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THANKS FROM LEADERSHIP

From: Shirley M. Burrill

Executive Director

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Leadership Howard County

On behalf of Leadership Howard County, I wish to thank the merchants of The Mall in Columbia, the village centers and Dobbin Center for the extraordinary project they have undertaken this summer.

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Not only are they raising $200,000 for the Columbia Foundation's endowment fund, the income of which will benefit thousands of Howard County citizens who utilize programs and servicesof local non-profits, but in addition and equally important, they are raising the awareness of the community regarding the work of the non-profits.

The posters in The Mall depicting the non-profits at work, the store displays, the canisters in the shops and visual materials add to citizen awareness.

Without the services and programs of the non-profits, our community would indeed be barren.

The non-profit organizations provide services ranging from work with the retarded, day care for the elderly and the young, support to the mentally ill, counseling for the bereaved, intervention in domestic violence, rehabilitation for the neurologically impaired, housing for abused children and spouses, and support for the family structure.

Other non-profit organizations attend to our cultural and artistic desires. We have local museums, art shows, theater, dance and concerts. These allenhance our quality of life.

Leadership Howard County prepares future community leaders to meet the challenges of community service. As Howard County grows, so do the needs of its citizenry.

Leadership Howard County offers its members a broad range of experiences and insights about the county: its people, its needs and its services.

Over 165 Leadership graduates volunteer in the non-profit sector.

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We have received grants from the Columbia Foundation to enable our work. The $200,000 merchant endowment fund will help ensure that our services and those of many others will continue for years to come.

Leadership says thank you!

DEFORESTED DEJA VU

From: James S. Groves

Ellicott City

I read with sadness and deja vu the plaintive letters in last week's issue from homeowners in older, established communities in Ellicott City who have recently stood by helplessly and watched as their neighborhoods were stripped bare of the stately trees surrounding their homes, by out-of-state developers installing new subdivisions next door.

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The same thing happened to us in 1988 duringthe heyday of the Bobo building boom, and we thought (like some of your letter writers last week) that all we needed to do was point out the senselessness of the destruction to our county government, and they would quickly put a stop to it.

Well, think again. Bobo administration officials refused to take or return our phone calls. Nor would they answer our letters begging them for help.

We ultimately hadto sue the county to get them to respond to our pleas for basic information.

Finally, the county Office of Law responded with half-a-dozen motions for penalties and sanctions filed in court against us and our neighbors for standing up for the preservation of trees and property rights in Howard County.

They completely forgot who they work for, and what it was that they were employed by the taxpayers here to do.

While it is true that the leadership of the county government has now been changed -- and we cheered the change along with so many other common folks who had been similarly ignored and disenfranchised by the previous administration -- it is still disheartening to see how much things remain the same.

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BYRON'S FLIER TOO COSTLY

From: Darlene Hirsch

Frederick

Quite recently I received one of the nicest, three-color pieces of campaign literature that I have seen in quite sometime.

Why am I writing about it? Well, upon inspection Irealized that I had paid for the printing and the postage of the campaign literature, and I wasn't asked by anyone if I wanted to pay forthe piece.

The campaign literature that I am referring to is the "schedule" of Representative Beverly B. Byron's district tour.

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Thecampaign piece was stuffed full of information that I as a constituent need to know, such as how one of Byron's staff had fought in the war.

Then there was the article and picture about Byron meeting with the hikers who hiked across America. There was also a picture and blurb about Byron meeting with elementary school students.

The lastpage was another slap on her own back at my expense, talking about how Byron was working on improving the quality of rural health care.

I think that these are all admirable causes, but I strongly object to her using my money, our money, to get herself re-elected.

I have some knowledge of layout and production, and am very aware of the cost involved in producing such a lavish piece of campaign literature.

You and I paid for the writing, type-setting, printing, three-color ink, and then we also paid for the postage.

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I find this upsetting when so many of the Sixth Congressional District's citizens are facing so many economic difficulties.

Among these difficulties are unemployment, health care, day care, quality education, not to mentionthe lost industry in the area.

I sincerely hope that in the future Byron will evaluate the priorities of her district before she spends our money so recklessly.

I also hope that she will return to herpre-campaign stationary, as it is more cost-effective for the citizens of her district.

REPORT'S GOALS PRAISED

From: Nancy Seitz

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Ellicott City

The first line of the recently released report on Rural Residential Land Use that clearly states the commission's goal should begin to reassure the citizens of the commission's intentions.

The report begins: "paramount to the deliberations of this Commissionwas the desire to find the means to protect and save forever the greatest amount of land for agriculture, natural resources, and green space, so as to preserve the rural and landscape resources of Western Howard County."

This should be the goal of everyone who has grown up with rural Howard County and those who moved here because of the rural character of the area.

The recommendations outlined in this report offer the best proposal thus far for preserving the largest amount of open space and farm land.

The current three-acre zoning has been eating up Howard County farm land at an alarming rate.

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Those of us who have lived in Howard County for more than a few years have been shocked at the speed with which the rural area has become so much more suburban sprawl.

Once-productive farms now produce nothing more than endless lawn clippings.

Three-acre zoning does nothing to protect open space or agriculture.

Grouping development in simple clusters, as recommended by the commission, would go a long way toward preserving the open space that is left in Howard County and make continued agriculture possible.

With a ratio of one unit per five acres, the density under simple clustering would be lower than the current three-acre zoning.

These units would be grouped on one acre lots similar to many of the lots that exist throughout the western county from the old zoning rules. There would be no town houses or apartments.

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Ground water would not be any more threatened then by the current three acre development. And with clustering, 70 percent of the land would be preserved permanently as open space.

Current three-acre zoning could be changed at any time to allow much higher densities. It preserves no open space.

All of this is clearly stated in the commission's report. It is an easy-to-read forty pages (includinggraphs and maps).

I urge everyone interested in preserving open space in Howard to get a copy from the Howard County library and read it. It should go a long way toward clearing up the many misconceptions and falsehoods that have been recently spread like so much manure over the fields.

Howard County, both east and west, is going to continue to grow and develop.

As citizens, we now must decide how we want to manage that development.

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We must decide what kind of county we want to live in and what kind of county we want to leave to our children.

If we want to maintain open space and agriculture in Western Howard County, then the Report of the Rural Residential Land UseStudy Commission should be given fair consideration.

HIGH PRAISE FORPOLICE

From: Scott O. Miller

Ellicott City

I want to express my gratitude to your department for the way the following police officers handled a theft of my car and the subsequent recovery.

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Officer Roch DeFrancis: He professionally handled my complaint and followed up on vital information, passing same onto the detective division for further investigation.

Sgt. Timothy Porter and Officer Green: My heartfelt thanks for recovery of my car.

Detective John Newnan:There are many adjectives to use, but the most appropriate is "professional." From the moment that Detective Newnan received the report, he doggedly pursued the case, and although he didn't have to, he keptmy wife and me constantly apprised of what was going on with the investigation.

Through his tireless effort and dedication to his profession, he quickly solved this crime, and the citizens of Howard County should be damn proud that we have police officers with the caliberof these people.

Detective Newnan too recovered just about every item that was taken, and went the extra mile along with other officers searching the highway for discarded property.

You should be veryproud of these officers, and to each one, many thanks.

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REDISTRICTINGFOLLIES

From: Arthur Reynolds

Columbia

The impending redistricting of federal, state and local legislative boundaries may aggravate political tensions in Maryland rather than soothe them.

The temptation is enormous to again gerrymander districts to protect incumbents of both parties as well as to perpetuate the Democratic Party dominance here. Add to this cynical enterprise the pressures of racial apportionment.

Our community stands to again be dismembered and spread among various counties in quite nasty gamesmanship.

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A classicexample is the recent County Council redistricting plan proposed by,among others, members of the Howard County Republican Central Committee.

This plan concentrates black voters into one district; it wasdefended by local Republicans as being in compliance with the purported mandate of the Voting Rights Act (the VRA).

Indeed, the VRA and its judicial interpretations may support such a plan; more's the pity.

Council member C. Vernon Gray was reported to have questioned the extent of the proclaimed concern for the political well-being of minority groups by local Republicans. His skepticism, albeit partisanof course, is not unwarranted.

The VRA has been asserted as the basis for the latest form of racial spoils system to be introduced, namely, the conscious effort to gerrymander districts principally alongracial lines.

This "electoral apartheid" is among the more pernicious "progressive" doctrines today. It suggests that certain communities can only be effectively represented by those of their own race.

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Elections are thus reduced to a plainly ethnic basis and little else.

The even more insidious corollary is that voters should, under this concept, reject candidates not of their own race.

Racial gerrymandering, or ethnic-aligned district boundaries, are of long-standing tradition in American politics.

To a degree, it is tolerable, even worthwhile. Today's VRA mandate, however, stems from the more recent, bolder "affirmative action" (read "racial preferences") ideologycurrently under overdue scrutiny in other areas of our society, suchas employment and education.

The VRA is an indirect way to grapple with the lamentable lack of true, vigorous contested elections under the "incumbent protection system" in most states.

Would Doug Wilder or Los Angeles' Tom Bradley benefit from the racial apportionmentideology? Making it easier to challenge incumbents is part of the solution to more representative government.

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As a Republican (you know, the so-called "anti-quota" party), the only thing more incongruousand hypocritical than the shameless embrace of racial apportionment by Democrats is the shameless opportunism of local Republicans using the VRA as a transparent vehicle to engage in GOP-inspired gerrymandering.

This tactical ploy by my party is not only offensive on policy grounds but is also politically questionable.

The point is not that partisanship is unexpected. The party in power, whichever one, historically has normally taken advantage of its position to draw morefavorable districts.

In my view, district lines should be reasonably compact, sensible and respectful of well-established geographicaland political traditions.

The GOP should oppose potential abuses of redistricting and not join in such a brazen practice itself, of which in Maryland it is easily a victim. The local Republicans display unusually questionable judgment to embrace the racial spoils system.

Such efforts will not benefit our party or the intended beneficiaries, or enrich our attempts at self-government.

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Editor's note: Mr.Reynolds was a Republican candidate for House of Delegates District 13B in 1990.

CERTIFY STRAIGHT FIRST

From: Brenda Collinson

Ellicott City

I've been reading several articles regarding the openingof Straight Inc. in Columbia on July 29, after losing its license inVirginia.

The state of Maryland ended its investigation on Friday, Aug. 16, and is to make a determination as to whether they will certify Straight to continue operating by Sept. 30.

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Most of the concerns being expressed regard the methods used by Straight.

I'm no expert in substance abuse treatment, so I don't have an educated opinion as to Straight's merits.

However, what I do question is the party -- state or county -- issuing a license to operate pending an investigation to see if they meet state requirements. Straight has been allowed to operate since July 29 and may continue until at least Sept. 16.

If the law requires certification, why does the law allow operation pending certification?

Do we let surgeons operate before state of Maryland certification?

Do we allow teachers to instruct ourstudents without certification?

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Of course not, so why do we allowa substance abuse treatment center to do so?

We are letting Straight "play" with the lives of some very confused, addicted people.

If the state decides not to certify them, then what do we tell the people who are already in their treatment program? Go somewhere else? Sorry?

It's a very difficult and painful decision for addicts to enter an in-patient treatment program.

It's the state's responsibility to ensure ethical treatment before the treatment -- not after!


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