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Letters to the Editor

February 16, 2009

Kids should have a voice



To the editor:

I attended the Waynesboro High School board meeting and was gratified that the students were allowed to have their Gay-Straight alliance club.

During the evening I heard a lot of arguments against the club. People quoted the Bible a lot and talked about moral values. They talked of depravity and feelings of disgust. I heard speeches about sin, homosexuality, pedophilia and sexually transmitted diseases, just to name a few.

As an observer, I was intrigued to note that very few people seemed interested in asking the kids why they wanted the club.

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There seemed to be a lot of people who talked, and very few who listened.

It occurred to me that the kids wanted this club simply so they and their friends could feel safe. They want a school that values all its students, be they straight, gay, white, black, Christian, Muslim, male, female or whatever. They didn't have any hidden agenda, just a passion for justice and the courage to strive for it in their school.

Someone mentioned that the future belonged to these children.

I do hope so.

The Rev. Michael Hydes
Pastor
New Light Metropolitan
Community Church
Hagerstown




Whose sidewalk are you on?



To the editor:

I would love for someone to explain to me who exactly owns the sidewalks on residential streets. Is it the homeowner or the city? My question is prompted by the ridiculous ordinance, not just in Hagerstown, but in many cities across the U.S., that states the homeowner is responsible to repair city-owned sidewalks, and not the city.

I'm sure this has been debated ad nauseum, but I will ask again what I'm sure many have asked: "Why must I pay to have the sidewalk in front of my house repaired if the city owns it?"

If homeowners are being forced to pay for repairs of city-owned sidewalks, does that not transfer the ownership of the sidewalk to the homeowner? And, if the homeowners own the sidewalk that they are forced to pay to repair, does that not mean that since we now own it that we can opt not to have it repaired if we so choose? Can we opt to completely have the sidewalk removed?

It's a Catch-22 for the city. If they own the sidewalk, they pay repair costs; if the homeowner owns the sidewalk, they can do whatever they want with their sidewalk. Where am I wrong?

Another city ordinance that is forced upon residents is snow and ice removal. Residents are given 24 hours to remove snow and ice on their sidewalks or they are hit with several fines. This prompts several questions. Since we pay for the repair of the sidewalk, does this not mean that if a pedestrian walks on our sidewalk and falls and injures themselves, it is their fault since they walked on our property? Also, does this not mean we are free to post a sign on the sidewalk we own that says, "You cannot walk here, I own it?"

How can a homeowner be charged with the upkeep of a sidewalk that anyone is free to walk on? The city is basically saying one of two things: They own the sidewalk, we must pay for it (which is coercion), or we own the sidewalk but they control it (which is at least socialist and at best, fascist).

If they get away with this, what's next? Do we pay for the direct cost of construction of roads, damaged parking meters or the replacement of traffic signs? Everyone uses these things too. Where's the line drawn?

Mayor Bruchey said just last year that if the city footed the bill for sidewalks, taxes would have to be raised, yet they seem to be having no problem fixing just about every road in Hagerstown without a tax hike. Also, since residents are footing the bill, will Bruchey lower taxes?

Of course, this isn't surprising when we live in a country where they can use eminent domain to take your home away. Our freedoms are slowly dying, people. We need to wake up.

Larry Simons
Hagerstown

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