Gray Matter: Much Ado about Nothing


In a desperate, 11th-hour try to scuttle the opposition, slow-growthers led by Howard County executive candidate Susan B. Gray have attempted to prod the state to prosecute a civic group that purchased advertising time on local cable television.

The ads were bought by the Howard County Citizens Coalition Against Question B, which is opposing the zoning referendum on this November's county ballot. Ms. Gray, described by the state prosecutor's office as "the most aggressive" of those who lodged the complaints, wanted charges brought because the group failed to include an "authority line" identifying itself in its ads criticizing the referendum.

Assured that the authority line was omitted inadvertently and has since been included in TV spots, prosecutors wisely closed the case. That, of course, hasn't stopped the Gray forces from making much ado about nothing.

In case anyone believes Ms. Gray was simply being a good citizen by reporting the offense, it merits repeating that not only is she running for county executive, the ads target the referendum that she wrote. Should Ms. Gray's candidacy and the referendum both succeed, she will have garnered for herself enormous new powers over land-use decisions in Howard County; the executive would gain veto power over changes to the county's long-term zoning map and land-use plan.

Ms. Gray's goal in attacking the ads? She wants to stop opponents from betraying her and her supporters as misguided elitists. The advertisements ridicule slow-growthers as "that kid who never let anyone play in his tree fort" and the "invasion of the NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard)." Ms. Gray fails to realize that opponents of Question B are entitled to their opinions as she is entitled to hers.

Far from acting in secret, the coalition seems more than willing to let it be known who they are. The group includes the Howard County Economic Forum, the Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the county Farm Bureau, the Columbia Association and other business and civic organizations. The breadth and credentials of these

coalition members send a strong signal to voters about the need to reject Question B for the county's sake.

Tomorrow: Legislative District 12

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