Referendums in ColumbiaWhy should Columbia Association...


April 10, 1994

Referendums in Columbia

Why should Columbia Association provide residents the opportunity for a referendum? For the same reason that self-governing bodies throughout our country provide this as a basic right: Elected officials are not infallible.

Reston and Crofton, two communities with associations similar to CA, both provide their residents the right to a binding referendum. CA's corporate structure is a major obstacle to creating a binding referendum here, but the proposed Advisory Vote (non-binding referendum), which the Columbia Council will vote on Thursday, provides a useful tool for concerned residents who want to influence Columbia governance.

Besides being a time-honored tool of grass-roots democracy, the proposed new policy has other potential benefits. If and when a referendum is scheduled, the ensuing debate could breathe life into village elections, now largely ignored by residents. In addition, it introduces "one-person, one-vote" Columbia-wide on the issues put to an advisory vote.

Those council and village board members who oppose this modest proposal take a surprisingly dim view of the Columbia electorate. They fear that small groups would generate numerous petitions that would unbearably complicate the work of those in the seats of power. Some argue that the "one-person, one vote" feature would be too confusing for those whose village elections are not now conducted in that way, or that a referendum would be "divisive."

The apathy which currently plagues our elections is a far greater threat to Columbia's civic well-being than a referendum could ever be. We will learn on April 14 if a majority of the Columbia Council will trust citizens with this limited, but potentially effective means of becoming involved in Columbia's decision-making.

Norma Rose


The writer is the Columbia Council representative from Wilde Lake.

Oakland Mills Race

As many readers know, I've served on the Columbia Council for three years and have decided not to seek another term. My interest in the Columbia community, however, has not disappeared. The importance of electing the best representatives to the council, which serves as the board of directors for the Columbia Association, compels me to write this letter.

In Oakland Mills, there are two candidates for the council position -- Gary Glisan and Neil Noble. I am familiar with the positions of both individuals. Gary Glisan has brought a rational, reasonable approach to the village board, and I know he would possess the necessary independence and thought required to serve our community well. Gary has the requisite skills to understand and evaluate a $33.7 million budget, work with a diverse 10-member council, a large staff and his village. I believe that he will work to make changes where they are warranted, and retain and enhance what is good for Columbia.

The election is April 22 and April 23. Please vote.

Fran Wishnick


On School Bus Accidents

The accident involving two elementary school buses in

Howard County on March 21 was no accident. It was caused by design and will repeat itself often until the State Highway Department does something about the intersection. The residents of the community, Brampton Hills, all fear the day that someone coming up on them from behind merges to the left (as the sign before the intersection commands), and doesn't see them in the left lane waiting for the endless string of traffic . . . to clear so they can turn in.

The intersection . . . is about a half-mile from the light at the intersection of 103 and 104; two lanes of traffic start from a standstill there and build up to about 50 mph by the intersection. The highway narrows to one lane westbound just after the Brampton Parkway intersection. To prepare traffic for this there is a sign just 100 yards before the turn into the development that tells drivers to merge left. The point at which people wait for the turn is just below a crest that partially hides them from the traffic coming from behind. The turn residents must make slopes off to the right and is more than 90 degrees. This requires the turn to be made slowly.

Finally, traffic waiting to turn out of the development must stick out enough to be able to see the westbound traffic. Consequently, as you wait to make the turn into the development you don't watch for an opening in the upcoming traffic, you watch your rear-view mirror. If the first car behind you swerves around you, maybe the car behind them won't see you in time. People in the accidents have watched the accident happen in their rear-view mirrors with no way to stop it.

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