Not blowing smoke, but in denial
I write concerning The Sun's April 8 editorial about Clyde's restaurant, "Blowing Smoke," and denial of the problem of smoking in enclosed places of public accommodation.
Clyde's denial was reflected by hiring tobacco lobbyist Bruce Bereano. Mr. Bereano is the long-time lobbyist for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), a D.C.-based association that has consistently opposed clean air policies. Clyde's has been represented on RAMW's board of directors. RAMW is an association member of the Philip Morris "Accommodation" program, by which Philip Morris provides free publicity and marketing help to restaurants that promise to allow smoking.
Clyde's denial still exists. Clyde's says it will enclose the bar, the nicest part of the restaurant, so it can go back to allowing smoking.
The 600,000 Marylanders suffering from asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory disabilities do not have a choice. They require smoke-free air in order to breathe. They should be able to patronize the bar as well as the dining area of Clyde's.
A barrier of tobacco smoke is a major civil rights issue concerning equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would be no more appropriate to suggest that people with breathing problems can be accommodated in some restaurants (because they are smoke-free), but not a smoky Clyde's, than to suggest that people of a particular race or creed can be accommodated in some restaurants, but not all.
Smoking in restaurants is also a direct health risk to employees. Most wait staff and many bar employees are female. Exposure to tobacco smoke has now been identified as a hazard to the fetus of pregnant women. Studies indicate that waitresses die of lung cancer more often than any other women's occupational group. Lung cancer now kills more women than breast cancer.
We believe the time for denial is over for smokers as well. Given the danger to innocent third parties, we would urge smokers to voluntarily refrain from smoking in restaurants. Non-smokers can help by demonstrating their commitment to healthy air by patronizing the many fine smoke-free restaurants of Howard County.
Our organization is the statewide health advocacy group whose Howard members filed the complaints that triggered county action against Clyde's. Clyde's still has an opportunity to do the right thing and stay smoke-free. The health and quality of life of all who live or work in Howard County would benefit.
The writer is co-chairman of the Coalition for Smoke-Free Maryland Workplaces.
No conflict of interest in computer payment
Regarding the allegation, reported in The Sun in Howard April 9, that Gary Glisan's payment for 11 hours of computer consulting work for the Columbia Association was an "out of bounds" conflict of interest, consider the following:
Columbia Council policy specifically addresses this situation and limits contract arrangements to amounts less than $2,500 for the 12 months immediately subsequent to council service. CA paid Mr. Glisan in-kind compensation of $512.
I approved the expenditure in advance, based on advice to me that it would cost CA at least twice the amount to obtain the same service from another vendor. The arrangement made good economic sense.
There was no conflict of interest in this deal, nor do I see any reflected in the fact that Jean Freidberg (my opponent in yesterday's election for Hickory Ridge's council seat) also received small sums for services rendered to CA during the past two years. To suggest otherwise misrepresents reality.
The writer is chairman of the Columbia Council.
Shift bill's defeat should sound an alarm
The recent decision by the Howard County Council to reject Bill 18, which redesigned the shifts for police officers and firefighters and provided for a more competitive benefits package, is not only disappointing to those persons who worked so hard to develop the proposal, but is most alarming to those of us who live and/or work in Howard County.
This proposal, accepted by labor and management with equal enthusiasm, would have had significant savings to the taxpayers and provided for a more efficient and effective delivery of public safety services.
What is particularly disheartening is that at the public hearing speaker after speaker testified as to the positive effects of this bill. Not one negative comment was heard from county offices, the police and fire departments, the respective unions or members of the general public. Nor did any of the council members voice reservations or concerns about the proposal. Apparently, however, in private session, some council members voiced opposition. So democracy, as it appears in Howard County, includes the right of the citizenry to be heard, but the elected officials have the right not to listen.
It is ironic that on the same evening the council rejected Bill 18, it passed a law calling for the licensing of cats. We can rest easy. Perhaps one day, we can train Morris the cat to climb a 50-foot fire ladder, or chase a fleeing criminal, or investigate an accident scene.
Please, this is a good bill that benefits everyone. Howard County Council Bill 18 should be reconsidered and passed.
Laurence C. Aaronson
Enchanted Forest and broken promises
Almost 10 years ago, the Towson-based developer Pechter bought our historic, dearly beloved and widely popular Enchanted Forest family theme park and some 30 acres around it. It built many of those acres into a shopping center. The park closed while all this was going on.
We missed our park and picnic grounds so much, but we believed what we thought was a promise that, in time, the park would be re-opened; that, in fact, it would be an integral part of the shopping center in which many of the stores use the word "Enchanted" in their names.
What glib tongues many developers have when it comes to promises, and how gullible the public.
The loss of Enchanted Forest is a perfect example of how the overall good of the community is often assigned last priority in the process of development. Opportunities for strengthening families should be the first priority, not the last. The Enchanted Forest provided a family park where children of all ages came to relax and spend a few wonderful hours together in the magical world of make-believe. It provided a kind of family fun that shopping malls, theaters and arcades never can.
If Howard County would offer to buy the park, it could be leased to a non-profit group to operate. Much of the maintenance and repairs could be done by clients of the Community Service Section of the Sheriff's Office at no cost to taxpayers. Isn't such an idea at least worth exploring?
'Smart Growth' critics: Believe your eyes
Clinton S. Bradley III and David S. Bliden of the Maryland Association of Counties, in their March 29 critique of a Tom Horton column, use a peculiar technique for evaluating how our counties manage growth. They quoted a couple of officials and a few phrases in the "Smart Growth" bill as proving that our counties have the tools they need to manage growth.
This is rather like asking the dentist whether your tooth hurts.
In Howard County, which displays all the problems addressed by the "Smart Growth" bill, we see development leap-frogging the edges of existing communities onto the western county's farmland. We see school costs soaring to accommodate this growth, yet we parents must fight for scarce tax dollars to staff and equip our schools. We see houses sprouting like mushrooms after spring rain in school districts without the capacity to handle the children who will live there. We see country lanes backed up with commuting cars and wrecks at intersections not designed to handle the traffic they now must.
Messrs. Bradley and Bliden would probably quote Howard's "adequate facilities" law, which supposedly requires adequate roads and schools before development can occur, as proof that all is well. We do have the law, but it is practically toothless. The thousands of lots platted and recorded before it took effect are exempted. And even if the roads and schools are judged "inadequate" enough to stop a development, the law guarantees it a green light in three years, even if nothing has been done to improve the infrastructure.
You can't measure progress in reducing bay pollution by counting the environmental awards on the walls of executives of waterside factories. Like Tom Horton, you paddle your kayak past their discharge outlets and see what's coming out. And you equip your Department of the Environment to measure the progress or lack thereof.
ZTC Unlike MACO, ordinary residents know quoting officials and snippets of law proves nothing about how smart or stupid our growth is. Our proof comes through our own eyes, measured in new houses, new kids, new cars, and not enough tax dollars to sustain them.
Unanswered questions on waste transfer
Recent articles about the proposed waste transfer station in Elkridge have mentioned the one recently opened in Anne Arundel County.
Since one of the two main routes to that site runs almost entirely in Howard County, how much will it cost the county for the upkeep of Guilford Road with the heavy, constant traffic of monstrous dump trucks between Dorsey Run and Brook Bridge roads?
Also, is there some arrangement with Anne Arundel County for road clean-up from the trash that inevitably flies out of the trucks, both before and after tipping?
I travel this road daily and see the evidence already piling up.
Ronald B. Leve
Pub Date: 4/20/97