Smoking Ban For Business' SakeI had mixed emotions when I...


August 01, 1993

Smoking Ban For Business' Sake

I had mixed emotions when I heard that Howard County Executive Charles Ecker vetoed the smoking control bill in Howard County. One of the reasons he gave was his concern about the impact on county restaurants.

In my opinion, the ban would have a positive impact since many people like me would drive to Howard County for food and entertainment. In the early '70s, Howard County passed one of the first laws in the nation that mandated non-smoking sections in restaurants. My family and many of our friends would frequently drive to Howard simply to dine there until our counties passed similar laws. Ecker should remember that non-smokers outnumber smokers by about four to one. Therefore, the probability of gaining non-smokers is greater than the probability of losing a few smokers.

I agree with Ecker's opposition to the provision making it illegal for employers to fire or refuse to hire a person who smokes outside of work. Since workers cost employers more in terms of excess sick leave and insurance, no employer should be burdened with such a restriction. I hope the bill is reconsidered with this provision removed and that it is passed into law. I guarantee you that I will come to Howard County to eat and I will bring friends.

John H. O'Hara


CA Borrowing

Is the honeymoon over? The residents of Columbia were very pleased when The Sun announced it would begin to publish a daily HowardCounty section. We could no longer accept the misleading and untrue propaganda published by the local weekly, fed to it by officers and staff of the Columbia Association. . . .

Reading Adam Sachs' story July 2, I was shocked to read again all the garbage I've been reading all these years, all coming from the CA staff. First, the statement about deficit reduction decreasing the amount CA must borrow to finance capital projects. The money CA gets to finance its deficit reduction is borrowed money, received from the refinancing of the principal amount of debt service each year. . . .

The money is placed in the operating budget to make the operating budget show a profit. This make-believe profit is entered in the "cash flow" and shows as being invested in "capital projects." Most of this money is spent on what would be considered maintenance and repairs, but they show it in the capital budget, thereby inflating the assets. . . .

Let's tell the public the truth about the $5 million bond the staff says the council decided to borrow for new capital projects. I was a member of this council and here is the truth: The FY '92 council voted to approve this sale as the last act it performed before leaving office May 1, 1992. The actual sale was completed that month. Now who spent the money? -- $3 million went to refinance the principal amount of debt service as described previously; The rest of the money went into capital projects placed in the budget by the '92 council and the '93 council did not annul any of those projects. . . .

CA could reappraise its property tomorrow and wipe out all their deficit, it would change nothing. The property that is meaningful is that real estate producing the revenue through the covenants.

Charles W. Ahalt


Loopholes In Cemetery Law

The story of the devastation wreaked on St. Mary's Cemetery last summer will live in infamy in the annals of Howard County.

In the aftermath of that blatant disregard for both law and morality, a citizen task force was appointed by Councilman C. Vernon Gray to study the entire problem of historic cemetery protection and preservation and to advise the county government in the writing of a cemetery law which would prevent another St. Mary's from ever happening.

The task force, composed of highly qualified, concerned citizens, worked hard and provided many sound recommendations for what it hoped would be a no-nonsense law to keep the bulldozers out of our burial grounds. The distillation of opinions and suggestions provided by this task force -- whose members were not always in agreement on all the issues -- combined with material contributed by the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Office of Law as well as amendments tacked on by the County Council -- formed the basis for Howard County's new cemetery law. . . .

I would just call to your attention a few of the reservations that I have about it.

For example, early on in the law we read: "Cemeteries shall be dealt with in accordance with Subtitle 13 of this Title. In any case, no grading or construction shall be permitted within 30 feet of a cemetery boundary or within 10 feet of individual gravesites." Are we still authorizing the building of houses within cemeteries? Otherwise, how could you physically stay only 10 feet away from a gravesite and still be 30 feet from the cemetery boundary?

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