SCHOOL BOARD FOLLIES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

From: Stuart G. Morris

Annapolis

Upon my graduation from Johns Hopkins in 1957, Eleanor and I leftMaryland and spent the next 20 years raising four children in the school systems of Glen Ellyn, Ill.; Whitefish Bay, Wis.; and Oakwood, Ohio.

All appeared to be super educational organizations, and I cannot recall any problems with the respective school boards.

Returning to Maryland in 1976, our youngest child, Sally, moved through the local system until graduation from Severna Park High School.

Over these past 16 years, including about six years as a delegate to the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Convention from the Greater Severna Park Council, I have formed an opinion of the county schoolboard, and not a flattering one.

It has shown, I believe, little backbone on any issue, voting in favor of a policy when two parents appear to demand it, and reversing itself a week later when four appear to protest the previous vote.

But what can we expect from a board whose members are picked by the governor, who can ignore the list of "nominees" sent by the toothless AACSBNC? This procedure has long been a farce and should be boycotted and abandoned.

The (Anne Arundel County School Superintendent) Larry Lorton contract affair is a clear and glaring example of the school board's inadequacy.

Decidingnot to renew his $94,815 per year contract, which expires June 30, they could have terminated it as late as Jan. 31, and then offered severance pay of some kind.

The failure to do so means that Lorton will be paid for the entire period through June 30, receiving $39,506.24 for doing virtually nothing, since he is "leaving early."

Tyson Bennett, attorney for the board, assures us this is not a "buyout" ofthe contract.

He is right -- it is a "cop out!"

This payoff isa clear rip-off of the taxpayers.

Board president JoAnn Tollenger, a leftover from "the Lighthizer years," should hang her head in shame, along with the rest of the board members who voted to have the taxpayers support an absent school superintendent who was chosen by theboard only four years ago.

NO TO DETENTION CENTER

From: Margaret D. Brown

President

Marley Area Improvement

Association, Inc.

As the president of the Marley Area Improvement Association, Inc.and a North County resident of 38 years, I challenge County Executive (Robert) Neall's decision to relocate a detention center to Ordnance Road. Also I strongly urge the North County residents to flood their councilmen with protests; otherwise, the unthinkable will happen --the already over-burdened systems will be further diluted with an expandable 650-bed prison.

Please note on your calendar:

Public Hearing -- Thursday, Feb. 20; 7:30 p.m.; Glen Burnie High School.

Icall for our elected official to initiate a thorough impact study concerning the move. The following are a few of the factors which must be scrutinized before Resolution 5-92 is even considered:

* Environmental -- Marley Creek has been closed recreationally for 13 years. That very fragile coastal area has been grossly violated through Harundale and Route 10 development and through major sewage spills. By May of 1989, residents within a four-block radius closed their houses tightly throughout summer even though they were without benefit of airconditioning. The pervasive stench reached as far as Marley Middle School. Fish and water fowl disappeared. Many of us have worked hard and long for a dredge which still eludes us. At stake are our lungs and skins and genes, and the wholeness and health of our children and their children. Not only did the county fail to protect us from the devastation detailed above -- by God, now they threaten this very creekwith what to us is unthinkable!

Moreover, since the Army depot dates back to an unsophisticated World War I, only God and those littlegreen acres know what's buried there.

* Traffic -- Horrendous wasthe word applied to the Leedmark holiday traffic on Ordnance Road without the detention center in the picture. With the prison in the picture it would be more like gridlock.

* Safety -- We have an increase in thefts, burglaries, and violent crimes. North County police protection would be further reduced by the need to pull more officers totraffic detail, etc.

* Health -- The threat to health, already adversely affected by existing conditions, could be further jeopardizedby possible sewage spills from the detention center. Again, Marley Creek could be the unlucky recipient.

* Budget -- Transporting prisoners is a costly, ongoing factor. If the state doesn't come up with their half of the funding, the county could foot the entire $80,000,000. In addition, that is probably a deflated cost factor.

* Economics -- The threat to burden the Ordnance Road site with a prison casts yet another obstacle for CSX in developing Tanyard Cove. CSX has contracted to donate a spoils site for the elusive Marley Creek dredge,a new school, a parkland and a billion dollar industry that translates into local jobs.

Retailers so very near the site could realize reduced sales from people fearful of shopping in a prison neighborhood.

In addition, real estate will plummet as the county dumps one more negative element on us, decreasing the value of our homes -- probably our largest capital asset.

We do need a prison but this location is not a viable one. Councilman Holland assures us that his vote Feb. 20 will be inspired from the will of the people of District 3 who may reach him at 222-6891. Won't you consider making that two-minute call now? We urgently need your help with a phone call and/or your presence on Feb. 20 where you may stand up and be counted.

All other districts may phone 222-1401 to voice their opinion.

PRISON IDEA IS COSTLY

From: Janie Ballard

Glen Burnie

In these depressed economic times, when the county is scrambling for funds for service projects, no one, especially an elected official should consider spending $80 million without first consulting the elected representative and those citizens most directly affected.

Has the county taken into consideration the negative economic impact and potential loss of revenue by locating a prison at the Ordnance Road site?

The OrdnanceRoad property was bought by the county in 1982, and was originally slated for economic development, through clean industry. Other businesses along this road certainly fit this image. The Bay Meadows Industrial Park, The Price Club Complex, Leedmark and others have brought with them much needed jobs and additional county income. A prison is not compatible with these types of local businesses, nor would it generate this type of income.

The proposed CSX housing development of Tanyard Cove would be located directly opposite the proposed prison site. A well-planned project of this magnitude would employ hundreds ofpeople. Local contractors, plumbers, electricians, real estate agents, landscape contractors, and the list goes on and on. Yet, when I spoke to a representative of the county executive's office, no one had any knowledge of this information. Should we really expect CSX to continue with their plans for this development? Who wants to buy a housewith the view of a prison? Can the county afford to lose this kind of money?

I question whether the economic feasibility of this site has been thoroughly investigated. According to published reports, thecounty has not explored the issue of clean-up cost of the site, which was at one time a dump for the Army. Transportation cost estimates for moving prisoners from the prison facility to the Circuit Court have not been completed.

Clearly this has not been a properly evaluated procedure. From my investigation, we stand to lose a great, increased county revenue, jobs, desirable development, and we gain nothingfrom this proposed venture.

NEALL HAD A CHOICE

From: Debbie Knight

Glen Burnie

I am annoyed at a quote which appeared not only at the end of a story by John Morris but also was in large print at the top corner of the article ("Proposed jail site near but not on toxic dump," Feb. 9, 1992, Anne Arundel County Sun). In it, Delegate JohnGary is attempting to encourage sympathy for our county executive, saying, "he didn't have a choice" to build a jail.

(County Executive) Robert Neall did have a choice in the manner in which he set aboutto develop his proposal, and this secrecy and cowardice is part of his problem consequently. Citizens who voted for Neall in hopes of giving our county some integrity and honesty after the Lighthizer years have been slapped in the face.

INVESTIGATE HOPKINS

From: Heidi Berry

Chairman

Republican City Central

Committee for Annapolis

We, the members of the Republican City Central Committee for Annapolis, Maryland, are deeply concerned about the apparent improprietiesregarding Mayor Al Hopkins in the matter of improper distribution ofWard 1 residential parking passes.

The residents of Annapolis deserve a leader that sets good examples for the community, not one thatcreates bad examples. This behavior will not be tolerated. The residents of Annapolis deserve some honest and straightforward answers andexplanations. Therefore, the members of the Republican City Central Committee have asked the Ethics Committee to investigate Mayor Hopkins.

COMMITMENT NEEDED

From: Lawrence L. Bennett Jr.

Gambrills

I certainly commend the United States Postal Service in Maryland forits decision to collect food for the hungry. Clearly, there is an urgent need that has yet to be met. During this past year, I have become aware of the growing number of appeals for donations to help the hungry. At my church, the schools of my children, my daughter's scout troop, the local grocery store, my workplace and elsewhere, the requests for food and money have been made frequently. Each time we have been asked we have responded, grateful that we are able.

Yet I am troubled by these multiple requests and see irony in the Postal Service's involvement. Why is there a need for a massive voluntary effort and Postal Service leadership? The answer lies in the failure of our society to provide a sympathetic solution to the problem of hunger. Rather than insisting on strong government programs to provide adequate services to feed the hungry, we are too comfortable with voluntary efforts that do not address all the need that exists.

Helping those in our society who lack such things as food and shelter should be a first priority of our governments at all levels. This year the needs have become so great, surely it must be clear that our safety nets have big holes and must be repaired.

Here is a request to readers. This time, when you give a food donation to your mail carrier, also give a letter addressed to a public official urging a greater public commitment to helping the solutions to this persistent problem.

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