From: Alex Hekimian
As we finish our second year as an incorporated organization, we can really feel proud of what Alliance for a Better Columbia is accomplishing.
We are doing all we can to serve as an advocate for our members and supporters. We are speaking out on issues that concern Columbia's residents. And best of all, we are having an impact.
The reason that ABC exists is that CA is often not looking out for the best interests of Columbia's residents. Too often, CA gives a higher priority to CA's own interests, Rouse Co.'s interests and other business interests.
This feeling is reinforced by the results of a surveythat CA commissioned about 2 1/2 years ago, which revealed that mostresidents have the opinion that CA is not particularly responsive totheir concerns.
The results from our own surveys last year at several village centers showed that many residents feel that it's Rouse Co. and CA staff that really "call the shots" in governing Columbia, not the residents, and not even the Columbia Council.
That's why it's so important to have an organization like ours -- to be an information resource for Columbia's residents, to listen to their concerns and speak out on their behalf, and to make a difference in the way CAoperates and spend our money.
Columbia's residents tell us that they can no longer tolerate "business as usual" at CA. It's time for achange. And in that vein, ABC is becoming more pro-active on CA issues. We are taking the lead rather than simply reacting to whatever CAdoes.
A case in point is our most recent effort -- raising the issue of CA tax overcharges.
We are convinced that CA has been usingover the past 12 years a tax formula that is contrary to Columbia's covenants. The problem is that CA is charging us a much higher tax each year than the covenants call for.
Residents don't mind paying their fair share of taxes, but they will not tolerate being overcharged.
For that reason, we are committed to pursuing whatever remediesare necessary on behalf of Columbia's residents.
Another issue that we will be pursuing is a possible change in the way Columbia is governed. Many of us feel that it is not right for a city that is as large as ours to have so little participation and control over our destiny.
We want to shake the image as well as the reality of Columbiabeing a "company town." We want to take a serious look at the pros and cons of creating a true city government. And then, we'll let the people of Columbia decide.
Editor's note: The writer is the president of Alliance for a Better Columbia.
IN DEFENSE OF ECKER
From: Carol A. Arscott
I had to make a conscious decisionnot to respond to columnist Russ Mullaly's weekly attacks on County Executive Chuck Ecker and all things Republican, but there are two points in his May 15 (Howard County Sun, "3 Cents Worth") article, "Finger-pointers arise as economy descends," that demand to be addressed.
First, Mullaly muses that "this used to be a nice place to live,"but that "things here have been getting nasty" since the recession hit Howard County, "just like everywhere else."
In Howard County, our budget problems are decidedly worse than in surrounding jurisdictions and for one reason only: The Bobo administration consistently spent the county's budget surpluses on operating expenses instead of setting up a rainy-day fund or devoting the dollars to one-time projects.
The results of this foolish policy will be felt by every county taxpayer. Even in the midst of this budget crisis, the property tax increase just endorsed by the County Council is still dwarfed by the 22-cent tax hike Bobo imposed in her first year in office.
How doesMullaly imagine Bobo would have coped with a $20 million deficit? I shudder to think what kind of tax increase Howard countians would have been asked to bear if she had been re-elected.
Second, Mullaly'ssuggestion that "education seems to have lost its priority in the county" is patently absurd.
The Howard County public school system'sappropriation in Chuck Ecker's first budget, for fiscal year 1992, will account for a 55 percent share of total county spending. This is up from 53 percent in Bobo's last budget. If any priorities have changed, it isn't in this important area.
Now that the facts are straight, perhaps Mr. Mullaly would like to stop the presses on that "Don't Blame Me . . ." bumper sticker he suggested.
It gives me an idea, though. How about, "Don't Blame Me -- I Didn't Vote for Bobo in '86, Either?"
Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee.
CURBING RIGHTS IS NO CURE
From: E. L. Walsten
Barbara Brookhart's letter (Howard County Sun, Readers Write, "Society's downhill side," May 19) tries to leave the impression of supporting the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights as advocated by Ken Stevens.