From: Bonnie K. Jones
An open letter to County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th:
Last week I had the opportunity to hear each member of the Howard County Council sum up his or her position regarding the actions taken to set the budget for next year.
Although I appreciate the difficultyof the task and understand why so cuts were made in budgets proposedby each department, I was shocked to hear your assessment of the reaction of teachers to cuts in the education budget.
Teachers are understandably outraged that their contract agreement was broken and that their step increases and increases in salary were eliminated. Theyneed to let the public know that they are angry.
In the private sector, a worker would strike -- demanding the increase he or she had negotiated in good faith, and, in the long run, would get it. Teachers cannot strike. They are expected to sit back and take whatever is handed to them.
But, instead, this time teachers have dared to say,"This is a breach of contract. We will stop working for free. We will stop volunteering our time in the evening and on weekends to be there for those "extras parents and students have come to expect."
(They will, however continue to give away their evenings and weekends planning lessons.)
In your words, "We need to watch these individuals for they can corrupt the system." What system is that? I thought it was part of a larger democratic system that encourages individuals to act on what they believe in.
You seem to think that teachers make enough money already. You quoted a figure that represented the salary of a teacher with 11 years experience and a master's degree. I think the system is willing to pay that much for experience and expertise.
Finally, you said, "We all must sacrifice." Where is your sacrifice? Are you giving up your raise? Have the council members asked (County Executive) Mr. (Charles) Ecker to sacrifice by giving up his raise?
If cuts have to be made, so be it; but don't ask teachers tostand by passively and mutely, and accuse them of corruption when they dare to raise a voice in protest.
UNBURDEN THE BURDENED
From: Paul R. Collison
In response to "What's Your Opinion? -- What should Howard County officials do to encourage the developmentof moderate-income housing?" Caught in the great compromise.
It'svery easy to solve this moderate-income housing problem. Just keep on raising taxes and assessments to obscene levels. This will drive the thousands of people who are trying to cope with the Depression of the 1990s on their fixed-, low- or moderate-incomes from their roots in Howard County. The driving out of the citizens can be speeded up bya formula of:
* Granting increased densities to builders if more set-aside housing is built.
* Giving the builders tax breaks.
*Breaking the promise to the west by re-zoning for increased housing.
These three steps will not only run the taxes through the roof onthe citizens of Howard County, but make the over-crowded schools, road service needs, etc. totally unbearable.
No doubt this is and has been a serious problem, but the solutions put forth so far (densitybonuses, tax breaks, rezone the west) only push the burden over and onto those hard working, tax paying people who are already behind theeight ball.
Editor's note: The writer ia a teaching assistant as Worthington Elementary School.