Of The Economy, Sex And Gravel On U.s. 40

New Police Chief Is A Relief, But Layoffs Worry

March 06, 1991|By Russ Mullaly

Let's look at some of the latest local issues and happenings here inthe county. We've got a new police chief, threats of layoffs that would affect key county services, furor over sex education, the deterioration of U.S. 40, and nothing funny in Columbia.

Yes, nothing funny in Columbia.

I can't bash Columbia anymore, as an irate reader once accused meof doing. It looks like the new city is experiencing the same sort of ordinary problems as the rest of the county: crime, economic headaches and so forth.

Well, I did hear that the last village, River Hill, will continue the traditions of creating interesting street namesmostly from the works of Walt Whitman and James Whitcombe Riley. Butmaking fun of street names in Columbia is sort of like beating a dead horse (Dead Horse Court? -- Nah!) -- boring!

Looks like Columbiais being absorbed into the mainstream of Howard County for now.

Maybe things will change when the economy gets better. But, hey, I find humor where it lies -- no one area of the county has a monopoly.


Speaking of the economy, it has apparently prompted County Executive Charles I. Ecker to consider laying off critical service personnel to deal with the shortfall of revenue.

Crime appears to be increasing, and we ax 55 positions in the Police Department and 16 in corrections? What about the 36 health department positions that also might be eliminated? These would cause cuts in such services as inspection of food service facilities, home health care and treatment programs for substance abuse. I also see that cuts in services for the elderly are proposed.

I suppose during this recession we will have a shortfall in crime, substance abuse, aging, unsanitary food preparation and sickness to match the economy.

And in the tradition of new officeholders who find themselves in the midst of massive problems, Mr. Ecker is no exception in placing the blame.

During a recent speech he -- you guessed it -- blamed his predecessor for the economic situation. Remember how former President Reagan blamed Jimmy Carter forpractically everything for eight years, even situations that Reagan was responsible for?

Actually there is no one in the county to blame for the deficit. The national economy went bad and revenue projections for the county didn't hold up to the sudden loss of revenue fromtax money.

People aren't buying large items, such as houses and cars. For the most part, they are tightening their belts and probably some are finding ways to shelter their taxable income.

The crest of the wave the economy was riding on all these years suddenly droppedaway and the country "wiped out" in the form of a recession.


I see some people are still complaining about sex education in the county schools. This is nothing new -- you're no doubt familiar with the old "if you educate them, they will experiment" diatribe.

This also works for drug education. You know: Don't say anything and the problem will go away.

I remember when the sex education curriculum (excuse me, Family Life and Human Development) first came into the school system.

I recall hearing skeptical parents saying such thingsas, "Let them learn it in the street like I did; I grew up OK." Or, "It's not the school's place to deal with such things."

I am not making this up. Of course, some of these same folks won't make it the home's place, either.


Congratulations to our new police chief, James N. Robey, a 24-year veteran of the Howard County police force. It's good to see an appointee from within for a change -- someone who actually knows the department from the inside out. A good move from County Executive Ecker.

So many times department leaders are brought in from the outside, which in my opinion, is an insult to qualified local persons. The superintendent of school position is one that always seems to be given to outsiders.


Finally, isn't U.S. 40getting to be a little too much to take? The badly deteriorating surface is becoming increasingly hazardous with the loose, flying particles thrown up, bullet-like, at our vehicles from the tires of those ahead of us.

For the first time since I began driving, and I've done a lot of miles since, I had to have my windshield replaced because of a crack caused by this flying debris.

Less than two weeks laterI received a star in the new windshield! I got this stabilized by a local glass company, and I'm hoping it will not migrate.

Either weneed a new technology for our cars that will sense these flying objects and deflect them (a Patriot deflector shield system?), or perhaps, instead, the roads can be surfaced with a higher-quality asphalt.

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