County Can't Afford Term-limitation Bill

Readers write

February 24, 1991

From: J. Brian O'Day

Ellicott City

With his first major piece of legislation, Darrel Drown, R-2, is jumping on the term-limitation band wagon. This is the trendy new idea that says that the people aren't intelligent enough to pick the correct leaders. It is a continuation of the anti-politician, anti-incumbent mood of the last election, and it goes against the fundamental principles of democracy.

Politicians are public servants. They serve at the pleasure of citizens who elect them. If they do not represent the citizens, if they do a poor job executing the duties of office,if there is scandal, the public should have a means to turn them out.

On the other hand, if they represent the citizens well, if they become leaders and statesmen, the public should have the means to retain them. Term limitation says that if you're a poor leader, you can only serve a set period of time. At the same time, if you are a good leader, representing the interest of your constituents, you can only serve a set period of time. This discourages finding the best possible leaders. By constantly mixing the milk, there is no way for the cream to rise to the top.

This is not to say that I don't see problems with our electoral system as it now works. In the age of the sound bite and media campaign, issues seem to be more easily distorted or bulldozed over.

Special interests, with lobbyists and PAC money to spend, work hard to command the interest of legislators.

The consequences of term limitations for legislators would only make this system worse. There would be no term limitation for lobbyist. They would become the experts on government, taking new legislators under their wing. And all the legislators would be new. Just when the elected official is no longer a "freshman" and has gained experience, they wouldbe required to quit.

And who is to say that the special interest groups wouldn't put their own people in office? On the local level, alarge developer might finance the campaigning of a promising young executive, telling them to "mind the store" for eight years and receive a promotion when the revolving door kicks them out. The developer would be guaranteed that the executive would return. With instituted "lame duckness," legislators would spend their time looking for work rather than representing their constituents.

If Mr. Drown wants to improve the political system, he should look to campaign reform and controlling the influence of the special interests on our leaders.

But with so many other problems facing Howard County, his time might be better spent finding the funds to pay for our services and findingsolutions to schools bursting at the seams and roads faced with gridlock.

We can't afford the trendy ideas.

TEACHERS BECOME MIRACLE WORKERS

From: Karen Russo

Columbia

In January, our county executive declared that Howard County was in the midst of a financial state of emergency like no other. As a result of this emergency, Michael E. Hickey, superintendent of schools, was faced with the stark reality that the fiscal year 1992 budget could not and would not exceed the 1991 dollar amount. Dr. Hickey accomplished the bidding of the county executive -- approximately $12 million in cuts were made including programs, instructional materials, improvements, etc., etc., etc.,all of which would negatively impact our teachers and children as well as the community in general.

Because both Dr. Hickey and the members of the Board of Education believed that negotiated agreements should be honored, to break the negotiated agreement with HCEA's teachers would not even be a viable consideration. Dr. Hickey and the Board of Education should be commended for their position.

As a resultof the cuts, in many instances, teachers are going to be required toperform miracles. In September, much of the equipment and many of the supplies necessary in performing once routine, daily tasks will be non-existent. Teachers will be called upon to be even more creative and innovative than before. Teachers will, however, do whatever it takes to get the job done -- to provide students with a quality education that the residents of this county have come to expect.

Teacherswill come through once again in the face of adversity and successfully carry out their responsibilities to the children. Howard County education didn't rank first in the state due to chance; it was because of the hard work and dedication of the teachers who sincerely care about what they do and the differences they make in the lives of the children they teach.

Budget cuts are in place as requested by the county executive. However, he still insists that teachers relinquish their 6 percent salary increase. There is no need to make further cuts.What more can the teachers be expected to sacrifice? Haven't the superintendent and Board of Education fulfilled their responsibility to the county executive?

Teachers have suffered enough already and tosuggest that they forfeit their 6 percent raise would be merely adding insult to serious injury.

Editor's note: The writer is vice president, Howard County Education Association

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