Taxpayers go after Hayden


Two years ago, anti-tax crusaders carried the banner of Roger B. Hayden, the unheralded and underfinanced candidate for Baltimore county executive, and directed their ire at incumbent Dennis F. Rasmussen, whom they derisively dubbed, "Tax-mussen."

Oh, how times have changed.

Swept into office in the anti-tax fervor of 1990, Mr. Hayden now finds himself the frequent target of the tax protest movement that helped get him elected. This week in Towson, at his monthly face-to-face session with the public, about a dozen members of Property Taxpayers United marched outside the county office building, carrying signs that read, "Hayden betrayed us" and "Hayden is History."

The protesters attacked the executive for not firing county highways chief Saverio A. Cortese, who, they claim, improperly used his influence to have a curb installed outside his northern county home.

"I voted for Mr. Hayden and I'm ashamed," said Ohma Lee Burns, who took pictures of the curb as it was installed at Mr. Cortese's home on Harris Mill Road.

The asphalt curb, or berm, was installed to keep water from a county road from draining onto Mr. Cortese's property, Mr. Hayden said in a letter to those who complained. The executive said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Cortese having the curb installed, but such work in the future should be approved by the public works director "to avoid the appearance of impropriety."

"There's obviously an indication that his judgment was not the best in the world, but he did not do anything illegal," Mr. Hayden said.

Harold Lloyd, a tax protest leader and close Hayden adviser during his 1990 campaign, said residents are upset because the executive didn't respond to a letter protesting the curb. In fact, Mr. Hayden sent them a letter, but they had not received it before their march.

Ken Gettle, president of the Mason-Dixon Association, talked with Mr. Hayden but said later, "He just snowballed us. He was courteous, but I still don't like his answers."

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