July 23, 2006

Councilman asked to defend his attack

Editor's note: The following letter was submitted to the newspaper and was written to County Council President Robert S. Wagner.

Dear Mr. Wagner,

I am in receipt of your letter dated July 12, 2006, and I must say your hyperbole is noteworthy.

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. While I understand you may not want Joseph Steffen as your campaign manager, Mr. Steffen is my campaign manager, and that is the end of the discussion. Clear enough? Of course, having said that, you are placing Mr. Steffen in pretty good company by naming him as yet another Republican you want nothing to do with.

If I may remind you, sir, you wanted nothing to do with our County Executive, David Craig, when you supported current O'Malley Deputy Campaign Manager, Lucie Snodgrass, over County Executive Craig when the need arose to replace Jim Harkins due to an appointment Mr. Harkins received from the Governor. In supporting O'Malley Deputy Campaign Director Snodgrass over County Executive Craig, you also showed you wanted nothing to do with the wishes of our Republican Governor, who clearly stated that David Craig was his preference. Most recently, you reiterated your disdain of the Governor by asking a reporter for The Sun what the Governor has brought to Harford County. I guess you were too busy writing campaign-related letters on county time and having them emailed over county computers by the County Administrator to notice that BRAC was on its way to Harford. Regardless, there are at least three Republicans you want nothing to do with. How many others are there?

As concerns Mr. Steffen's quotes, well, they are his quotes and may be considered by some to be "over the top," especially those pertaining to the War on Terror. Of course, some considered noted conservative columnist Ann Coulter's comments to be "over the top" when, on September 13, 2001, she wrote "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." I guess you have concerns over Ms. Coulter's comments as well. Further, as concerns you attacking Mr. Steffen for writing that he despised give-away programs, I have to ask whether that means you love giveaway programs. If so, that means there are a whole lot more Republicans you want nothing to do with, since most Republicans I know believe freedom works best when you support yourself and your loved ones and let others do the same for themselves and their families.

Mr. Wagner, I am truly disappointed that you decided to stoop to ugly tactics, which you so barrenly decry when suspected in others by attacking me through Mr. Steffen, a true hero to the right. I sincerely hope you join us on the high road. Unfortunately, I fear that is unlikely to be the case since, as stated earlier, you delivered the emailed copies of your blatantly campaign-related letter via the County Administrator. Mr. Wagner, I too welcome an open and honest debate on the issues, but only if the debates occur at a time and in places which do not require you to engage in electioneering on county time and with county equipment. The citizens of Harford County would consider such behavior unethical, at best.

The time has come for Republicans in Harford County to take a stand on what type of county we want to have, and what type of party we want to be. Mr. Wagner, on behalf of the Republicans who will vote in the County Council President Primary this September 12th, and for all citizens of Harford County, I regret you deemed it necessary to engage in attack politics. Again, I implore you to join us on the high road.

Aaron Kazi Candidate for County Council president

Council needs to communicate

In rapid-fire order, the Aberdeen City Council introduced the budget for Fiscal Year 2006-07, held a public hearing, and approved a budget with a property tax rate increase from 55 cents to 73.5 cents. The process took 14 days and left city residents reeling.

At the hearing, one resident commented on the lack of a presentation or background information. He was told the information had been distributed the previous week. Other residents asked detailed questions about items in the budget. Most of these questions were left unanswered.

Let's go back to the beginning, Nov 14, 2005, when the current council was inaugurated. They changed the meetings to 6 p.m. to make it more convenient for residents to attend.

Six weeks later, the council approved a parity pay system for all city employees. Funds to cover the initial expense were generated by the sale of property. Citizens were assured that continued funding could be found without raising taxes. Instead, the funds have been picked from the taxpayers' pockets.

In February 2006, the council decided Monday council meetings would be held weekly and staff work sessions were rescheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. What followed was an enormous amount of legislation that resulted in the doubling of water and sewer charges, increased fees for various city permits, and increased fees for violation of various city ordinances.

The council introduced three annexation resolutions, two of which were modified just a few days later.

The city is making a great effort to reduce crime and drug activity. They have reinstated the Auxiliary Police force to assist. A Neighborhood Ambassador program was created to provide a channel for residents to express their concerns. It could also serve as a medium for the city to provide information to the community.

I believe we all have the same goal - to keep Aberdeen a great place to live and work. But we need to slow down, communicate, and work together.

Karen Heavey Aberdeen

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