Regional Roundup

July 09, 2000

Anne Arundel County

Brainless act of racism

RACISTS CAN'T tarnish Aris T. Allen's legacy. Sure, they can ignorantly place a pillowcase over his statue's head, but they can't cloak the enlightenment he brought. They can tape Confederate battle flags to the image's hands on Independence Day, but they can't touch what the late African-American legislator stood for -- racial equality and tolerance.

Allen bridged racial divisions while serving in the state legislature over four decades. Nine years after his death, he remains a towering symbol of our attempts to triumph over mindless hate. No act of vandalism will change that.

Aris T. Allen was one of Annapolis' first black physicians and Maryland's first black candidate for statewide office. He was also a Republican, a compassionate one.

When a white segregationist colleague collapsed from a heart attack on the House of Delegates' floor, Allen saved his life. The segregationist cast aside his racist ideas to build a lifelong friendship with Allen....

We have seen too many acts of racial hatred and bigotry recently in Anne Arundel County, including the racist death threat mailed to the county's school superintendent and racism at Southern High School.

The offenders who disturbed the Allen statue should be sought, arrested and sentenced. They should be charged with vandalism, hate crimes and felonious acts of imbecility.

Baltimore County

A sap for a tenant

A TENANT that pays more than $1 million in rent annually should make sure its landlord complies with the terms of the lease. Why Baltimore County didn't make the owners of Investment Building in Towson fix the building's ventilation system -- as required in a 1996 lease -- is puzzling.

The building's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system has been a source of complaints for years. Many of the nearly 700 county and state employees in the building say offices are hot and stuffy. Now the HVAC system is suspected as the cause of the outbreak of respiratory illnesses and rashes among the office workers. Last year, after an employee contracted Legionnaire's disease, the legionella bacterium was discovered in the building's cooling system... Inspectors also have found mold in interior air handling units and ventilation ducts.

As part of the lease renewal four years ago, A.M.G. Realty Partners, the building's New York owners, agreed to remove two aging rooftop ventilation units and replace them with four new ones. The work was never done. Under terms of the lease, the county had the option of doing the work itself and deducting the cost from its rental payments. The county never took advantage of this provision.

The landlord is now beginning to make the needed changes.

Slipshod monitoring of the building and its lease is disturbing. Employees rightly contend that top county officials have failed to look after their health and welfare. Taxpayers also have a right to be upset. The county should be getting value for the money it is spending on its leases. County officials have an obligation to see that the government is not shortchanged at the Investment Building or at any other location where the county pays rent.

Howard County

Risk-reward decision looms

THEY MAY alter it. Almost certainly they will. But pass it they must.

After an exhaustive set of hearings, the county zoning board will hold its last work session on the Maple Lawn Farms proposal Monday night. A straw vote could be taken then.

The board may elect one of three options: Reject as is; approve as is; modify. In the latter case, the project would go back to the county Planning Department for further review.

The developer, Greenebaum & Rose, might also have a decision to make in the event of major changes: Would the project still be financially feasible? If not, the firm might decide to seek an alternative. Many millions have been spent already to acquire about 500 acres in the Fulton area south of Columbia on Route 29....

The project has been controversial. In an area where the underlying zoning is rural residential, the developers would build multi-floor office structures, 495 single-family detached homes, 437 townhouses and 236 condominiums. These numbers could be altered. The developer could be subjected to restrictions on the pace of construction as adjacent roads are improved. But this project could be a showpiece for Smart Growth: work, school and job site would be within walking distance of many who settle there. The idea is sound...

The Sun's editorial writer in Carroll County, Michael K. Burns, is on assignment.

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