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Letters: Seeking clarity on Asian Americans’ view of Howard government; taking action on climate crisis | READER COMMENTARY

Seeking clarity on Asian American community’s view of county government

Former Howard County Executive Allen Kittleman recently wrote an opinion piece (“Howard County elected leaders need to do better for Asian community,” June 24) calling on elected leaders to do better for the Asian American community, following a hateful testimony directed at Asian Americans and other immigrants during a Racial Equity Task Force hearing and the controversial conduct of a Howard County staff member who appeared to approve such a speech. A Howard County official wrote a response (“Howard County officials are committed to Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” July 7) praising Howard County’s officials, led by County Executive Calvin Ball, who are committed to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

It should be noted, however, while all five Howard County Council members issued public statements on the incident, mostly denouncing such a blatant attack on the Asian American community, County Executive Ball remained noticeably silent throughout the controversy. It is worthwhile to examine a few events that have taken place in the past two years.

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In November 2019, Howard County caught the national headlines with a controversial school redistricting launched to close the school performance gap due to “social-economic” factors. The Howard County Council passed a resolution to support the school redistricting. Parents and students responded with thousands of public testimonies against such redistricting. Many of those parents are Asian Americans.

In December 2020, Howard County passed the Liberty Act to prohibit Howard County agencies from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A petition was subsequently filed by an activist group to put a repeal of the bill on the ballot as a referendum for the November 2022 election. Many members of the Asian American community strongly opposed a similar bill in 2017, sponsored by then-council member Ball.

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In February 2021, an Asian American and Pacific Islander work group was established through an executive order from Ball. The work group was commissioned to advise the county to support the AAPI community and policy initiatives, and work on emerging AAPI-related issues. A majority of this work group exonerated the above-mentioned staff member from any wrongdoing. Subsequently, the Racial Equity Task Force issued a statement denouncing and condemning this, and all, hateful rhetoric.

In April 2021, Ball recommended removing school resources officers from all Howard County middle schools and requiring them to transition their uniforms to polos and khakis. Many parents, including Asian Americans, testified against such a change out of concerns of school safety.

So what exactly does the broad Asian American community of Howard County, besides the AAPI work group, feel about the leadership of the elected officials of Howard County? The answer only remains within the Asian American community itself and will become eventually clearer with the looming 2022 election, particularly when both Kittleman and Ball will be in the race against each other, and for a second time.

Thomas Liu

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Columbia

Looking for action that fits the scale of climate crisis

Howard County has some of the most concerned people I know about our climate crisis, and many have been watching the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26.

As Greta Thunberg noted, “The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah.”

Super frustrating, especially if you are a child looking for adults to take action that fits the scale of our climate crisis.

So, what actions can ordinary adults make and stop the “blah, blah, blah” sounds that our children are hearing? A big action would be to use the present U.S. legislative process — reconciliation — to put a price on what we want less of: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Let’s return that fee to low- and middle-income households as a dividend that will more than offset any increased costs for our most vulnerable.

We should also include a carbon price correction on imports to protect American workers and American industries. That will send a signal to the world to transition away from fossil fuels quickly.

This issue requires ordinary adults to take adult-like actions to change our energy system economy-wide with a market signal to transition quickly while protecting the most vulnerable.

Collectively, American citizens are some of the most powerful people on this Earth, and especially super influential in Maryland. Use that power this week by calling U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen. Tell them you want carbon pricing and carbon dividends in the reconciliation package. This is particularly important since Cardin is on the Senate Finance Committee, key to providing the framework for the reconciliation budget package.

Sabrina S. Fu

Ellicott City

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