FIRING PLANNER AVIN WOULD BE INJUSTICE
From: Ernest Erber
Howard County Executive-elect Charles I. Ecker's threat to fire the county's planning director, Uri Avin, is most disturbing.
Ecker likens himself to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, but says that he's better at controlling his temper. I truly hope that Ecker's threat to fire Avin will turn out to have been an intemperate remark made in the heat of election victory euphoria that will not be acted upon when he gets his emotions under control.
As a professional urban planner, Uri Avin is neither a politician nor a policy maker.
Policy issues, such as planning for growth and non-growth, emerge from his office as professional recommendations upon which the county executive and county council have authority to act.
To fire a professional planner is like firing a county physician because a politician disagrees with his diagnosis.
Is it the intention of Ecker to replace Avin with a planning director who will operate, not by professional procedures and standards, but by the predetermined instructions of the county executive as to what research findings should reveal and planning solutions should propose?
Ecker should know that planners are professionals and as such they are neither Republicans nor Democrats in the performance of their duties.
If this is to be Ecker's practice in relation to professional planners serving county government, the word will go out nationwide that Howard County is not a place where self-respecting professional planners would want to be employed.
As a professional planner and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (the professional organization in this field) and as a Howard County resident, taxpayer and voter, I consider it my duty to bring this situation to the attention of national planning organizations and periodicals and ask that they take action to protect professional standards in the practice of planning in Howard County.
As a retired professional planner living in Columbia, I have never practiced in Maryland. My contact with Avin, to the best of my memory, has been at a small meeting and when I went to his office to pick up a Howard County master plan. My interest in his fate is entirely professional and impersonal.