Saturday Mailbox


February 01, 2003

Putting cameras at intersections curbs accidents

In response to The Sun's editorial "Distorted pictures" (Jan. 15), the Baltimore City Office of Transportation would like to point out a few facts:

The red-light camera program is designed to decrease the number of red-light violations, which can result in accidents and fatalities.

Red-light running is down dramatically at intersections where cameras have been installed. Accidents have dropped 63 percent over the last two years at these locations. Injuries have dropped 88 percent since the start of the program. And to date there has not been a fatality at any city intersection with a red-light camera.

Also, the red-light camera contract is not administered by a single agency, as suggested in your article. Three agencies handle various components of the contract:

The Office of Transportation handles the traffic engineering, signals and camera maintenance.

To verify each violation, the Police Department reviews and signs off on each and every ticket issued.

The Department of Finance processes the payments and collection notices.

Each picture taken by a red-light camera goes through four levels of review to make certain that it is indeed a valid infraction and not the result of a special situation that forces a motorist into an intersection.

And, as for the amber-time settings at various intersections, the city's traffic signals operate in accordance with the Federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. None of the variables in this system has ever been manipulated in the interest of revenue.

The contractor does not receive compensation for simply issuing tickets. The contractor only receives payments from tickets that have been reviewed and confirmed by the Police Department and paid by the violator.

We appreciated Judge Keith E. Mathews' report on the cameras and invited him to a discussion of Baltimore's red-light camera program. We provided him with factual information regarding the program, and feel that the discussion has clarified the major concerns cited in his report.

And safety has always been, and will always be, the focus of the red-light camera program.

Alfred H. Foxx


The writer is the director of Baltimore's Office of Transportation.

Cartoon insulted military leaders

I was gratified to see Michael Hill's fair and balanced article "Military Justice" as well as the cartoon "Uncommon Valor" in the Jan. 26 Sun. But I must express my disappointment and disgust with Mike Lane's Jan. 19 "Friendly Fire" cartoon.

The implication of the depiction of the grinning Pentagon official is that the military is casual or even callous about the loss of its members through combat or accidents.

No one knows better than a military leader that the term "friendly fire" is perhaps the greatest oxymoron in our language. To imply that military leaders would use that term as a rationalization to members of the families of soldiers killed is reckless and insulting.

To those of us who have had the duty of speaking to surviving members of military families, the cartoon is obscene.

Whether individuals are guilty of crimes in the use of force in combat is a question for military courts, as Mr. Hill correctly pointed out. Doubts about the efficacy of that system may be valid.

But representing the military as an institution as dismissive of the causes of death is inaccurate and unfair.

Robert Seipel


The writer is a major in the U.S. Army.

U.S. government hasn't earned trust

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was quoted in The Sun as saying, with regard to claims that the Bush administration has proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction: "I sort of find it astonishing that the issue is whether you can trust the U.S. government" ("U.S. plays down role of inspectors," Jan. 24).

Where has Mr. Wolfowitz been for the last 40 years?

Where was he when President Johnson exaggerated the seriousness of the Gulf of Tonkin incident and accelerated our involvement in Vietnam? When President Nixon tried to obstruct justice and was forced to resign over Watergate?

When Oliver North lied to Congress about selling arms to Iran to get money to illegally support the contras in Nicaragua? When President Clinton's lies about sexual misconduct got him impeached?

Or when President Bush decided to set up secret military tribunals in defiance of the constitutional right to an open and fair trial?

So why should we trust the U.S. government?

Ed Schneider


Pro-life march merits much more attention

I was disappointed that The Sun printed a release from the Associated Press rather than an article from a Sun staff writer about the March for Life on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision.

I attended the march, and contrary to what was suggested by the headline buried on Page 8, "Both sides on abortion issue rally in D.C." (Jan. 23), I did not see a single demonstrator supporting abortion.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.