- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

Cops keep Metro clean and safe

We fear that following a flurry of recent publicity about the issue of eating and drinking on the Metro system, including a column by Tom Knott that appeared in The Washington Times, some of our customers may be unsure about the Metro Transit Police Department's enforcement of those types of violations on our buses and trains and in our rail stations ("Metro snack cops' catering service lets them eat crow," Metro, March 1).

Our policy for enforcing minor "quality of life" violations of the law has not changed, regardless of some recent news accounts to the contrary. Metro Transit Police officers will continue to issue criminal citations for offenses they observe on trains and buses and in Metrorail stations. In fact, we will soon be expanding our enforcement efforts by allowing our officers to write warning citations in situations where, in the past, only a verbal warning would have been given. The actions of our officers are important in keeping our Metro system safe and clean.

Of course, the enforcement of these relatively minor infractions in no way reflects all that our Transit Police Officers have accomplished over the past 25 years in keeping our Metro system the jewel of the transit industry. Some have lept unhesitatingly into the path of oncoming trains to save lives. Others have arrested armed and dangerous felons who have raped, robbed and murdered in our communities. One of our finest was shot and killed during a traffic stop on a midnight tour of duty six days before Christmas in 1993.

Satire aside, Mr. Knott was correct that "you know you are safe and clean on the Metro." Law enforcement executives from around the world have visited the Washington Metro system to learn our transit policing philosophy. Word spreads fast when you're successful. We are proud of the work we do, and we know that our customers appreciate our efforts. We will always give no less than our very best to maintain the kind of bus and rail system that is the envy of the transit industry.

BARRY J. MCDEVITT

Chief

Metro Transit Police Department

Washington

The news media vs. snow and presidential predictions

Your comparison of weather forecasts to Hollywood marriages as being "almost inherently unreliable" is accurate but you do not take it far enough ("Snow job," Editorials, March 7).

Allow me to suggest to those who raced to the grocery store for victuals, bought long johns at the local mall and stored up on firewood that the next time the TV stations give you their infallible predictions of impending doom, you should remember that these same news organizations foresaw the certain presidential victory of Al Gore in Florida on election night.

In all fairness, however, it is possible that Doppler radar doesn't work well in Washington due to the amount of hot air rising from the city, which melts the snow before it can reach the ground. Conditions will improve with former President Clinton in New York City; next winter, we may see more snow.

Then again, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton now in residence, your suggestion to stick one's nose out the window and make one's own predictions unencumbered by those with the charts, long sticks and isobars is still worth considering.

ANN SHERIDAN

Washington

Article's terminology slights ethnic Macedonians

In the March 6 article "NATO speeds U.S. troops to Kosovo clash," you reported that "officials fear the conflict could spread in a small country in which Slavs are the majority but ethnic Albanians make up between a quarter and a third of the population." The article correctly refers to the "ethnic Albanians" in the Republic of Macedonia, but in describing ethnic Macedonians as Slavs, it does not allot to them the same respect. Referring to the ethnic Macedonians as Slavs or "Macedonian Slavs" exhibits a great deal of insensitivity to their cultural and ethnic distinctiveness.

The last census of the population of the Republic of Macedonia, available from the Statistical Office of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia (www.stat.gov.mk), observed the following ethnic groups: Macedonians (66 percent), Albanians (23 percent), Turks (4 percent), Serbs (2 percent) and other (5 percent). The majority population is identified and identifies itself as "ethnic Macedonian." The term Slav is not used to denote any particular ethnicity or cultural designation. Slav or Slavic is appropriate when one is talking about tribes that migrated throughout Europe 15 centuries ago. Those tribes are not known to have had national compactness or a notion of ethnicity at that time, at least not in terms of modern ethnic groups and nations. Since then, those tribes have formed distinct ethnicities and nations and therefore should be known and referred to by their proper designation. As there are no "Slav Russians," "Slav Poles," "Slav Serbs" or "Slav Bulgarians," there are no "Slav Macedonians." All of these nations have, more or less, some Slavic heritage. In the modern world, however, they are recognized as distinct nations, ethnicities and cultures.

The people of Macedonia refer to themselves as ethnic Macedonians, and that also is how they are referred to and known globally.

You owe it to the general public and your professional collaborators to respect the self-awareness of individuals and groups in respect to their ethnicity.

VIKTOR SEKULOVSKI

New York

Plan needs to include low-income families in child tax credit

In the March 7 editorial "A 'positive' tax-cut start," The Washington Times, like many other papers, praises President Bush's proposal to double the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000. Advocacy groups such as Results propose that the tax credit be made "refundable," giving low-income families who pay no income tax the $1,000 they would receive as a tax credit if they paid income tax. The reason behind this proposal is that simply doubling the child tax credit does not fulfill Mr. Bush's campaign pledge to "leave no child behind." In fact, his plan would leave behind more than 16 million of America's poorest children.

However, if he were to turn the child tax credit into an allowance or "refund" for low-income families, Mr. Bush would alleviate poverty for more than 16 million children and families who are too poor to pay federal income taxes, and he would lift 2 million children over the federal poverty line.

Some have objected to calling such an allowance "refundable," questioning how low-income families can be refunded income taxes they have never paid. They have, however, paid other taxes Social Security payroll tax, sales tax, gasoline tax and property tax. In a sense, these are the taxes that would be refunded to them.

Others object that such a tax credit would simply serve as an incentive to these low-income families to have more children, children they can ill afford. Let's do the math. Refunding $1,000 per child per year means about $20 per week per child, scarcely enough to be an incentive for a family to have more children. If Congress still sees the tax credit as an incentive to have more children, it could build in safeguards, such as a reduction in the credit for every additional child a family has.

If America is serious about supporting all children and families regardless of income, doesn't it make sense that all families, even those not paying income tax, receive this tax break? We must urge the congressional leadership to amend Mr. Bush's proposal to "refund" the doubled tax credit to families not paying income tax, thus easing just a bit the difficult burden they bear.

KENNETH J. RUMMENIE

Buffalo, N.Y.

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