`Main street hole' isn't mayor's fault


it's the owner's...

March 11, 2001

`Main street hole' isn't mayor's fault; it's the owner's

Regarding your March 6 editorial "Main Street's hole," never have I read such a misrepresentation of the facts in a newspaper that claims to be legitimate.

Let me make one thing clear: It is difficult to see how this disaster is being blamed on me as the mayor of Annapolis.

Further, if the editorial writer had asked a few simple questions, he would have discovered the early efforts to "fast-track" the rebuilding of the structure, which were never consummated because of the land owner's demand that the city waive all fees associated with such construction.

In order to demolish a building in the Historic District, the law requires that plans for the replacement building must be presented first. I realize some may say the law cannot fairly be applied to something as unexpected as a fire, but it is the law nonetheless and something I am sworn to uphold.

To this date, the property owner has yet to present anything close to a rebuilding plan to city officials. Further, he has been frequently quoted as saying he will do absolutely nothing on that site until I leave office. Now there's a great example of cooperation and concern for his neighbors, don't you think?

The hole in the ground is private property for which Ronald Hollander bears sole responsibility. He has recently put the site on the market at a reported $1.85 million price tag.

Hopefully, someone will realize the uniqueness of this particular piece of property -- it is the only one with two addresses on Main Street and three addresses on State Circle -- and purchase the property so redevelopment may take place.

All of this, mind you, will be within the framework of the rules regarding our Historic District. To quote your editorial, "extracting a solution from the property's owner" is problematic when absolutely no communication has taken place since shortly after the fire when the hard edges were first formed.

I have indicated -- usually through the press because I do not seem to be able to speak directly with Mr. Hollander -- that I am willing to listen to any reasonable proposal for the redevelopment of that site.

We do not want a gap-toothed Main Street and have made that clean from the beginning. But until Mr. Hollander chooses to do something, there is little the city can do.

Contrary to the misinformation swirling around this matter, the city does not have the power to condemn the property -- unless for a public purpose. In that case, we would be compelled to pay market price. It would also take a valuable piece of property completely off the tax rolls. If that makes sense to The Sun, I'd certainly like to know why.

For The Sun to attribute the lack of progress to me while holding the property owner blameless is patently ridiculous. The paper's version of leadership sounds a lot more like dictatorship to me.

Dean L. Johnson


The writer is mayor of Annapolis.

Money belongs to us, not to the government

In the letter "Why the government deserves our dollars"(March 3), William Pastille asks The Sun to stop publishing letters that "simply reiterate the outrageous proposition that people's money belongs to no one but themselves." He goes on to state that "this self-serving platitude is not only false but corrodes the civic spirit on which our popular government was based."

I would like to ask The Sun to stop publishing letters from people who have obviously not studied U.S. history, but feel confident that they can quote it anyway.

Our "popular" system was based on the premise that our money is not the government's money. Remember the Revolutionary War? That was not just about taxation without representation, but also taxation in general.

The drafters of the Constitution (and the Articles of Confederation) were very careful in delegating in the powers that the federal government was given.

There was no income tax specified. In fact, about the only real true centralized collection was for "the raising and maintaining of an army." There were only a few signers that believed that the government should be given a broad manatee to collect "taxes" or raise other income. They were severely outnumbered, however.

Apparently, Mr. Pastille has forgotten that it was only with a relatively recent amendment to the Constitution that the government was able to start collecting income tax.

As to Mr. Pastille's comment that "we have a duty to support the government that protects us. Only an ungrateful churl refuses to support a benefactor," I would state that I have served in the U.S. military for 18 years and my wife served for 20 years. We have supported the government.

The U.S. government is not, however, a benefactor to the citizenry. The government serves the citizenry, but only to the extent that the citizenry gives it the authority to do so.

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