Apathy in Hickory Village? Nope!What is all this wailing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 22, 1994

Apathy in Hickory Village? Nope!

What is all this wailing about apathy in Columbia villages? Recently, Hickory Ridge took a few editorial zings about the cardboard ballot box, annual jelly bean guess, Election Day flea market and the below-normal number of voters on Election Day. Not too personal, just a little condescending.

But Kevin Thomas' May 1 column that claimed Hickory Ridge residents were apathetic because only four candidates ran for five available village Board positions calls for a response.

Since I became village manager 14 years ago, our village has always had an election race, either for board or council rep, and most often for both. We have always reached our 10 percent quorum. This year's number of candidates is not usual, not even a trend. Did you forget that last year nine people ran for five board seats and three vied for council?

In spite of the lack of a race, 188 residents cast a ballot, either by showing up in person on April 23 or by absentee ballot. They actually put a 29-cent stamp on a ballot or left their yardwork on a sunny day and went to the polling place.

Why? There was no contest. What terrific people.

This year, and every year, 45 street reps and 55 scouts and Brownies distributed more than 3,200 annual report/election newsletters door to door in our village. Were those 100 volunteers apathetic?

After this year's candidates' deadline, our village newsletter advertised that the board was taking applications for the unfilled fifth seat. Five well-qualified residents stepped forth. These applicants heard there was a need, and they wanted to help their community.

Apathy? Not in Hickory Ridge.

Jane Parrish

Columbia

The writer is Hickory Village manager.

Telemarketing

As the operator of a local telemarketing company, I could not help but respond to your recent editorial ("Bake Sales over Telemarketing," April 20), since it brought me a good chuckle.

Let me respond to your comments on two levels:

First, you are absolutely correct. Unnecessary calls, and those that are poorly targeted, regardless of time of day, should be stopped.

So please, Baltimore Sun, stop calling me. I have been a subscriber for more than 10 years, and I still get calls on a regular basis offering me free issues to subscribe. Clean up your shop before you chastise mine. (If you need help scrubbing your list, we will do that for a reasonable fee.)

Second, we recently conducted a fund-raiser for a high school. It was targeted at alumni donations. The school used volunteers for the first group or "hot" list. When that stopped being fun, as it always does with volunteers, the school invited us to help them. We called the "warm" and "cold" lists. The groups apply to the last time, if ever, someone donated.

We generated $14,987 in firm donations, and an unspecified amount of "I'll send something." Our fee was $4,392, netting the school at least $10,595.

We used 183 calling hours and 20 support hours, netting us $4,092 or $20.18 per hour, which pays for labor, phone charges, rent, supplies, insurance, etc. This work also provides jobs for about 15 employees and, yes, some profit.

Did the school benefit? You tell me. Were the call recipients unhappy? Virtually no one hung up, and 35 percent of those called made some commitment, so they could not have been too unhappy. Plus, many of the alumni had not heard from the school in years, and were thrilled to get a call and a chance to talk about their days at the school.

In closing, sure, telemarketing has some negative aspects, and some negative operators. But we're not all bad, all the time, as you paint us.

In fact, your newspaper ran a story about our firm on Jan. 28, 1993, which praised our professionalism, calling us "a model to dispel that negative perception of the fast-growing (telemarketing) industry."

Gotta run . . . my phone is ringing . . . maybe it's your competitor calling for my business.

Malynda Hawes Madzel

Columbia

The writer is president of Custom Telemarketing Services.

Special Needs Education

As a parent of special needs children who attend an older school, it was hard for me to comprehend the logic behind the proposed spending cuts in the Howard County school board's operating budget.

The Howard County executive has proposed a $4.3 million cut from the operating budget. The superintendent's initial suggestion is that these cuts should be made with spending reductions in the teaching pool and equipment expenditures.

It is a possibility that my being a parent of special needs children, who attend an older school in the district, has narrowed my viewpoint as to what are relevant spending cuts, but I have a hard time understanding how we can justify saving money at the expenditure of our children.

Inclusion is here. It is a federal mandate that requires that we include special needs children into regular classrooms.

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