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What Do You Think?

February 10, 2008

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: Do you support Washington County's proposed home rule charter?

"With all the fighting going on now in Washington County, I voted against it. We need people who are above letting their anger rule the moment. I see it getting worse with home rule because it will give them more power to fight over."

"Home rule will only let the wealthy residents dictate rules to the rest of the county residents. Remember the $68 million sewer debt from our past commissioners? Those commissioners continued to receive retirement benefits from county taxpayers."

"It is time for the local government to take control of local legislation. The group we have in Annapolis needs to grow up and act like men and women. I am for home rule."

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"After seeing some local politics up close several years ago, I really don't trust local politics to do the right thing by the people. Most of our local decisions are made on who does for who, not what is right for the people."

"I say NO to home rule. Seems like special interest groups are feeding a lot of money into the advertisement of this; and that can only mean one thing - it is not good for the average citizen. I think we need them watched by others. I say keep it the way it is!!!"

"We need the oversight from Annapolis. Even if I was a commissioner, I would not vote for home rule."

"There is a reason why the state oversees county government and that is to protect the people from being fleeced by local officials. I like the idea of changing the way local government is set up to be more representative of the people governed by it, but increasing their power has the potential to create more problems. We have to ask, 'Is there more to be gained by this than risks?' I don't believe that to be the case with the charter as it is currently drafted."

"I am voting no simply because there are no defined districts, so these seven elected officials could all come from one part of the county. There needs to be a way so all the people in Washington County can have a voice."

"I am against charter home rule. The debt ceiling will increase from $170 million to $600 million, more than three times its current level. Taxes are not subject to referendum and the people will have no say in the setting of tax rates. Anything regarding long-term debt would require 12,000 signatures of registered voters to bring to referendum. At least five other charter counties have spending and tax caps in their charters. We do not. Tom Berry, a member of the charter board, asked for a cap, but they refused to include it. Also, almost all other charter counties elect their council by district, not at large. Please watch the debate on charter home rule on Antietam Cable."

"After receiving my second set of 5-by-8 postcards supporting charter home rule, and seeing the daily back page ads in the newspaper and the yard signs, I must ask: Who is really funding this and WHY? Do they honestly believe that the average taxpayer is too stupid to know what is going on? This 'stupid hick' will vote no on Feb. 12."

"Who are the 'Friends of Charter Home Rule'? They certainly expect to gain something for putting up their own money, but they have not disclosed who they are and how much each has donated. We need checks and balances by having our state delegates involved. If it had not been for our state delegates, we would not have gotten the real estate assessment cap lowered from 10 percent to 5 percent. I am voting NO."

"I went to the charter board Web site to help make my decision. The supporter list reads like a who's-who of every developer and their attorney in this county. The sure helped me decide to vote no!"

"Some very rich people with some very big investments in this county are paying a lot of money trying to get home rule passed. Thank goodness we can vote no."

"I just watched the debate on charter home rule and want to thank Del. (Christopher B.) Shank, Mr. (Tom Berry) and Commissioner (William J.) Wivell for their excellent answers and commentary regarding home rule and their opposition to it. It took great courage to buck the other four county commissioners and oppose this charter, so Mr. Wivell deserves much credit and he will be getting my vote next time. As for those who are pushing this charter, they gave not a single reason why we should have it. Commissioner (James F.) Kercheval even stated that it was not much different than our current form of government. So why on earth should we be doing this? There could be only one reason ... to hand the county over to developers and the same good ol' boys who gave us a runway to nowhere and believe that an $8-an-hour job in a warehouse is economic development. VOTE NO!"

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