Million debt isn't a Columbia 'red herring'I feel it...

A $90

September 29, 1996

A $90 million debt isn't a Columbia 'red herring'

I feel it necessary to correct an injustice done to the people of Columbia by Mike Rethman's letter of Sept. 8. He claims the amount of the Columbia Association's debt is irrelevant. He calls it a "red herring."

It is appropriate, even ironic, that Mr. Rethman picked this term. The phrase means, "something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand." His letter was a red hearing. First, how irrelevant is a $90 million debt that continues to climb at a rate of $1 million a year? It is important to note that our elected officials have no debt management program. They choose not to listen to the voters when told don't build it, we don't want it, we won't use it. They continue to spend our money and build facilities just because CA management says they will eventually make money. It is also worthwhile noting that each and every one of us who pays the annual lien is responsible for this debt to the tune of about $3,000-plus a piece. Does that make it more relevant?

Second, what sense does it make to build facilities that very few, if anyone, wants? Where did the original idea for these facilities come from? I am reasonably certain they did not originate with our Columbia Council.

According to Rob Goldman's own numbers, only a small percentage of our residents would use the facilities five or more times a year. According to him, that percentage is enough to make the project profitable. According to him, two-thirds of the people polled would never use or use only once a year these multi-million dollar white elephants.

Of course, he and hired consultants would be expected to tell the Columbia Council about future potential profits. Consultants earn their money by spinning the truth so that it is acceptable to the client. It is noteworthy that, according to CA's own budget statements, only two athletic clubs are profitable. Absolutely everything else is losing money. Given that track record, why should we expect new projects to make money?

Third, why do we elect people with no vested interest in our community to run our community? Our community leaders should, at the very least, own property in the community and be registered voters in the state of Maryland. If we have no such requirement for our village boards and council, perhaps we should.

I call upon all 10 members of our Columbia Council to voluntarily state, for the record, whether or not they own property in Columbia and whether or not they vote in Columbia. Without a vested interest in the outcome of community-related decisions, theirs is nothing more than an exercise of power and authority that can very easily be bought and sold.

There are problems here. They cannot be talked away and I am not convinced they can be worked out. Every few years for the last 20, there has been some type of incorporation attempt. Columbia governance poses a convoluted problem that depends on your apathy to keep itself fat and happy. If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always gotten.

Neil Noble


The writer is treasurer of the Columbia Municipal League, Inc.

Not all coaches opposed no-pass, no-play rule

Having read your editorial concerning the Howard County school board's decision to significantly upgrade athletic eligibility standards, I feel obligated to respond to one of your major assumptions.

You stated that this new policy was passed despite opposition from the Howard County Parent-Teacher-Student Association and Howard County coaches. To my knowledge, only one coach spoke in opposition to this proposal. However, many of us feel differently and are generally supportive of the new upgrated standards. As a matter of fact, some coaches like myself have for years held members of our teams to higher academic standards than those mandated by the county.

Dave Greenberg

Ellicott City

The writer is a counselor and coach at Centennial High School.

Governor Ecker would help GOP

The title of your Sept. 2 editorial, "Governor Ecker?," will hopefully be repeated many times starting in 1998 without the question mark.

Chuck Ecker is certainly a man for all seasons. As the able Howard County executive in his second term of office, he has established himself as his own man, working for the good of the county. This sometimes means crossing party lines or whatever it takes to work for the benefit of all the people.

Bill Shepard suggests (letter, Sept. 7) that Chuck Ecker should run on the Sauerbrey ticket. An interesting alliance, but only if the roles are reversed. I trust that the Republican Party will discover what a jewel it has in its midst. ...

Frederick Everhart


Howard becoming overdeveloped

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