- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

A crime emergency

The District of Columbia is expected to extend the crime emergency until the middle of October (“Crime emergency extension likely,” Metropolitan, Oct, 3). The question is, how effective is the crime emergency plan and will an extension of the plan show a reduction in homicides?

I was a resident of the District for many years and I do believe that extensive research needs to take place to investigate why crime is so high there. It’s apparent that there is a serious problem. D.C. law enforcement and political officials should take a more intensive approach in solving the open-case murders and deterring other homicides. Requiring law enforcement to work longer weeks and/or days is not the answer. Will a stronger police presence deter crime? That’s the million-dollar question. I believe that there are other factors that are contributing to the rise in crime over the last few months.

Although there has been a slight reduction in crime since the enactment of the crime emergency plan, is it enough? I don’t feel as though the slight reduction in one month is nearly as important as preventing homicides completely.

I believe more needs to be done. The mayor and Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey need to meet with officials who have reduced crime in their cities and incorporate those mechanisms to decrease crime in the nation’s capital. The politicians of the District need to not just pass legislation but to focus on preventive measures to reduce crime in the city and make it as safe as possible for the residents of Washington.

LATANYA CANNADY

Oxon Hill

Domestic abuse

The public has every right to be disturbed over the problem of domestic violence (“Time to judge the system in domestic violence,” Metropolitan, Friday). However, this article misrepresents the nature of the problem, and that can only make it worse.

Nearly 200 studies on domestic violence consistently show that women are just as likely to initiate domestic abuse as men. But this piece only gives examples of female victims.

A more accurate article also would have cited recent local examples such as Dominique Jackson of Washington who killed her boyfriend with a skillet; Dale Hicks of Silver Spring who shot her boyfriend; Ann Hoard of Laurel who attempted to poison her husband; and Elsa Newman of Bethesda who was found guilty of attempting to murder her husband.

The headline is accurate: It is time to judge our domestic violence system. Because of the hysteria that has surrounded this issue, levelheaded solutions have been hard to come by. As a result, our domestic violence system has become flooded with trivial cases and false allegations. Now, the voices of the true victims of domestic violence find it harder and harder to be heard.

CAREY ROBERTS

Rockville

The article “Time to judge the system in domestic violence,” and the approach of the women’s center in Prince George’s County, are unrealistic and will not result in changes that prevent fatal domestic violence.

Every major credible study tells us that domestic violence is not a gender problem. Women and men are equal initiators of it. We also know that a very large number of domestic violence allegations are entirely false: strategic moves in divorce and custody cases to seize control of family assets and children. These false cases are frequently and improperly fed into the courts by battered women’s shelters.

Women’s shelters hinder their own success. Many courts now justly doubt allegations of spousal abuse absent a showing of credible evidence, which women’s shelters and attorneys do not provide. In this flood of unverifiable allegations, the real cases often wash through the system.

The answer is not to lower existing legal standards, which are presently so low as to be meaningless. The answer is to raise legal standards to require a showing of credible evidence or intent to abuse.

Shelters and courts must assist anyone who needs it, not just women. Women’s shelters must vet their cases better and focus on credible cases to raise their believability in the courts. Finally, judges and prosecutors must become as willing to prosecute those who abuse the system with the same gusto we prosecute abusers.

DAVID R. USHER

Senior policy analyst

True Equality Network

St. Louis

Now boarding

In response to the Commentary article regarding a new U.S.-to-China route authority, and the advocacy for a Washington-to-Beijing award, the Business Travel Coalition would like to point out why the U.S. Department of Transportation should not choose Washington (“D.C. to Beijing air bridge?”Friday).

The article’s focus is on the route and not United Airlines, the airline applicant, which has the dominant U.S.-to-China market position. Increased competition is paramount in achieving lower fares for business travelers and incentives for improved airline customer service. It should be the priority now for the DOT.

United is the foremost carrier among U.S. airlines that fly between the United States and Beijing, enplaning some 35 percent of all passengers carried by U.S. airlines. United’s U.S.-to-Beijing market share is an even larger 70 percent when code-share partner Air China is taken into account. This market dominance took decades to build and should not be reinforced with new authorities.

Since United was first awarded China route authorities in 1986, it has grown its market presence to 28 weekly frequencies. This 20-year head start on new entrants Continental and American allowed United to build a well-fortified position serving Beijing and Shanghai from its Chicago and San Francisco hubs. Awarding United more frequencies would increase market concentration and contravene the DOT’s own competition guidelines, without sufficient offsetting benefits.

The assertion that the Washington metro area is the largest metropolitan area in the United States without non-stop service to China is simply wrong. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, its statistics would rank the Washington metro area eighth in size with respect to no non-stop service to China and Dallas/Fort Worth fourth. In important contradistinction to the Washington metro area, China is Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest trading partner, with total trade valued at more than $13.6 billion in 2005.

To DOT’s great credit, it has over the years established an impressive pro-competition track record in decisions involving both the domestic and international marketplace. For instance, the department recently issued an order placing a priority on new entrants receiving any new air side capacity at Chicago O’Hare in order to inject competition into a market dominated by United and American. The same fundamental principle applies in the China route case.

Increasing airline competition in a market dominated by one or two players should remain DOT’s highest priority. In doing so, consumers will be the winners receiving lower fares, better service and more options. In contrast, awarding more China frequencies to United will only serve to further entrench the dominant player in the market andreduce competition. In such an inconceivableoutcome, consumers and the businesses that coalition represents would be the losers.

My organization urges DOT to see through United’s expensive “capital-to-capital” public relations campaign and focus on what both United and consumers need most in the US-to-China air service market: more competition.

KEVIN P. MITCHELL

Chairman

Business Travel Coalition

Radnor, Pa.

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