Radar cameras give government new way to pick our...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 17, 2002

Radar cameras give government new way to pick our pockets

I am against the push toward authorizing photo radar cameras in Maryland ("Speeders may smile for camera," Feb. 6).

Everyone cites safety and reallocating police manpower as the motivation. However, I believe it has much more to do with money. Governments have found these cameras to be a highly profitable, unregulated money stream.

Hiring a private business to profit from the number of tickets issued is an abrogation of government responsibilities. It's also an end run around the resource limits citizens have established for their government. And there are privacy and constitutional problems with this approach to traffic enforcement.

Governments should either make the case to increase revenues, reprogram existing resources or live within their limits.

Mel Barnhart

Randallstown

The General Assembly seems to be quick to embrace a bill that would allow municipalities to use radar cameras to detect speeders. This technique, like red-light cameras, is merely another legal way to pickpocket the taxpayers.

Sadly, it has taken the deaths of five people for the legislators to consider a bill banning the use of cell phones by drivers. This bill died in committee the past two years.

It seems the General Assembly is more concerned with laws that boost revenue than those that actually save lives.

D.C. Snyder

Snow Hill

The Sun's article regarding photo radar is another example of politics as usual. Yes, a private company will run the program for a fee, but the government must still purchase the equipment.

Let's use those funds for programs that attract more taxpaying businesses to Maryland or increase tourism.

And let's stop reaching into the pockets of resident taxpayers every time there is a shortfall of funds, and start spending revenue more wisely.

Michael Boyko

Catonsville

Anti-speeding cameras could help curtail sprawl

The concept of using hidden radar cameras for speeders has far-reaching effects beyond the obvious generation of income ("Speeders may smile for camera," Feb. 6).

It could be seen as a form of a state lottery system, in which you contribute to the pot by taking a chance on speeding.

More important is the strong anti-sprawl effect the cameras could have by slowing traffic, lengthening commutes and generally encouraging development closer to jobs and services. They would encourage the use of mass transit as well.

We have come to depend on speeding as a lifestyle, but it must be controlled as traffic increases and drivers become more desperate. Communities have a right to demand adherence to speed limits, if only to preserve the ability to walk across roads and gain access to them.

If the objection to using cameras is that a private operator would profit from them, a nonprofit entity should be created to run the cameras and direct the resulting income to state or local government.

It will be millions. Let's use it for mass transit.

Doug Carroll

Lutherville

Bush should confront the `evildoers' at home

I would like to see President Bush turn his rhetoric on the "axis of evil" lurking in his own Texas backyard.

He is all tough talk when it comes to nations overseas. If he would become as proactive with Kenneth Lay and start a "war on greed," the future of U.S. citizens would be more secure.

How many financial casualties will it take before Mr. Bush says or does something about these "evildoers" on the homefront?

Bonnie Allan

Owings Mills

Creating studio in firehouse would give local art a boost

I thought that the article about the local artist who wants to buy a firehouse was great ("A painter's blank canvas," Feb. 7).

And it is a great idea for Devon Davison to set up an art studio in a firehouse. This would greatly strengthen Baltimore's arts community.

Not only is Mr. Davison helping local artists, he is also helping local children learn art in a different environment.

Leor Galil

Bethesda

Censorship continues in this country, too

The Sun's article on Russian youth collecting and disposing of modern novels compared this effort to previous Russian censorship and to Nazi book-burning, ("Russian youth group takes pages from past," Feb. 9), but perhaps the most chilling comparison is with Americans who are trying to rid our public and school libraries of books they don't like.

Most recently, the Harry Potter books have been the targets of this crusade.

What the Russians and the American extremists have in common is the fear that their own ideas and values aren't strong enough to withstand challenge.

Judith Seid

Towson

Hospital report card is a fine first step

The Maryland Health Care Commission made a noble start with the release of its hospital report card ("Report card on hospitals released by Maryland," Feb. 1).

To be sure, David Lansky of the Foundation for Accountability is justified in calling for the release of such additional information as mortality data. And I have no doubt the commission will formulate an appropriately weighted or risk-adjusted index for reporting mortality rates.

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