Letters to the editor

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sun failed readers on 12th high school

BOE member Courtney Watson is to be commended for questioning the motivation of the Citizens for Adequate School Facilities (CASF) in their opposition to the 12th high school ("Citizens Fight School Plan," Aug. 6). The Sun staff had an obligation to determine whether the CASF is comprised of citizens concerned for building adequate schools county-wide, or whether it is comprised of a handful of disgruntled homeowners ("NIMBY'S") who refuse to accept a high school in their back yard, no matter the impact on high school kids across the county.

I attended both the 12th high school "town meeting" on April 22 and the MDE hearing on April 29 regarding issuance of the discharge permit for the intended site. The meeting was mostly attended by supporters of the 12th high school, and one or two homeowners in opposition to having the high school down the street from their homes. The MDE hearing was attended by about 50 people comprised of experts, homeowners and supporters of the 12th high school, and most of those in opposition at the MDE hearing spoke as homeowners, not as members of CASF. Given the attendance at these two important events, the membership claim of 200 seems less than credible. Unfortunately, The Sun staff failed its readers by publishing membership numbers without first confirming the facts.

Regardless, I have a solution to remove opposition to future school locations; build them in predominantly low-income areas to preclude wealthy homeowners from organizing behind cleverly named organizations, which lend credence to their cause, while masking their true desire: to not have a high school in their back yards. I'm certain low income citizens are capable of indulging in the "acronymic," but I doubt they possess the resources to litigate with the sole purpose of "running out the clock" against Howard County high school students facing desperately overcrowded conditions. Acronyms excluded, the reality is that five or six residents may be thwarting a greater public need.

George E. Abdow

Ellicott City

Extra revenue means CA could reduce lien

The Columbia Association has been the innocent recipient of a massive windfall, with more to come. This is due to the large increase from the re-assessment of the east side of Columbia this year, to be followed next year by the re-assessment of the west side of Columbia. Half of Columbia home-owners are painfully aware of this already, with increases in their CA liens of up to 40 percent. With "Visions of sugar plums..." CA staff and some Council members shrug their shoulders and say, "It's the law. We cannot pass up this windfall." Thus, with no extra expense to CA they will have millions more at their disposal than they expected or need. This is far more than a prudent "rainy day" fund. CA is probably one of the very few public or quasi-public bodies in the nation that is not looking for ways to economize. The U.S. government, Maryland, many other states and Howard County are facing the need to raise taxes or cut programs, not to speak of the individuals, who are having to economize as well as pay increased taxes.

CA must not pour this unexpected wealth down the same rat hole of major capital projects that has swollen so many of our budgets. Now is a good time to give our hard-pressed home-owners a break by reducing the annual lien from the 73 cents level. Each year the Council/Board should do this calculation and charge us what is necessary to run CA, returning the excess to the home-owners.

Henry D. Shapiro

Columbia

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