Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 19, 2007

Lacking the courage to stop executions?

Despite a courageous stand and strong lobbying by Gov. Martin O'Malley and the involvement of Cardinal William H. Keeler and the Catholic Church, the bill to repeal the death penalty still failed ("Death penalty repeal fails," March 16).

As a state senator, I opposed the death penalty. Speaking in opposition on the Senate floor, I said, "You cannot cure a premeditated murder with another premeditated murder." I still firmly believe that.

A system in which the state carries out a public killing to demonstrate it means business about murder is nothing less than barbaric.

I would ask quite simply: How can we justify killing a convicted murderer when we know that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, may not be carried out fairly and discriminates against the poor and along racial lines?

There can only be the following reasons: Our elected leaders support a system of revenge and vengeance, don't care enough to read the overpowering arguments in favor of repealing the death penalty, or simply lack the courage to repeal it.

John A. Pica Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is a former state senator.

Ultimate penalty preserves justice

Thankfully, for a brief moment, sanity returned to the Maryland legislature last week: By the slimmest of margins, Maryland has decided against overturning the death penalty ("Death penalty repeal fails," March 16).

For at least one more year, Maryland citizens can rest safely knowing that the ultimate retribution may be meted out to a criminal who takes another person's life.

Correctional officers and police officers, men and women who put their lives on the line every day, can rest safely knowing that a convicted killer may pay the ultimate price if he or she kills again.

While it is true that nothing can bring back a life that has been taken, the death penalty affords the families of those affected a modicum of closure.

In a larger sense, it also offers our society a measure of justice.

Louis R. Fritz

Baltimore

Power over property adds to city's blight

Eminent domain reform that would prevent the seizure of well-maintained Maryland homes and businesses continues to be given short shrift in the state legislature ("Eminent domain debated," March 9).

Vast swaths of Baltimore currently sit in urban renewal areas where officials can use eminent domain powers to seize properties to benefit private developers.

Just the threat of condemnation can squash a small property owner's incentive to invest in and maintain Baltimore's historic buildings or to construct new ones.

Is it any wonder Poppleton, Park Heights and many other once-proud neighborhoods over which officials have wielded condemnation authority for decades sit in decay?

And "reforms" promising a little more in "just compensation" after residents and businesses owners are booted out of their neighborhoods will do little to change this reality.

All Maryland's property owners deserve real reform that bars eminent domain for private gain.

Legislators interested in protecting "the little guy" and Baltimore's revitalization owe their constituents as much.

John K. Ross

Arlington, Va.

The writer is a research assistant for the Castle Coalition, a grassroots group that fights the abuse of eminent domain powers.

Part-time council deserves no raise

The City Council is giving itself a raise while Baltimore decays ("Hearing pushed on city raises," March 15).

We have homelessness, drug addiction, rotten schools and lousy salaries for those who are really trying to make Baltimore livable.

It's too bad that there is no alternative party out there that is ready and able to field credible candidates to challenge these individuals.

Many council members have lucrative full-time jobs with hospitals, banks, cable companies, etc., or have their own private practices - yet some cry that they don't make enough while working for us.

Enough for what?

Fine restaurants?

New cars, while the rest of us drive our old heaps?

If the job is too challenging for some council members, they should just quit or go back to the private sector.

Myles Hoenig

Baltimore

General just upholds traditional morality

Certain politicians and gay rights groups are calling Gen. Peter Pace's recent comments on homosexuality immoral and insulting ("No apology for remark on gays," March 14).

But nothing the general said violated the traditional morality still practiced by the conservative adherents of the three major religions of this country.

Indicting the general's remarks, therefore, also indicts Christian morality derived from the Bible and would seem to indict conservative Jewish and Muslim morality, too.

If such ethical systems are overthrown, it will not be as easy to replace them as some critics assume.

Critics of such traditional morality need more than a "cafeteria-style" pick-and-choose morality to be credible.

Charles Clough

Bel Air

Pace's prejudice is truly immoral

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