Carroll Life, a citizens' group opposed to a proposed highway bypass around Westminster, would like to be thought of as one of Carroll County's white hats. But the group's recent heavy-handed threat to whip up a boycott against businesses that oppose its viewpoint will ensure a more black-hatted, mean-spirited image.
Carroll Life is arrogantly asserting that its proposal is the only solution to Westminster's current and future traffic problems.
The group has proposed that the state close off much of the direct commercial access that now exists along Route 140 and build overpasses and underpasses at intersections to eliminate traffic signals.
As the leadership of the grassroots organization well knows, their plan is but one of a half-dozen under study by the State Highway Administration. For Carroll Life to muscle its proposal to the fore by threatening businesses violates the spirit that should prevail in a public policy discussion.
Carroll Life's challenge to the Route 140 businesseses is: Support our proposal for expanding the current road or suffer economic consequences. Aside from the fact that its threat is hollow because Carroll Life has no immense following, the group is asking these businesses to take a position contrary to their own self-interests.
Businesses -- and organizations representing business such as the local Chamber of Commerce -- have a perfect right to express concerns about highway improvements that may impede access to their establishments or eliminate parking. It is no different from Carroll Life members expressing concerns about proposed bypass routes that would traverse their properties.
State highway officials seem to be making a conscientious effort to have as much public input as possible. Whatever the outcome of the process, none of the groups involved is likely to be totally satisfied. That is a fact of life when decisions are made by consensus.
Threatening retaliation is inappropriate. It undermines this type of open-policy making process. If Carroll Life is truly interested in the qualify of life in Carroll County, it won't threaten to disrupt the livelihoods of local business people.
Carroll Life should retract the fliers threatening a boycott and apologize for its imperious behavior.