Citizens strive to solve problems Columbia faces...

LETTERS

January 07, 2001

Citizens strive to solve problems Columbia faces

Vision-Howard County is concerned that The Sun's series of articles about Columbia ("Columbia at a Crossroads," Nov. 26-28) and the article "Facing reality in Columbia" (Dec. 24) provided incomplete information.

Both the series and the more recent article by Gady Epstein feature only the problems facing Columbia. They fail to include any information about the ongoing initiatives that address the problems.

In actuality, the level of community involvement and number of programs is astounding.

From after-school programs to revitalization committees, the people of Columbia and of Howard County have stepped up to address the pressing issues.

A Leadership Committee on School Equity was formed and delivered a report to the county executive and the county superintendent of schools.

The Foreign Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN) helps immigrants by providing a variety of services.

The Wilde Lake Revitalization Committee, chaired by County Council chair Mary Lorsung, involves representatives from the private and public sectors, who are evaluating housing stock and neighborhood centers.

Citizens and police together work on the Harper's Choice Community Partnership to improve the village center and neighboring areas.

The Columbia Association's "We Care" program matches hundreds of volunteers and businesses with Running Brook Elementary School.

The Chamber of Commerce's STAR program recruits volunteers from the business community to read with children from Dasher Green Elementary School.

The Horizon Foundation and Howard County government have joined forces to look at two issues affecting us dramatically -- substance abuse and our rapidly growing senior population.

Howard County-A United Vision, a countywide visioning and long-range planning project, has also spawned a number of initiatives.

These include a collaboration with other county entities to establish Preservation Howard County and the creation of a Public Transportation Advocates group to address improving access to and the availability of public transportation.

It is unfortunate that The Sun has failed to acknowledge the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens and agencies that are already addressing the issues, answering the questions and anticipating future needs.

Sandra Trice Gray

Columbia

The writer is president of Vision-Howard County.

Alcohol doesn't excuse anyone's misconduct

As an alumnus and former faculty member of the Johns Hopkins University, I have many memories to cherish from that institution.

Among them is the instruction given me by a counselor at the beginning of my freshman year that Hopkins, as a "wet" campus, viewed students' drinking as the responsibility of the students themselves.

It was pointed out in no uncertain terms that each student was responsible for his own behavior whether drunk or sober. I believe that to be a wise position.

I am, therefore, troubled that Mayor Martin O'Malley, in suggesting that he "would have fired City Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano if he had made the same remarks while sober" ("Housing chief's behavior at bar leads to arrest," Dec. 30), expressed the view that alcohol can actually free one of social responsibility.

Michael Glasgow

Columbia

University system doesn't need AFSCME

I wonder if the public understands what the governor's unionization of the state has cost Maryland's taxpayers -- not just the minimal cost of the benefits to the workers, but the millions of dollars required to manage the process of unionization.

All this was done because of political favors owed to AFSCME by many Maryland politicians. Now these politicians intend to further the union's hold on the state by forcing the unionization of the University System of Maryland (USM).

The governor will introduce another bill this legislative session to impose collective bargaining on the USM, one that will cost taxpayers more millions of dollars to implement and manage.

Ironically, the staff has consistently voted against collective bargaining every year it has been brought before the legislature. This year, our opinion does not seem to matter.

The USM currently has an effective process of shared governance that gives all its employees a voice. The process works well and is addressing every issue on which AFSCME claims it should step in to represent us.

If the collective bargaining bill passes, shared governance will be dead.

Unions will divide the staff and create an atmosphere of contention and animosity. I'm not looking forward to that.

Starrla Levine

Columbia

The writer is an employee of the University System of Maryland.

Clinton should shun her book advance

As long as the Clintons get away with their unethical illegal conduct, they will continue to act as if a different legal and ethical standard applies to them than to the rest of the American public.

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