Getting the St. Mary's Cemetery messageApparently some...

the Forum

September 10, 1992

Getting the St. Mary's Cemetery message

Apparently some people just haven't gotten the message that Howard countians have been sending since early summer about St. Mary's Cemetery, when the bulldozers first moved into one of Maryland's most historic graveyards.

It is a united and unequivocal message of determination and resolve -- from the families of those buried at St. Mary's; from the Friends of St. Mary's Cemetery and Preservation Society, Inc. (whose members include many of the descendants); from the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites; from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; from Catholics, Protestants, Jews, African-Americans, and Native Americans; from the people of Howard County whatever their race, culture or faith.

Only a serious misjudgment of the people's resolve on this issue could lead the editorial writers of The Evening Sun to state on Aug. 18 ("Ecker's Cemetery Plan"), "Mr. Becker may yet get the go-ahead to build at St. Mary's Cemetery."

The editorial suggests that Mr. Ecker's deal involving a land swap with the builder may eventually fall through; that is unlikely, considering the possible alternatives.

It is generally believed that errors of procedure occurred in the processing of the builder's permit application and site plan: first and foremost, the county's acceptance of an inaccurate designation of the cemetery as a neat, little section, instead of the full three acres, documented by the Catholic Church as the metes and bounds of St. Mary's Cemetery and containing over 160 graves, marked and unmarked. Parties at interest might well sue the county over these errors.

In another county, public officials would likely have sent a builder packing as soon as human remains were unearthed outside an area designated "existing cemetery" on a site plan -- proof of how the true boundaries of the cemetery had been misrepresented.

Instead, the Ecker administration, knowing when it approved the site plan that there were graves outside the builder's designated section, bought into the misrepresentation of the cemetery's true boundaries and just told the builder that whatever human remains he found outside this section would have to be re-interred according to state law.

Such a policy was certain to produce exactly the results that it did: Human remains being clawed from the earth with bulldozers. There is nothing in state law which authorizes that.

So what we have here is not a situation in which the builder tried to put one over on the county. It is not a case of an honest mistake being made.

It is a case of the builder and the county and the Catholic Church putting one over on the people of Howard County -- and particularly the families of those buried at St. Mary's. Now all three -- church, county officials and builder -- are caught across the wires of morality and legality.

Barbara Sieg

Ellicott City

The GOP platform is courageous

Cutting through all the political rhetoric, I point to the initiatives that get to the heart of what most Americans long for and need. If the following platform were to be adopted by our elected officials in Washington, America would soon be back on track as a nation with strong values and the courage to back them up:

* Jump start the economy with a capital gains tax cut so businesses can start creating jobs again.

* Keep interest rates low and give first-time home buyers a tax credit.

* Completely overhaul the education system and build on a new, energized school system that will place the welfare of children above that of pampered school board bureaucrats.

* Create welfare reform that will encourage people to get out of the system and back to work; include strong legislation that prohibits drug users and sellers from collecting welfare.

* Stop frivolous lawsuits and make the losers pay court costs.

* Congress must pass anti-crime laws that close all the loopholes for criminals that have been created in the last 25 years.

Which of the presidential candidates will stand on this platform? Not the Clinton-Gore team.

This is the platform of the Bush-Quayle team and it is the reason my vote goes to the Republicans. This platform is one all candidates should embrace for the welfare of the country and not just because it sounds good politically. This is a platform that takes great courage to stand upon.

Jacqueline Madison

Edgemere

Definitions and morals change

Jean C. Kittle complains in The Forum (Sept. 2) that we have forgotten how to use Webster's dictionary and offers to clear up our confusion by defining several terms currently in use in political circles. Very considerate. However, the writer seems to be indulging in selective use of the dictionary.

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