Don't let De Francis' case doom slotsThis is in response...


July 28, 1996

Don't let De Francis' case doom slots

This is in response to The Sun's article of July 17 by Tom Waldron and C. Fraser Smith.

Before a snowballing trend begins to form, jumping to the conclusion that Joseph A. De Francis' actions have doomed slot machines for Maryland race tracks, let's try to take a rational look at this.

Thoroughbred horse racing has a centuries-old tradition in this state. We are not a Johnny-come-lately by any means. We have fourth- and fifth-generation families of Maryland taxpaying citizens who are in the horse business full-time. Tens of thousands of people draw their earnings directly or indirectly as a result of the racing industry. A large percentage of Maryland's farmland is used for producing horses or the grain and hay that is necessary to sustain horses.

The business of horse racing has changed drastically in recent years as a result of more states turning to racing to save their local economies and the global world that computer technology has created. Changes happen in nanoseconds and those able to respond the fastest survive and those who can't fall by the wayside.

Every change that Mr. De Francis has come to Annapolis to ask for has, as a result, kept Maryland competitive with those other states that have entered the industry. To read Messrs. Waldron and Smith, one is lead to draw the conclusion that the state is somehow losing something with each of these changes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The state of Maryland draws more revenue from racing now than at any other period in history. The proposal that our industry (not just Mr. De Francis) brought to Annapolis had the state being the biggest beneficiary, not the loser.

Our close neighbor to the north, whose track was on the verge of non-existence just a few years ago, has added slot machines to their menu. As a direct result of this and the day-long simulcasts that are available during slot operations, Delaware now has purses that are attracting horses not just from Maryland, but from major markets such as California and New York. Their parking lot is loaded with cars bearing Maryland license plates as well as many others.

Mr. De Francis did not create the system. He is just trying to do everything he can to convince the legislature to do what it should have done without prompting. This legislation is good. It is fair to all parties involved. Political graft should not be necessary for those people in Annapolis to do what is most beneficial to the taxpaying citizens who voted them in.

Don't deny slot legislation to punish Mr. De Francis. Pass it to benefit the mutuels' clerks, the hotel restaurant and beverage employees, the veterinarians, the stable employees, the jockeys, the horsemen, the farmers, the parking lot attendants -- and the state of Maryland.

Steven E. Davidson

New Windsor

Controlling growth? I think not

While everyone is trying to decide who is in control of Carroll County, we the citizens sit by and watch as our property values stagnate. This county is a dream-come-true for the housing industry, while soon to become a nightmare for home owners.

Our homes, our largest investment, are in the hands of ideologues out to prove a point that they are in control. Of what I ask?

Why are we building $140 million worth of schools? To control growth? I think not.

Why are we spending $60 million on road work? to control growth? I think not.

Why did Carroll County Commissioner Richard Yates not show at a planning commission meeting that allowed 200-plus houses in South Carroll?

Why are the county Board of Education and housing industry having meetings together?

Why are we forming a new master plan when the last one wasn't used?

To control growth? I think not.

Michael Willinger


Hiltz says management isn't just about numbers

According to recently published newspaper reports, some citizens in South Carroll have publicly expressed concerns about my growth management record in Carroll County, particularly the Freedom area.

Apparently, the basis for their concerns is a statistic indicating that over the last six months, I have voted to approve approximately 70 percent of the subdivisions when a certifying agency has indicated an inadequate public facility.

Although I have not independently verified that statistic, I do not dispute it. What I do dispute is the conclusion that has been drawn from this incomplete information.

A planning commission member who votes to approve nine I-lot subdivisions and disapprove one 50-lot subdivision has a so-called "90 percent approval rating" and has approved nine lots. A member who votes to approve only the one 50-lot subdivision has a so-called "10 percent approval rating" and has approved 50 lots. In this simplified example, the "10 percent" person has voted to approve more than five times the impact on public facilities.

With that as context, I offer the following concerning my voting record over the past six months:

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