Citizens group plans campaign to draw voters to the...

April 02, 2000

Citizens group plans campaign to draw voters to the polls

Organizers of a grass-roots group hoping to influence next month's Columbia Council elections are urging voters to express their dissatisfaction with Columbia Association President Deborah 0. McCarty at the polls.

Citizens for Columbia, a recently formed group whose mission is to "get out the vote" in village elections April 14 and 15, held an hour-long meeting Wednesday to devise strategies and ask questions of council candidates in attendance.

Four villages - Harper's Choice, Hickory Ridge, Oakland Mills and Town Center - have contested council races this year.

Bob Moon, a longtime resident of Harper's Choice, said voter participation is so low most years that the elections all but "happen by accident." He called the situation on the council a leadership debacle.

Mediator for Columbia is hired without bids

A consultant trying to smooth the recent controversy centered on Columbia Association President Deborah 0. McCarty was hired without bids and was referred by a close friend of the Columbia Council chairman.

McCarty approved spending up to $25,000 to hire Steve BeaD, of Columbia-based Beau Consultations, for transition, facilitation and public relations consulting." The purchase requisition cited "emergency procurement procedures."

All 10 emergency purchases" approved without bids in the first three-quarters of the fiscal year were related to utility restoration or emergency repairs.

McCarty says she requisitioned the funds on an emergency basis "because we're very well aware that there are a lot of concerns in the community and we're trying to address those."

Judge sets date for ruling on evidence in Tripp trial

A Howard County Circuit Court judge says she will make a ruling by May 5 on what evidence, if any, state prosecutors can use in their illegal-wiretapping case against Linda R. Tripp.

The announcement was made after a two-hour hearing Wednesday in which Tripp's lawyers attacked key witness Monica Lewinsky's credibility, calling her a 'liar," and asked Judge Diane 0. Leasure to throw out the case against their client.

State prosecutors defended their investigation, saying a small portion of the evidence was tainted by Tripp's immunized testimony to federal authorities investigating President Clinton in 1998. They are asking Leasure to allow them to proceed to trial.

Leasure said she would post her ruling on the Internet by 2 p.m. May 5.

Judge upholds change by zoning board

A major Columbia-style development in Howard County has moved a step closer to reality.

Circuit Judge Diane 0. Leasure ruled last week that the Howard County Zoning Board made no "error of law" when it changed zoning to make way for development on the 516.9-acre Key property in North Laurel.

The Rouse Co. plans to build a mixed-use development that would consist of 1,200 apartments, townhouses and single-family homes and 1 million square feet of retail and service space.

Opponents claim the development will strain area roads; they plan to appeal the decision.

Alton J. Scavo, senior vice president of the Rouse Co., said he expects home sales to begin in 2002.

Howard Co. animal shelter to be open every Saturday

After weeks of complaints, Howard County Police Chief Wayne Livesay has announced that he will open the county's animal shelter every Saturday.

The shelter's hours will be 10 am. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, Livesay said, instead of the former twice-a-month schedule. The new schedule began yesterday.

In addition, Livesay said he is upgrading the shelter's record-keeping system and has requested two more full-time employees for next fiscal year.

The chief also is asking for $200,000 in capital budget funds to plan a two-year improvement program.

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