Letters To The Editor


December 04, 2005

Record set straight on library book sales

I am writing in response to the Nov. 30 article entitled "Library administrators go online to clear shelves of surplus books," which outlined our partnership with SuperBookDeals to sell a segment of our discarded and donated books on the global Internet marketplace. While the piece captured the essence of the partnership, the initiative's beginnings, as well as the revenue generated, need some clarification.

Although we would like to take credit for developing the idea, it was County Council member Ken Ulman who suggested the arrangement, introducing us to SuperBookDeals' President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Myers. We are grateful for this evolving partnership, which has proved immensely beneficial to the library through improved staff efficiencies and additional revenues.

With regard to revenues, the library has received more than $14,000 from SuperBookDeals' sales. The online sales replaced only the ongoing sale of discarded and donated items previously held at our central library (we continue such sales at our five other locations). The $5,000 figure that was reported in the article is the overall increase in the amount of money raised through all book sales this year over last.

Valerie J. Gross

The writer is director of the Howard County Library .

School system fails Atholton High

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) deserves an "incomplete" grade for its failure to handle the sick building syndrome at Atholton High School ("Acceptable air," The Sun, Nov. 27). The superficial investigation by HCPSS's consultant failed to take air samples for mold spores and endotoxins that can be associated with the health symptoms experienced by teachers and students at Atholton.

The consultant's report states, "Information presented did not demonstrate a consistent association between building conditions and teacher health." Not only does the consultant lack a physician's credentials to make such a statement, but that statement ignores the numerous health symptoms suffered by teachers and students at Atholton.

Over 15 teachers have complained of medical symptoms associated with the musty environment at Atholton, and some have undergone serious treatments for their ailments, like repeated sinus operations, daily lung irrigations and laboratory tests confirming mold in their blood. Students are affected also as they constantly parade to the tissue box in some classrooms.

Some simple solutions are available, though. HCPSS can hire an environmental microbiology consultant to conduct more detailed air sampling. Also, the school system can use the services of the regional Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), The Mid-Atlantic Center for Child Health, to get to the bottom of Atholton's problem.

It's time for HCPSS to stand up and do the right thing for the health of students and teachers at Atholton.

Elizabeth Snyder

Ellicott City

Banneker Room needs new photos

Are our county officials up to the simple challenge of putting some pictures on the walls of the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building that display Howard County as it exists today?

This is the very room where zoning decisions are made. Is the County Council/Zoning Board not proud of its decisions or previous decisions made by its predecessors? I ask this question because anyone that has been in this room sees 15 pictures, and not a one shows Howard County as it exists today.

Why don't we see any pictures displayed of Columbia? Why don't we see any pictures of areas such as Turf Valley, Emerson, Columbia Crossing, Dobbin Center, Savage Mill, Elkridge, Cherry Tree, or the developing Maple Lawn? No pictures of present-day Howard County implies that our county is living in the past, and has overlooked the present. County officials should zone in on reality so the true picture can be seen.

Stuart M. Kohn


Anti-smoking group backs county ban

On Nov. 21, a hearing was held before the Howard County Council on CB 71-2005, which would provide a total smoking ban in all public places.

Whereas progressive county councils like those in Montgomery, Prince George's and Talbot counties have shown concern for public health by passing total smoking bans, the Howard County Council seems to be retreating into the 19th century.

The flimsy excuse provided by council members Rakes, Merdon and Feaga is that it will negatively affect the economy, even though this excuse has been refuted by dozens of studies in states, counties, cities and foreign countries where such laws exist.

Every poll taken at the local, county, state or national level shows overwhelming support for such legislation. It is interesting to note that during the most recent elections in Washington, the only three incumbents who opposed a similar bill were defeated. If the incumbents on the county council wish to pursue future public service, I recommend that they listen to the constituents they are elected to represent.

This is a nonpartisan issue. The Maryland Group Against Smoker's Pollution will actively work with other health organizations to oppose the election of any lawmaker that votes against these health bills.

John H. O'Hara

President, Maryland GASP

Smoking ban betrays businesses

The bill that is before the Howard County council to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars should be withdrawn.

It is a betrayal to those owners who, in the spirit of cooperation, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide smoke-free accommodations. It should be up to those owners to run their business as they see fit, not those who have no capital invested. Secondly, it is a further erosion of personal liberty of those who wish to smoke in a social atmosphere.

Government should serve all the people; not the most vocal. It's enough to make me want to join the NRA.

Gene Billek


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