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Letters to the Editor


Serious concerns about CA lien bill

I have serious concerns about Shane Pendergrass's legislation that mandates a CA lien reduction. Recently, an Oakland Mills woman told me that her mortgage escrow payment went up $100 a month after reassess- ment. When the vaunted Pendergrass legislation passes, she might get back $18. The legislation will have no effect on her county property tax bill, which constitutes more than 80 percent of that escrow payment. Bills 566 and 567 are attacks on the Columbia Association rather than actions that will help the average Columbian. Why doesn't Ms. Pendergrass do something that would make a real difference and help those people struggling to pay their bills? Currently Howard County reduces property tax for those over 65 with household incomes under $30,000. CA gives the same percentage reduction. It's hard to live in Columbia on $30,000, so why not focus on raising the income level and lose that age limitation?

Kathy Larson


Thank you, Mr. O'Rourke

I have been a dedicated special educator and coordinator for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for thirty-two years and recently retired in October 2003. I chose to return and work part-time for HCPSS since I was impressed with the leadership and vision of the superintendent. Mr. John O'Rourke held all of us accountable, as he was, for each and every child no matter what race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender or disability.

Providing appropriate services for students with disabilities is a priority of Mr. O'Rourke. He required that School Improvement Teams address the academic progress and inclusion of students with disabilities in their School Improvement Plans. Mr. O'Rourke encouraged and expanded interdepartmental collaboration. When other departments such as Human Resources, Curriculum, Technology Information, Finance and Transportation make decisions, staff from the Department of Special Education are consulted and their input valued. Mr. O'Rourke also worked diligently with the Maryland State Department of Education to obtain approval for the building of the new Cedar Lane Wing. To some, these accomplishments may seem trivial. But for students with disabilities, they are truly paramount achievements.

I am saddened that HCPSS will be losing Mr. O'Rourke. Through his thoughtful and focused leadership, much has been accomplished and much has just begun. I hope that the Board members can find someone who can step in and continue the child-centered vision that Mr. O'Rourke brought with him.

Mr. O'Rourke, thank you for all that you have done for the children of Howard County.

Diana Mitchell


Special education consultant

Show us more independent films

Brava to Maggie Greif and the others speaking up in the article "Independent film buffs lobby theater for more" (Feb. 5). Columbia is becoming as crowded and congested as Bethesda and Northern Virginia without the cultural advantages. It is unfair to compare the brief run of the General Cinema's Columbia City Arts Cinema with AMC's new state-of-the art auditoriums.

GC's theater offerings were not advertised, and it was an older building where the heating and air conditioning did not work well. Please, AMC, give those of us that don't want to see Elf (available on two screens once AMC opened while multiple Golden Globe winner "Lost in Translation" was nowhere to be found) a chance.

Cherise Tasker


Screen art films during off-hours

I live a mile-and-a-half from the new 14-screen, state-of-the-art AMC theaters, and I would love it if AMC would show independent and foreign films. I enjoy going to The Charles in Baltimore, Bethesda's Landmark Cinema or the AFI Silver Spring, but cannot always find the time. Why doesn't AMC try showing art films during off-hours, such as weekday afternoon matinees? I'm sure there are enough retirees, part-time workers and local area college students in Howard County to make up an audience.

Lynne Stott


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