Source:  Baltimore Sun Sunspot

                   Letters to the editor

                    O'Malley is right to push forcefullly for judicial
                    In his recent column, Douglas Colbert seems to take offense at the
                    "tirade" Mayor Martin O'Malley threw to push judicial reforms in an
                    effort to make Baltimore a safer place ("Discourse, not displays, on
                    justice," OpinionCommentary, Feb. 24).

                    Scapegoats in the judiciary aren't what Mr. OMalley is after.
                    Changing a system that is, plain and simple, not working appears to
                    be the mayor's goal.

                    This is a goal everyone who lives and works in Baltimore shares.

                    Surely there will be problems with any changes to the institutions and
                    agencies responsible for administering justice and making Baltimore a
                    safer place. These problems will have to be addressed.

                    More important, the city wants someone to hold people accountable.

                    While Mr. Colbert's suggestion that we consider Boston's alternative
                    model for addressing violent crime is worth consideration, I think he
                    missed the message of the people of Baltimore.

                    Martin O'Malley did not.

                    Richard P. Krueger Jr.

                    Chief Judge Martha Rasin evidently needs an answer to the question:
                    What exactly is a minor crime? ("O'Malley, Rasin at odds on district
                    court reform," Feb. 24).

                    I think we can safely start by excluding from minor crime the city's
                    300-plus murders per year, as well as the round-the-clock firefights
                    and bloodshed that define the anarchy of O'Donnell Heights,
                    Belair-Edison and Sandtown-Winchester.

                    At a time when Baltimore's de facto logo has become the chalked
                    sidewalk silhouette of another dead youngster, Ms. Rasin throws a fit
                    because the mayor says our court system is "dysfunctional."

                    It seems to me Mayor Martin O'Malley was being polite in the
                    extreme. The thugs on the corners call our system a joke.
                    Unfortunately, they have a stranglehold on a reality that the judge
                    somehow missed.

                    This mayor was elected by an outraged citizenry. The outrage will
                    continue unless we focus on guns, violence and repeat offenders with
                    a system of judicial triage.

                    Charles V. Lord

                    The Sun did a fantastic job with its concise editorial on the judicial
                    roadblocks facing Baltimore's new mayor ("Judges must join city
                    justice reform," Feb. 25).

                    It is obvious the current judicial process has failed; it's time to try
                    something else. Holding hearings in the central booking facility 24
                    hours a day, seen days a week is something new -- and should be
                    implemented immediately.

                    The 300 plus murders is only the tip of the crime crisis facing the city.
                    Countless other crimes also plague this city.

                    This needs to be fixed. The judges must remember that this is not a
                    political game. They must put the people of Baltimore and Maryland

                    Improvements in the judicial system should ensure that criminals get
                    speedy trials, that witnesses can participate with little lost time and
                    that violent criminals get put away.

                    Only then will Baltimore residents truly be free.

                    Matthew McOsker

                    Scorecards could make judges more accountable
                    One of Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero's colleagues asked who the judges
                    are accountable to.

                    The judges could be accountable to the voters, if The Sun provided
                    day-to-day coverage of the criminal courts that is similar to what it
                    gives to the local ball clubs.

                    Each judge should have a box score, with daily and cumulative totals.
                    Since it isn't possible to report everything, The Sun could ask readers
                    for suggestions on what the most important indicators are.

                    Because courts might not provide these statistics, data could be
                    gathered by students under the supervision of professors of public
                    administration, political science, sociology and criminal justice

                    Later, The Sun could offer box scores for each prosecutor, public
                    defender and police commander.

                    This routine daily dose of facts would heighten citizen interest and
                    involvement in public safety.

                    Can you think of a more fitting memorial to Sergeant Prothero?

                    Thomas E. Coates

                    Attorney General Curran should go after the judges
                    My compliments to Gregory Kane for showing up our state Attorney
                    General J. Joseph Curran as a weak do-gooder, when a tough act is
                    required on violent criminals ("Liberals continue their dash from
                    liberty," Feb. 26).

                    Instead of worthless attacks on decent, gun-owning citizens, I
                    suggest Mr. Curran follow the example of our mayor and go after
                    our complacent judiciary.

                    Kestutis Chesonis

                    Are city's PAL Centers a proper police function?
                In the current dispute over closing several PAL centers, aren't we
                    overlooking something obvious?

                    Baltimore has two distinct and pressing needs: for an effective police
                    force and for a well-run after-school program.

                    The latter is not a police function; we need the police in the roles for
                    which we've paid to prepare them.

                    Increasingly, cities are realizing, as The Sun's editorial "Mayor must
                    keep PAL programs going" (Feb. 10) pointed out, the urgency of
                    establishing high-quality recreational, social, athletic, arts and tutorial
                    programs that operate after-school and on weekends.

                    But building such programs, it seems to me, should be a function of
                    the Parks and Recreation Department, perhaps in cooperation with
                    the school system and private, nonprofit groups.

                    PAL Centers are today's equivalent of cops walking their beat,
                    protecting the most vulnerable citizens while providing a positive,
                    visible police presence.

                    If the centers hadn't been around the past few years, our homicide
                    rate might well be worse, and the victims would have included more
                    innocent juveniles.

                    Carolyn O'Keefe

                    To keep economy booming, we must produce more
                    As OPEC continues to raise the price of petroleum, our economy
                    will suffer. Our leaders tell we can't do anything about it.

                    But there is a vast quantity of oil beneath the Alaskan Wildlife
                    Refuge. We must find a way to make oil production compatible with
                    environmental concerns.

                    If we allow the status quo to go on, OPEC's extortion will continue.

                    Joseph Lerner

                    Esskay site's redevelopment will bring jobs to the city
                    The Sun's article "Redevelopment aid cleared for Esskay site" (Feb.
                    10) omitted the role the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC)
                    played in this deal.

                    For three and one-half years, BDC worked with the Essex
                    Community College Foundation to help it gain control of the former
                    Esskay property.

                    BDC is providing $250,000 in financial assistance ($150,000 loan
                    and $100,000 grant) from economic development bond funds to
                    help redevelop the site and funded a $40,000 site assessment study.

                    BDC has also played a key role in providing technical assistance and
                    serving as an ombudsman to all the parties involved.

                    As part of our effort to expand the supply of development-ready
                    land in the city, this well-located site, when cleared and redeveloped,
                    will provide up to 150 jobs.

                    M. J. Brodie
                    The writer is president of the Baltimore Development Corp.

                    Originally published on Mar 5 2000