From: M. Sean Kelly
President, Howard County Professional Fire Fighters Association
It has come to my attention that the comments I made in your article on Wednesday, Feb. 6, ("Outsider as fire chief seen as remedy for turf battles") have caused some concern within various groups within the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.
I would like to take a moment of your readers' time and respond with the following.
I did not intend to discredit any individual or group with my statements.
It is also, not my intention to cause county residents to stop making donations to the organizations of their choice.
The point has to be made, however, that emergency services, provided by any organization within the the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, will not be effected by someone's failure or inability to give.
As I stated, emergency services are provided for bya county resident's annual taxes.
A portion of those taxes is reserved for the fire tax. This tax is dedicated to the provision of fire and rescue services.
Each individual Volunteer Fire Company receives a quarterly check from the county government for the costs of providing services.
It is the responsibility of the county's director of fire and rescue (services) to determine the needs of the community and administer to those needs. I hope this eliminates any confusion in the funding.
The other statement that seemed to cause some concern was the opinion on the enhancement of the service.
As you know, volunteer firefighters are unable to be available 24 hours a day.This has resulted in the need for the placement of full-time career firefighters in the more rural areas.
Consider, if you will, the hypothetical absence of the volunteer portion of our highly acclaimed,combination fire service. Even though this would probably never occur, it would facilitate the need for a total full-time system. This would then guarantee coverage 24 hours a dy, every day of the year.
I will conclude with one additional, and perhaps the most important point.
We all do our very best, with the time we have, to maintain the excellence of Howard County's Fire and Rescue Services. And, as you many have imagined, we are also extremely proud to serve.
NO MORE SUBSIDIES FOR PRIVATE SCHOOL BUSING
From: Kenneth A. Stevens
A response is required to the accusatory letters in The Howard County Sun of Feb. 10 from Michael J. Deets ("Private school parents deserve a break") and Barbara A. Coakley ("Don't penalize parentsof parochial schoolers").
Let it be clear that my letter today isfor myself alone and is not written on behalf of any group.
Mr. Deets displays his ignorance when he claims that when I object to county taxpayer funding of parochial school bus transportation, I'm really objecting to religious and private education.
Baloney! I'm not asking for the abolition of non-public schools. What I continue to seek is an end to public funding of transportation of students to the five parochial schools that are benefiting from it.
By the way, Mr. Deets, despite your effort to make it so, this is not a partisan issue. I know members of both major parties on both sides of it.
Our public schools are open to all children without discrimination and I do believe that we all, whether we have children or whatever school they attend, benefit from the efforts of all public schools to provide the best possible education to as many children as possible.
Afterall, the cost for miseducation (in welfare, retraining and/or prisons) is high and any of us are apt to be the victim of those who were miseducated as children. So I have not the least objection to paying my share of taxes for the education of however many children are sent to our public schools.
If some parents choose to try to get their children admitted to religious schools, it's their privilege. Religious schools, however, are not public and they may be as selective as they choose in their admission policies, as with their teachers and what they teach.
If you are able to exclude poor and disruptive students, it ought to be much easier to provide a quality education than in a public school, where such discrimination is illegal. So, it's not a matter of religious schools being better, as Ms. Coakley implies,than public schools. It's a matter of their being different.
But if that's what those parents want, and if they can get by the admissions policy, it is their responsibility (which many of them willingly accept) to pay whatever costs ensue.
Note that such parochial schools as Trinity and Atholton Adventist Academy manage to exist withouttaxpayer-funded transportation. Why, then, for example, cannot Our Lady of Perpetual Help?
Ms. Coakley exhibits her intolerance by condescendingly expressing "sympathy" for people who do not share her theological beliefs. I neither need nor want her "sympathy," and I expect that a whole lot of other people feel the same way.
And I thought the days of calling people "un-American" were over. But apparentlynot. It says something about you, though, Ms. Coakley.
Ms. Coakley also has the nerve to argue that parochial school parents "should be the last ones to be affected" by any budget cuts that may be contemplated. She and Mr. Deets apparently believe that these parents are doing us such a favor by not sending their children to our public schools that we should gratefully pay to transport them to their religious schools. Again, this is baloney.
Parents have reasons of their own for sending their children to religious schools and they will surely not all transfer them to our public schools simply because we don't pay for their transportation.
If saving money was our only priority, we could abolish the public schools and let all children and parents fend for themselves. Fortunately, it is not our only priority.
For whatever reasons, both Mr. Deets and Ms. Coakley ignore the constitutional issue in this matter. Fortunately, the First Amendment tothe U.S. Constitution prohibits government funding of religion and leaves religious individuals and groups free from government control.
If the operators or users of religious schools want freedom from government control, they would do well not to seek government funding.With one goes the other. And so it should.