Prosecutorial powers are not a publicity toolI am...


March 08, 1998

Prosecutorial powers are not a publicity tool

I am compelled to respond to your Feb. 16 editorial "No guts, no glory," which implied that I should make prosecutorial decisions to attain "glory" for Howard County.

Although I truly love our county, it would be a grave error and a serious breech of ethical duties to use the power of my office for any such purpose.

Just as the power of law enforcement should not be used for political purposes, neither should it serve as a public relations tool.

That The Sun would even suggest this is quite disturbing and illustrates The Sun's lack of understanding of the true nature and purpose of law enforcement and prosecution.

Marna McLendon

Ellicott City

The writer is Howard County state's attorney.

Vote on Key plan based on opinions, not facts

On Feb. 23, the Howard County Council, sitting as the Zoning Board, agreed with the Rouse Co. that its rezoning request for the Key property was justified under the technical criteria for "change and mistake."

This ruling clears the way to consider Rouse's Preliminary Development Plan, which proposes 1,400 homes on 500 acres in southern Howard.

In voting with the majority, Darrel E. Drown and C. Vernon Gray seemed either indifferent to or not cognizant of the fact that a finding of "mistake" must be based upon fact, not opinion.

Their votes came in spite of the observations of their dissenting colleagues, Dennis R. Schrader and Mary C. Lorsung that the narrowly defined technical criteria for "mistake" were clearly not met.

The third member of the majority, Councilman Charles C. Feaga, seemed to apply no principle other than the right of owners to do with their properties as they see fit.

The rights of property owners are important, but they do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they are balanced with the public interest by zoning regulation and established case law.

This decision may be appealed by the broad coalition of citizen groups and private individuals who studied the petition. The spectacle of county citizens spending $30,000 to compel their government to do its duty may be less than riveting because of the intricacies of this case.

However, when we go to the polls this year, we should consider whether our elected representatives have acted in the interests of the entire county.

eoff Silberman


Coverage falls short in western Howard

The Feb. 13 article "Community fear may doom program to aid young men," about the Our House program, contained numerous quotes from the program director and students but no information from residents in western Howard County or the Planning and Zoning Board. The only quote from a resident was taken out of context.

Had there been accurate reporting, The Sun would not have resorted to the word "NIMBYism." The community held three well-attended meetings and organized several committees, which obviously did more research than The Sun.

I attended two of the meetings and was very impressed by the attitude of the community. State Dels. Robert L. Flanagan and Robert H. Kittleman attended the Jan. 30 meeting. In the Feb. 5 edition of the Gazette Community News, Mr. Kittleman was quoted as saying, "I've been to a lot of these meetings. But I don't think I've ever been to one where the people were so reasonable."

Either cover western Howard in detail or leave it to the local publications.

Raymond E. Wojcik


Internet sales of alcohol to adults should continue

I am writing in response to the Feb. 19 article "Internet liquor sale prompts Ehrlich bill to let states take manufacturers to court."

The effort to restrict Internet alcohol sales is being pushed primarily by the liquor wholesaling and retailing industries because they view it as a threat to their profits. The issue of minors ordering alcohol this way is just a convenient smoke screen.

The only legitimate argument is the loss of tax revenue to the state. According to one estimate, the loss to Maryland is about $20,000 per year. The fines that the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Unit have been extracting out of direct shippers probably make the penalty worse than heroin possession.

There are several glaring holes in the "save the children" argument. For minors to obtain alcohol by direct shipment, many things have to happen.

A minor has to have a valid credit card. If a parent's card is used, the parent will find out when the bill comes.

The minor must be willing to pay an inflated price for the product. Ordered items are almost always more expensive because of shipping.

The minor has to wait an undetermined length of time for the items.

The delivery would have to be made when no one was home but the minor.

Most items shipped this way require an adult's signature.

How many kids are going to take these steps when alcohol can probably be obtained more easily from a local establishment, friend or their own home?

Since I have started researching this issue, I have not found even one instance (except government sting operations) in which a minor received alcohol in this way.

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