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Willow Run articles were not accurateArticles on...


Willow Run articles were not accurate

Articles on Dec. 22 and 29 misrepresented facts and implied impropriety in the approval of the Willow Run subdivision. Although the writer reviewed Anne Arundel County files, which are public, and met with the county planning staff, the articles were inaccurate.

The article indicated that the county ethics commission determined that the project was approved in an unethical manner because of the relationship between Mark Wedemeyer, a planning and code enforcement administrator, and DFI Inc., which is owned by Ray Streib, his father-in-law.

Reference was also made to Planning Director Steven Cover's employment (13 years ago) by DFI, Inc.

In fact, the ethics commission's advisory opinion did not contain findings of any unethical actions in approving this project.

Rather, the opinion concluded that there would be the appearance of impropriety if Mr. Wedemeyer supervised review of DFI projects. The county immediately rearranged staff to comply with the opinion.

Further, five waivers were granted for the Willow Run subdivision. The primary waiver to road improvements was granted in 1993, prior to Mr. Wedemeyer's and Mr. Cover's employment with the county.

This waiver was approved because a prior agreement with the county already obligated developers, including Willow Run's, to provide long-range design and construction improvements to Solley Road. The remaining waivers were granted to minimize the impact of the development on environmental features (permit cluster lots) and provide for the safe discharge of storm water to an acceptable outfall.

We believe that Del. Mary Rosso, if given the facts, would have supported the waivers given her avid, and admirable, environmental stewardship.

Finally, this subdivision could have been approved without the waivers, albeit with greater environmental impacts.

The facts do not support the sensationalism evident in this story. To blindly impugn the integrity of these dedicated professionals in quest of sensationalism is reprehensible.

Bob Lee, Severna Park

The writer is vice president of DFI Inc.

Owens brings reason to racetrack debate

The editorial of Jan. 1 regarding the proposed racetrack in Pasadena ("Out of the race") suggests that Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has made a major mistake in not supporting the track at that location.

On the contrary, she has brought much-needed common sense and intelligence to the process as well as shown concern for taxpayers in the area. This location is not suited for a track and was "railroaded" (your words) through the previous County Council without input from citizens of the area.

You further stated that the residents are right in saying that our current network of roads would be overwhelmed. You cavalierly suggest that a dedicated exit from the Baltimore Beltway would be needed, but you don't indicate how much it would cost, or who would pay for it or for the maintenance for years to come.

The cost would, of course, be borne by taxpayers. We are fed up with taxes going toward support of sports facilities so that owners can get richer.

Three communities have now decided that the locations chosen by Chesapeake Motorsports are not suitable. We can't all be wrong.

K. E. Hart, Baltimore

Tobacco tax hike? Why not a 'fat tax'?

I plan to stop smoking this winter for two reasons. One, for the health benefit. Two, the cost of tobacco is beyond my means.

Since taxes were raised in an attempt to price folks like me, and teen-agers, out of the market, and thus save taxpayers in health care costs, let us not stop there.

Health care costs of overweight people keep my medical premiums at an unacceptable level, too. Make people with more than 25 percent body fat pay "fat taxes" on all meats that don't fall under certain dietary guidelines. And to keep insurance costs down, raise the premiums on folks who do not exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more.

After all, smokers pay higher rates. Seems fair.

And next time I'm in an eatery and pass by an obese person wolfing down some meat, I will turn my head in disgust and feign a choking fit.

Kyle Fallon, Glen Burnie

Stuck with Ehrlich for two more years

Now that Deputy Whip Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has completed his quest to gain access to the upper echelons of the Republican congress, the citizens he represents can expect a further disconnect from our key issues.

To accomplish this feat, he has spent the last four years firmly implanting his lips on the backsides of Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey.

Who suspected a total rollover to the radical right when he first began his quest for power?

His ultraconservative party line responses to issues show a closed mind incapable of producing real solutions to the nation's problems. We are stuck with him for two more years. I hope that a capable contender can be found to challenge him next time so this embarrassment can end.

Alan McAllister, Severna Park

Tomorrow's breakfast honors the dream of Dr. King

TOMORROW, Anne Arundel Community College will host the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast. The United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County will have its annual service in honor of Dr. King beginning at noon at the New Friendship Missionary Church in Glen Burnie.

Retired Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, will be the featured speaker at the breakfast. I will keynote the noon service. Both activities are being held to mark the federal observance of the birthday of Dr. King.

On this occasion, we have an opportunity to review what progress the nation and county have made toward achieving the dream of Dr. King.

Prior to the emergence of Dr. King in 1955, African Americans were denied the right to vote in many parts of the nation, including Maryland. Many were maimed and killed for trying to vote. The late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was beaten by law-enforcement officials in Mississippi. In 1965, one of the greatest victories of the civil rights movement was achieved, the Voting Rights Act. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed this into law, it guaranteed the voting rights of black Americans.

Impact of black voters

Last November saw a record number of black voters going to the polls, including in Anne Arundel County. Their participation was credited with the re-election of Maryland's governor; the first-elected female executive in Anne Arundel County, Janet S. Owens; members of the County Council and a record number of newly elected members of the General Assembly, including Del. Rudy Cane, the first African American elected from the Eastern Shore to that legislative body.

Like Dr. King's nonviolent marches, millions of black voters marched on the polling places of America. They sent back to Georgia the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and swept into office scores of blacks all over the nation.

These voters honored Dr. King, Mrs. Hamer and other martyred civil rights activists, black and white, who died to make sure blacks could vote.

Dr. King would have been proud of these voters exercising the right to vote.

As a former member of the Annapolis City Council, I know that voting is not a panacea to all the problems that we face. However, it is an important tool to helping to address these problems. Mr. Dellums, who represented California for 27 years in Congress, will surely make this point as well.

As we approach the 21st century, I see continuing progress.

Stamp for Malcolm X

On Jan. 15 (the actual birthday of Dr. King), the Postal Service unveiled a stamp in honor of another assassinated leader, Malcolm X. It is the beauty of American democracy that men such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, once despised by elements in society, are now honored with a federal holiday and postage stamps in their memory.

All Americans can take great pride in the achievements that we have made in the last half of the 20th century. Whether you attend the community college tribute, the United Black Clergy event or honor Dr. King in your own way, your active participation in promoting brotherhood will ensure that his dream lives on. In the words of Mozambique's freedom fighters, whose cry for liberation echoes today, "A Luta Continua" -- the struggle continues for racial equality, justice and peace.

Carl O. Snowden

The writer, a former Annapolis alderman and civil-rights consultant, is currently a lobbyist for Anne Arundel County government.

Pub Date: 1/17/99

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