Reminder about the origin of Carroll’s English ordinance
Now that columnists Chris Tomlinson, Joe Vigliotti and Rick Blatchford, and the usual chorus of shorter-form letter writers from the right, have weighed in on the Board of County Commissioners’ decision not to revisit the county’s 2013“English only” ordinance, this is good time to refresh their memories about its origin story.
The current Chapter 11 of the Carroll County Code of Ordinances (“County Standards”) was not a deliberative response to preserve county resources struggling under the strain of citizens demanding services in languages other than English. Neither has the wisdom of this ordinance been reinforced by volumes of data illustrating savings realized since its enactment in 2013. The absence of quantitative data isn’t surprising, since the U.S. Census tells us that 94.8% of Carroll residents live in households where English is the primary language. Surely this almost universal set of citizens is clever enough not to need an ordinance to tell them what language to use when interacting with the county.
Let’s remember the genesis of the ordinance, which came from the pique of former Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, after he was confronted with a telephone voice menu response that wasted precious seconds of his time when he was asked to “press 1 to continue in English.”
Shoemaker’s umbrage at this common, decent concession to modern diversity ended up as unanimously passed legislation during the reign of three of the most narrow-minded commissioners ever to sit on the dais at Center Street: Haven himself, Robin Bartlett Frazier and Richard Rothschild. The “English-only” ordinance was never about cost avoidance. It was entirely about messaging. This ordinance was a message directed at those who didn’t talk, vote or pray like Shoemaker, Frazier and Rothschild at a time when those three held inexplicable sway over the boards they sat on.
Happily, commissioner term limits and the infusion of fresh blood has improved the quality of the BOCC since then. Our current commissioners surely serve the entire county, yet it appears the momentum to correct the negativity from the inferred meanings of this law was eventually stifled by feedback from their most strident constituents.
So, what have we learned since 2013? How about this: county ordinances should be rooted in a commitment to solving problems for citizens and elevating the quality of government services, and not to air petty grievances or paint the political landscape with the symbolism of thinly veiled dog whistles.
A call to oppose Senate Bill 664
The State of Maryland is poised this legislative session to usher in infanticide (killing or allowing a baby born alive to die to complete an abortion attempt or for medical research/sale of body parts) via Senate Bill 664 which, if passed, will become a ballot issue to amend the constitution of Maryland.
Any bills which amend our state constitution ought to be carefully scrutinized with the first inquiry being whether the issue is already specifically addressed by statute (a law enacted by the Maryland General Assembly). State constitutions are general guiding principles based in America on the U.S. Constitution, which is squarely undergirded by the Judeo-Christian Bible, specifically the Ten Commandments, particularly the Sixth Commandment not to commit Murder.
Hence, we are guaranteed certain ”inalienable rights” under the Declaration of Independence, namely, life first, then liberty, because without life, liberty is a moot point. These rights come from our Creator and cannot be given or taken by men, including government. Sadly, late-term abortion was made “legal” in Maryland by statute way back in 1992. Therefore, no constitutional amendment is needed. A constitutional amendment will literally deregulate the entire abortion industry, which, ironically, was the “reason” for legalizing abortion in the first place, so that safety regulations could prevent maternal deaths from “back-alley” abortions.
On President’s Day, I honor Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Well said, Mr. President, and I have noticed that way too many “Christians” and “conservatives” and “Republicans” have utterly rejected their moral duty of faith and the Republican party platform, which specifically opposes abortion, assisted suicide and taxpayer funding of abortion by mere lip service in lieu of real action. I know pro-life Democrats, Libertarians, feminists, vegans, environmentalists and LGBQ+ persons who are more pro-life as human rights activists than those who profess to be Christians (especially pastors)/conservatives/Republicans. This ought not to be, especially in rural, “conservative” Carroll County.
So, this legislative session do more than just say you’re "pro-life” by visiting Maryland’s Right to Life website, getting on their email list and using their form to email/call your elected representatives to vigorously oppose SB664; and by attending the Maryland March for Life on Feb. 24 at 4:30 at St. Mary’s church in Annapolis.
The writer is a member of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee.