Letters to the Editor

Volume VII Number 11
March 18-24, 1999

Tough Enough for the Job

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

This letter is in response to Mr. Burton’s article on Janet Owens, "She’s Got Five Tough Acts to Follow" [Burton on the Bay, March 4-11].

Mr. Burton touts the five previous Anne Arundel County executives as if they were saints, while taking (as many misinformed people do) a swipe at the old county commissioners and several at Ms. Owens.

First, when the old county commissioners left office, they were making a paltry $3,000 a year in salary. Hardly the fleecing that the charter admirers would have you believe, especially when the executives and their cronies’ salaries started approaching six figures.

Second, it may well be true that we were short on parks in those days. Of course, most of the county was still farm land and the commissioners were having to pave dirt roads and build schools on what was essentially still an agricultural tax base to take care of the newcomers. We were just becoming a Baltimore and Washington bedroom community then.
Our taxes were lower under the commissioners than they have ever been.

As for those tough acts, one went to jail; one tripled the size of county government, causing taxes to skyrocket; and the last one’s biggest accomplishment was putting more money in his political war chest than anyone else has (he raised taxes, too). Janet Owens won’t have any trouble following the previous administrations. Heck, all she has to do is keep from raising taxes and going to jail and she is ahead of four of the five. If someone with those qualifications can’t run Anne Arundel County government, it’s because most of the "acts" referred to by Mr. Burton were actually emperors who turned our county into a modern-day Byzantium (complete with monuments).

Ms. Owens is going to make some mistakes -- we all do -- but from what I’ve seen of her and most of our past executives, we’re lucky to have her. Frankly, we’ll be lucky to keep her more than four years. As Bobby Neale will probably tell you, anyone with as much sense as they have doesn’t need this.

One last thing. It’s about time a county executive made our children one of his/her top priorities. Mr. Burton may not agree with her decisions, especially on the racetrack or Linda Gilligan -- and I can’t tell you if they were right or wrong -- but they do prove one thing: She is tough enough to do the job.

--Joseph F. Collinson III, Friendship

Small Area Planning: Small Minds and Helter-Skelter Lines?

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

I am always saddened when editorials appear in the New Bay Times that chastise the county. Why is the county always the scapegoat? Are the people in South County so brilliant they are above reproach?

The idea of the Small Area Planning Committees is a puzzlement. I suppose that goes along with the small minds that will be caught up in this web of planning really not capable of producing more than a jumble of helter-skelter lines on a paper signifying nothing.

You know, when I thought of the art of planning, I always thought Aristotle, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen who were well noted more for their architectural prowess than for their planning skills. Yet in their own way, they were considered by their peers to have reached the heights of greatness in both.

What I am trying to point out is there is a vast distance between knowing how to produce a masterpiece of planning work or a messy hodge-podge signifying nothing, which I am afraid we will have when all of the amateurs get finished with this exercise. Hope I am wrong!

--Vern Gingell, P.E, Fairhaven

Editor’s note: Our editorial of March 11-17, "Message to Planners: People Are Watching You," was written not to chastise planners but to alert them to the consequences of the success of their idea, the Small Area Planning Committee.

| Issue 11 |

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