Can't Legislate Morality

Readers write

October 06, 1991

From: Frank W. Soltis

Bel Air

I am simply amazed at the mentality of lackey Councilman Philip J. Barker and his mentor, Joseph Cassilly, the state's attorney.

IfBarker would direct his energies toward reducing property taxes or attracting industrial growth, he would be of much better service to his constituents. How could any law prohibit a business from becoming aplace for customers to use drugs, meet prostitutes or engage in sex?

Would it have worked in the case of the nursery in Bel Air that was allegedly abusing children? How about drive-in theaters with an R-rated movie or department stores that sell women's lingerie? Are parking lots conducive to engaging in sex?

In my opinion, an adult bookstore parking lot is no different than any other retail outlet. Prigs like Cassilly and Barker exhibit a predilection for the kinky, whenthere are more pressing problems that should be addressed.

Both of you gentlemen should take a few courses in constitutional law and get off the bandwagon of trying to legislate morality.


From: Ellen B. Cutler


I was outraged to read theremark by County Councilman Robert Wagner in The Harford County Sun,Sept. 8, ("Rehrmann asks panel to trim school building costs"), thatthe overcrowding in Harford County public schools is a time-limited "bubble" that we can somehow expect to burst and go away.

According to an article in The Sun on Sept. 12, the projected increase in theHarford County school enrollment for 1990-2000 is 21.1 percent.

Overcrowded schools are epidemic already. Eleven mobile classrooms have been placed on campuses; newly opened North Band Elementary School is already filled to capacity; math teachers at Bel Air Middle Schoolhave carts instead of classrooms, and county parents have been askedto contemplate the lunacy of placing fifth-graders in middle schoolsand sixth-graders in high schools, just so they can be taught somewhere.

The County Council (and implicitly the county's citizenry) has permitted untrammeled development in Harford County with no regard to the stress it has placed on the schools, waste systems, police andfire departments.

We are threatened with a future where our streets are overrun by drop-outs who turn to crime; where our pool of working people is semiliterate or indigent; where we cannot provide the scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and workers that make the United States strong and competitive internationally.

Mr. Wagner: You can afford to patronize the private schools of Harford and Cecil counties.You have chosen, and you can afford, not to deal directly with the overwhelming problems confronting the parents, children, teachers and administrators on a daily basis.

So don't you tell us that there is a "bubble" in the school-age population, and that the problems willsimply go away.

Wake up, smell the coffee, read the paper, and stop "leading" us to your fantasies instead of into the future.


From: Jeffrey D. Wilson


Harford County Council

Bel Air

While the actual quotations attributed to me in the Sept. 29 edition of The Harford County Sun, "$3.5 million budget windfall fuels debate over raises," are correct, the context inwhich those quotations were made did not convey accurately some of my opinions.

For one thing, I don't think that the amount of the budget surplus is a sign of "thrift or extravagance." It is, rather, anexpression of fiscal policy. It has not been a secret that ever since our inauguration last December, I have differed with the administration's fiscal policy.

Specifically, one comment not expressed as aquotation, but attributed to me, is not my opinion at all: "The surplus proves that the county did not need to create the emergency fund in the fiscal 1992 budged adopted in May."

My primary concern has been that the county's budget comply with the provisions of the Harford County Charter, and the holding of $6.3 million outside of the budget process was contrary to the charter and, therefore, illegal.

Iam not opposed to a contingency reserve. Indeed, such a reserve is set forth in the Harford County Charter at an amount equal to 3 percent of the budget. I believe there are additional ways of ensuring the county's fiscal integrity which are consistent with the charter.

Alarge part of my point on this issue is that we need to study the charter. It is an outstanding guide for government. I think of it as the owner's manual of government. If we ignore the charter, we should not be surprised if we get in trouble in our day-to-day governmental activities in the same way that if an owner ignores the maintenance schedule in his owner's manual, he should not be surprised if his car has a major motor problem.

If there is any one thing that I hope toaccomplish through my presidency during this term, it is that I would be a catalyst for Harford countians, both elected officials and citizens alike, to read with care and follow the charter of Harford County.

I also believe that we need to remind ourselves every day thata reserve for contingencies of whatever kind or size will not address the structural needs of Harford County government for the future.

We must find ways not only to do the work of government better, butto re-evaluate the kind of work that government does. We need to restructure government and to lead the people in restructuring our communities in order to ensure that we can and will meet the future needs of that part of the larger society which we call Harford County.

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