LETTERS

The Baltimore Sun

Detectives deserve praise for job done

Maybe someone can enlighten me as to why the leadership in the Howard County Police Department is chastising two detectives, one retired, for finding the body of a murder victim 11 years after her death.

Although I realize circumventing the chain of command is looked down upon, thanks to the hard work, determination and initiative of these two detectives a family can finally put some closure to an 11-year nightmare.

If it is ego and pride that are fueling the flames of the higher-ups, they need to be set aside.

The argument that is being used, that they ran a "risk of jeopardizing any future actions, including prosecutions" doesn't sit well with me. If the suspect has been tried and convicted of murder, although on circumstantial evidence, what follow-on actions could possibly be taken in terms of prosecutions? Do we honestly believe that a parole board is going to grant this man parole come 2016?

If anything, HCPD should be using these two gentlemen as a benchmark or goal for their officers and detectives to strive for and as a deterrent to those who wish to break the law within our boundaries. Thank goodness for those who think abstractly, take the initiative, put others before themselves and check their egos at the door.

William Weill Ellicott City

Article disappoints competition winner

Last week at the Howard County Cheerleading Competition, the Howard High School Varsity Cheerleaders placed first, capturing the county title. This marks not only the first cheerleading county championship for our school, but our first trip to the regional competition.

After winning and finding out we would be featured in the paper, you can only imagine how disappointed and dismayed we were when we opened the Howard Sun not to see a jazzy title focusing on Howard's win, but instead "Day of good cheer drives Long Reach."

We have worked diligently this year in order to become champions not only this week, but last week at the Howard County Invitational, and yet there is hardly mention of our school and team's accomplishments.

I find this completely disrespectful to our team, the hard work we have put forward this season and the facility and student body of Howard High School that provides support to us.

If the article was on another sport, I'm sure you would have made the effort to highlight the team that won. Since when in athletics do we not recognize the victors?

The amount of work it has taken us to perfect our routine this year and win is unimaginable, and I wish that this was acknowledged in the article. Our school is very proud of the other teams that performed at the competition and we enjoyed competing this year with the amount of quality competitors.

However, I feel the focus of your article was skewed and our team deserves an explanation for the lack of content focusing on the success of our team.

Rachael, Robert and Terri Pazornick Ellicott City

GGP's plan deserves chance

We've seen the county plan - or vision - for development of Columbia's downtown. It is, in fact, a vision for what "can be," and its concepts are good ones. From these concepts, General Growth's suggested master plan will unfold and yet, before we've even seen GGP's design, there are those calling for the county to "make" the company fulfill this or that. Some say they already distrust General Growth and believe it will have concern only for itself - certainly not Columbia.

It isn't human nature to accept without question, and that's a good thing. But to hold the company responsible for corporate slights we may have known in the past, to judge their plan before seeing it, isn't human nature at its best.

It is true General Growth is a business (not our benevolent uncle come to bestow its treasure on us). GGP is here to make a profit - no doubt about it - and nothing is wrong with that if, on its way to profit, the company fulfills the community's dream of, finally, a downtown worthy of this city and county.

This community wants the downtown outlined in the county plan - one that shines with light, with excellence and creativity, one that features people at all hours, features artists and public art, a downtown where we can walk safely with many others, and that means a place where a number of people live.

The county plan is a great beginning toward excellence. The next step is the General Growth plan, and the community eagerly anticipates it. If that plan is as creative and excellent as I imagine it will be, General Growth will be on the way to its profit and Columbia and Howard County will be the beneficiaries of that.

Emily Lincoln Columbia

Negotiate with GGP in public

In the Nov. 4 edition of the Howard Sun, in an article regarding the Columbia Association's response to the county's framework vision for the revitalization of Columbia's downtown, I was quoted as saying to the CA's board of directors, "My assumption is that even in a spirit of collaboration, when it comes time to decide who pays for what, there will be some spirited horse trading. In this process, I respectfully request CA to not give away the farm."

To clarify: My comments were not so much directed to CA's response to the county's framework as they were to its coming negotiations with General Growth Properties, Columbia's largest landowner, over such things as payment for and maintenance of amenities, sale of easements, upkeep of roads, facilities, etc. I also request the same of the county government.

They will be asked for subsidies, tax breaks, and all manner of handouts. The best way to ensure that the taxpaying citizens of Howard County and the residents of Columbia (who also pay a property lien to CA) are being represented well by our elected officials is to hold all negotiations in public.

GGP has a reputation as "take no prisoners" negotiators. A study released last August by Good Jobs First concluded that in its mall negotiations, "The nation's second-largest mall owner, General Growth Properties (GGP), has pursued what appears to be a systematic business strategy that has drained hundreds of millions of dollars from local communities and schools across the United States."

The strategy is to negotiate tax subsidies to build or revitalize its malls (Baltimore taxpayers subsidized Mondawmin Mall revitalization to the tune of $15,000,000) and negotiate reduced property tax assessments after the mall is complete. The draining of local resources is collateral damage in pursuit of its quest for maximum profit. One can assume the same strategy will be used in Columbia.

GGP doesn't need taxpayer help. It stands to reap enormous profit from downtown Columbia's revitalization. Our county government and Columbia Association must - while negotiating with GGP in the spirit of win-win - come to the table prepared to play hard ball. We taxpayers must be vigilant that they do so.

The best way for that to happen is to conduct negotiations open and public process.

JD Smith Columbia

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