A summary of Baltimore Sun editorials that appeared in...


December 20, 1992

A summary of Baltimore Sun editorials that appeared in other county editions last week.

Carroll County

* By agreeing to pay $165,000 more than the appraised price for Pauline Byers Shaffer's farm, the Carroll County commissioners have set a bad precedent, as Commissioner Julia W. Gouge pointed out in opposing the transaction.

Mrs. Shaffer's 104-acre farm -- which has been in her family for five generations -- is adjacent to the Carroll County Regional Airport. A portion of the farm -- about 32 acres -- was needed for a planned extension of the runway. As time passed, the airport plans have been revised and the proposed runway realigned. County officials also decided it made sense to buy the entire farm.

The appraised price for the farm was $685,000, but Mrs. Shaffer refused to sell at that price. Rather than have a court set the price, the commissioners decided to negotiate a deal. Commissioner Donald I. Dell bargained on behalf of the county and came up with an agreement calling for the county to pay $850,000, or 24 percent more than the land's appraised value . . .

Mr. Dell has made it very clear that he is trying to help farmers recover what he considers lost equity when the zoning code was changed in 1978. Under the old zoning, farmers could build one house per acre. Now, agricultural zoning allows only one house for every 20 acres.

Mr. Dell may feel that his fellow farmers were treated unfairly because of the zoning change. Trying to rectify this perceived injustice by using public money is inappropriate . . . Dec. 15.

Howard County

* From this month's issue of American Demographics magazine comes the news that Howard County is the sixth wealthiest jurisdiction in the nation, with 56 percent of its households earning $50,000 or more. Not only that, but the county's black population is also among the wealthiest in the country, with nearly 43 percent meeting the magazine's standard for affluence.

Given those demographics, we are dismayed and frustrated by the fact that African-American children in Howard County schools continue to fall significantly behind other groups of students in the classroom.

The latest evidence of this problem comes from the results of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. In both mathematics and verbal skills, black students consistently scored lower than Asian, white and Hispanic students who took the test. That information comes on the heels of results from the Maryland Functional Test, which also showed blacks trailing other students in Howard.

With an African-American student population of only 14 percent, we do not believe it unreasonable to expect the county's school system to teach more effectively a group that is relatively small and easily identified. We expect as much from the Baltimore City schools every day . . .

Dec. 17

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