From: Frank Lupashunski
The column titled "County Comments" about voter registration deserves a response from the Howard County Board of Elections. It leads one to believe that voter registration is "a frustrating bureaucratic process" when in fact it can be done from the comfort of your home.
This office carries a paid advertisement monthly with the Howard County Sun letting people know that they can either send in the coupon to receive an application at their home or call the office 24 hours per day to request an application.
The whole process then can be accomplished by mail, providing the request is timely. The ad will alsoinclude the deadline when it gets closer to an election. (Presidential primary is March 3, 1992.)
Mail-in forms are also available at all public libraries, the county office building, the health department, the social services department and other state agencies, and incidentally in every DMV office.
The election office has for several years gone to every high school in the county to offer voter registration to eligible students.
We maintain a registration booth at thecounty fair, and occasionally at the Mall in Columbia. We also presently have over 300 trained volunteer registrars in the county.
TheHoward County Board of Elections is justifiably proud of the fact that we presently have the highest ratio of eligible voters vs. registered voters in Maryland.
If you are not presently registered and wish to be, there is never a need to wait in line at the DMV when you can let your fingers do the walking right in your own living room.
Call 313-2714 for 24-hour message service. Leave your name and address and an application will be sent to you.
Editor's Note: The writer is president of the Howard County Board of Supervisors of Elections.
ANOTHER VIEW OF HEARING
From: John W. Taylor
Howard Countians for Responsible Growth
It is tempting to dismiss County Councilman Charles Feaga's recent letter (Howard County Sun, July14, Readers Write, "Sorrow for Nixon's Ordeal") as just so much political grandstanding. But Mr. Feaga reaches a new low in
his letter, and he must be responded to.
The common thread throughout Mr. Feaga's letter is the idea that he is reasonable, but those who disagree with him are not. To him, evidently, those who do not share his views are zealots on a crusade. There are only two or three of them, he says, and they mislead and inflame, they cause near-riots, and he even seemed to imply that they might condone or even make telephone threats.
Unfortunately, Mr. Feaga can't seem to muster the courage to name names, or be specific when he makes these statements. Let's moveon, leave the innuendo and whispering rumors behind, and look at thefacts.
Myself and other members of HCFRG worked to inform the local public about the poorly, though legally, advertised June 5 public hearing of the Land Use Commission studying development alternatives for the west.
We produced and distributed a flier, possibly the one that Mr. Feaga refers to as "misleading and inflammatory" in his letter. Every statement in that flier was carefully reviewed and re-reviewed for accuracy and correctness.
HCFRG simply will not knowingly publish and distribute something that cannot be substantiated. If Mr. Feaga was referring to our flier, I invite him to publicly point out specifically where anything incorrect or untrue was included. The flier is available in the council files, and I will gladly supply a copy of it to any interested citizen who sends a stamped, self-addressed envelope to HCFRG, P. O. Box 205, Clarksville, Md. 21029.
If there was another flier Mr. Feaga was attacking, he owes it to everyoneto say which one, and what was wrong with it.
Next, Mr. Feaga characterizes the hearing as a "near-riot." He might like to have peoplethink that, as well as his implication that "zealots and their crusade" caused it, but the facts are different. As the 300-plus citizens who were there know, the hearing got occasionally rowdy, perhaps downright rude, as citizens were fed a particularly patronizing and insulting-to-their-intelligence presentation. But at no point did anythingapproaching a "near-riot" occur.
Particularly galling in Mr. Feaga's letter is his contention that our county will not develop as Fairfax or Montgomery because we have been learning from their mistakes. I had to read that twice, since it was written by the councilman who has consistently and steadfastly opposed any form of growth management, no matter how mild.
Up until the recession intervened, Howard County was setting yearly records for uncontrolled growth. And even today, with no growth management legislation in place, and a wildly growth-oriented General Plan, we are ill-prepared for any economic upturn that could involve the possible resumption of fast-paced growth.
Last, I would like to address the not-so-subtle implication in Mr. Feaga's letter that persons involved in turning citizens out for the June 5 public hearing would ever willingly and knowingly place anyone and/or their family in jeopardy.
If Randall Nixon received threatsover his telephone, it is unconscionable, to say the very least. Hopefully, he has involved the proper authorities, and they are investigating the matter.
For Mr. Feaga to imply that anyone working for responsible growth in Howard County could condone, or worse yet, causesuch a situation, is reaching for a record low.
But unfortunately, attacking and attempting to discredit those who disagree with him seems to be the standard tactic for Mr. Feaga, judging by his July 14 letter.
If you are going to continue with that strategy, Mr. Feaga, how about at least having the courage to name names, and be specific when you accuse citizens of misinforming, inflaming, causing near riots, and so on.
Better yet, how about sticking to the issues and concerns of the day, and leave the petty name-calling and innuendo behind.
REJECT WAVERLY WOODS
From: Charles A. Aston
The saturation bombing growth of western Howard County is about to be resumed, at least if Donald R. Reuwer and Co. have their way.
The Waverly Woods project is exactly what the rural west doesn't need.
Even the name of the project, which includes the word "woods," gives pause.
The area is presently wooded but this development will destroy the woods. Why do developers feel compelled to name their projects after whatever they destroy in creating them?
What problems will this massive development in a largely rural residential area create?
The landfill is almost full. A new site has not yet been identified. Where will all the trash created by 937 homes, a golf course and a 327-acre industrial park be disposed of?
The taxpayers will certainly wind up footing a substantially increased burden to handle this problem.
Water and sewer service will have to be extended into the area. Where is all the water supposed to come from? Baltimoreis hard pressed to keep up with present demands.
It seems that each summer brings water use restrictions.
What improvements will have to be made to the sewer capacity to accommodate all the extra water, given that it can be piped in? How much will that cost the taxpayers to install and maintain?
Two golf courses already exist in close proximity to the proposed one. One just opened a few weeks ago. Theother is an older, established course at Turf Valley, which is operating at less than 50 percent of its capacity.
What on earth do we need with a third course?
Anyone familiar with Route 99 knows it is running out of traffic handling capacity.
How expensive will it be for the taxpayers to improve the road to handle this new mass of business and residential traffic?
How much of the road's present scenic charm will remain when it is straightened and widened to four orsix lanes?
Where will the extra classrooms come from to service the children in those 937 new homes crowded onto 302 acres? How about police and fire protection? Who will pay for those increases?
A lot of commercial real estate is empty in the Columbia area already. How much additional excess capacity will this new 372-acre industrial park create?
Mr. Reuwer is quoted as saying that he expects an adequate public facilities ordinance, which will cure traffic and realtedproblems, to be in place long before construction begins.
Such anordinance may or may not be in place, but even if it is, this development will have a profoundly negative impact on land values, quality of life and taxation burden for those of us who live in the area.
Waverly Woods would be a great idea if it were proposed for an area such as Montgomery County, Prince George's County or northern Virginia, where extremely heavy development has already destroyed any semblance of the quiet, rural life western Howard County has always represented.
Let your County Council know where you stand on this issue, and let's see whether a government of, by and for the people is working in Howard County.
PROGRAM CUTS AHEAD
From: Christopher J. McCabe
State Senator (R- District 14)
For the state of Maryland, Fiscal Year 1991 will now go down as one of the most fiscally devastatingin history.
Convening in January, the Maryland General Assembly encountered a FY 1991 deficit of approximately $400 million.
Through a combination of operating budget reductions, increases in cigarette and snack food taxes, a reduction in the capital gains preference, a major drawdown from the state's rainy day and sunshine funds, agricultural preservation and Program Open Space, the pain of balancing the budget was widespread.
Many agencies compensated for the loss oftheir budget authority by raising fees for licenses. State employeesforfeited COLA and merit increases and have been ordered to work longer work weeks.
On a local level, teachers and county employees were asked to help share the burden also. These austerity measures mirror many of those experienced by the private sector.
Fiscal Year 1992 projections still show sagging revenues, and current out-year projections of state needs vs. versus revenues show a $600 million gap for FY 1993. Increasing federal mandates from the Clean Air Act, Medicaid and other federal legislation only compound the burden.
The state and local news media suggest that because Maryland has gone 14 years since its last sales tax increase and 24 years since its last income tax increase, Marylanders are due higher taxes.
The answer for Maryland is not to simply acquiesce by raising high taxes higher.
We have painfully reached a point where state priorities must begin to be established.
Budgets with $400 million surpluses are relatively easy to balance, now we must tackle a nearly $1 billion deficit inthe coming years.
Leaders of the legislature's budget committees have finally indicated a desire to look not just at new revenue formulas, but also to take a hard look at spending patterns and practices.
The result is bound to be continued pain as popular, but marginally justifiable programs are eliminated.
Citizens, in general, havespoken in recent years. The consensus appears to be that government at all levels must be reorganized and streamlined.
Programs shouldbe administered and paid for at the level providing the service. Likewise, the state and federal governments must review the impact of costly mandates.
There is little doubt that this will be a difficulttask.
Citizens should express exactly what they want from their government. The answer cannot be to save your favorite program and lower your taxes, for I have always believed the citizens to be more sophisticated than that.
We are now forced to finally begin making these decisions and elected representatives need your help in reaching the proper conclusions.