Columbia group isn't promoting public interest The...

LETTERS

March 04, 2001

Columbia group isn't promoting public interest

The Sun's article about the inadvertent leak of an e-mail message from Jean Moon is opening the eyes of Columbia's residents ("Lobbying for new council," Feb. 14). And by now, the contents of her embarrassing message along with the names of people on her mailing list have started circulating in the community.

I have respected Ms. Moon for her involvement in the community and achievements through the years. But while I defend her right to work with others to find and promote candidates for the council, just as any other citizen can, I detect a darker side to her tactics.

According to the article, her message states that her group wants to find and promote council candidates who "appear to" have the community's welfare at heart.

Her choice of words is revealing -- she wrote "appear to" rather than "actually"; this implies her group will try to fool unsuspecting people of Columbia into thinking its candidates have the interests of residents at heart, when they really don't.

People should be very wary ofMs. Moon's group, Vote 01. After all, this was the same group that last year promoted the candidacy of the current chairman of the council, Lanny Morrison.

In the last year, Mr. Morrison has instigated a lot of the turmoil and dysfunctional actions of the council. He botched the CA president selection process, led the move to remove the cap on CA taxes, pushed to annex the Rouse Co. properly in North Laurel, arranged a money-losing deal for leasing CA's horse center and withheld information from the public and even from other council members.

If Mr. Morrison is an example of the kind of new council members Ms. Moon wants, the residents of Columbia have good reason to reject her candidates at the polls in April.

Alex Hekimian

Columbia

The writer is president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia.

Smart growth isn't smart public policy

Smart Growth is a state policy based on rhetoric and opinion, rather than sound judgment and well-researched analysis. This policy requires that all future growth receiving state funding be mid- to high density, yet no studies exist to show this is in fact in the public interest.

Much of the justification for this policy centers around reducing traffic and automobile use. However, because we are an automobile-based society, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, the requirement for mid- to high-density development may increase pollution and congestion.

Sprawl may require more roads, but spreading traffic, as opposed to concentrating it, makes good environmental sense because it reduces the intensity of pollutants and cuts lost time spent sitting on congested roads.

California is a good example of a place that has implemented Smart Growth -- more because the mountains and the Pacific Ocean constrain sprawl than because of policy decision.

But the results are alarming. Broad highways with light rail in the median are crowded at all times. Air pollution is a constant problem.

And there is enormous social cost from the lack of privacy and quiet that results from dense development. Crime is high. Walled and gated communities belie the notion that high-density development encourages the intermingling of diverse groups.

Entrenching the half-baked Smart Growth idea with a large state bureaucracy is exactly the wrong approach. The policy should be repealed and the counties should judge for themselves what works best.

There will be very different land- use planning needs in, say, Baltimore City and Washington County. That is only common sense, something sorely lacking in Smart Growth.

Smart Growth is a sound-bite, not a sound public policy. One-size land-use policy dictated from Annapolis does not fit Maryland's diverse needs.

John W. Taylor

Highland

Limiting cell phone use would make roads safer

Maryland politicians seem to show little backbone, conscience, and concern for the safety of the citizens they represent.

Maybe that is why this state is so far behind when it comes to enforcement of drunken driving laws. And why our elected officials have twice voted against legislation to limit cell phone use.

When driving and using a cell phone, one hand is (I hope) on the steering wheel and the other is holding the cell phone. How then does one use his or her signals?

The driver can't steer, hold a cell phone and activate turn signals --all at the same time.

Some will argue that using a cell phone is no different than eating, tuning a radio, looking for something in the glove compartment or lighting a cigarette while driving. But those things don't require full concentration and aren't done through the duration of the drive.

Just as in the cases of tobacco use and drunken driving, many, many deaths will have to occur before the politicians think about peoples' lives, rather than dollars or their personal pleasures.

Let's turn the cell phones off while driving and the turn signals on.

Darrell E. Davis

Columbia

State's cost overruns frustrate taxpayers

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