County leaders fail to curb development I read with...

LETTERS

March 03, 2002

County leaders fail to curb development

I read with interest the article "Tree pruning bares BGE to county ire" (Feb. 24). Said article dealt with the pruning of trees by BGE along Generals Highway near Crownsville and how said action received the attention of Mrs. Janet S. Owens, Anne Arundel County executive. As a lifelong resident of Northern Anne Arundel County, I experience her concern each day when I travel Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard on my way home to Ferndale from work in Annapolis. Daily, I see building upon building, where not so long ago at least a few trees representing token amounts of open space stood. When Mrs. Owens and the present members of the Anne Arundel County Council were elected, it was my hope that some of the overdevelopment in the area would at least be curtailed. To my disappointment, I see little if any difference between current development and the amount of construction in Northern Anne Arundel County from that of the previous Gary administration. Perhaps a move to the Eastern Shore may be in order, since I now feel like we are residing in the concrete canyons of downtown Baltimore.

Bill Hubbard

Ferndale

Working people deserve not to live in poverty

There is no question, in my mind at least, that the minimum wage should be increased. When Michael Olesker speaks of affordable housing for low-income workers, it is one of the few times that he is correct ("Affordable housing for all? Keep dreaming," Feb. 21). There is absolutely no excuse why somebody who works a 40-hour week should have to live in poverty. But, in all likelihood, that is where the good ideas end. Where would the money come from to pay for a minimum wage increase? Would we end up giving a tax break to the small businesses who would bear the brunt of the burden? I would like to think so, but Mr. Olesker has repeatedly ranted against tax breaks for businesses. Would we be willing to subsidize housing for these working poor, housing that was better and more expensive than the housing given to third-generation welfare recipients? We should, because there should be a difference in the house that a public assistance resident lives in and the house that a working family lives in, just as there is a difference between the housing of the rich and the middle class.

Society and public policy must reward on the basis of a person's contribution to the rest of us, and every worker, skilled or unskilled, has more value to society than a person who does nothing. In many ways, Mr. Olesker is his own worst enemy on this issue.

Were we to decide to build $100,000 town homes subsidized to the working poor, The Sun would soon be filled with the condemnation of liberals upset with the disparity of housing between the poor workers and the poor non-contributors.

Were we to grant housing vouchers to the state's full-time minimum wage workers, and only them, it is Mr. Olesker, not a conservative like myself, who would be upset.

I have seen beautiful public housing, right here in Anne Arundel County, destroyed in a matter of years. I drive by Pioneer Village often, and if we were to pick up the entire complex and place it in rural Maryland somewhere, the working poor of the area would think that they had died and gone to heaven. Instead, it is awash in drugs and crime, often dominating the local crime blotter. Metal plumbing fixtures have been removed and sold for scrap, and street lights have been knocked out so that the police can't monitor the drug deals. This is the public housing story that is told repeatedly across the nation.

The answer is not to build public housing dedicated for that purpose. It always fails. The answer is to pay people a fair living wage and make sure that small businesses can afford the change without going bankrupt. Let hard-working people choose their own housing, preferably a safe neighborhood near where they work, and pay them enough to make it work. We should all agree that a working man or woman should not live in poverty. We would not, however, agree on how much money should be doled out to those people who have repeatedly chosen not to contribute to society.

Michael DeCicco

Severn

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