May 24, 2013

Does government share in the responsibility for the unfortunate collision on May 16 that resulted in the death of Mary Josephine Fish [“Pedestrian struck in Montgomery dies,” Metro, May 19]? The police report referred to Ms. Fish as “walking” on the median at Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue. Post columnist Petula Dvorak, for her Nov. 30, 2010, column, “Panhandling: the uncomfortable truths and lies,” interviewed a woman by that name at her daily location near the Westfield Wheaton Mall. At the time, Ms. Fish revealed that she lived in Prince George’s County, where panhandling is prohibited.

In 2012, intense discussion of panhandling along roadways and in medians ultimately led to an ill-considered interpretation by the Maryland attorney general that this kind of solicitation was permitted. Torn between concerns for the safety of these vulnerable folks and pressure from firefighters seeking to protect their annual in-road “Fill the Boot” campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, neither Montgomery County nor the state had the political will to resolve the issue of solicitation in and along the roadways.

Has politics trumped safety?

Richard W. Stowe, Silver Spring