THOMAS TO TESTIFY
From: Virginia M. Thomas
I find myself in the interesting and somewhat unique position of being accused by members of the Howard County delegation of having more clout and influence than they possess.
While it has interestingpossibilities, I do not appreciate Delegate (Martin G.) Madden blaming me for the districting plan, when in fact it was his responsibility to protect the districts he represents. Instead, he and others chose to save the Laurel area that straddles Howard and Prince George's counties.
Since my original position has always been that Howard County deserves two senatorial districts, I will try to use the influence they say I have to make what I think are necessary adjustments to the plan.
I will also be suggesting ways that would keep the Elkridge precincts in a Howard County district. While I do not represent this area in Annapolis, I have represented them as County Council member and strongly believe that they, rather than Laurel, should be represented by a Howard County legislator.
With that in mind, I will be testifying in favor of returning the Prince George's area of Laurelto a Prince George's district, where in my opinion it truly belongs.
This will enable us to bring Elkridge back into a Howard County district. I will also testify, just as I did previously, that Howard County deserves two senatorial districts.
From: James M. Holway
Politics brings out greatness in somepeople. They believe in serving the public interest. Politics also brings out the worst in others. They serve special interests and self-interests.
I feel sometimes that we wasted our time trying to put in place an effective home-rule government in Howard County. I have watched a number of county council members put all their effort into building power for themselves, and the people be damned.
Current Chairman (Vernon) Gray, in his efforts to control the boundaries of "his" district, is displaying all the worst in politics. His position and that of his associate, former Councilman (Lloyd) Knowles, who helped him create the new map, is that to the winners go the power to control "their piece of the world."
This is Chairman Gray's second effort at drawing his own district, right down to the sides of the streets where the lines would go. The county executive has vetoed a council bill that describes the district with a message requesting amendments to prevent splitting so many communities. In rebuttal, the chairman is passing a resolution that he says prevents a veto. This was a ploy introduced by former Chairman (Ruth U. Keaton) in her efforts to avoid vetoes and referendums in her power trips.
Your reporters keep confusing the public by repeating that council resolutions cannot be vetoed by the use of a resolution. This opinion is about as good asthe opinion that has permitted Gray to serve illegally for some 10 years.
A rose is a rose even if you call it applesauce. To preservethe intent of home-rule government, a court suit is appropriate, andat the same time it would be appropriate to have a ruling on the legality of Gray serving on the council.
All elected council members take an oath to serve the people of the county and to uphold the law and the home-rule charter. Home rule means maximum citizen participation and minimum government dictatorship. Districts should be set up by a bipartisan board of county voters and be placed on the ballot forapproval.
We have been electing the wrong type of people to all of our legislative bodies. Because we don't have a test for our candidates, we need a limit of two consecutive terms in any 12-year period.
POLITICAL FOOTBALL IN 13TH
From: Michael Grasso
I was stunned after reading about the proposed Democratic redistricting plan for the 13th district. It seems to me that a lot more than population shifts from the 1990 census were considered by the plan's originators.
Currently, subdistrict 13B is split almost evenly between Howard County and Prince George's County. Calls for a Laurel-only subdistrict came only after incumbent Democrats were defeated. If my memory serves me correctly, Mr. DiPietro, the only challenger from the city of Laurel in 1990, did not win a single precinct there. Obviously,those residents feel their interests can be represented by delegateswho don't necessarily live within the city limits.
Even if we accept the argument for a new subdistrict 13A composed of the city of Laurel, why weren't delegates Madden and Morgan kept in subdistrict 13B?
Instead, Marty Madden, through no small coincidence, will be placed in subdistrict 14B with two other incumbent Republicans. And JohnMorgan, whose residence is almost in Savage, will be included with the city of Laurel. According to Senate President Mike Miller, this was done so the city would not be without an incumbent delegate. However, those of us in North Laurel and Elkridge have been left unrepresented.
These changes, which were proposed by Delegate Virginia Thomas and Sen. Thomas Yeager, are a thinly veiled and partisan attempt torob us of our freely elected delegates -- Marty Madden and John Morgan.