Letters to the Editor


July 18, 2004

Lawn-cross incident, meeting hostility tied

The African American Coalition of Howard County (AACHC) takes the position that the hate crime cross burning attack on the Ellicott City home of Dr. Kimberly Statham and her family has direct roots in the hostility exhibited at the recent community meeting at Centennial High School ("Possible hate crime investigated," July 9). We observed at that Centennial meeting expressions of blatant hostility from some teachers and teachers' union members who had no respect for persons with a different opinion. The hostile attitudes and actions of some Howard County teachers and union members that night were illuminating as to the nature of the hostile learning environment that black children face daily in some classrooms and that their parents face when they advocate for education of their children.

The Howard County Police Department is actively investigating the hate crime incident of the cross burning. We hope and expect that the police investigation of the cross burning hate crime will have more success than the recent investigation of the hateful anonymous e-mail. The action of the perpetrator of that anonymous e-mail was prologue to the action of the cross burner.

There are good teachers and administrators in the Howard County Public School System who now must have the courage to come forward and directly challenge those in the classroom, administration and the union who are a disgrace to the teaching profession. The children, their parents, the business community and political community will support you when you come forward.

Ken Jennings


The writer is vice president for operations of the African American Coalition of Howard County.

Charter panelist expresses frustration

It was good to see the two Republican members on the Howard County Council go along with the three Democrats and permit the citizens of the County to vote on whether to allow the Council to approve an ordinance that would fill vacancies on that body by special election. But it was frustrating to sit there and watch them repeatedly, by not saying much more than the word "No," kill one charter amendment after another that had been proposed by the county's Charter Review Commission (of which I was one of fifteen members).

Now I see Council member Merdon has been quoted ("Proposal to limit tax increases is rejected," July 7) as inferring that the county's voters wouldn't be able to understand more than two of the commission's sixteen recommendations at a time. As quoted, he said: "I think it's too much. People look at it and go blank."

While some of the proposals may have seemed complex to Council member Merdon, they were deemed worthwhile by the vast majority of commission members and some of them should not have been all that hard to grasp.

Surely the voters would have been able to understand the one "deleting references to the defunct Metropolitan District Commission" and "eliminating certain transitional provisions which have been accomplished" or the the one effectively making the anti-discrimination language of the charter conform to that of the Code.

The two-by-two approach seemingly advocated by Mr. Merdon would take us sixteen years to accomplish some pretty basic charter cleanup. I say that it shouldn't have to be that way.

Kenneth A. Stevens


Revenue authority for county is overdue

Congratulations to County Executive Jim Robey for taking action to preserve the Merriweather Post Pavilion for county residents. The idea of establishing a Revenue Authority for Howard County is long overdue. Councilman Ken Ulman is correct in identifying this as a useful tool.

The benefits of this facility have been established during its 37 years of existence. However, its full potential has not been realized because management has not taken advantage of the huge increase in population or the change in demographics.

In opposing this idea, Councilman Allan H. Kittleman is partially correct when he states that "the purpose of government is to promote essential services that aren't really provided by private industry." Unfortunately, private industry often takes the position of opposing competition which would result in more affordable services. Howard County has examples of organizations and nonprofits that avoid taxes which would provide for the general welfare.

Also, the no-tax crowd should be pleased that the county is taking steps to add to the general revenue fund by means of user fees rather than taxes. Timbers at Troy Golf Course is the paradigm upon which the County should build. The course provides affordable golf for all county residents and in the next decade when the debt service is retired it will become even more affordable for seniors, youth, and other residents of the county.

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