A $90 million debt isn't a Columbia 'red herring'
I feel it necessary to correct an injustice done to the people of Columbia by Mike Rethman's letter of Sept. 8. He claims the amount of the Columbia Association's debt is irrelevant. He calls it a "red herring."
It is appropriate, even ironic, that Mr. Rethman picked this term. The phrase means, "something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand." His letter was a red hearing. First, how irrelevant is a $90 million debt that continues to climb at a rate of $1 million a year? It is important to note that our elected officials have no debt management program. They choose not to listen to the voters when told don't build it, we don't want it, we won't use it. They continue to spend our money and build facilities just because CA management says they will eventually make money. It is also worthwhile noting that each and every one of us who pays the annual lien is responsible for this debt to the tune of about $3,000-plus a piece. Does that make it more relevant?
Second, what sense does it make to build facilities that very few, if anyone, wants? Where did the original idea for these facilities come from? I am reasonably certain they did not originate with our Columbia Council.
According to Rob Goldman's own numbers, only a small percentage of our residents would use the facilities five or more times a year. According to him, that percentage is enough to make the project profitable. According to him, two-thirds of the people polled would never use or use only once a year these multi-million dollar white elephants.
Of course, he and hired consultants would be expected to tell the Columbia Council about future potential profits. Consultants earn their money by spinning the truth so that it is acceptable to the client. It is noteworthy that, according to CA's own budget statements, only two athletic clubs are profitable. Absolutely everything else is losing money. Given that track record, why should we expect new projects to make money?
Third, why do we elect people with no vested interest in our community to run our community? Our community leaders should, at the very least, own property in the community and be registered voters in the state of Maryland. If we have no such requirement for our village boards and council, perhaps we should.
I call upon all 10 members of our Columbia Council to voluntarily state, for the record, whether or not they own property in Columbia and whether or not they vote in Columbia. Without a vested interest in the outcome of community-related decisions, theirs is nothing more than an exercise of power and authority that can very easily be bought and sold.
There are problems here. They cannot be talked away and I am not convinced they can be worked out. Every few years for the last 20, there has been some type of incorporation attempt. Columbia governance poses a convoluted problem that depends on your apathy to keep itself fat and happy. If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten.
The writer is treasurer of the Columbia Municipal League, Inc.
Not all coaches opposed no-pass, no-play rule
Having read your editorial concerning the Howard County school board's decision to significantly upgrade athletic eligibility standards, I feel obligated to respond to one of your major assumptions.
You stated that this new policy was passed despite opposition from the Howard County Parent-Teacher-Student Association and Howard County coaches. To my knowledge, only one coach spoke in opposition to this proposal. However, many of us feel differently and are generally supportive of the new upgrated standards. As a matter of fact, some coaches like myself have for years held members of our teams to higher academic standards than those mandated by the county.
The writer is a counselor and coach at Centennial High School.
Governor Ecker would help GOP
The title of your Sept. 2 editorial, "Governor Ecker?," will hopefully be repeated many times starting in 1998 without the question mark.
Chuck Ecker is certainly a man for all seasons. As the able Howard County executive in his second term of office, he has established himself as his own man, working for the good of the county. This sometimes means crossing party lines or whatever it takes to work for the benefit of all the people.
Bill Shepard suggests (letter, Sept. 7) that Chuck Ecker should run on the Sauerbrey ticket. An interesting alliance, but only if the roles are reversed. I trust that the Republican Party will discover what a jewel it has in its midst. ...
Howard becoming overdeveloped
I am writing this letter in concern over the proposed overdevelopment in Howard County. Most recently, a plan of 800 houses and three office complex developments in the area of College Avenue near Taylor Manor Hospital has been proposed to the Howard County Planning Board. I moved to Howard County only 2 1/2 years ago in an effort to get away from overdevelopment in Baltimore County. We chose the area because of the undeveloped farm land, sprawling acres, scenic drives and peace and quiet. As early as six months from our move to this area, we noted an increase in animals feeding on our property and in the area (mostly deer). At first, we were pleased to see this very lovely sight. But each year we realized that the deer population was increasing because of human overpopulation and development.
Most recently, the addition of another elementary school on Ilchester Road in Howard County has caused additional havoc with wildlife, sediment control, trash and traffic safety. When the building was being built, most trees and bushes were demolished for the school. In less than a mile radius, there are three elementary schools. Additionally, near the area of the above mentioned elementary school, another housing development at the Clementine Peterson property (sold by the Girl Scouts of America) is being planned. This is more bad news for the area. When will the over-development stop?
Additionally, this same area has a truck problem due to the Simpkins Recycling Plant. These trucks constantly tie up traffic, dump trash in the area and are noise polluters.
Most recently, the Howard County residents have been saddled with an additional $125 per year per household trash tax and a restriction on the amount of trash that will be picked up. More housing and development will only increase the burden. Restriction of development is one answer to this problem. ...
Landfill duty for executive, council?
Recently, the people in charge of the landfill in Howard County imposed a 1,000-percent increase in the permit fee that allows residents (at their own time and expense) to gather, transport and dispose of their refuse and recycling materials.
A simple solution to all landfill costs would be to have every county employee, including the county executive and all members of the County Council, spend four hours each week in gathering and disposing of county refuse and recycling materials.
Taxpayers would then be assured that 10 percent of the money spent on county payrolls would be earned. Any County Council member caught using his office and taxpayer's funds to campaign for his re-election should be permanently assigned to the collection and disposal of refuse and recycling materials.
Ronald W. Farabee
End of racing would help horses
Timothy Capps' letter of July 27 hungers for slot machines at Maryland's horse race tracks because the horses aren't making enough money. The market for betting on horses beating around a rail is uneconomical. So the venture has to be jazzed up with slots.
In Mr. Capps' paean to horse commerce, there was not a word of concern for the animals. Not a caution regarding the stress and injuries the horses endure; not a care that breeding for speed breeds fragility; not a mention of the rigors of transportation, nor drugs that strain the animals beyond natural ability. Let the market system and changing preferences continue to turn to other means of gambling, as it is doing, thus releasing the horse from the artificiality and degradation of commercial racing.
A true love and respect for this noble and beautiful animal will allow the current racing commerce to fade away. The piggyback idea of increasing gambling revenues to improve the schools is sickening.
Should the vigorish of using some of the slots' revenue for schools prevail, then we must dedicate some of the booty toward effective horse protection in Maryland and get really strict about equine welfare.
Sam D. Calaby
Pub Date: 9/29/96