January 20, 2001

Retiring benefactor

GOING TO bat for those in need has been a lifetime mission of Sylvia Canon.

There's no reason to suspect that will change when the 64-year- old founder and director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County officially retires this month.

Under the direction of Mrs. Canon, HSP has grown from a homeless women's shelter to become the first stop for thousands of folks seeking help with housing, clothing, food or finding jobs. Working with other organizations, the agency aided more than 12,000 people last year.

With more than four decades in social services, Mrs. Canon well knows that many low-income people can fall through the cracks of government assistance programs.

By choosing a January retirement so she could finish another Neighbors in Need holiday campaign, Sylvia Canon gave the community a parting gift of invaluable service.

Fair or generous?

ONE OF THESE statements is true:

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens is feeling really generous.

Or nonunion county employees are doing a really bang-up job.

Ms. Owens approved $938,000 in bonuses and raises for most nonunion workers for the last six months of 2000. Employees with stellar job performance evaluations received rewards ranging from $27 to more than $7,000.

Workers who perform admirably should be rewarded. But eyebrows jump when 77 percent of mostly mid-level managers qualify for merit bonuses

You can bet the county's 800 blue-collar workers will look for equity as they negotiate their next contract. Those employees earned mere 2 percent increases last year. Pay-for-performance might not be a bad idea for them, either, when they excel.

Horse sense?

LET'S SEE IF we've got this straight.

Columbia plans to keep running its costly horse center -- even though it has lost $600,000 over the last two years and is likely to lose more. This at a facility used by only 1 percent (about 870) of the city's 87,000 residents.

But the Columbia Association soldiers on because, well, it subsidizes lots of amenities in Columbia.

The association staff says there's good news here: A new manager has been found. He'll pay $12,000 a year for his lease and make $50,000 in capital improvements every year for at least five years. He'll return 3 percent of any gross revenues over $1 million.

Does the new guy know something the Columbia Association doesn't?

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