The People Have Spoken

Readers write

June 19, 1991

From: Sandra Kenney

Ellicott City

(The) article on the June 9 Rural Land Use Study Commission's public hearing (Howard County Sun, "Boisterous crowd assails panel for suggesting home clustering," by James M. Coram) and cartoon depicting John Taylor caught my eye, to say the least! Well-done reporting, Mr.Coram . . . playing up poor Mr. Mariani and his sham presentation. Well-done cartoon . . . except that it should have shown Mr. Mariani and his band being followed by developers, captioned, "We've Got Ours But We Want It All."

Actually, the hearing was the "democratic process," alive and well for one brief moment. With less than one week'snotice, primarily from community groups, the audience filling Glenelg High School's auditorium spoke their minds, openly and honestly. What most of the 51 speakers said was more succinct and often more factual than the commission's presentation.

People from Ellicott City to Highland, from Columbia to Lisbon, were hopping mad, insulted by the lack of any planning for a reasonable infrastructure to handle thedensities proposed with clusters housing . . . insulted that they would be happy with a quaint "English Village" concept.

In an era ofno funds for existing roadwork, severe cutbacks in existing services, and pollution studies that fly in the face of the "sewage treatment" proposed by the commission, why shouldn't the voters get "emotional?" We have an unpopular 1990 General Plan calling for cluster housingamong other things, passed under a very unpopular administration in spite of citizen protest. Why shouldn't voters want to be heard?

But does our County Council listen? Does our county executive? Does this hand-picked commission? Obviously not.

Howard County, in the view of the majority, is being run quite cleverly by developer and friends of developers. "Higher densities," they cry. "More building," they promote.

And that's why you'll hear more from the voters all across Howard County, hear it louder and hear it much more often . . . against higher densities, against cluster housing, against "open space" that will only remain so for a while.

The General Plan can be changed and new officials elected. Citizens can make a difference, evenif our present elected officials don't want to hear it.

Poor Mr. Mariani! For a brief moment the "democratic process" did work, and the citizens spoke honestly. The only "misconception" people came in with was that our representatives would listen. Most left the hearing believing they didn't.

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Western County Preservation Association and secretary of the Ivory Road Neighborhood Association.


From: J. Brian O'Day

Ellicott City

Carol Arscott's June 2 letter, "In defense of Ecker," seems to miss the point of the article she attacks. It is understandable that the chair of the Republican Central Committee would rally behind the Republican county executive and try to defend his actions. What is not understandable is her misreading and selective reading of the Russ Mullaly article she is referring to.

The gist of Mr. Mullaly's May 15 article, "Finger-pointers arise as economy descends," was that in these recessionary times, everyone seemsto have a favorite scapegoat.

His lead sentence asks the question: "Is anybody ready for a kinder and gentler county?" Ms. Arscott is obviously not ready to put this Republican-coined phrase into practice when she launched into her shrill attack on her favorite scapegoat,former County Executive (M. Elizabeth) Bobo.

But then maybe Mr. Mullaly has a point. A lot of stones are being tossed in Dr. Ecker's direction these days, and Ms. Arscott's only defense is lash out at the "villain" she created in the last campaign. She doesn't choose to address Mr. Mullaly's questions about "decisions by the Ecker administration that don't seem to be thought-out fully," and Dr. Ecker's flip-flopping on many of these decisions.

We haven't seen any letters from Ms. Arscott defending Dr. Ecker's appointment of a developer to run the county (flip) and later withdrawing the appointment because of the outcry (flop).

Or his appointment of a leading lobbyist to chair an important legislative committee (flip) which was later withdrawn to avoid similar outcry (flop).

Or his decision to lay off police (flip) and then not (flop).

What about his request for furlough legislation (flip) that he choose not to use (flop), preferring to ruin the livelihoods of 40 employees rather then give all county employees seven days unpaid vacation.

Like Ms. Arscott, I, too, take issue with some of what Mr. Mullaly wrote.

I think the debate we are seeing about the direction of the county is healthy and should be encouraged.

The fact that thousands turned out to tell Dr. Ecker what they thought of his budget and that there have been so many letters to the papers concerning these important issues might give one hopethat the citizens are paying attention.

Maybe some of Dr. Ecker'sflip-flops mean that he is paying attention to the citizens (a politician worrying about the next election).

In answer to Mr. Mullaly's final question: yes, we are concerned about what the county will belike in 1994 and beyond. That's what all the fuss is about.

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