Letters to the Editor - March 10

March 10, 2013

Some questions to ask BOE employees

To the editor:

There are some questions The Herald-Mail should ask the Board of Education employees.

1. How many employees need to move?

2. How many will carpool or drive to work?

3. How many will shop “downtown” at lunch or after work?

4. How many will eat lunch out “downtown” every day?

5. How many will walk or drive “downtown” to lunch each day?

6. How many will walk or drive to lunch in bad weather?

7. What would be your daily lunch budget spent each day?

Then you have to establish what the term “downtown” means. Is it a one-, two- or three-block radius from the square?

When the employees are asked the questions, tell them the shopping and eating places around the former Ames shopping plaza and the Dual Highway are not considered “downtown.”

I think the numbers, traffic, parking problems and a little common sense should tell people the BOE does not belong “downtown.”

Charles Miller

Online courses, smaller soda sizes and magazine clips

To the editor:

1. After reading the article regarding required online courses for students, I was not amazed at how smart our lawmakers really are. As a student and not being very smart or ambitious, I would have a smarter, more ambitious classmate do my online course, and perhaps my S.A.T. Perhaps all of our school courses should be online. Think about it. This would create enough money to solve our current financial crises. No more teacher salaries and pensions, no new schools built, no student transportation, maintenance for buildings or lunch programs. Endless savings. You get the idea.

2. New York Mayor Bloomberg has been pushing smaller portions of soda being mandatory. Simple solution — purchase the smallest drink size; refill it two, three or more times; and when leaving the fast-food restaurant, one more refill for the car.

3. The present stupid idea. Limit rifle magazines to 10-round clips, instead of 30-round clips. Oh yeah, a 10-round clip can kill just 10 people. That’s OK as long as it does not kill 30 people at one shooting. I have never owned a rifle, shotgun or assault rifle, but I can guarantee that in less than several minutes, I could load and fire three clips of 10 rounds each as I walked to the next group of victims. I personally agree that machine guns and weapons that can fire many rounds with one pull on a trigger should be banned. These weapons are designed primarily for killing people, not animals nor target practice. I do own one pistol but have not fired it in over 40 years. I am licensed in Pennsylvania and Maryland to carry concealed.

G. William “Bill” Lewis

Speedy executions often kill innocent people

To the editor:

In his letter against repeal of the death penalty (March 1), Edward Kendall misinterpreted both the statistics and message presented by Lt. Gov. Brown. Brown’s point was not that a majority of prisoners are black (they are not), but rather that blacks are overrepresented in the prison population (they are). If 13 percent of the population is black and 37 percent of prisoners are black, then blacks are sentenced 2.8 times as frequently as their proportion of the population. 

Whites, conversely, make up 78 percent of the population (U.S. Census), but only 41 percent of prisoners, about one-half the rate expected. And the statistics against blacks regarding death row convictions are even more lopsided. They are sentenced 3.1 times as often as would be expected.

If convicts were all guilty as charged, this would be fine. But too frequently they are not. According to the “Innocence Project,” there have been 303 post-conviction exonerations by DNA evidence in the United States since 1989, many from death row. The average length of stay in prison before exoneration was 13.6 years. This does not bode well for Kendall’s call for speedy executions, unless the goal is to bury our mistakes.

Wrongful convictions are the result of systematic defects in our justice system. They tend to repeat. Among these defects are eyewitness misidentification; unvalidated or improper forensic science; false confessions and incriminating statements; and false informant testimony.

DNA evidence has exonerated suspects in 25 percent of the cases where it is used. Unfortunately, DNA is useful in only 15 percent of cases. If wrongfully convicted of murder, I would be unhappy about the death penalty and speedy execution.

Larry Zaleski

Obama, O’Malley need to look beyond guns

To the editor:

President Obama and Gov. O’Malley do not look any further than guns. Why? If they care so much, they would look at every avenue to stop these tragic murders, but they have not. I believe they are only looking for gun control to promote their agenda.

Why not look to Dave Grossman? One of his main points was that  violence portrayed in television, movies and video games can be the first phase (fantasy) before a child plans, prepares and executes a real attack (Herald-Mail, Feb. 18).

Chicago is now known as “Little Mexico” because all guns are banned in both places and the only ones allowed to have guns are the police and the military. But the drug gangs have guns, which is illegal in both Mexico and Chicago.

If you wish to live in a gun-free zone, why not move to “Little Mexico?” I choose not to live in a gun-free zone. If you care so much about guns, why have you not asked Gov. O’Malley to send state troopers to help the counties of Maryland where felons have guns?

Why have you not gone to the president and asked him to send the National Guard to Chicago? Don’t worry about what the Constitution says about using the military; we will change the Constitution to suit your needs.

Why have O’Malley and the president not looked at psychotropic drugs linked to school shooters?

Now the state wants to legalize marijuana, which means we will not send drug dealers to prison. When they go on a killing rampage with a gun while high to protect their territory, will it again be the gun that is blamed?

Tom Grosh
Clear Spring

Republicans continue to wear blinders

To the editor:

The Republicans have done it again. They have decided to invite the president of the National Rifle Association to their Franklin County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on April 3. Never mind that in light of the recent Newtown shootings of children and teachers and the continued violence with guns that David Keene refuses to compromise on any of the NRA’s gun positions. 

I had hoped there were some moderate Republicans in our county and country who can see that assault weapons are not needed by the public or in the schools. The blinders continue to be in place with the NRA and our federal, state and local Republican parties.

A recent Time magazine article had extensive coverage about the lack of accuracy in shooting by home defenders and the police. In most cases, home defenders are not able to obtain their weapons in time or aim them appropriately to protect themselves. Even trained gunmen, security guards and police officers in times of safety and security risks miss their targets and shoot inaccurately when under stress and danger. So the argument for more guns to protect our children and placing guns in the hands of teachers and principals is a lame argument.

Trying to place the blame on mentally unbalanced people is only a small part of the argument. As a mental health provider of 25 years, I have seen deinstitutionalization of severe cases down to community health centers and now negligible funding for those same centers. But, if those with mental illness do not have ready access to assault weapons or even family guns, they might act out, but with negligible damage to others.

We need gun control now.

Judith McLean
Waynesboro, Pa.

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