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Nigh opens can of worms with Section 8 views

July 31, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Shocked and appalled. That's what I was after reading the comments of a particular Hagerstown City Council member last week, who was speaking on the topic of Section 8 neighborhoods and the virtues (or lack thereof) of the people who inhabit them.

I'm all for slamming people in print, but even I have standards and would never stoop so low - at least without some modicum of provocation which, truth be told, I come by fairly easily. But here we have a council member who clearly is deserving of a public rebuke.

I am speaking, of course, of Councilman Linn Hendershot and his reaction to Councilwoman Penny Nigh's thoughtful statement that 75 percent of state-subsidized renters are trash.

Hendershot's answer to this claim was "Penny sometimes has a tendency to label things, which can be a dangerous thing." And then the kicker. According to press accounts, he said, not all Section 8 renters are bad, "just as not all Fountain Head residents are good."

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I don't know about you, but I've had just about enough of Hendershot's Fountain Head bashing. An unholy person in Fountain Head? I won't hear of it. Or if I do hear of it, I'll keep it quiet, per their requests.

(And Hendershot wasn't finished. Later in the week he was quoted as saying a proposed genealogical museum would be "like Disneyland for seniors."

Like what now?

I guess instead of Mickey Mouse you have Mickey Rooney. All the roller coasters are strictly on the level with their left blinker on, and instead of hurling a ball at a pyramid of milk bottles, you hurl your teeth.)

Although Hendershot's comment was the talk of the town the next day, I do not believe it should entirely drown out Nigh's careless assertion that 75 percent of Section 8 people are bad. I understand that as a council member, Nigh is looking to put Hagerstown in the best possible light, but to say that only 75 percent of Section 8 people are bad makes her look like some cheerleading PR shill.

Really, if Nigh is trying to win the Commissioner John Munson Temperance In Public Speaking Award, she still has a long, long way to go. Maybe she could try a more Marie Antoinette approach toward her stoop-dwelling constituents, like "Let them eat Cheese Doodles."

Or a money-making approach. Like on Halloween, charge all the children two bucks a head for a tour of the scary Section 8 House.

Yes, from here on, Section 8 people will be tantamount to demons. We've drawn the lines. We have the Eighters and the Eighter Haters. I love a good class war. It's such a refreshing break from being angry at the gays and the foreigners.

Obviously, these Section 8 renters are shiftless ne'er do wells, because if they weren't they would just go out and get rich and buy a big house in, well, Fountain Head. And they probably would, too, if they weren't worried that people like Hendershot would always be riding them.

There's plenty of opportunity around here for people looking to get a leg up. What did Scrooge say, "Are there no prisons. Are the warehouses full?"

What? It's workhouse? Oh, workhouse, warehouse, what's the difference? That's a splendid choice, no? You can route packages or guard prisoners. Directions or corrections.

And keep in mind that Fort Ritchie will be open any minute now, just bristling with hundreds of high-tech jobs for our Section 8 socio-economic climbers. And the Allegheny Technology Park. And the airport, don't forget the airport.

Matter of fact Eighters, next time some wealthy donkey gets in your grille about having to subsidize your housing, you can grouse right back about having to subsidize his air travel. To bolster your case, you may wish to refrain from screaming like banshees on Friday nights and allowing your diaper-clad toddler from riding his tricycle out in the middle of the street at 11 p.m. That might help.

And of course you could always vote, but I'd hate for anyone to go to extremes.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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