I was pleased to see the information put forth by The Portland Press Herald regarding the “broken windows” theory of addressing crime (“Our View: ‘Neighborhood prosecutor’ taking nibbles out of crime,” Feb. 1).

However, I write to correct two points raised in your recent editorial and to relay the feedback I have received from the community regarding this important new initiative.

First, although the position was initially billed as community justice advocate, it soon became clear that such a title is vague at best, and at worst, inaccurate.

In fact, Trish McAllister works closely with our senior lead officers and Community Policing Center coordinators who directly interact with all the various neighborhoods throughout the city.

In situations where civil legal action may be warranted, Trish gets involved. Thus, early on, the title was officially changed to neighborhood prosecutor — a much more descriptive and accurate term for this unique, federal grant-funded position.

This leads to my second clarification: As an attorney, Trish is not the one “giving out tickets,” as your editorial suggests.

Rather, once a police officer issues a civil summons to a transgressor for such nuisance behaviors as public urination, littering, abusive panhandling, etc., the neighborhood prosecutor is the attorney who attends to that case through every stage in Portland District Court.

This position works closely with the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office in a collaborative, information-sharing mode, but Trish is neither an assistant DA pursuing criminal convictions nor a citation- issuing constable.

Her objective is to offer practical and sometimes very creative legal solutions to quality-of-life issues in Portland, and she is doing just that.

Finally, let me say that I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback I have received about this program at every level.

Community leaders, neighborhood organizations, business owners and private citizens speak to me on an almost-daily basis to voice their strong support for this position, as well as the department’s commitment to active and effective community policing.

We have already seen significant positive changes in many neighborhoods and fully expect to see more in the near future. I was hoping that the community’s impressions would have been included in your editorial.

James Craig
Chief of police
Portland
 

Changing what Bach wrote was a substantial mistake 

I think that the decision by the Portland Symphony Orchestra to alter the text of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (“Soloists highlight PSO concert of Bach,” Feb. 1) by substituting the word “people” for the word “Jews” was misguided. The changes may have been few and minor, but catering to political correctness has no place in the presentation of the art of the past.

It was, in a sense, an attempt to “improve” Bach or to “improve” the Gospel of St. John, certainly a pretentious endeavor, by taking into account present-day sensitivities.

But neither the musical work nor the Gospel on which it is based is of the present day. Bach’s St. John Passion reflects Lutheran theology in early 18th-century Germany. The Gospels reflect the times of early Christianity.

The culture of the past teaches us who we were as human beings, and why we have become what we are now. To censor it is our loss.

Alexander Breed
Cape Elizabeth 

As the author of the translation of the St. John Passion that reviewer Christopher Hyde characterized as “labored and sometimes in error,” I do need to reply. First of all, even the most sympathetic biographer of Bach, Albert Schweitzer, characterized the text of the St. John Passion as “bad as can be.”

Secondly, the task at hand was not to prettify the English text, or to sugarcoat it as the prevailing Victorian ethos felt compelled to do. It is those translations that I find fulsome, not to say traitorous.

Rather it was to be faithful to the German original. Baroque, after all, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “irregularly shaped; whimsical, grotesque, odd.”

We know many of the sources of the text, and they include poets of the Baroque era. Baroque conceits, a la John Donne, are sometimes labored, and tortuous puns (No. 31 Arioso) are what they are.

So the “Himmelschluesselblumen” (the common cowslip in English) is literally the “key to heaven flower.” And this flower blooms on the thorns that sting Jesus.

If this seems labored, Mr. Hyde, you are right, and neither you nor I have the right to make it pretty. And in the same arioso we are told that we “can reap much sweet fruit from his wormwood.”

Not likely! But there it is. And just for the record, it was not I who changed “Jews” to “people.”

Dr. Michael Bachem
Professor of humanities (emeritus), Miami University (Ohio)
Portland
 

Leaving motor running worsens global warming 

When you run into the store, even for five minutes, do you leave the engine on?

Keeping the engine running while going somewhere else is unnecessarily polluting and wasting precious resources. This can contribute to global warming and climate change, melting the ice in the North Pole and killing innocent polar bears.

You may think that global warming is caused by big corporations that send tons of gases into the air, but every little thing you do contributes to global warming, including leaving your car running while going into the store.

All the people with cars doing this just once can send huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. You can make a huge difference, and it is your choice to make that a good choice or a bad choice.

Tristan Scilipoti
Cumberland