Vetoing funding to secure safety is a big mistake I...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 27, 2002

Vetoing funding to secure safety is a big mistake

I cannot understand how President Bush can block $5.1 billion for homeland security in the name of "spending restraint" ("Bush insists outlook strong," Aug. 14).

The desperately-needed funds include $150 million for equipment and training for our fire departments and $100 million for communications equipment for the firefighters, police and other emergency responders who are our first line of defense in any emergency.

FOR THE RECORD - The Sun incorrectly identified the writer of the Aug. 27 letter "Faith-based services won't cure our woes": Lester Salamon is director of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Institute for Policy Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The Sun regrets the error.

They also include funds to monitor the health of the courageous emergency workers at the World Trade Center's Ground Zero.

There was also $39 million for increased inspections of cargo containers, which could be a great way to smuggle in some dirty bombs. And $82 million for the FBI's counterterrorism technology. And $165 million to increase security around our food and water supplies and $98 million for emergency highway repairs.

To be sure, there are some extras. There's money for flood control and veterans' medical care and funds for counterterrorism in Israel and critical funds for AIDS.

Could it be that it was the bill's $400 million in funding for election reform that caught Mr. Bush's eye? How wasteful it is for Congress to want fair elections next time around.

That couldn't be a security issue, could it -- the survival of our democratic rights?

Patricia M. Williams

Baltimore

Overtime expenses don't seem excessive

About overtime expenses, let us do some arithmetic: $250,000 over 18 months is an average overtime expense per month of $13,889. That divided by five officers is an average of $2,778 per officer per month ("Overtime for aides of Norris: $250,000," Aug. 19).

These officers protect the commissioner and carry out special assignments. They work long hours. These expenses do not strike me as excessive.

Do we need to be reminded that the police commissioner and his family require personal protection 24 hours a day because Edward T. Norris has put his career on the line trying to solve the drug and crime problems in this city, and that the kind of people Mr. Norris is going after would have no compunction about shooting him?

John P. McLaughlin

Baltimore

Norris deserves night on the town

The police commissioner holds a critical position in the "Greatest City in America." He needs to project the importance of the office -- not the man -- when he works and travels ("Commissioner defends use of funds for New York trip," Aug. 22).

What would it say about Baltimore if we required our commissioner to stay at the YMCA? How would our community be perceived if we only allowed him to treat business associates to dinner at McDonald's -- as long as no one super-sizes his order?

It does not matter that most Baltimoreans haven't stayed at W or eaten at Smith & Wollensky in New York. Most people don't have jobs where life-and-death decisions are a daily, and nightly, occurrence. Most people don't have to represent the city 24 hours a day.

Edward T. Norris' job is tough enough without these pointless witch hunts.

Has it ever occurred to any of Mr. Norris' critics that maybe, just maybe, he deserves a night on the town every now and then?

Andy Dumaine

Baltimore

Let commissioner go home to New York

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris ought to take his $137,000 severance pay and return to the Big Apple ("Norris interviewed for job while in N.Y. for funeral," Aug. 21).

Evidently, the New York transplant is accustomed to an excessive lifestyle. But how can anyone justify spending $2,500 for several dinners at a Manhattan steak house?

Mr. Norris should be compelled to make full restitution for the money he spent for personal use and entertainment.

Perhaps in New York it's considered good form to exploit the outrageous perks of one job to scout out a new one. But Baltimore's playboy commissioner needs to practice some fiscal restraint.

Frank W. Soltis

Baltimore

Why are golf courses allowed to water?

I'm happy to comply with restrictions due to the drought, but I wonder: How much water does a golf course use in a week, and why is watering golf courses allowed to continue in this emergency?

Debbie Jones

Baltimore

Article about judges favored incumbents

The Sun's article "Judge hopefuls stand on records" (Aug. 19) read like an editorial endorsement of the sitting judges disguised as a news story. If The Sun's intention is to endorse the sitting judges, that should be done on the editorial page and identified clearly as editorial opinion.

Contrary to The Sun's claim, Allan Feigelson's legal experience is quite broad and not restricted to banking and real estate. Mr. Feigelson also has many years of experience in civil litigation and criminal defense. And his extraordinary banking, real estate and bankruptcy law experience gives him unique expertise.

I had the opportunity to work for Mr. Feigelson from 1993 to 1995, and found his command of issues in a broad variety of cases to be encyclopedic.

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