For new leaders, a tough act to follow
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate James Robey and the new Howard County Council.
We wish you well and the greatest success over the next four years. We would also like everyone to remember the tremendous achievements of Charles Ecker and the Republican-controlled council. We hope you can continue to build on that success.
During the 1990s, we were the only major suburban jurisdiction in Maryland not to increase its piggyback tax. While Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore counties, among others, increased their piggyback tax, Howard was able to hold the line.
In fact, last year the council and executive lowered the tax by 4 percent, which takes effect this year. We hope the new Democratic-controlled council can continue this fiscal stability. The Ecker administration has given it a great head start by ending the year with a surplus.
In the past eight years, residential growth has also been &L; controlled reasonably well despite all the rhetoric during the campaign. The facts speak for themselves: During the 1990s, the number of building permits granted has actually decreased from the Bobo administration of the 1980s. Once again, we hope this trend continues.
Another outstanding achievement of the past eight years has been our public school system. We have the highest-rated system in Maryland. Our schools are one of the magnets that draw families to Howard County.
Last year, the council was able to give the school system an 8 percent increase, and still not increase our property or income taxes. We again hope our new elected officials can continue this responsible approach and maintain our excellence in education.
Finally, our quality of life in Howard County remains high because our streets and neighborhoods are relatively free of crime.
We have the lowest crime rates in the entire Baltimore-Washington corridor. This is a credit to the entire administration, which has reduced crime and provided programs prevent future incidents.
We all wish Mr. Robey and the new council well, but they have a tough act to follow. We have enjoyed excellent leadership over the last eight years.
We will be watching closely to see that this standard is kept high and our quality of life remains strong.
Louis M. Pope
The writer is chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.
No shades of gray in GOP thinking
The Republican Party is currently doing a lot of soul-searching to determine what they did wrong during the last election at the national, state and local levels.
As a registered Republican for the past 30 years, who voted for and supported mostly Democrats this year, perhaps I can give them some advice.
The simple reason is that the GOP has taken the position that all taxes are bad and all business enterprises are good. There seems to be no shades of gray in their thinking.
The truth is that there are some good taxes and some bad businesses. The tobacco industry is a classic example of a rogue industry and tobacco taxation is one method to obtain compensation for the damage it causes.
Unfortunately, the GOP at the national and state levels have taken a position firmly in the tobacco camp, and it has cost them dearly. I sincerely believe that Ellen R. Sauerbrey would have been the governor of Maryland in 1994 if the GOP had embraced the tobacco control movement in Maryland.
The tobacco control movement in Maryland is now united with a common cause. It consists of hundreds of organizations across the state with access to hundreds of thousands of people. The organizations are nonpartisan.
We have historically supported members of both parties who favor tobacco control. Using the Internet, newsletters and the telephone, it is quite easy to communicate the proper messages to the voters and get them to turn out to vote. In my opinion, we were the deciding factor in the gubernatorial race and in sweeping the GOP out of the Maryland General Assembly and several county councils in November.
For example, in addition to its statewide endorsements, the Maryland Group Against Smokers' Pollution targeted the previous Montgomery County Council members who were pro-tobacco. It was a major factor in their defeat.
If the GOP can see fit to alter its role on tobacco control, it can make a comeback. If not, we will continue to have a one party system in Maryland.
John H. O'Hara
The writer is president of Maryland Group Against Smokers' Pollution.
Pub Date: 12/20/98