Questioning expenses is fiscal prudenceHarold Jackson's...

Letters

February 14, 1999

Questioning expenses is fiscal prudence

Harold Jackson's Feb. 7 column, "Gray reaches summit and finds a surprise," seems to imply that with the Democrats now in charge and C. Vernon Gray firmly in control of the Howard County Council, the Republicans are to accept their minority status and not question the council chair about expenses.

According to Mr. Jackson, questioning the use of taxpayer funds and holding elected officials accountable for their spending is considered "partisan acrimony." I see it as fiscal accountability.

Over the last four years, Republicans held the line on personal spending accounts in their budget, setting an example of fiscal prudence the current council should emulate. The limits set by the Republican-dominated council were adequate for four of the five council members, with only one routinely exceeding the account limits and now calling for major increases.

Mr. Gray used his position as president of the National Association of Counties (NACo) as justification for increasing spending accounts, citing out-of-state travel for him and his special assistant. It seems only appropriate to determine if NACo pays for any of the travel or meeting expenses before increasing county expenditures for that purpose. On inquiry, it was determined that the NACo officers have expense accounts to cover such expenses. Why, then, should the county spending account be increased?

While it is to Howard County's credit to have a council member as president of NACo and indeed, there may be something to be gained by association with county elected officials from across the United States, it should not be used as an excuse for inordinately increasing local expenditures when the national association is prepared to cover expenses.

Nor should race be thrown up as a possible reason for questioning increase.

Fiscal accountability should be politically and racially neutral.

Gail H. Bates

West Friendship

Greenway plan is not green enough

I am concerned about the Patapsco Heritage Greenway Committee's proposals for the Patpsco River Valley.

On Jan. 21, John Slater accepted chairmanship of this committee. He vowed to form an environmental committee immediately. On Jan. 22, he was quoted in The Sun, "I do want to form an environmental committee immediately."

On Feb. 3 at the Patapsco Heritage Greenway Planning Committee meeting, Mr. Slater was questioned on this. He said there was no need to form an environmental committee because enough people with environmental backgrounds were on the planning committee.

When Mr. Slater refers to the proposal for the paved 1.2 mile footpath in the park, he neglects to mention that this paved footpath is proposed to be 10-feet wide. That represents about 15 feet of clearing of trees and plants along the entire length of the path.

No plans are being made to budget for park maintenance once this is done. Patapsco Heritage Greenway planners will look to volunteers to maintain the park. This is an ill-conceived plan that will harm the state park to bring more income into Ellicott City. It should be stopped.

Doreen DeSa

St. Denis

Can't women choose to bare it all?

A headline in The Sun read "Block bares it all legally" (Feb. 5). Subheadlines told of "Completely nude dancers" and said that "legislators rush to cover flaw."

What do those legislators want to do? What happened to a woman's right to choose? Aren't strippers consenting adults?

Shouldn't we leave it to parents to tell their sons not to go to strip joints, and to tell their daughters that, if they do go to strip joints they should keep their clothes on?

William J. Scanlon Jr.

Ellicott City

Miracle on Charles Street

It was with awe that I watched the scene at the Charles Tower Apartments Feb. 5. Imagine a towering inferno high above where firemen can reach, frantic people trying to remain calm, hanging out windows, calling for help. The potential for loss of life was beyond belief.

Then came the miracle workers, up from the ground, down from the sky onto the rooftop. The firemen and police put into action the priority of their job: to protect and save people from harm. It was nothing short of a miracle.

Everyone who helped during and after the fire deserves our thanks.

Mary Ellen Stepowany

Columbia

Schools shouldn't drop D.A.R.E.

In regards to the Feb. 7 article, "Schools seeking to replace D.A.R.E," I was extremely angry considering I just finished the 17-week Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

We found it valuable. It taught how and why to stay away from drugs and violence. D.A.R.E. reduces kids' fear of police.

An older sister participated in D.A.R.E. 12 years ago, and said, "I found D.A.R.E. extremely beneficial in turning me off of the path of ever using any type of drugs." We think it would be terrible to remove the D.A.R.E. program.

Amber Henry

Tamar Hirsch

Columbia

Pub Date: 2/14/99

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