Letters To The Editor


March 15, 2004

Girl's beating will alter lives for many years

It is with shock and disbelief that I write this letter regarding the vicious and cruel beating of 12-year-old Nicole Ashley Townes ("5 accused in beating of girl, 12, at party," March 11). Why anyone, adult or child, would participate in such a vile act and believe that he or she could get away with it is far beyond me.

A grown woman allegedly encouraging her daughter to beat up a young girl because she kissed a boy during a game? It is impossible to fathom.

The repercussions of this act of cruelty are far from over. What will become of the other children at the party who witnessed this monstrosity?

And what about the 7-year-old boy reportedly encouraged to participate in the beating? Where will he be 10 years from now? How will he react to someone who angers or betrays him? Or kisses his girlfriend?

There is no apology or excuse that justifies this horrible crime. I hope that all of the people who participated in this event are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

And perhaps a full media circus will allow others to see that this crime will not go unpunished and that there are serious, life-changing consequences to acts of violence.

Emily Watts


Reduce state's fleet of medevac aircraft

Citizens of Maryland owe a great deal of admiration and respect to the past and present members of Maryland's State Police Aviation Division. They have opened the sky to air medical transports ("Air rescues for profit," March 7). But today we need to focus on what is right for the patients.

So let's consider the efficiency of the system, while keeping in mind that state dollars are limited and that there are numerous important competing priorities that are sorely lacking funding.

No other state in this country has so large a publicly funded operation as Maryland's $18 million aeromedical division. Larger states have half as many medevac helicopters as Maryland has.

And today, the state police operate one of the most expensive helicopters to purchase and maintain within the air medical industry. Our fleet consists of 12 Dauphin helicopters that operate from eight bases. In a time of scarce resources, maintaining the current size of this aviation division is fiscally irresponsible.

If we cut its size, Maryland could redirect the savings to where the money is needed most - retention, training and equipment for our paid and volunteer paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

Maryland could downsize its aeromedical operations to six active helicopters and two back-ups without jeopardizing critically ill or injured patients.

It is time to challenge those charged with administrating our health care dollars to stop maintaining the status quo and start working to ensure that this system has the patients' best interests in mind.

Dick Johnson


The writer is president of the Golden Hour Coalition Inc.

City leaders take bold step on schools

As a city resident and parent of a public school student, I applaud Mayor Martin O'Malley, City Council member Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. and other city leaders for taking the bold step of dealing with the school funding crisis without the interference of the governor and his people ("Rainy day rescue called justified," March 11).

I urge all the citizens of Baltimore to support the mayor. Finally we have someone willing to do something.

And we should let the bond companies know that we intend to make this work, and that they should leave the city's bond rating alone.

Frank H. Pratka


Current school board can never succeed

I'll give the mayor some credit for endeavoring to make the school system right, but I question his logic in keeping the current city school board on board ("Despite bailout, schools facing difficult times," March 11).

Now, all of the sudden, this board has what it takes to correct the academic and financial crisis? Really?

If anyone really believes this board can be successful, well, I think that'll probably be the same day that pigs will fly.

Donald B. Nippard Jr.

Severna Park

Don't confuse gays with pedophiles

Priests who sexually abuse children are pedophiles; they are drawn to children. Homosexual men are drawn to other men ("The facts of clergy abuse," editorial, March 9).

Let's be careful not to confuse the two. There are many more heterosexual men who abuse children than homosexuals who do. There are millions of gay men and women who love children appropriately.

We must make that distinction to avoid knee-jerk gay bashing.

Emily Samuelson


Haiti shows power of gun ownership

What a surprise: After the opposition force in Haiti took over, it has prohibited the possession of personal firearms ("Haiti's police chief bans possession of personal weapons," March 7). If ever there were an example of why citizens need to own weapons, recent events in Haiti are it. If not for the armed citizenry, the Aristide government would still be in power.

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