YOUR OPINIONS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Candidate asked to dump Steffen

Editor's note: The following letter was submitted to the newspaper and was written to Aaron Kazi, a candidate for Harford County Council president.

I was extremely disappointed to read in The Sun that you have hired Joseph Steffen, better known as "The Prince of Darkness" for his notorious smear campaigns, to work on your campaign. And I was surprised to see you posing with him for pictures, as if you were proud to be importing into Harford County the dirty tricks that he, by his own admission, employs and represents. The citizens of our county deserve better.

Governor Ehrlich was right to reject this brand of politics by firing Mr. Steffen. It stands at odds with our values as Republicans - and it undermines every Republican's political campaign in Maryland to clean up government. It chips away at citizens' faith in our political process, and it certainly seems to contradict your campaign slogan: "A Principled Republican with an Independent Mind."

I urge you to reconsider going down this path and, instead, follow Governor Ehrlich's lead by removing Mr. Steffen from your campaign.

In calling Mr. Steffen a "hero," I can only assume you are unaware of the things he has done and written. Below is some of his writing, which you can find on the Web site www.freerepublic.com. It should help make clear what your decision should be.

8/1/2004, 4:51:36 AM: "I work in professional politics for a living. Part of my unwritten job description is to hurt people. It's the nature of the beast. ..."

7/24/2004, 8:13:13 PM: "My nicknames in GOP campaign circles are A) The Prince of Darkness, and B) Doctor Death. I can't even discuss a lot of what I've done/written/managed/executed because A) Most of the candidates I helped were elected and are still in office, and B) These office holders have NO IDEA of what actually helped elect them (Plausible deniability - a MUST in politics and psy-ops) . ... "

8/5/2004, 5:20:24 AM: "'It's time to treat all mosques as enemy outlets ... ' I could not agree more. As a first step, the USA should pull the Federal tax exemption granted to Islam, which means not only that they have to pay federal taxes but that the country no longer acknowledges 'the religion of peace' as a bona fide religion. We should then zero in on every mosque in the country, raiding when we can and filing RICO charges when we must."

6/13/2004, 9:15:08 AM: "'This Administration rejects torture.' - John Ashcroft. That's a huge part of the problem. Turn on the video. Torture them. Douse them in pig's blood. Execute them. Make sure THAT damned video gets aired on Al Jazeera."

8/5/2004, 5:36:05 AM: "'Diaper Heads' is my term of choice as well."

6/3/2004, 3:32:20 AM: "Julian Bond is a race baiting swill merchant. Since at least the 1960s the left has had far more 'terroristic' elements associated with its various factions and agendas than has any segment of the right. Sure the fruit-loop right is allegedly the spawning ground of McVeigh, but the left has the Uni-bomber, not to mention Al Gore. Further, as far as I know, there are no known ex-Klansmen 'serving' as Republicans in the United States Senate."

7/24/2004, 5:56:30 AM: "I despise giveaway programs. If you're hungry, find work - and feed yourself. If your kids are hungry, find work - and feed them. You have no right to eat on my dime, unless I decide to feed you. Social Darwinists Unite!"

This is just a small sampling of Mr. Steffen's work. There is much more - in addition to what Mr. Steffen admits is a nearly 30-year history of unethical practices, including attacks against fellow Republicans.

Because you are new to Harford County politics, you may not realize that we do things differently here. We are decent and honest conservatives, and we do our best to follow the golden rule from Luke's Gospel: Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

I welcome an open and honest debate on the issues, knowing that the voters of Harford County will decide for themselves who they think can best lead the County Council. But there's a right way to win and a wrong way. I have never stooped to ugly tactics and baseless rumors and I never will. I pledge to run an honest and civil campaign, just as I always have, and I ask you to do the same. On your Web site, you write: "Principled, dedicated, and honest representation is the best way possible for Government to improve life for its citizens." It's hard to reconcile those sentiments with your new hire. I ask you to end your association with the Prince of Darkness and reject his unethical methods. Harford County deserves no less.

Robert S. Wagner

President, Harford County Council

Craig is rich in supporters

Your article last Sunday on the Harford County Executive race is quite revealing in how David Craig portrays himself in comparison to his challenger, Democrat Ann Helton. He is quoted as saying, "I am not personally rich, so I am not buying this election. I don't have a wealthy developer spouse to pay for my campaign."

He may not have a "wealthy developer spouse," but he certainly has dozens of wealthy developer friends who have been most generous in their financial contributions to his campaign. By misrepresenting Ann Helton's campaign, Craig cannot distance himself from the fact that residential developers and homebuilders and their business associates who are responsible for the unmanaged growth in the county are the major contributors to his campaign. A check of his required campaign finance reports clearly shows that to be a fact.

Ann Helton and her husband have redeveloped numerous decayed commercial properties, which have resulted in increased tax revenues without any associated costs to the county. In contrast, Craig, while mayor of Havre de Grace and now as appointed county executive, has allowed his developer friends to do pretty much whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. The annexation of the Bulle Rock properties is just one example.

Craig may not be rich personally, but with rich friends like that he doesn't have to be.

Barbara Maskavich Abingdon

Police chief should not be elected

Harford County needs a full-time police department headed by a chief who is not chosen in a political election.

County news has been dominated in recent weeks by stories of gang crime and violence on the one hand and the political shenanigans of sheriff's deputies and officers on the other. One might conclude that the deputies are so distracted by promoting their favorite candidates for sheriff that attention to their real duties is compromised.

The photograph gracing the July 9 Harford section is nothing short of a disgrace. Public display of contempt by deputies for their commanding officer suggests that, in a serious crisis, these men could not work as a team under Colonel Walter's direction if the need arose.

This is not a Constitutional First Amendment issue. The deputies are Harford's de facto police force, and a police force is (or should be) a well integrated, highly trained, efficient body that is ready to meet whatever challenge arises. In other words, it is military in nature (Imagine the chaos if members of the U.S. armed services could campaign for the election of the Secretary of Defense). The deputies in the photo are not exercising their First Amendment rights - they are undercutting command and control in Harford's first line of defense against internal and external threat.

Whether Colonel Walter is guilty of pressuring deputies to support anyone's candidacy will probably never be known, and it is beside the point. The question should never arise.

It is time for Harford County to bite the bullet and build a police department headed by a chief who is responsible to the voters through the office of the county executive.

A. Brinton Cooper III Bel Air

Nottingham deserves praise

Nottingham Properties Inc. of Towson is to be applauded for reconsidering plans to demolish the 18th-century house on the Paca's Meadow property located along Moore's Mill Road in Harford County. Nottingham recently announced it is considering adaptive reuse of this Harford County landmark as either a club house or a community center.

Fortunately, Nottingham recognizes the unique potential and appeal of historic buildings such as the house at Paca's Meadow. As more and more cookie cutter developments are built throughout Maryland, potential homebuyers are frustrated and disappointed by the lack of a sense of place and history in these new communities.

Adaptive reuse of historic buildings creates an opportunity to provide home buyers with the opportunity to live in a community with a rare and irreplaceable piece of history at its heart.

With its decision on the stately home at Paca's Meadow, Notthingham Properties has demonstrated an appreciation and respect for Harford County's deep and far reaching commitment to historic preservation.

County Executive David R. Craig, a former history teacher dedicated to historic preservation, has expressed support for adaptive reuse as have the many private individuals who spoke so eloquently on behalf of the house at Paca's Meadow during a May 17 meeting of the Harford County Development Advisory Committee.

Nottingham plans to build 91 town houses for seniors on the 60-acre Paca's Meadow property. The original house was constructed on 22 acres purchased in 1787 by James Moores, a Revolutionary War veteran, from William Paca, governor of Maryland (1782-85) and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Moores was a prosperous tanner who owned both grist and sawmills in the neighborhood. Moores Mill Road was named for one of these mills.

Around 1790, Moores built the two-story "Country Georgian" brick house that still stands on the property. In 1793, the house was sold to Harry Dorsey Gough, who served in the War of 1812 and the Maryland legislature. Gough also acted as Harford County Sheriff, Clerk of the Circuit Court and County School Commissioner. Thomas A. Hays, founding father of Bel Air and veteran of the War of 1812, also later owned the property.

Many of the interior details of the house are original. This makes preservation and restoration of the house even more appealing.

Nottingham Properties has earned the appreciation and gratitude of everyone in Harford County who recognizes the importance of preserving our past to insure our future. Harford County is looking forward to learning the details of Nottingham's plans for adaptive reuse of Paca's Meadow.

Dinah Faber Bel Air

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