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What do you think

September 09, 2007

Editor's note: Each week, The Herald-Mail invites readers to answer poll questions on its Web site, www.herald-mail.com. Readers also may submit comments about the poll question when voting. Each Sunday, a sampling of edited reader comments will run in The Herald-Mail.

There were two poll questions last week. The first question was: If you were asked to vote on the issue of charter home rule today, what would you do?

"A certain area of the county has always had more power than others - their schools have gotten the repairs first even though another school had a potentially dangerous situation resulting in a roof falling in during school hours and other schools have had repair issues of great concern and if there is a project in that area, it appears to get done even though other areas have a greater need. I do not want more power to go to this area so I am against charter rule."

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"Only a member of the establishment would knowingly vote for home rule. The vast majority of county residents, who are not members of the establishment, care so little about the county government that if home rule is enacted, they will be at the mercy of the establishment with very little or no help from the state delegates. Remember that it was the threat from the state delegates that forced the commissioners to put a cap on the property tax increases. Remember the Livability Code the county government tried to impose on us? At least the state delegates slow down the growth of the county government and that is a very good thing indeed."

"Under the present commissioner form of local government, not much can be done without approval of our state delegation. The state delegation can veto almost anything the commissioners attempt to accomplish or make the commissioners jump through hoops before giving their approval. I think this allows too many fingers in the pie, which, in turn, causes too much political positioning, buck passing and finger pointing when nothing gets done and problems go unsolved. The delegation members are no more intelligent than the commissioners. They all come from the same gene pool. I believe home rule would be an improvement."

"Checks and balances have worked reasonably well for the federal government until quite recently and we all have seen what has happened when Congress let itself get steamrollered by the executive branch. The state government (state delegation) acts as a check on the county government. If that check is removed or weakened, many of the things that will get done by the county government will be things that the majority of residents wish had not been done. No sensible person believes that our county government is perfect, but I believe that our county government will be much worse for most of us if charter home rule is passed."

"I voted undecided because I think there is more to the issue than has been raised on this site. How many other counties have home rule? Has it been successful in those counties? If not, why not?"

"I'm automatically leery of anything that messes with the way any body is governed. Yes, I think that money's been talking a whole lot more than needed in most areas of Washington County and it isn't fair. I don't see how this 'charter home rule' thingamabob is going to fix that. The only thing that is going to help even out where the money goes is for the commissioners to grow a backbone and just say 'NO' when one area wants a ball field and six others desperately need functional schools - or some other need that is more pressing than 'Aw man! We can't have a ball field?"

"Allegany County uses this system ... I'm going to try to find out how it works in that area, how long it has been used there and how it was working before."

"Charter home rule. No way. You need a government body to oversee the county laws. If we get home rule, we will have a new law every day directed at a few and made by a few to their own benefits. As taxes go, hold onto your pocketbook. Please keep state government."

"If home rule means that we have local people who are totally accountable for decisions and that it gives the public a more direct voice in local government then that would be great, but if it's a way to give a few among us more unsupervised leverage then that would be our ruin. If I had to vote TODAY, then I'd vote no because it is an issue that has not been thoroughly explained to the voters."

The second question was: More than $71 million was gambled in fiscal year 2007 in Washington County by people playing tip jars in taverns, liquor stores, private clubs and other businesses and organizations. That amount seems ...

"If you are foolish enough to gamble away your own money then the best pot to put it in is tip jars, not the lottery. With the lottery, the state gets the income and spends it how they want. With the tip jars, the Washington County Gaming Commission parcels it out to local charities, organizations and institutions and our own citizens and the community benefit."

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