Ecker on jobs: Where's the beef?
I, for one, plan on voting for Susan Gray for Howard County executive. Every politician tries to boast of their intent to bring industry and jobs to their locale. The current GOP county executive used this tactic effectively in 1990 and to a degree is trying this tactic again this year.
However, let's look at his record. The highly publicized Coca-Cola bottling plant has not been built and his claim of producing more jobs for this county keeps his promises running on empty. Yet the builders and developers just love the current county executive. . . .
Meanwhile, our schools and roads are overcrowded with no end in sight. Try driving any of the main roads in this county early one morning, then later that afternoon; or visiting any school in this county, and see how packed the hallways are for our children.
It is time to elect a leader who will guide us toward cautious, responsible, sensible growth with a careful, planned vision to the 21st century.
You've heard of situational ethics? That's where one "bends" ethics depending on the situation.
Susan Gray, who is running for county executive, seems to be practicing these situational ethics by bending facts to suit her own purposes. Her many campaign positions raise numerous questions that should be asked. In the candidate forums that have been held during the last few weeks, Situational Susan has said:
* That we have runaway growth that must be stopped. But she has also said that growth at the rate of 2,000 homes per year is "about right." That's what we've had the past four years. So, what's the complaint? Oh, Situational Susan only wants these homes built on 3-acre lots. Does this really meet the diverse housing needs of our entire county?
* That the county should not use tax dollars to build roads that we need. But Situational Susan tells us that we already have a traffic mess. With our current Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance law, we get significant developer contributions to make road improvements wherever they might be needed throughout the county. If we cut development altogether, we cut those valuable dollars. How do we get those needed road improvements then?
* That she is the best person to be our next county executive. But, she admits that she really isn't a manager. Situational Susan says she has someone in mind from another county to come in and manage Howard County government for her. Is Situational Susan really running for county executive, or is it this other person?
* That the county rebuilt the Shepherd's Lane Bridge to benefit the Waverly Woods development. But this bridge is nowhere near Waverly Woods. How is one related to the other?
* That the county improperly agreed to release a developer from the obligation of constructing the intersection at Route 100 and Long Gate Parkway. But, Situational Susan doesn't say that the original agreement was in exchange for giving other land to the developer. Should the developer still be required to perform when the county cannot?
* That she has contributed untold hours of legal work to help "your" communities by bringing at least seven lawsuits against the state and the county. Situational Susan doesn't tell you that she has never won even one of her suits. In fact, at least three of the cases have been dismissed because she didn't know how to follow simple court procedures. I guess you get what you pay for. . . .
Betty L. Raymond
In order to foster a balanced economic future for all of Howard County, responsible growth through comprehensive planning and zoning must continue.
Our current county executive and members of the County Council and zoning board are to be commended for their foresight and courage. They realized that no growth creates economic disaster followed by increased taxes. As a lifelong resident and business owner in Howard County, I am proud of all we have achieved throughout the years to become by far the best county in all of Maryland.
Apparently, Susan Gray and John Taylor must agree with me, because they recently moved into our beautiful, economically viable county. We are all very fortunate to live in such a strong, stable and progressive environment. . . .
Growth is one issue that is clearly under control through our recent comprehensive general plan and adequate public facilities bill. . . . One major addition to our general plan included the new cluster zoning provision, which I supported strongly.
Thanks to Councilman Charlie Feaga and the other zoning board members, this will save thousands of acres of farm land in our rural western part of the county. Most importantly, this cluster zoning provision will give our children more options in the future, as opposed to the older 3-acre zoning that was consuming large portions of our precious farmland.
Growth is not a problem in Howard County. Quite honestly, we don't have a lot of problems, especially when you compare us to our neighboring counties. . . .
The writer is president of Hearth & Home Distributors Inc.
It puzzles me how gubernatorial candidate Parris Glendening can be so strongly opposed to school choice.
As a college professor, Mr. Glendening should know that the government already provides school choice at the collegiate level through grant, loan and work-study programs.
In fact, any disadvantaged student who can earn admission to the college of his choice, private or public, can afford to attend through these important financial aid programs.
Mr. Glendening argues that school choice will destroy our public school system. However, the competition and success we enjoy at the collegiate level illustrates that his argument is baseless. America's universities, public and private, are the best and most admired in the world.
Former school teacher and gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey would like to give less fortunate children the same opportunities at the elementary and secondary levels that we provide to students at the collegiate level.
By providing vouchers to parents, children in Maryland's toughest neighborhoods will have, like wealthy children, the opportunity to attend good, safe schools. . . .
Alan D. Poff
On Oct. 24, an editorial in The Sun endorsed Marna McClendon for the position of state's attorney for Howard
I take no exception to the endorsement. It is clearly within the gambit of journalistic politics to endorse whomever the newspaper feels is the appropriate candidate for the elected position.
What I do take exception to is a statement contained within the editorial that reads: "Widely believed to be one of the more lax state's attorneys offices in Maryland, Howard's office has suffered from an erosion of integrity."
In my opinion, failing to respond to such a statement may appear an endorsement of such a sentiment.
I cannot speak for an entire office, but I can respond for myself, a proud employee of the state's attorney's office of Howard County.
I have been an assistant state's attorney in Howard County for four years. In that period of time, I have moved from District Court prosecutor to senior assistant felony trial team leader.
I have attended the National College of District Attorneys in Houston, as a student, as well as being invited back as a faculty adviser, a privilege also enjoyed by Marna McClendon. I have worked hard to represent the citizens of Howard County by aggressively pursuing justice. I have worked during furlough periods, as well as working endless weekends and evenings so that I would be prepared to zealously prosecute whatever case appeared on the docket.
For the past three years, I have been assigned to the Circuit Court division. In the period of three years, I have had the opportunity to try approximately 40 to 50 jury trials. In the course of those trials, I have been co-counsel in the nationally publicized trials of Bernard Miller and Rodney Solomon in the carjacking murder of Pam Basu. I have prosecuted the case of James McManus, the "Ellicott City arsonist." I have argued death penalty motions and the sentencing phase of a death penalty case. I have tried murders, solicitation to commit murder, rapes, robberies, burglaries, arson and argued a variety of evidentiary motions. I tried the rape-murder case of a 17-year-old convicted of murdering his home tutor, Shirley Rue Mullinix. In that case, I introduced the first contested Maryland State Police Crime Laboratory DNA Profile Identification as the sole evidence of the rape count, which was the basis for the felony murder.
I have worked hard to fairly and professionally pursue truth and justice for the citizens of Howard County. . . . I have done the best job that I could, and I believe that the efforts of myself and many other members of this office represent integrity, professionalism, and competence. . . .
This is the voice of an assistant state's attorney who has been proud to be afforded the opportunity to work in Howard County the past four years. . . .
The writer is a senior assistant state's attorney in Howard County.
As one of the original planners of Columbia in the early 1960s and a 27-year "pioneer" resident, I oppose the idea to incorporate Columbia as a municipality. I have a broad variety of reasons for my opposition.
Primarily, I believe Columbia residents benefit from good overall services from Howard County with an acceptable tax rate. And although I agree that the Columbia Association (CA) can be unresponsive and arrogant, on balance Columbia's open space and recreation amenities are well-managed, contributing to the feeling of living in a "city in a park."
If Columbia were to incorporate, it would mean a new municipal government bureaucracy that would have to pay for all of the services we now get from the county and CA. Or the municipality would have to contract for these services from the county or private service providers.
The result would be . . . complications, confusion, tension and policies between the municipality and the county. This potential duplication of services in a small county makes no management or economic sense. And who can guarantee that "municipal government" will be any more responsive or less arrogant?
What can be guaranteed is that it will surely cost residents more than the combined county tax and CA fees. Making the "CA portion" of the municipal tax deductible will become a minor benefit in contrast to the overall increased total costs and added bureaucracy.
There is no assurance that Columbia voters will become more involved in municipal elections than we are now in CA elections. What brings the voters out are issues. Apparently, Columbians are satisfied with the county and generally with CA services; there are no real issues.
Incorporation will not "restore the old ideals the town was founded on." Some of these ideals died with the times and others that remain relevant will not benefit from municipal government. Given the nature of local politics, does anyone believe that a municipality can really "be in step with the future?"
In the Baltimore region, we are fortunate in having few municipalities to deal with on critical regional issues requiring cooperation. Adding another unnecessary municipality to the Baltimore region is wrong. And there is absolutely no benefit to Columbia becoming the second largest city in Maryland.
Is there an answer to the few real and many perceived issues that are driving some toward municipal status for Columbia? The answer is -- to use a popular phrase -- to entirely re-engineer CA and not to create an even greater problem in the form of municipal government.
James Rouse is rightly accorded credit for the inspiration of Columbia. It led to a remarkable fusion of public and private interests culminating in the adoption and implementation of the New Town Zoning District by the Howard County Commissioners in 1965. This was the linchpin between the idea and the reality of Columbia.
Before this was accomplished, the prospect of incorporation was considered and found not to be the appropriate way to proceed. I remain convinced that it is not in the best interest of Columbia and Howard County to make the separation now.
One of the greatest strengths of Howard County is that we have but one local government to deal with. . . . The growth of Howard County as an entity remains tied to that unity. To tamper with it will strengthen neither Columbia nor Howard County, but will weaken both. . . .
As the creation of Columbia was a question for all of the people of Howard County, the question of incorporating Columbia is today vital to us all. I was privileged to serve as legal counsel to County Commissioners Charles E. Miller, J. Hubert Black and David W. Force, the men who constituted the government from 1962 to 1966. They are all gone but if they were here, I know that they would share our pride in the ensuing growth and development of Howard County and Columbia.
We should exercise great care and sound judgment in the matter of changing the vital components of our government and community.
!Lewis Straughn Nippard