Letters: Now is the time for kindness, compassion in Howard County; and more from readers

Racism has no place in Howard County

We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of those who took an oath to protect and defend human life. Mr. Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe” fell silent with his oppressors.

The devaluation of Black lives is evidenced by the recent murders of Floyd, Ahmaud Abery and Breonna Taylor. When Floyd cried out for his mother with his last breath, that was the cry of every mother and father in this country who has a Black child, hoping that the same fate will not befall their loved ones. The Black and African American communities, just like every community, should be free to live without the fear and anxiety of being unfairly and deliberately targeted. We cannot remain silent as people of color are minimized and murdered.


We oppose all acts of racially motivated violence, no matter the perpetrator. We stand united against white supremacy that seeks to divide and destroy our nation and our communities. Many in our community are experiencing pain and anger, and we must acknowledge their distress, while we reflect on our own life journey. As we move forward, we must do so with utmost focus and clear intent of creating communities, local and global, where the human rights of all are respected and protected. Racism has no place in Howard County.

The Howard County Human Rights Commission is committed to creating a county where the human rights of all are respected and protected. Our mission is to cultivate a community where the ideals of equity, inclusion, respect and non-discrimination are interwoven into everyday life. We must remind ourselves that Howard County has always led the way in embracing diversity and respecting our differences. All hateful acts are divisive and will certainly cause serious damage to our community. We reject and condemn all acts of racially motivated violence. In these trying times, we must unite and stand with all of our neighbors as one powerful force for a better tomorrow.


To the Howard County community, we ask that feelings of hate, anger or blame be turned into acts of compassion. Kindness is very powerful and can feed the hope and stem the fear that many are experiencing at this moment in our history. The Human Rights Commission believes that Howard County is uniquely situated to lead the way in the march toward peace.

We encourage the Howard County community to foster kindness, understanding and patience towards each other during these troubling times. We want our collective voices to send the message that Floyd’s call for help was heard and has resonated around the globe. We must not let his cry be forgotten.

Bob Ford

Chair of the Howard County Human Rights Commission

Do your research on county charter review

Last year, the Howard County Charter Review Commission convened to review the Howard County Charter, which is the local equivalent of the U.S. Constitution, in recommending how the county government is structured, how it operates and what it will do. Per the charter, these reviews much take place every eight years.

On April 30, the commission released its final report, which will be submitted to the County Council, and approved recommendations will be put to referendum in November.

The commission had a number of meetings to hear public input but did not hear from many citizens, and their report has gotten almost no attention. Admittedly, COVID-19 seems to be on everyone's minds, but it should not be an obsession to the exclusion of everything else.

Fortunately, given the lack of attention it has received, this is a very good report, and I agree with its recommendations. Well, most of them.

Don’t take my word for it, though. This report addresses a document that significantly affects our local government and our lives. It is worth your attention. Look it up and let the County Council know how you feel.

Angie Boyter

Ellicott City

Virtual judicial hearings shouldn’t be allowed

The Howard County Citizens Association, Concerned Citizens of Western Howard County, Greater Highland Crossroads Association and the Smarter Growth Alliance of Howard County have expressed major concerns regarding conducting virtual Zoning Board hearings whenever a case is being heard quasi-judicial in Howard County. We understand the unprecedented restrictions because of the coronavirus in an effort to protect the public health and welfare. Nonetheless virtual quasi-judicial hearings should not be conducted.


We respectfully request that the Zoning Board suspend all quasi-judicial hearings until the restrictions are lifted and we can all meet in person. This request is also applicable for all hearing cases conducted by the Planning Board, Hearing Examiner and Board of Appeals.

The state has closed its courts for the past several months as a result of the current pandemic. While reopening will come in phases, the more pressing matters will come first and civil trials won’t be heard until early fall or later. Quasi-judicial hearings should not be conducted when it has been deemed untimely.

There is currently no provision in the Rules of Procedure of the aforementioned boards for virtual hearings. Currently, there has not been any public instruction on how the audience will be able to cross-examine witnesses or provide evidence such as exhibits that are essential features associated with quasi-judicial hearings. What will occur when any participant experiences technical difficulties that have already occurred during previous held virtual meetings?

In order to preserve the integrity of procedural rules of public engagement and trust in our system, we ask that such hearings be postponed until they can be conducted in person or, at the very least, until there is public communication on how the following will be handled: cross-examination, evidence submission, handling of technical problems, and how those who cannot meet equipment requirements can participate.

All we are asking for is due process, which is defined as a “fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement.” We simply request justice for all concerned parties and the elimination of all virtual quasi-judicial hearings.

Stu Kohn

President of the Howard County Citizens Association

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