Defending Redistricting

Readers write

November 27, 1991

From: Charles C. Feaga

Redistricting on any level is a difficult political process. Early in the redistricting process for Howard County, I challenged the members of the council to draw maps representingtheir suggestions for both their own districts and the county as a whole. This challenge went unmet.

Wanting to continue to represent all areas of my current districtand knowing that I needed to gain population, I presented a map thatkept my district intact from Sykesville to Cardinal Forest, while adding a small area to the northeast toward Ellicott City. I had hoped for some support for this map as it showed less than a half percent deviation in population between districts, but none was received.

The map presented by the county executive also kept most of my district together and made minimal changes to the other districts. I felt that this was a good plan because it caused so little disruption to thevoters in the county. This map was rejected by the three Columbia members of the County Council.

Dr. Vernon Gray presented a map whichwas very quickly approved by the council's three Columbia members. Iopposed this map because it removed areas such as Clarksville Ridge,portions of Fulton, Warfield's Range and other communities from my current district. This map also split the area known as Highland into two districts.

Prior to the final vote on the map, I hoped there would be opportunity for modifications to Gray's map that was drawn virtually without input from myself and Darrel Drown. With that in mindand seeking bargaining room, I decided to draft an amendment which would bring the map into conformity with the one presented at a hearing by a bipartisan group. The amendment was drafted to comply with theFriday afternoon deadline for offering amendments. No offers of compromise were made in the two days following, so I withdrew the amendment before it could be introduced for consideration.

Throughout thedistricting process, my goal has been to continue to represent the citizens of my current district. Following the veto of the new map, I remain hopeful that a compromise may be reached which will add precincts to bring the population up to the average while keeping 100 percent of current Council District 5 together.

(Charles C. Feaga is the 5th District county councilman.)

GRAY ROCK CLARIFICATION

From: Irwin Hosea

Your article on the proposed Gray Rock Drive connection(Howard County Sun, "Residents adamantly against road linkage," by Erik N. Nelson, Nov. 17) was fairly reported, but some key items need correction for better public understanding.

* Omitted was the factthat County Executive Charles I. Ecker has called for a halt to thisroad connection until a Comprehensive Transportation Study is completed. An objective study that includes all current and planned development in our area has not been done. This seems to me a very fair alternative to proceeding with a dangerous and ill-conceived road connection with no certainty of its need or its future safety.

* Ed Walters was given as much time as he wanted to explain the concept of traffic circles to residents at the Nov. 13 meeting. He finished, sat down, and our committee presented its views. Questions and answers followed, which included much discussion of traffic circles. Most residents saw the proposal for what it was: a crumb thrown to residents of our two communities by their representatives on the County Council to make the issue go away.

* Carl Balser's contention that "the connection was on county general plans as early as 1970" is false. It did not appear until 1992, which negates Drown's argument that we should have known about it before buying our homes.

* Carl Balser, speaking to the Howard County Sun (March 21, 1989) about the effect of the Gray Rock connection on St. John's Lane, said, "It's not a tremendous difference." Jim Irvin, director of Public Works, in a meeting with members of our committee, said the connection would have no impact on Centennial Lane and Font Hill traffic. Other county officials have said essentially the same thing over the past few years.

The fact isthat the statement that the connection is needed to relieve traffic on these streets is an effort to divide and pit neighborhood against neighborhood, an effort started during the last administration. Thereare other alternatives to relieve St. John's Lane traffic rather than destroying two more existing neighborhoods with this road connection.

A comprehensive study of the area's traffic needs is the sensible and correct step for a government concerned about all its citizens.

(Irwin Hosea is president of the Gray Rock Drive Committee.)

WHO'S MINDING STORY?

From: Janet M. Sloan

Ellicott City

In response to Mr. Snyder's cartoon (Howard County Sun, Dialogue cartoon by Rob Snyder, Nov. 17) on Darrel Drown's philosophical position on termlimits, I say the following: For those of you who think term limits is a laughing matter, here is something you can really laugh about.

While politicians have done a great job at getting re-elected, our entrenched but experienced representatives have also saddled Americans with a national debt of over $3 trillion, a 1991 budget deficit somewhere around $350 billion, a $500 billion S & L bailout, policies that contribute to the decay of our inner cities, skyrocketing health care costs, a failing public education system, homelessness, tax-and-spend policies that cripple our economy.

Are you still laughing? I hope not!

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