Reading "Life and theft on the 6:01 to Hicksville" [Expressway, April 19] reminded me of my daughter's commute on the Long Island Rail Road to Hunter College.

One time, while applying hand lotion, she took off her rings and put them on her lap. She got up quickly, and one ring was lost. It was a ruby inside a heart-shaped diamond setting, a gift from a relative.

Two years passed, and one day another passenger approached her. He took out his wallet and produced the ring. "I have been carrying it for two years ever since the day it flew off you knees, hoping to meet you," he said.

My daughter was crying telling me this story, and so was I.

Alla Gershburg, Old Bethpage

School cameras like a new tax

Let's tell it like it is: The proposal for speed cameras in school zones is nothing but a new tax ["Eye on speed cameras," News, April 23]. After months of calling the idea a revenue raiser, our elected officials are now saying that it is for safety. Anytime you reach into the taxpayers' pockets for more money, it's a tax!

Legis. Thomas F. Barraga (R-West Islip) said, "the bottom line is, we need dollars."

If anyone believes the fine will remain at $50, then he or she should invest in the Shoreham nuclear plant.

I would like Newsday to print the names of all the state and Suffolk legislators who vote for the school camera tax. At the next election, I will vote against every one who voted for the proposal, regardless of party affiliation. The people in Nassau should do the same.

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Thomas Duignan, West Islip

Wouldn't it be more cost-efficient to have the police, who we are already paying, set up speed traps and vary locations? The money the cameras would cost could be put to better use.

Also, would it really be necessary to have the speed limits enforced all day, even while children are in school? Florida has a system where the slower speeds are enforced when yellow lights are blinking, and that is mostly during drop-off and pick-up times.

This method really works. Traffic does slow down. What's next, cameras and fines for speed walking?

Larry Ring, Coram

Open questions on college in prison

"Prepare inmates for life after prison" [Opinion, April 11] supported college courses for prisoners, paid for by private donations.

Critical questions are being overlooked. Could the cost per student, per year really be only $5,000?

Would it be a good idea to ask the inmates to pay for a third or half the tuition? Would it be a better idea to use this money to help the victims of crimes by the inmate-students?

Also, if the reading and math levels of the inmate-students are at or below ninth grade, how would they handle rigorous college-level textbooks and courses?

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Maybe they should be trained in plumbing or some other employable trade. Graduates with liberal arts diplomas have trouble obtaining jobs.

Paul Lieberman, Bohemia

Editor's note: The writer is a former high school teacher.

Destruction of elephant tusks

Zimbabwe dictator President Robert Mugabe is effectively encouraging poachers to decimate the elephant population ["A risk to African elephants," News, April 21].

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However, it would have been much more humane to flood the market with the tons of ivory, instead of steamrolling the tusks in a destruction ceremony. This would have reduced the black market value of ivory from $1,500 per pound and lessened the incentive to poach.

The God-given balance of nature is a forgotten priority.

Sal Rizzo, Ridge

Pride in service, not a tax break

I would like to expand on my quote in "Tax break, with a catch," the April 14 news story about school-district property tax exemptions for veterans.

I was quoted as saying, "I just don't think that because you answered the call . . . that now you should sit back and say, 'Oh, give me stuff, even if my neighbors have to pay for it.' Long Island taxes are already up to your chin."

If it were up to me, any serviceman or woman coming home minus an arm or leg or worse wouldn't pay taxes for the rest of his or her life. These veterans have already paid their dues. But the reward for veterans like me who came through combat with hardly a scratch is the pride of knowing that when the country needed us, we answered the call, and I feel that pride to this day.

Today, the servicemen and women are all volunteers, and they knew the risks when they signed up. Believe me, they don't want our pity or paternalism. What they want when they get out are jobs!

If I paid $1,500 less in school taxes, my non-veteran neighbors would have to make up for it. They have enough problems with their own tax bills.

Eugene T. Leavy, East Northport