Carol S. Parham was shocking and unacceptable.

But The Sun is entirely wrong to accuse the school board of knuckling under to hostile bigotry, when there is clear justification for its decision.

The proposed land swap for Mayo elementary, while so far only under consideration, is impressive as a community-based solution to the problem.

Perhaps The Sun could follow up on this laudable plan.

Shirley Heintz, Harwood

County's firefighters deserve better

As a 15-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, I have seen a lot of bad things happen to good people.

I have seen children die in cars because they weren't restrained. I've seen innocent people killed by drunken drivers.

And I have seen several administrations treat firefighters and paramedics like second-class citizens.

But through it all, we have continued to provide the highest level of service to the citizens of Anne Arundel County, because that is our mission and our passion.

Every year, the firefighters and paramedics appeal to the county executive to be treated fairly and equitably. We bargain in good faith and have even given up benefits to save the jobs of our own people.

Despite our efforts, we are continually disappointed and worse, abused.

The captains and lieutenants were thrown out of their union to save the county money. Our pay and benefits are the lowest among firefighters in the Baltimore-Washington area.

We are losing firefighters and paramedics every month to other counties that offer better pay and benefits. Our morale is at its lowest level in years.

Last year, we finally supported a county executive who we thought supported us.

She promised to return the captains and lieutenants to the union.

She promised to make our pay and benefits more competitive. She promised us parity with the police.

And we believed her. But like the politicians before her, she did not keep her word.

I hope Janet Owens and her family never need the services of the Anne Arundel firefighters and paramedics.

But if she ever does, she can be assured that she will enjoy the same respect, dignity and professionalism that all other citizens enjoy, regardless of her treatment of us or lack of commitment to her word.

Stephanie Dietz, Linthicum

The writer is an Anne Arundel fire department lieutenant who works at Fire Station 32 .

Gun law will move purchases out-of-state

The citizens of Maryland are going out of state to buy clothes, furniture, appliances and cigarettes.

The governor has given them another reason to buy out of state with his do-nothing-to-get-the-guns-off-the-street gun law.

The law says that only guns with built-in safety locks can be sold in Maryland starting in 2003.

But there are 49 other states Marylanders can buy a gun -- unless the governor's next step is to ban all guns in Maryland that do not have a built-in safety lock.

If the governor tries that, Maryland will be involved in a second Civil War.

Bill Williams, Glen Burnie

Less gun tolerance will mean less crime

ccp12.3 I noted in The Sun that Project Disarm has put 100 people in prison for violations of federal handgun laws("Indictments under Project Disarm increase 70 percent in Baltimore," April 11).

But the same article stated that more than 50 percent of those arrested in Baltimore City for illegally carrying a firearm either had their charges dropped or received sentences of less than one year in prison.

I am not opposed to gun legislation. But rather than pass additional federal, state and local firearms laws which are selectively enforced, wouldn't it make more sense to enforce rigorously the current laws?

The surest way to have laws -- any laws -- violated is not to enforce them.

If gun violators knew they were going to go to jail for significant periods of time for carrying illegal weapons, I submit that many of them would not carry guns.

Crime in the city would then decline.

But, as it is now, one can carry a gun and know that, even if apprehended, one stands a better-than-even chance of incurring no major penalty.

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