To compete county must alter its revenue cap While I...


April 23, 2000

To compete county must alter its revenue cap

While I take a back seat to no one in affirming County Executive Janet Owens' compassion, I would respectfully suggest that competitiveness, not compassion, is motivating Ms. Owens to negotiate more generous contracts for county teachers, police officers and firefighters ("With county tax cap, who can afford nice?" column, April 9).

The fact is that Anne Arundel County is losing its competitive edge.

Already, 43 veteran police officers have left the county for greener pastures elsewhere and the county's starting pay for teachers ranks 18th among 24 Maryland jurisdictions.

Moreover, with anticipated retirements and enrollment increases, we know that Anne Arundel County will have to hire hundreds of new teachers in the next five years.

We believe that most Anne Arundel Countians would prefer that their child's teacher or the police officer who responds to their call is the best qualified person available, not just warm bodies filling an open slot.

Certainly, employing an adequate number of teachers, police officers and firefighters is not debatable.

And the fact is that the inter-County rivalry for the best people is so fierce that Ms. Owens has no choice but to offer competitive contracts.

Norris West is correct when he says that "the tax cap remains bolted in place," and that Ms. Owens has a "fiduciary responsibility" to balance the county budget.

More significant, a balanced budget is mandated by the County Charter.

And, to balance the budget, Ms. Owens will do what every other county executive who has lived under the revenue cap has done before her: She'll defer such projects as road resurfacing, library and fire station construction and school maintenance and reconstruction.

The county's property tax revenue cap has been in force for eight years and we believe that it deserves a second look.

We are not urging its repeal, but we do advocate a modification that would allow county government the flexibility needed to function successfully in a highly competitive environment.

The one-word change we propose to the cap is a reasonable approach to an emerging problem.

It should be enacted now, before an "emerging problem" becomes a "mounting crisis."

Robert O. Kramer


The writer represents Citizens for a Competitive Anne Arundel County.

President Clinton has no shame at all

I watched President Clinton on the news last week declaring that his emergence, unscathed, from the impeachment trial, saved the Constitution of the United States.

How far will he go to try to create a legacy?

I've seen his "spin doctors" magically transform evil into good, for almost eight years. I never thought that the public would swallow the obvious lies and distortions, but they did.

They re-elected Mr. Clinton and have given him overwhelmingly positive approval ratings. Perhaps this approval has emboldened him and his cohorts.

But, Bill Clinton "The Savior of the Constitution of the United States?"

Pardon me, but I think I'm going to throw up.

Ron Parsons

Glen Burnie

Navy doesn't employ any drill sergeants

Columnist Mona Charen "Pitfalls of gentler military" (Opinion * Commentary, April 11) obviously doesn't know much, if anything, about the U.S. military.

She writes, "At the Great Lakes Naval Training Base, drill sergeants look the other way...

Anyone who knows anything about the Navy knows it doesn't have any sergeants, much less drill sergeants.

Norman Schwarz

Glen Burnie

Protesters were right to target World Bank

While The Sun avoided any real discussion of the issues igniting the protests in Washington against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, it launched a blanket condemnation of the demonstrators as arrogant true believers bent on denying the rights of those who disagree with them ("The wrong way to exercise a right," editorial, April14).

The demonstrators, The Sun said, speak not for the poor, but for themselves.

The poor, like African-Americans in the segregated South, need all the advocates they can get.

Like the protesters of the civil rights era, these advocates and those for whom they are speaking may have to inconveniencet those in power.

If, as the protesters claim, economic development projects sponsored by these institutions displace hundreds of thousands of people, impoverish them with starvation wages, destroy the environments of Third World nations in the name of "economic growth" and ignore human rights abuses of investment-friendly governments, then it is not only a right but an obligation to impede the work of the World Bank and the IMF.

What is needed is an international system based on the needs of all people, not just wealthy investors.

Lee Lears


Out of the frying pan and into the fire?

I read the article about the Wilkey family who, like many other families our country, are plagued by ALS ("Facing a deadly problem" April 12).

I can't imagine the fear of waiting to see if this disease will change and ultimately end your life or the life of someone you love.

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