Official hits a foul on ball fields debate
The article, "Top leaders reject plan to build ball fields" (Feb. 12) had some fascinating twists.
In a candidates forum in Cape St. Claire, Speaker of the House Michael Busch was asked directly what role the state had in the ball fields project at the Smith Farm. He answered that the state had no component in the ball fields project. Yet your story indicated that "... House Speaker Michael E. Busch, [was] the Anne Arundel County Democrat who secured state money for the project in 2001. He also worked on the project as a county parks employee."
After the Board of Public Works voted down the state funding, Speaker Busch was quoted as saying "The Board of Public Works is way out of its scope, second-guessing public policy made by local elected officials."
Is the Speaker of the House really saying that the State has no say in how State money is spent, even when, as was pointed out by the Comptroller in the Smith Farm case, that some local officials involved acted in bad faith?
Local cable offers too much, too little
On Dec. 15, 2003, the County set aside a cable TV channel for public access TV. On Feb. 22, 2004, the County's $1 million Glen Burnie public access facility was due to be complete (delays have pushed this date back several weeks).
The new public access system has three problems: First, the possibilities for public access have changed a lot over the years, but the County's state-of-the-art facility actually embodies an archaic design. This is partly due to the fact that the County built this public facility with no serious effort to solicit public input. The facility is a gadget-lover's heaven. But there is a remarkable paucity of the most basic gadgets necessary to enhance civic discourse.
Second, a public access facility is supposed to be a place for convenient public production of shows. But the County evidently didn't make that a top priority. When a County official wants to do a show, he can call on County employees to operate all the facility's Ritz Carlton-quality equipment. But when an average, civically minded citizen wants to do a show, he shouldn't have to bring a team of well-trained people to operate a 200-button device when all he wants to do is hit the play button.
Third, a public access station should not be run by elected officials because they have an obvious conflict of interest in managing the station. The County should establish an independent, non-partisan, non-profit entity to manage the station, just as the County's public access ordinance originally envisioned.