Board froze public out on year-round issueThe League of...


March 10, 1996

Board froze public out on year-round issue

The League of Women Voters of Howard County is very concerned with the process involved in the vote on Dec. 14, 1995, on year-round schools for Howard County. This arbitrary decision did not include the public.

The county Board of Education's action abrogated the decision-making process which normally includes citizen input. Our citizens were lead to believe that their voices were important and welcomed, as this brief history of events outlines.

The board received the year-round education committee's report on Oct. 26, 1995 at a regular meeting, at which time an agenda was announced for public participation on the question. There were to be a public hearing on April 2, 1996, for citizens to express their opinions; a work session on April 18 for the board to discuss the question, and a vote by the board on April 28.

On Dec. 14, the Columbia Flier published the school board agenda for that evening's meeting, which indicated that "changes in estimated savings deriving from a possible year-round education schedule will also be discussed." In other words, information would be updated but there was no hint of a final vote. However, after a motion by Stephen Bounds, with only Linda Johnston dissenting, the school board voted "no" on year-round education.

Our board is concerned that the decision, especially from a fiscal standpoint, was shortsighted. We hope the board will reconsider the question in the not-too-distant future.

Rosemary E. S. Mortimer


The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of Howard County.

BFI was not 'fired' over compost odors

Maryland Environmental Service did not "fire" BFI as the operator of the Dorsey Regional Composting Facility, as erroneously reported in your newspaper on Feb. 21. This is completely untrue.

The exceptionally wet fall season, combined with the "Blizzard of '96," created unusually difficult site conditions. As a result, significant changes in day-to-day operations were called for that were beyond our existing contract. Renegotiating the contract could have been costly to both MES and the counties using the facility.

Instead of entering into protracted negotiations with the possibility of costly contractual remedies and an uncertain outcome, BFI and MES both felt that their mutual interests would be best served by transferring site responsibilities to MES. BFI was the first to suggest early termination as the most expeditious resolution. MES has every intention of considering the company for future MES projects and possible processing and off-site marketing of the compost material.

James W. Peck


The writer is director of Maryland Environmental Service.

Publisher's arrest wasn't about race

I do not like it at all that The Sun should elevate the arrest of John J. Oliver Jr. to the status worthy of even an editorial. I understand the community of ink-stained wretches rallying around a fellow of such enormous import, but it comes at the expense of diminishing respect for the front-line troops charged with the Herculean task of policing an ever-lawless society that seems to think minor infractions of order do not count and major ones are someone else's fault.

The man did not pay his fines for ignoring the law and now is suffering the consequences. As a respected African-American journalist, he ought to be pointing that fact out to his readership and the cheap-shot Sun editorialists ought to worry about his role in making some black kids' perceptions of police lower when the bias issue has been ruled out in the reporting.

In my own experience, I have been through this exact same thing: In another city, carted off to jail on a sunny Saturday morning, big plans for the day ruined because I "forgot" to pay a ticket or two in the previous year. Same thing: dirty, noisy, puke-caked cells, belligerent neighbors, expressionless turnkeys and finally 10 hours later, I was led shackled, a male prostitute on one arm and a burglar/junkie on the other, careerists both, to a judge in a courtroom that had more in common with a bus terminal, who dispatched justice with a $90 cash bail and a future inconvenient court date to square away my legal obligation once and for all. Except, as if it means anything, I'm white, the cop who bagged me was white, the judge was white and more than half of the 20 or so tenants at the downtown lock-up were white, too.

Mr. Oliver and The Sun need to revisit this issue from a more useful angle.

John J. Snyder


Fix welfare? Get rid of poor people

I read in The Sun on Feb. 9 that the governor is proposing to set a five-year lifetime limit on cash payments to the poor and require recipients to find work in two years or else be placed by the state into community service jobs. "People could receive help with child care, health care or transportation to a job but would get cash only as a last resort."

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