Ecker was right to stay quiet on judges race
Notwithstanding the argument put forward by Norris West in The Sun in Howard on Nov. 17, County Executive Charles I. Ecker was correct in not using his position within the county to influence the recent judicial race.
The race was non-partisan in nature. There were good Republicans and Democrats supporting both the Leasure/Hill Staton and Gelfman/Smith tickets. As head of the Republican Party in Howard County, it would have been inappropriate for Mr. Ecker to use his position to support one ticket or the other.
The quality of all four candidates was outstanding. The Circuit Court would have been well-served by any two of the candidates running. Both political parties were divided about who would make the best judges, as were the Howard County Bar Association and other groups who actively participated in the election. Which two judges should Mr. Ecker have supported?
What power did Mr. Ecker cede to other members of the Republican Party? In a non-partisan election, could it have been possible to unite all of the Republicans behind one slate? Under the circumstances, such a feat would have been impossible. It might even have been inappropriate.
There is little doubt that some people supported the Gelfman/Smith slate in order to undermine Gov. Parris N. Glendening politically, and in so doing help the chances of their champion, Ellen Sauerbrey, in 1998. Likewise, many people supported the Leasure/Hill Staton ticket merely because they were the incumbents.
Sometimes, power not used is power not abused. Mr. Ecker has proven many times over that his prime motivation is not political benefit, but the benefit of the citizens of Howard County. He did the much harder thing. He let the citizens of Howard County choose. Now, Mr. Ecker can go about the business of healing the wounds. That is leadership.
Michael W. Davis
The writer is the county executive's campaign manager.
Eateries gain by honoring smoking ban
I am writing in response to the Nov. 10 letter from John Taylor in The Sun in Howard regarding the smoking ban. I am proud to live in Howard County because, like many other counties and cities throughout the United States, we are at the vanguard of a smokeless society. This is the future and smokers should learn to live with it. The government is not making this decision for me. I am very glad that there are laws and politicians looking out for our health.
I have never eaten nor will I ever eat at Clyde's restaurant, or for that matter, at any restaurant that allows smoking. Why? Because I refuse to go anywhere where my primary worry is not food, but unclean air, or where my food smells and tastes like some disgusting filthy ashtray.
Let Clyde's resist. Doesn't it know that only roughly 20 percent of the adults in the United States smoke? Quick and simple math tells us that approximately 80 percent of adults, some with children, are then able to enjoy dinner and other entertainment without worrying about smokers. Is it really worth alienating the larger percentage of the population for a handful of smokers?
City Changing the face of western Howard
The Oct. 21 editorial, "Why Route 32?," painted the residents of western Howard County as narrow-minded provincials unable to perceive the global picture.
This could not be further from the truth. We have never been advocates for no-growth, but are indeed proponents of steady, responsible growth.
The conflict is that in five short years, the ordinances for new housing permits changed drastically. As a result, the county projects that this corridor will double in growth in 20 years. That's deadly for a rural residential area, which western Howard County has been designated.
The changing of Route 32 in this area to a massive freeway is symptomatic of this cancerous growth pattern. The proposed plan is to change the face of Route 32 to a major four-lane freeway with a 54-foot median and limited cloverleaf access ramps. Clearly, this type of plan suggests that the agenda is to promote an intensive growth pattern in rural residential areas and to accommodate leagues of commuters from other counties.
The local residents will have lost the convenience of Route 32 due to limited accessing, will have to suffer the high traffic volumes created by non-residents and will be vulnerable to zoning changes that follow such freeways. This is a high price to pay for ill-conceived growth policies and for the follies of other counties engaging in uncurbed development.
This rapid developing and catering to "thirsting" businesses of the western counties will, of course, erode the population and economic activity of Baltimore City and start to chip away at Baltimore County. Such consequences are dire since these two areas must remain vital forces in order for Maryland's economy to boom.
Many citizens of western Howard County have banded together to form the Citizens Alliance for Rural Preservation in order to have a strong voice in the fate of our county. It is our American heritage for citizens to participate in the governing of their land and we in western Howard intend to exercise that right.
Sun editorial wasn't fair to the vote counters
I read with regret your editorial of Nov. 12, entitled, "Gang that couldn't count straight."
I feel somewhat compelled to respond on behalf of the board and staff that conducted the presidential election of Nov. 5. I acknowledge your right to freely express your opinions on matters of public issue. It is not my intent to take on the power of the press.
My first regret was that the headline was not accurate. The election ballot count was never in question. It was a typographical error on the wording on the reporting form. The ballot count was correct and every vote was accounted for. The public was informed and aware that the results given out the night of the election were unofficial.
The election board is not required to give out election results at this point in time. Because the public interest is so high in Howard County, which was indicated by the highest voter turnout in the state, the election board and staff, with the assistance of county departments, has accommodated the public by publishing the early returns.
The second regret is the characterization of the Board of Elections and staff as a "gang." While it was not clear what definition you were using, it appeared to portray a negative perception.
The board and staff have worked hard to professionalize this office's operation and are considered by our peers and colleagues throughout the state as one of the more advanced operations. The typographical error that was made in the software program for reporting election results would have been detected long before the results would have become official.
The checking and verification processes take approximately two vTC weeks. The process includes the verification of the number of voters by party, accounting for every ballot printed, the evaluation of all reporting processes including the tape that the voting unit projects and the report that the vote count is distributed on, the canvass of the absentee ballots, the counting of write-in ballots and the re-counting of a certain number of precincts according to the Code of Maryland Regulations.
In the board's attempt to accommodate the public in the early unofficial returns, it regrets that the results in the three issues were inverted, which created this misunderstanding. Procedures have been put under consideration to avoid a reoccurrence.
I regret that the editorial had such a negative tone on the operation of this office. In my judgment, this editorial perhaps has done much to undercut confidence in the election process.
The writer is president of the Howard County Board of Supervisors of Elections.
Pub Date: 12/01/96