September 16, 2008

City prosecutors, police create cases

Although a series of Baltimore search warrants and arrests last week resulted in federal charges for drug dealing and firearms violations ("Raids yield arrests, heroin," Sept. 12), the investigations that led to those cases were conducted in large part by local prosecutors and police.

In many proactive investigations that result in federal drug and gun charges, Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and her assistant state's attorneys work with Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and his police officers to obtain evidence through wiretaps and search warrants and pursue other investigative leads.

Decisions about which Baltimore criminals to consider for investigation and prosecution under the Violent Repeat Offenders program are made jointly by the Baltimore EXILE program's partner agencies, based primarily on intelligence gathered by local prosecutors and police about the criminals most responsible for violent crime on the streets of Baltimore.

EXILE is a cooperative program that has been successful in reducing violent crime in Baltimore because local, state and federal law enforcement officials are working together.

Local prosecutors and police continue to bear responsibility for investigating many of the cases and prosecuting most of them, and they deserve full credit for the results.

Rod J. Rosenstein, Baltimore

The writer is U.S. attorney for Maryland.

Subsidy for airline wastes state funds

It amazes me how the Maryland Board of Public Works can easily approve a subsidy of up to $5.5 million per year to British Airways to ensure that it maintains several flights a week from Baltimore to London even as the state has not taken action to compete adequately with other states with tax incentives to save our film industry ("Md. OKs subsidy to keep British Airways at BWI," Sept. 11).

We all should be outraged that our taxes are being used to finance a foreign corporation for purposes of prestige as we neglect supporting thousands of union jobs in our own film industry.

It has been demonstrated by dozens of other financially strapped states, including Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, that substantial tax incentives for film produce a much larger revenue return as they help keep middle-class union workers employed and bring much-needed business activity to small businesses. These workers and businesses then pay substantial taxes to the state on their earnings.

It is simple math.

It's also called governing for the people.

Michael Styer, Towson

The writer is a former director of the Maryland Film Office.

In these tough economic times for all of us, and especially for our state government, I must say that we shouldn't be paying a subsidy to British Airways.

If the airline can't make money at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, then let it go.

I have flown British Airways a couple of times and enjoyed it. But as the saying goes, "It's not personal, it's business." And it's time for the government at all levels to stop this corporate welfare.

Gary Trout, Ellicott City

Students, parents key to success of schools

The Baltimore Sun's article "Overhaul for schools" (Sept. 12) reports that "Maryland educational officials are pushing failing schools to replace their principals and teaching staffs" as a result of low test scores at some schools. But I think this article, and most of what I read on this subject in the media, misses the most important aspect of this problem.

While there can be no doubt that motivated teachers, enlightened principals and appropriate and abundant resources contribute to successful education, they contribute relatively little to the quest for successful students.

The one thing everyone seems to leave out of this formula is the student (and, by extension, the parent).

A school is but a building. The "school" does not fail a test; rather, it is the students in that school who fail the test.

And when those students are part of a culture of academic excellence that their parents support, the test results reflect this fact.

K. Gary Ambridge, Bel Air

The writer is a retired teacher in the Baltimore public schools.

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