Editor's note: Red and white lanterns will brighten many Main Streetin many Carroll County communities this holiday season. And most of the time, taxpayers are footing the bill. In Union Bridge, for example, the Town Council -- meeting in an illegally closed session -- voted to spend $7,857 to purchase and install lights; officials had budgeted $20,000. Other examples include Westminster spending $3,200 and Taneytown, $2,899. Electricity costs are additional. The American Civil Liberties Union says towns should not spend money celebrating a religious holiday. We have been asking readers whether they want their tax dollars spent on Christmas lights, and if tax dollars are spent for Christmas lights, whether towns should put up decorations for Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year, and so on. Here is another of the replies we received:
From: A. Holly Bollinger
Why are you calling them Christmas lights anyway?
Christmas is a holiday celebrated by Christians on Dec. 25 as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival beginning on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (Dec. 2 this year) commemorating the victory of Maccabees over the Syrians.
The lights went up in Westminster (and many other towns across this nation) before the end of November, so it is my opinion that they are holiday lights, as they do not favor any religious denomination.
Besides, there are more important things to be thinking of now -- like the reason for the season, whether you be gentile or Jew -- not who pays for it.
WHO PAYS FOR LETTERS?
From: Mary Beth Harris
I recently received a newsletter from our congressperson, Beverly B. Byron.
On the front page of that very newsletter, Ms. Byron states, "Ihave been on record for a long time opposing the public financing ofcongressional campaigns and I remain opposed to it."
As a taxpayer and a citizen of the 6th congressional district, I would like to know the difference between so-called "congressional campaigning" and the printing and mailing of these self-promoting "newsletters" that Ms. Byron sends out at the taxpayers' expense.
It seems that the incumbent has the advantage of using the taxpayer's money to support hercampaign, while the challenger must solicit donations from the financially strapped private citizens of the district.
I would urge Ms.Byron to pay for this piece of literature, as well as future mailings from her presumably well-stocked campaign funds. The taxpayers' dollars can then be spent on health care, education or other much neededservices in these tough economic times.
I would urge the voters of this district to consider an alternative candidate. State Delegate Tom Hattery is running a grass-roots campaign that will allow the hard-working citizens of the 6th congressional district to be heard in Congress once again.
I urge all voters to take the time to hear hismessage.
TREE SEMINAR HELPFUL
From: Teresa M. Bamberger
Mount Airy planner
To: Board of Commissioners
I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts that made possible the recent seminar, "Development with Trees."
Landscape design, whether it be preserving the natural vegetation or incorporating trees in new development, is finally being given the attention it deserves.
Every day, more information is available regarding the harm we have done to the environment by neglecting the landscape. However, through seminars such as "Development with Trees," we arebeing educated as to responsible ways to develop while protecting the environment.
It is important for those of us who draft or enforce legislation to continue this process of education and to act on such information. If the counties and municipalities do not ensure adequate and responsible landscape design, we can be sure that no one will.
The benefits of Mount Airy's landscape ordinance are already visible. Many of the citizens have commented to me on the attractivenessof new communities.
In addition, many citizens have followed the enactment of the state Tree Bill and are anxious for Mount Airy to develop such standards. Neil Ridgely's assistance to Mount Airy on thisand numerous other matters has been significant.
In summary, on behalf of Mount Airy, I wish to thank you for your efforts to date andhope you will continue your leadership of responsible landscape design in the county and in the municipalities.
From: Board of Commissioners
To: Teresa Bamberger
Mount Airy planner
Thank you for your letter of Nov. 12, 1991, concerning the above seminar.
We, as a board, felt that it was a highly productive session. As you know, we are in the process of reviewing the county's Landscape Ordinance.
There have been several suggestions presented to us for refinement of that ordinance, which we may consider as we become more familiar with that program.