Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor

July 16, 2006

Safety in schools is commendable

On behalf of the Carroll County Public School System, I would like to express my appreciation to our law enforcement agencies here in Carroll County for their support and assistance throughout the school year.

I would especially like to commend them for their guidance and cooperation with the school system as we dealt with a number of rumors and allegations of possible threats at the end of the school year.

We value our relationship with these agencies and are fortunate here in Carroll County to have such outstanding professionals who work hard every day to protect our students and our community.

To be successful, students must have an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. I have often said that a school is one of the safest places a student can be. I feel confident in saying this because of the leadership of our staff and administrators and the partnership we have with our law enforcement community.

Charles Ecker Superintendent of Schools

Surplus assertions are incorrect

Haven Shoemaker wrote, "One of the reasons the state has a surplus is that the legislature has continued to cut funding to local governments."

This assertion is incorrect. Review of the 2006 Legislative Session, written by the Department of Legislative Services states, "The state budget provides record support for local programs and services in 2007. State aid to local governments will total 11.9 percent increase over the prior year. State aid increased by 11.5 percent in 2005, 9.7 percent in 2006."

Shoemaker also wrongly asserts that the current delegates have not delivered tax relief. We urged the governor to give a tax cut, having gone from a $4 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus.

The governor won a cut in the property tax rate from 13.2 cents to 11.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. The director of Legislative Services said, "There hasn't been a state property tax cut in more than two decades."

Shoemaker says the delegation unjustly criticizes the county for having a large cash reserve while the state also has one. The difference is that the state reserve has grown under the leadership of the delegation and Ehrlich administration, in part, by reducing government bureaucracy by 7 percent, while the county's coffers are overflowing from increases in piggy-back taxes, recordation fees, impact fees, and increased property assessments without lowering the tax rate. There has been no tax increase by the state and $7.5 billion in new taxes was blocked.

Shoemaker publicly supported the commissioners' attempted transfer tax and their refusal to lower the property tax cap. The delegation voted down the transfer tax and placed a bill in the legislature to reduce the annual cap on real estate tax increases to 5 percent.

The delegation bill did not pass because the three commissioners testified in Annapolis against it. I am proud to say I voted against the transfer tax, against a 2 percent HMO tax that raised health insurance costs, and for the 5 percent cap on real estate tax increases.

Shoemaker writes, "With our [Hampstead] tax dollars we have renovated the old Hampstead School into senior apartments." Here are the facts. The Department of Housing and Community Development reports that over $9 million for this project came from the state and federal governments.

Hampstead's contribution was a low-interest loan of $182,000, plus the land and building that they received from the county for $1. The considerable contribution by the state occurred through the efforts of the county delegation, as did the money for construction of the Hampstead by-pass.

Allegations will be made by those seeking office. While this is part of the election process, a credible candidate owes the public the truth, not misinformation.

Del. Tanya Shewell Westminster

The writer is a delegate from District 5A.

Farm animal cruelty not uncommon

Kudos to the Carroll County State's Attorney's Office for diligently pursuing and filing animal cruelty charges against the owners of a pig farm where animals were found living in allegedly deplorable conditions ("Carroll farmers face cruelty, bad-meat counts," July 12).

Too often, cruelty to farm animals is overlooked because of our society's unfortunate tendency to devalue farm animals as sentient, sensitive beings. However, a pig or cow who is abused suffers every bit as intensely as a dog or cat who is abused, and this suffering demands accountability.

Unfortunately, the animal suffering found on the farm is far from anomalous. Modern, industrialized hog operations pack as many animals as possible into the smallest space possible.

In Maryland and across the U.S., breeding sows are enclosed in tiny, two-foot wide "gestation crates" that prevent the animals from even turning around or taking more than a step forward and back. They never feel natural sunlight on their backs or step on natural soil for their entire lives.

Compassionate consumers can curtail their contribution to this type of abuse by leaving cruelly produced animal products out of their shopping cart. More information can be found at www.factoryfarming.com.

Gene Bauston President, Farm Sanctuary

Watkins Glen, N.Y.

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