Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

February 26, 2005

Security issues long a problem at Towson mall

I have wanted to write a letter regarding the inadequacies of the Towson Town Center's garage for years. But after the brutal murder of a beloved teacher last weekend, now is the time.

It's hard to believe that mall management says, "We constantly review our security plans and update them" ("2 teens held in mall killing," Feb. 22). How about just taking a walk around the lot?

The garage is dark, creepy and dangerous in more ways than one:

Inadequate lighting, a prescription for danger. It is dark in the lot, even in the afternoon.

Last November, a friend of mine from Richmond tripped on a gray concrete block near Hecht's and severely sprained her foot.

She could not walk after her fall. I ran to the call box near the elevator. It was broken. I ran down two flights of steps to the next call box. I pushed it. No one came.

Inadequate walkway on Joppa Road for shoppers coming out of the mall.

Every single time I enter the mall from this entrance, there is some poor soul trying to walk up the ramp out of the mall with packages in hand as cars are entering the mall within two feet of that person. This is dangerous.

No security cameras. This is a no-brainer. The mall has a history of crime, including robbery, assaults, carjacking and now murder. It might be helpful to watch over the patrons - although, of course, with the improper lighting, it could be difficult to film anything.

It is time to put cameras, lights and more effective security in the garage.

What is it going to take to make this happen?

Carla Sinclair

Towson

Vallario cut off backers of witness safety bill

On the day The Sun reported a lawsuit against the city by relatives of the slain Dawson family for not protecting them after they reported drug activity ("Dawson family survivors file lawsuit against officials, police," Feb. 18), it also reported the rude behavior of House Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. during an Annapolis hearing of a witness intimidation bill ("House panel questions supporters, opponents of bill on intimidation," Feb. 18).

I attended the hearing and support the bill that would protect some witnesses from testifying in a hostile courtroom and increase the penalty for witness intimidation.

As a former newspaper reporter who covered hundreds of public hearings during nearly three decades, I thought I had become inured to the sight of elected officials who slept, gossiped, read newspapers and were generally clueless about the issues before them. But Mr. Vallario's insulting behavior toward proponents of the bill was shocking even to me.

He cut off the bill's proponents in mid-testimony and let opponents who share his views ramble on about issues that were not germane to the bill.

It was not that he opposed the bill that bothered me, but the way he arrogantly dismissed the testimony of those who don't share his viewpoint.

Joan Jacobson

Baltimore

Slots compromise core moral values

It's time - long past time, in fact - for Maryland citizens to take a hard look at themselves and whether or not their values are for sale on the issue of slot machines in Maryland.

"Moral values" were highly touted following the 2004 election, and no one waved that banner more fervently than the Republican Party. I am greatly disappointed, therefore, that our Republican governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., is leading the fight to diminish the moral values of our state by expanding gambling here ("House to take its turn at slots," Feb. 20).

We have heard the arguments in favor of slots - more jobs, more money for education for our kids. But anyone with an ounce of sense knows those are a smokescreen covering more money for the business and political interests behind the slots initiative.

Sure, the state would get its cut, but where are our "moral values" if we take that money?

Advocates of slots unashamedly tie this ill-gotten gain to education funding. But if we truly value our children's education and well-being, we should make hard choices to find the funding for it elsewhere.

Do we honestly think our children will not see and learn the hypocrisy of teaching them social values with books bought by gambling proceeds?

Gambling is a false hope that destroys families and lives. It is a deceit that promises unearned riches without hard work.

I am hopeful that the citizens of Maryland will tell Mr. Ehrlich and their representatives that their moral values are not for sale at any price.

H. J. Fleischman

Bel Air

`The Gates' is art that has to be seen

The Sun's Arts & Society feature piece about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's "The Gates" in New York's Central Park featured beautiful pictures of this stunning work of public art. Unfortunately, it leads with a question it fails to answer: "But is it art?" ("Debating `The Gates,'" Feb. 20).

Of course it is art. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are significant artists. Their work has been recognized broadly since the 1960s. Their place in the history of art is firmly established.

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