Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

December 05, 2004

The Sun shows bias against Ehrlich

I was shocked and confused when I looked at The Sun's front-page map suggesting that all of our state-owned preservation land was up for sale ("The Lay of the Land," Nov. 18). When the story suggested that Freedom Park's 137 acres could be ripe for development by homebuilders, I knew something was wrong.

Your three-page spread was a beautifully photographed attack on our governor that was short on objective reporting and long on artwork and innuendo. No matter that The Sun ran an obscure "correction" inside the paper the next day saying the map was wrong. By then, your message and your agenda was out.

Allow me to clear up some of the confusion. Freedom Park, the gorgeous Kilgore waterfalls in Harford County and many of the other public lands identified in The Sun story are limited to recreational or open space use because they come under federal environmental rules.

The real story here is The Sun's distaste for Gov. Ehrlich's responsible management of the taxpayers' properties and their dollars.

As a candidate for governor, Bob Ehrlich called for smarter management of state assets to reduce a $2 billion structural deficit.

Surprisingly, the previous administration never inventoried billions of dollars in state property that was purchased, managed and maintained with taxpayer money.

Shortly after Gov. Ehrlich took office, the new administration publicly announced that the state would inventory all state property to determine whether it is worth the high cost taxpayers spend to manage it.

Each of us would do no differently. Why keep up grandpa's car if he no longer drives it? Why keep the community pool open all winter if no one uses it?

The governor's inventory applied to all state property -- not just land. He sold off cars and the state yacht, reaping millions in taxpayer savings over the coming years.

He sold a state-owned plane and invested the money in programs that directly help people.

There is no plan now to sell any of the inventoried land, but the governor reserves the right to do so. Like each of us in our own households, the governor aims to responsibly manage the public assets of hard-working Maryland taxpayers.

Less than 1 percent of Maryland's more than 430,000 acres of parks and preservation land has been identified as potential excess property.

For those like Freedom Park, which fall under federal environmental rules, there are only two choices. Either they will be transferred to local government, or the state will keep them.

The governor's office has no intention of allowing open parkland to be developed into housing or shopping centers. In fact, state officials say the federal Department of the Interior has never given permission to any state for housing or commercial development of federally protected parks and open space.

Whether the state opts to keep the land or transfer it to local government, our children and grandchildren can look forward to years of ballgames, hiking and open space at Freedom Park and other public lands throughout Maryland.

Del. Susan W. Krebs

Eldersburg

The writer represents District 9B in the Maryland House of Delegates.

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