Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 04, 2005

Scare tactics don't work on teen drivers

In the 1970s, Howard County high school students attending drivers' education classes suffered through films like "The Last Prom," which featured scenes of horrific car crashes filled with graphic blood and gore. In 2005, Howard County high school students seeking parking permits suffer through the latest incarnation: locally produced videos featuring scenes of horrific car crashes filled with blood and gore.

A tried and true teaching technique? Or, perhaps a well-meaning effort that misses the target of safe teenage driving? Sadly, I think it is the latter.

In our society where graphic violence fills the popular media, there is minimal safety impact from showing teens more scenes of violent death.

What does seem to impress some teen drivers are presentations that emphasize the harsh emotional impacts of automobile accidents.

A high school administrator who told his personal story of losing his child in a car crash made a deep and lasting impression on my 17-year-old son - no pictures of mangled vehicles and bodies, no stern talks from police officers, no carrot-and-stick requirement to obtain a school parking pass.

In Howard County, many parents almost automatically provide cars to inexperienced 16-year-old drivers. Maybe this rite of passage needs to be re-examined. And, at the risk of incurring the wrath of teen drivers and their parents, I'll suggest: for some inexperienced drivers, commuting to high school every day may not be a good idea, parking permits notwithstanding. These are the kind of questions that responsible parents, not just well-meaning school administrators, must examine if we are to really address the issue of teen driving safety.

David White

Ellicott City

Support for wider county smoking ban

I am thrilled that County Executive James N. Robey is considering a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants ("Howard considers ban on smoking," Sept. 2). The restaurant owners who claim that the ban will put them out of business do not realize how much business they have already lost because of the smoking in their establishments.

The owner of Michael's Pub, who made the comment that nonsmokers do not stay as long, should talk to a few nonsmokers who leave early. He's likely to hear that they have to leave because they can't stand the smoke. The air in Michael's Pub is so toxic that nonsmokers can't stay as long as smokers because the secondhand smoke is killing them! And I am one of those nonsmokers who never steps foot in Michael's Pub because of that. I value my health and that of my family's far too much.

If you consider that 9 out of 10 Howard countians do not smoke, logic should tell these owners that they stand a good chance of increasing their business when the air is safer to breathe.

Debra Kubecka Annand

Columbia

Residents' voices unheard by CA

In a democracy, an elected representative must serve both his constituents and the whole community. This is so easy for some issues that a computer could serve the purpose. Other decisions require careful consideration as well as knowledge of the facts. Occasionally the representative must seem to vote against the interests of his own constituents because it is right for the whole community or because of information that only he and his co-representatives have.

A limited amount of those facts must be kept confidential, primarily personnel matters, cases in court or about to be litigated or ongoing price negotiations. These exceptions do not justify building the Iron Curtain that CA has constructed to keep Columbia residents from having a voice in important decisions affecting their lives. The first Iron Curtain was built to keep the subject peoples of Eastern Europe in. The Iron Curtain in Columbia is used to keep Columbia lien-payers and residents out - away from the data and facts on which CA directors base their decisions and actions.

Knowledge is power, and this Iron Curtain is clearly used to maximize the power of the staff and directors of CA and feed Columbia residents only the thin gruel of a high-powered PR effort, ironically funded by their own liens.

Critics of CA are branded as spoilers and anti-Columbia. CA claims a monopoly on the interpretation of the vision of James Rouse. Many who came to Columbia because of that vision of an open, shared community have been deeply disappointed. Some directors of CA have been intimidated and led by the nose by legal advisers who are paid by and thus are responsible, not to the directors but to the president of CA, an employee of those directors.

Under these circumstances, most of the directors of CA are failing in their fiduciary duty of oversight of their employees and their actions.

Henry D. Shapiro

Columbia

Affordable housing central to community

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