Prosecute vandals instead of punishing victimized...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 04, 2002

Prosecute vandals instead of punishing victimized businesses

The plans the mayor announced in The Sun's article "Tough crackdown on graffiti planned" (March 22) - particularly those including increased penalties and policing - are to some extent welcome to businesses in the city center.

However, the comments by Mayor Martin O'Malley and Tom Yeager of the Downtown Partnership that imply that businesses are passively awaiting help from the public purse do owners such as me a profound disservice.

Owners like me have - at our own cost - cleaned graffiti off our buildings only to find that, in the absence of any police support, the vandals simply target our premises again and again.

These individuals, easily identifiable by their signatures, have been active in the city over a number of years, and their long-term success in defacing the city is testimony to the failure of the police and city authorities to tackle the problem.

The time to impose the responsibility for cleaning graffiti above first-floor level - which is far more expensive and difficult than merely painting out ground-floor vandalism on painted surfaces - will be when authorities can demonstrate that these individuals responsible for the graffiti have indeed been prosecuted under the new ordinances and deterred from further attacks, but certainly not before.

Ehrich Goebel

Baltimore

The writer is managing director of A.T. Jones & Sons Inc., a Howard Street costume shop.

Impose criminal penalties for failure to report abuse

Thank you for the editorial regarding the clergy's responsibility to report child abuse ("A sacred trust," March 17).

But while the editorial pointed out the strength in Maryland law, which requires clergy to report abuse, it missed an opportunity to expose a major gap in our laws: In our state, unlike 46 others, a person who knowingly fails to report abuse or neglect is not subject to criminal penalties. It is difficult for child advocates to understand this failure to give our reporting laws teeth.

Every citizen in Maryland has, by law, a responsibility to report suspected child abuse and neglect, and I hope that readers who have reason to believe that children are being harmed will immediately call child protective services or the police.

Meanwhile, child advocates are urging the General Assembly to make child abuse reporting a meaningful mandate.

Mindy Amor

Owings Mills

Celebrate the beauty of a celibate lifestyle

The Catholic Church needs to proclaim more than ever the power and beauty of the celibate lifestyle. Amidst the devastation of sexual scandals, the light of sexual purity must be held higher and brighter.

Celibacy offers joy, peace and liberation from the tyranny of sexual drives. The world needs this now more than ever.

Carolyn Huff

Woodstock

In convicting Andrea Yates, Texas did the right thing

I'm appalled at Andrew Cohen's commentary about the Andrea Yates conviction ("Texas justice isn't same as American justice," Opinion

Commentary, March 22).

Is Andrea Yates sick? Absolutely. However, she was aware what she was doing was wrong, and I can't believe there's a court in this country that wouldn't have ruled the same way the Texas court did.

Greg Goodale

Woodbine

Force downtown developers to prove they have financing

It's good to see that the idea that developers should at least provide proof of financing for new structures before being allowed to demolish historic buildings is finally gaining currency ("Leaders want developers to fill in the gaps," March 24.)

We at Baltimore Heritage have been making this argument since 1969, when Waterloo Row, on the west side of N. Calvert Street between Centre and Monument streets, was demolished for a project that fell through. It wasn't until the 1980s that developer David Tufaro stepped in and filled the unsightly vacant lot.

This sort of thing has happened again and again. We're tired of saying, "We told you so."

John Maclay

Baltimore

The writer is president of Baltimore Heritage.

Don't make residents pay for crimes others commit

Now that the Supreme Court has held that punishing the innocent for the drug offenses of others is constitutional, it reinforces the notion that the justices are cruel as well as corrupt ("Court upholds public housing evictions," March 27).

If there is any justice, perhaps we can now evict President George W. Bush from his public housing, thanks to his daughters' alcohol law convictions.

Of course, that won't happen, but perhaps we can embarrass our gutless Congress into making needed changes in public housing law to re-establish the principle that people are innocent until convicted of an act they actually performed.

Michael Klapp

Baltimore

Towson University unwise in its use of taxpayers' funds

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