Carroll was right to reject flawed charter
To Carroll County citizens: Your instincts were correct in voting down the charter placed on the ballot May 2.
Many of you rightfully wanted citizens to have a greater voice in the day-to-day decisions of your local government, particularly in the long-range impact of land use. It is always difficult to know whom to trust.
In this situation, you were not told that you were presented with a proposed charter that had been copied from the current Howard County version (amended in 1996). It had all the citizen ** rights removed by what I classify as a criminal violation of the public trust. Howard County Council members misled constituents about the intent of the changes over 16 years, and the Board of Elections let the proposed changes pass to the ballot without comment.
In addition, your charter writers removed all rights to referendum over issues that you might disagree with and also removed a guaranteed right to amend the charter by referendum. No citizens rights were retained in your proposed charter.
Any time officials call for a vote less than one year after a proposed charter document is made public, be suspect of their intentions.
Carroll County does need local charter government. The state constitution is very clear that the charter-writing process is a transfer of power from the state legislature to the people of Carroll County.
The people then use the process to define what powers the elected officials will exercise; how they will be exercised; the officials' responsibilities to the citizens; and to spell out explicit checks and balances.
This did not happen with the proposal presented to you. This was done in the original Howard County charter in 1967, and a full year was provided for public review and explanations.
I recommend that you make use of the Maryland Institute for Government Services as an advisory body. The agency is in the relevant Constitutional Law (Article 11A) and also the Express Powers (Act 24A) that you may transfer to a Carroll County charter. Also, get the best independent lawyer with integrity you can find as counsel to the charter writing board.
I had asked chairwoman Carmen Amedori, before the process started, for an opportunity to speak to the board but was denied.
I would have provided a copy of the original Howard County charter, and summary sheets comparing the content of all the Maryland charters, which was the manner in which we analyzed the existing approaches to charter government. I did not learn about the content of the Carroll County proposed charter or the source of the language used until about a week before your election.
ames M. Holway
The writer was a member of the Howard County charter writing board.
'Racism' comment furthers division
I am angered by the remark made by Thelma P. Smith in a May 6 article ("Carroll County NAACP revived"): "This is a racist county and we have to speak up."
It is the narrow-mindedness of individuals such as herself that places people on the immediate defensive.
How dare she label an entire population with such a prejudiced remark. Cooperation and change begins with an open mind and a compassion of understanding. Her attitude assures me that she is the wrong person for the job.
Stephan B. Brooks
Veterans Affairs cuts will hurt
We have forgotten our veterans and the promises made to them. The president and Congress want to cut the Veterans Affairs budget by $10.5 billion. This will hurt medical care and a lot of other programs. The veterans need your help today.
William B. Rau III
The writer is second vice commander and sergeant at arms with the Disabled American Veterans Old Glory Post 22.
Pub Date: 5/17/98