The mayor is right to lash out against justice system's...


January 06, 2002

The mayor is right to lash out against justice system's woes

Yes, Mayor Martin O'Malley is often quick on the draw in his responses to issues facing the city, and often his remarks leave a lot to be desired. But in the case of crime, especially involving gun violations -- many of which result in murder -- he has every right to voice his frustrations, and those of law-abiding city residents ("Mayor lashes out on crime," Dec. 20).

Having spent many years policing the streets of Baltimore and inside the walls of Maryland's prisons, I can assure you that the present approach to lowering crime will not be successful given the current lack of serious assistance from other criminal justice agencies and the courts.

The vast majority of criminals do not think they will ever be arrested. And, should they be arrested, they believe the court system can often be beaten because of overcrowded dockets, poor preparation of cases, lack of proper evidence and failure of witnesses to appear.

Most young criminals have been taught that prison is not such a bad place. With visits from family and friends, spending money to buy goodies and three hots (meals) and a cot, life is often better in prison than on the streets.

But inmates do not want to be sent to another prison system, federal or state. So if we really want to reduce the level of crime in Baltimore, the first step must be the institution of Project Exile [which sends those guilty of gun violations to federal prison].

If the federal courts and U.S. attorney will not help in this, the governor should seek an agreement with another governor to exchange inmates of a similar type -- preferably with a state far away.

Richard A. Lanham Sr.

Glen Arm

The writer is a former Maryland commissioner of correction and Baltimore police detective.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz may think Mayor Martin O'Malley's comments about the prosecution of firearms offenders in federal court "intemperate, unfounded and outrageous."

But I am deeply grateful to have a mayor who is passionate about the carnage in the streets of Baltimore.

Hal Riedl


Preserve Mayfair Theater as an entertainment venue

How disappointed I was to learn that the city received only one proposal for the conversion of the Mayfair Theater on Baltimore's west side ("Mayfair Theater may be converted into apartments," Dec. 21).

As a new resident of Baltimore who has lived near the Mayfair since October, I have come to appreciate the building's wonderful facade and thought that its rehabilitation would fit well with the city's plan to revitalize the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I don't think conversion to residential use accomplishes the city's goal. With much residential development already underway or planned, the city and developers need to focus on bringing other services to the area.

Let the rehabilitation of the Mayfair Theater as a theater or entertainment structure fulfill a city goal for the neighborhood while preserving a landmark structure in original grand style and use.

Scott M. Johnstone


After razing stadium, what monument will fall next?

The Rev. John R. Sharp and the Govans Ecumenical Development Corp. have had their way: A noble monument to Baltimore's military and sports history will needlessly fall ("City set to OK razing of stadium's facade," Dec. 19.)

Mayor Martin O'Malley has had his way: A written agreement by the city not to demolish the memorial wall has been broken.

What monument and what agreement will be next?

John Maclay


Pay state's lawmakers what a rubber stamp is worth

I agree with Phyllis Brotman, vice-chairwoman of the General Assembly Compensation Commission, that "[State legislators] should be paid what they're worth" ("Lawmakers anxious over pay increase," Dec. 23).

Now someone needs to find out the price of a rubber stamp for the governor's desk and divide that amount by the number of legislators in both houses. Then they can be paid what they're worth.

Frederick J. Koenig


Linking rape, redistricting is offensive to those violated

I am appalled by Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick's and Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr.'s remarks equating the proposed redistricting of parts of Baltimore County to the violent crime of rape ("Redistricting reshapes more than just a map," Dec. 25).

I am sure anyone who has been a victim, or has known a victim, of this heinous crime is offended by the insensitivity shown by the comments of these two elected officials.

Kathie Frissyn

Severna Park

Fishermen come and go, but fish we can't do without

While the earth could easily survive without fishermen, it cannot survive without fish ("Overfishing could lead to future without fishermen," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 26). Is there any species on the planet we could extinguish and not suffer dire consequences?

Stripping the oceans of "forage fish" is reckless and irresponsible. Hauling in tons of capelin and menhaden solely for domestic animal feed is absolutely repugnant.

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