From: Kenneth L. Webster
Community Relations Officer
Maryland Dept. of Housing and Community Development
I would like to thank you for the outstanding coverage by your newspaper on events scheduled for the celebration of Black History Month.
I would also like to thank you for your coverage of the Black History Month event at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Your coverage has provided more information to the public on these events than any other news service.
Again I thank you for all the attention placed on our African-American celebration.
WHAT PRICE FOR BEAUTY?
From: Patrick Gavin
The recent county government ban on outdoor signs and banners hanging from businesses, at first glance, seems like a good idea. The desired effect: to have a much cleaner county, a county free from visual pollution.
In these times of economic distress, high unemployment, lack of consumer confidence, and, most importantly, failing businesses, it shows again the short-sightedness of our elected officials. The signs displayed by the small businessman are not an overt attempt at littering. Small businesses are desperately trying to increase sales.
The short-term "cure" of a cleaner county in reality enhances the multitude of problems that small businesses encounter in these tough times. I'll give oneaccount of a business that I am familiar with.
I know of a store that has one banner outside its front window. Items featured on the banner generated $400 of what the owners considered new sales, sales that would not have occurred without the banner. Four hundred dollars in additional sales in one week may not seem like much, but to a small business it means the difference between a fair week and a good week.
Four hundred dollars puts four teen-agers to work 20 hours a week after school and on weekends. Without this $400, these four teen-agers do not have jobs. It is also $400 a week less taxable income which alone should be a loud wake-up call to county government officialswho say they are looking for more revenue (taxes).
The ban on outdoor signs in these tight times is a hit that small businesses shouldnot have to take. Why not wait until more prosperous times to invokea ban on outdoor signs?
Another question to be asked: will this ban on outdoor signs also include campaign signs for politicians? In my mind, there is no way that politicians will adhere to this policy. It is enough of an eyesore to have to look at politicians along the roadways waving at people (customers?).
The candidates' signs are the biggest single visual pollutant in this county.
A businessman would remove his signs when they are no longer pertinent, while a politician (even when forced by law) leaves his signs up long after an election.
The county must ask: what price for beauty? For small business in a bad economy, the price is too high.
For the politician in an election year, (they won't adhere to the policy, or, more likely, will be exempt) the answer is more signs, more signs, more signs. As the poet Ogden Nash wrote, "I shall never see a billboard as prettyas a tree," small businessmen say: "I shall never see anything when I am out