Fight wasn't against Baltimore

April 20, 1996

YOUR SERIES of editorials attacking the Montgomery County delegation to the state Senate for its opposition to giving Art Modell a $200 million public subsidy have distorted the record.

One of the editorials (March 24, "Ending the regional divide") said Montgomery County senators "viciously attacked" Baltimore in floor debates.

This is an outright falsehood. If you had been in Annapolis for the stadium debate, you would know that no Montgomery County senator uttered one word critical of Baltimore.

You should do your homework before making baseless accusations that inflame regional tensions. Our opposition to the stadium focused exclusively on our view that it was a bad deal for the taxpayer and a misplaced priority at a time when we have more pressing needs.

We would have opposed the Modell stadium just as vociferously regardless of the jurisdiction in which it was to be built.

Some of us opposed spending more than $70 million for infrastructure for the Redskins deal, even though Jack Kent Cooke is paying for his own stadium. No one has accused us of being anti-Prince George's County.

It is a sad day in Maryland when legislators cannot challenge a project on its merits without being accused of being against the jurisdiction in which the project is located.

Your editorials have indicated that it is parochial for legislators to oppose projects outside their jurisdiction and that we should focus only on what we -- not others -- are getting.

In doing so you have turned the meaning of ''parochial'' on its head. The voters elected us to take a statewide perspective and not just worry about what is in our own backyard. Legislators should examine all projects on the basis of whether they are a good investment for the citizens of our state.

Should we turn a blind eye to a project we do not think is in taxpayers' best interest simply because it is outside our jurisdiction?

We have all worked hard to support efforts to meet the very real needs of Baltimore. We have supported APEX, the spending formula that directs the bulk of state education aid to needier jurisdictions. This year we supported legislation that gave Baltimore an additional $12 million for education above what it will receive under APEX.

We have also supported funding for a myriad of other projects in Baltimore, including the National Aquarium, the Children's Museum, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore Community College, Baltimore Streetcar Museum, Lyric Opera House, House of Mercy Center and the Walters Art Gallery.

We concluded that the price tag for the Modell stadium was exorbitant, given other needs in Baltimore and throughout our state. We were joined in that position by many citizens from Baltimore, including PTA representatives, advocates for the homeless and many others who believed Baltimore has more pressing needs than another stadium. Are all these individuals anti-Baltimore?

The Sun has called for an end to the ''regional divide'' between Montgomery County and Baltimore. We suggest that you begin by looking in the mirror and stop writing editorials that are designed more to inflame regional tensions than educate your readers about the real issues at stake.

Sen. Jennie M. Forehand

Annapolis

This letter was also signed by five other members of the Montgomery County delegation to the Maryland Senate.

Pub Date: 4/20/96

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