Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 04, 2007

Another money grab by the nanny state

Yet again it appears that the government is trying to protect us from ourselves while putting its hands in our pockets.

The latest red herring, speeding cameras, was presented to us by state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari in a way that plucks at our heartstrings ("Cameras proposed to catch speeders," Dec. 1).

However, if this truly is not an issue about money but safety, may I suggest that instead of being fined when caught speeding near work zones by one of these cameras, drivers should be issued a point or two on their licenses?

Mr. Porcari seems to be suffering from tunnel vision, as there are many different factors that can contribute to injuries and fatalities of road workers. Speed is only one of these factors.

What about alcohol use, cell phone use while driving, a car full of screaming kids, bad weather, poor visibility, little or no warning of road work and poorly designed lane change indicators, to name but a few factors?

I think that the state Transportation Department needs to take a good look in the mirror and address some of the reasons people speed in the first place.

A lot of us speed to try to make up for time lost sitting in traffic congestion as a result of poor traffic planning, unsynchronized traffic lights (that always seem to turn red instead of green when you come up to them) and road work during peak traffic times.

Traveling on our roads and highways has always been dangerous, and speed is a contributing factor to many accidents.

But this paternalistic trend of government seeking to watch and control us for our own safety and its profit slowly erodes our freedoms - so that one day we will wake and not have the freedom to be able to change it.

Christopher Winslow

Baltimore

Don't let the state profit from cameras

State Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari claims that the proposed speeding cameras' goal is safety, not revenue ("Cameras proposed to catch speeders," Dec. 1).

If his claim is true, then certainly Mr. Porcari will advocate removing any possible financial incentive that could enable municipalities to abuse this potential revenue source.

For instance, all proceeds should go straight to the federal government instead of the local municipalities.

Furthermore, all alleged speeding violators should receive only a warning for the first offense within, say, every 12-month period.

Most drivers would heed such warnings.

Advocates for these cameras must not be motivated by financial greed that could hurt the citizens.

James Bauernschmidt

Severna Park

Place conditions on speed cameras

I strongly support the use of cameras to catch speeders in highway work areas, subject to certain conditions ("Cameras proposed to catch speeders," Dec. 1).

The cameras should operate only at times and places where workers are present, and they should be advertised by warning signs that could and would be turned off when workers are not present.

Paul Romney

Baltimore

Court must block unlimited detention

As Jonathan Hafetz suggests, at a time when the executive branch is claiming increasing and unreviewable powers to fight its so-called war on terror, the need to protect our habeas corpus rights is greater than ever ("Give detainees their day in court," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 3).

Many people probably don't realize that the government has claimed for itself the right to determine who is an "unlawful enemy combatant," and that American citizens on American soil are not immune from being so determined.

Sadly, only the Supreme Court, and it perhaps only temporarily, stands in the way of the government having the power, in effect, to detain whomever it wants, for whatever reason it wants.

Anyone who thinks that such power makes us safer is fooling himself or herself.

David Schwartz

Baltimore

Lou Raffetto's ouster a big blow to racing

If racing in Maryland had any chance of surviving, that chance is gone with the departure of Lou Raffetto as president of the Maryland Jockey Club ("Raffetto has his backers," Nov. 30).

In his seven years at Pimlico and Laurel race tracks, Mr. Raffetto worked hard to keep our industry's head above water as racing in neighboring states flourished.

This was no easy task given declining purses, the elimination of major stakes races, reduced racing days and the ongoing political battle to get slot machines, not to mention frustrated owners and trainers. But Mr. Raffetto handled it all.

He forged a strong relationship with the horsemen and was respected as a true professional. He could probably negotiate the Mideast peace talks - and succeed. His departure is not only untimely but also unfair.

However, in the world of Magna Entertainment, dedication, professionalism and loyalty apparently are not criteria for long-term employment.

Russell C. Schalk Jr.

Hunt Valley

The writer is a Maryland thoroughbred owner.

Schaefer bust merits a warmer reception

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