'If Baltimore dies, it dies' Anti-regionalism: Carroll politician's comments on metro ties could not be more wrong.

March 21, 1997

A SPINNER OF space alien and brain-transplant fantasies in his letters to newspaper editors, Carroll County Commissioner Richard T. Yates now turns to apocalyptic science fiction.

"If Baltimore dies, it dies. Maybe we will dig it up and make farmland out of it," he said recently, in what seems to be wishful thinking on his part. "Why should we bail Baltimore out or be

drawn into its problems?"

Mr. Yates was explaining his vote against Carroll's support of a regional effort to combat racism and Baltimore City's increasing jTC social and economic isolation from the suburbs.

But his unvarnished contempt for the city, and for the difficult societal problems it represents, goes far beyond both reason and reality in representing Carroll County's best interests.

Baltimore's health should be of intense concern to its neighbors, if only from self-interest. Many Carroll residents depend on the city for their livelihoods; they look to the city for culture and entertainment; they have family and friendship ties. If the city dies, it will be a lingering, painful death for the metro area, as well. And it will be a costly one for Carroll taxpayers.

Mr. Yates may think he reflects the distaste of Carroll residents for the city. The county's bedroom-community status attests to an exodus from Baltimore of people who work there but do not wish to live there. Yet that does not mean they want to ignore issues that threaten to uproot both the city and its suburbs. And it certainly does not mean they wish the city would die, leaving a vacuum that will draw the rest of the metropolis down the drain.

As for the issue of racial divisions, which is the focus of the series of discussion groups planned for the region, Mr. Yates is also dead wrong when he declares that "we have no race relations problems here." This is a national issue that transcends political boundaries, as any responsible civic official would admit.

Whether the format is appropriate, whether the sponsoring group is reliable -- these may be legitimate questions about official participation in the initiative.

But Mr. Yates and Donald I. Dell, who also voted "no" and said citizens didn't want the commissioners to talk about racism, do not exhibit responsible leadership in turning their backs on a significant public concern.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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