Columbia has issues to deal with Reading my Dec. 30...


January 13, 2002

Columbia has issues to deal with

Reading my Dec. 30 copy of The Sun, I find an article ("Mural churns up a storm"), about a sea-themed mural that the Columbia Association wants painted over, ... Letters to the Editor admonishing the CA for yet another deed of incompetence and someone bashing rich Howard Countians (although it should be Columbians) for stealing towels at CA facilities. Somehow, if I were an outsider, I would draw the conclusion that Columbia has some issues to deal with. As someone who lives next door to Columbia and has once lived in Columbia, I would say they would be correct. Columbia was an interesting experiment in social government that, like most institutions, needs to evolve to survive, even after only 30-some years. Relaxing certain regulations to enable more freedom and revamping their system of governance that pits neighbor vs. neighbor could pay dividends by drawing people back to Columbia instead of the ongoing flight away to communities like Ellicott City and Elkridge.

Yet, after reading the news, I doubt CA gets the message.

Ron McCandless

Ellicott City

`Deer tax' is caused by timid officials

Thank you for your editorial, "Reducing the herd," published on Jan. 8. I am one of the thousands of Maryland drivers who has had frightening encounters with deer on the roadways. Fortunately, neither I nor any member of my family has had an accident or injury - yet! I, like each Maryland automobile owner, am paying a "deer tax" with my auto insurance premium. The "deer tax" is the price that we all pay to cover the cost of accidents and injuries incurred by our fellow drivers as a result of collisions with deer.

I continue to be dumbfounded by the lack of concern about this very expensive and avoidable cost were our politicians able to muster the courage to plan and conduct the managed hunts as your editorial recommended. I can only assume that they are afraid of a very small but very loud group of animal lovers. In Howard County, we recently had the experience of the former County Executive ducking the issue for several years before handing it over to the current County Executive, Jim Robey. Robey agonized for over a year before authorizing a single limited managed hunt. No action has been taken by Howard County for the past couple of years.

I assume that Howard County is representative of all the other jurisdictions in the region in its timid approach to this major problem. I encourage The Sun to continue to focus on this issue and hope that it will stir some timely and positive response among our elected representatives.

Max Buffington

Ellicott City

Pulling a rabbit from redistricting hat

I am aghast at the statements made at [the school board] meeting calling the O'Rourke Plan "superior" to the redistricting plans drawn up by the citizens committee for four reasons.

First, the O'Rourke Plan ignores the feeder school goal for Centennial. The children in the socio-economically-diverse area of Eastern Ellicott City currently attend Dunloggin Middle and should continue with their friends to Centennial. These children attended St. John's Lane Elementary and then were separated from their friends who went on to Patapsco. As my son said, starting eighth grade, he finally felt like he was a real part of Dunloggin and his friendships were finally as well-founded as those of the majority of Dunloggin students who had attended Northfield.

And now he will face another relocation and go to Mount Hebron with the small group of neighbors.

Second, why is socio-economic diversity more desirable at Mount Hebron than at Centennial? The redistricting discussion for at least the last eight years has focused on sending these students to Centennial with their Dunloggin friends. This plan does not recognize the history of the community.

Third, the Boundary Line Adjustment Committee worked long and hard to arrive at three proposals. All of these proposals send the Ellicott City region to Centennial. Both the Mount Hebron and Centennial communities supported these recommendations.

At the public hearings, the Mount Hebron community only spoke about keeping rising sophomores at Mount Hebron. There was no controversy about the lines. The opinions of the committee and the community deserve the consideration of the Board.

Two years ago, I served on the School Equity committee appointed by the former superintendent and the County Executive. One of the recommendations was to get the community more involved in the redistricting process, early in the process. The School Board accepted that recommendation and formed the citizens Boundary Line Adjustment Committee. The members of this [committee] worked long and hard all spring, summer and fall to come up with three plans to propose to the School Board.

And in one fell swoop, the superintendent threw out all of that work and the board concurred like sheep.

It is infinitely disrespectful of all of the work of the committee to then totally diverge from their recommendations. Why form a citizens' committee, if you intend to ignore its recommendations? Therefore, I urge the members of the School Board to choose one of the plans that has been under discussion for the past four months. Pulling a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute is not consistent with open discussion and respect for the views of the Howard County citizens.

Kathleen Sinkinson

Ellicott City

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