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Letters: Howard County teachers shine during coronavirus pandemic; and more from readers

Teachers shine during coronavirus pandemic

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic for me has been the chance to view my kids’ teachers from a different angle. Most of them shine brightly in this new perspective.

Thanks to Google meets, I’ve heard their earnestness (and concern) as they help students navigate not only class material but a learning environment unfamiliar to all of them. I’ve seen their joy in celebrating the high school senior Class of 2020. I’ve been touched by those who go out of their way to connect with students outside assigned meeting times just to catch up or to read a bedtime story.

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We get one chance to raise our kids as a community. It’s been heartening to see the dedication and commitment our teachers have for their part in our shared task.

Richard Griffiths

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Columbia

Standing in solidarity with Asian community

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. We believe it is important to condemn any acts of discrimination, harassment and micro-aggression toward people of Asian background nationwide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

During this challenging time, we must show empathy for those in our community who are suffering and may have lost loved ones. No one group should ever be singled out and targeted. All hateful acts are divisive and will certainly cause serious damage to our community. In these trying times, we must unite and stand with all of our neighbors as one powerful force for a better tomorrow.

The Howard County Human Rights Commission stands in solidarity with the Asian community and all other citizens who have and are experiencing acts of hate and discrimination. Kindness is very powerful. We ask our fellow citizens to reflect compassion in their daily acts and deeds. Our unity in this regard can overcome these terrible acts. We believe that human rights encompasses the right to be respected and feel safe.

To the Howard County community, we ask that feelings of hate, anger or blame be turned into acts of compassion and support for our Asian neighbors, many of whom are living in fear. We must speak up and speak out against hate and aggression no matter where it exists or what form it takes.

Bob Ford

Chair of the Howard County Human Rights Commission

CA pools closures could have been avoided

Regarding “Columbia Association won’t open pools or operate camps” (June 4): Some readers might feel sorry for the CA, since it’s in such dire financial straits that it can’t afford to open our pools. You might think: “Poor CA! They want to open pools, but they can’t afford it!”

I want to remind you that the CA went on a spending spree in the 2010s with upgrades like the Splashdown at the Swim Center, water umbrellas and wade-in areas at Hawthorn, and upgraded hot tubs and restrooms at various facilities.

All of this was done to make Columbia look really good. “Look what great features we have at our pools!” The CA could send representatives around the country to highlight what a great job we were doing here in Columbia. (I’ve seen their slideshows.)

Now, the CA has realized, “Oops, we overspent on the bells and whistles, and now we can’t afford to open the pools.”

Going forward, I hope that the CA will remember this lesson from 2020: A majority of people would prefer to have minimal-frills pools that are open, as opposed to pools with water umbrellas, splashdowns or wade-in areas that are closed.

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Wendy Steward

Columbia

Republicans should stand up to Trump

I agree with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ recent critique of Present Donald Trump. Mattis denounced Trump for dividing our country and using the U.S. military to violate protesters’ constitutional rights. I am shocked that Republicans continue to support a narcissist who lies, berates, bullies, threatens and breaks laws.

I suspect that many conservatives find Trump “distasteful” but tolerate him because they like conservative judges and fear socialism. The only thing we should fear is Trump’s unconstitutional tendency to autocracy and his screaming “fake news” at any hint of criticism. The First Amendment grants us freedom of speech and assembly. Peaceful demonstrators should not be met with undue military force, nor should they be demonized by the president.

It is refreshing to see that Republicans like Mattis and Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney are exceptions. I hope other Republicans will follow their lead.

Tina Helble

Columbia

Restore funding for new 50+ center

We are writing to express our strenuous objection to recent actions by County Council members David Yungmann, Deb Jung and Liz Walsh that effectively killed a plan to construct a new East Columbia 50+ Center.

Every other part of the county has a large and amenity-filled dedicated 50+ center. In contrast, the current East Columbia center is a narrow corridor with three rooms. The county’s Master Plan recognized the disparity in facilities as far back as 2015. This is inequitable and needs to be remedied.

The council proposed a $4.5 million cut to the proposed 50+ center construction budget which represents a 27% cut. The three council members’ discussion at their May 27 budget meeting indicated the cut would simply result in a construction delay. However, the Department of Public Works informed them that construction contracts move forward only when full funding is authorized. A funding gap doesn’t delay a project; it effectively kills the project.

The council then argued the funds to fill $4.5 million gap could be found with county “carryover” money. The county does not have this type of carryover funds. Ultimately, the three council members reduced funding without regard for the fact that the cut would serve as a fatal blow to the project.

These actions will adversely impact seniors from all over the county who use the center, not just those who live in East Columbia. Howard County prides itself on being “age friendly,” but that phrase has no meaning if seniors are never a priority. We urge the three council members to restore full funding for construction.

Our thanks go to council members Christiana Mercer Rigby and Opel Jones for their steadfast support for full funding for construction of a new center.

Fran LoPresti, Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, Claire Femiano, Allison Korn, Henrietta Milward and Nelson Pollack

Steering committee for a new East Columbia 50+ Center

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