Despite The Sun, Columbia Council Is No CircusI am writing...


January 10, 1993

Despite The Sun, Columbia Council Is No Circus

I am writing on behalf of the Columbia Council to register a formal complaint with The Sun regarding the recent series of editorials about the Columbia Council. We are public people and, therefore, expect our share of criticism and, one would hope kudos from the press. However, the most recent editorial, entitled "The Columbia Council Circus," which appeared on Dec. 16, cannot be ignored. The writer goes far beyond responsible journalism with his distortion of fact, spurious logic and outrageous rhetoric.

"Having all but promised a decision last week, a weak-kneecouncil once again put off a final determination on the golf course . . ."

The fact is that a final determination on the golf course has always been scheduled as part of the vote on the FY 94 budget which will take place two months from now on March 1. As you can see by the agenda and meeting notice, the only decision to be made at the Dec. 10 meeting was the direction to be given to CA staff in preparing the budget. That direction was given: Prepare the budget with a golf course and show the implications of both an 18-hole and a 9-hole course.

"Operating in the haze of pseudo-government, the council has no leadership culled from the city at large. . . ."

The Columbia Council is a city-wide body. Each council representative is elected by the people from his or her village. Each is also a part of the larger body of grass-roots representatives -- the village boards. . . . The leadership of Columbia governance is very much culled from the city at large.

"Removed from any clear constituency . . . Witness the great stack of reports that has been put in front of the council. . . ."

Kevin Thomas claims that the council is removed from its constituency and then illogically cites the many citizen reports submitted to the council both for and against a course. . . . "Chock full of so much theatrical buffoonery, the council's deliberations remind us of a B-grade circus. We all wonder with what pratfall or house-afire burlesque the show will finally end. . . . The image coming from the council is of a body that is ineffectual and paralyzed. . . . It floats aimlessly -- flotsam and jetsam on a sea of ineptitude."

One has to wonder what is at work here. Such language hardly reflects serious journalism. Rather, it suggests a writer working from a personal bias. We believe this editorial sinks far below the level of integrity readers have come to expect from The Sun. . . . John M. Hansen

Harper's Choice

?3 The writer is chairman of the Columbia Council.

Kevin Thomas should lighten up. The Sun is making a wonderful effort to give Howard County a local newspaper, something we really look for. So far, the reporters and writers are trying to give us good, unbiased coverage but his personal attacks leave a bad taste in one's mouth. . . .

As a member of the Columbia Council, I take exception to his reference to it as a circus. Most of us realize we are entrusted with the taxpayers' money and want to make doubly sure that money is appropriated wisely. We have rules of procedure to follow and if we move too slow for him I might remind him that is a price to pay for a democratic process.

He was highly critical of the vote on the conflict of interest issue. He condemned the man of being in conflict before there was a vote. Joe [Merke, formerly of the Columbia Council] did make a couple mistakes, but I don't feel we insulted anyone. If Joe had been patient and not resigned, I don't think we had the votes to make a conflict charge stick.

He was also highly critical of county Councilman [Charles] Feaga's position on mixed use zoning in the county. Regardless of how we might feel on an issue, we can't condemn a person for voting the will of his constituency. . . . In the Columbia Association Council, my first obligation is to my constituency. When we are sitting as a board of directors, then my obligation is to the association. We are a private organization with a representative from each village organized to legislate and govern in a democratic process. I believe your idea of a democratic process is one where a group of legislators rubber-stamps everything dictated by a political boss or party.

Charles W. Ahalt

Hickory Ridge


The caustic, snide reference to "the husband of Gail Bailey" in your editorial "The Columbia Council Circus" (Dec. 16) would have been better left unprinted or deposited in the trash bin.

Your editorial did not require the intemperate reference. That reference, frankly, undermined the credibility of your editorial views.

M. Albert Figinski


Ecker Is Fulfilling The Voters' Wishes

In reference to the Dec. 9 editorial concerning Executive Charles Ecker's lack of vision for the future of Howard County:

As the writer admitted, under adverse conditions, the executive has handled the affairs of the county rather well and with a high degree of fairness. It would be interesting to know the vision of a future Howard County as conceived by the writer of the editorial.

It is not at all difficult to project a "vision" for our county as enunciated by present day citizens. We want a continuation of a quality environment, excellent schools and reasonable public serives. We do not want over-urbanization, over-crowded schools, traffic gridlock or increased crime. If the editorial writer would take the trouble to attend the many zoning hearings held lately, it would be easy to determine the "citizens' vision" for Howard County.

I believe that County Executive Ecker is doing his best to carry out the wishes of his constituency -- a difficult balancing act.

Ridgely Jones


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