Letters to the Editor - Jan. 22

January 22, 2012

Local leaders are responsible for area’s decay

To the editor:

Nice column by Tim Rowland in Sunday’s paper. Why all this discussion about a Suns stadium? If it’s going to be a Suns stadium, let the Suns build it. What this area needs is a multi-use stadium/arena for baseball, outdoor concerts, etc.

On the subject of the decay of downtown Hagerstown and Washington County, let’s look at the facts and get a historical perspective. Local government has become stagnant, just as every other political entity has. The same old faces run and get elected every election, with the same old ideas and perspectives. Politicians are not elected by qualifications anymore. They are elected by senority, popularity and showmanship. 

Supposed leaders in this area are scratching their heads wondering what has happened and why, without realizing that they are the problem. They are the ones who continue this downward spiral into the abyss by their actions, such as recruiting and rewarding warehouses and substandard employers that move into the area, taking advantage of our workforce and resources. Employees need to have something that economists call “expendable income” for an economy to thrive, not just survive.

You know we are in trouble when our big box retailers are clearing out “big box items” to make room for neccessities. Never in my life did I think I would see such stores filling their shelves with bread, milk and eggs.

Our leaders need to look at history and ask themselves, “What drew people to our cities in the first place? What greased the gears that kept our country and economy running so smoothly?” It was the enticement of good-paying union manufacturing jobs from well-paying employers at Ford, GM, Chrysler, Caterpillar, Mack, Fairchild, Boeing, etc. Many such jobs have left our country because of corporate greed and a desire to bring unions to their knees.

All globalization has done is taken the wealth of the United States and redistributed it to the rest of the world.

Paul Highbarger

Don’t move BOE office when school needs renovation

To the editor:

According to reports, a meeting was held Jan. 6 at Fountain Head Country Club to discuss how Washington County’s portion of the proposed increased gas tax could be spent in the county. Apparently, the discussion centered on two projects. They were a new bridge over Antietam Creek near Meritus Medical Center/Hagerstown Community College and moving the Board of Education Central Office to downtown Hagerstown.

On principle, I object to moving the Board of Education offices at this time. We have a high school in the county that has been operating 52 years without a major renovation. In the main classroom area, students occupy the same space that students did 52 years ago. It has been identified by the school board as needing renovation.

This school is Boonsboro High School. According to the Capital Improvement Plan, the earliest this will take place is 2020. I can not agree to spending funds (in all probability millions) to move the Board of Education offices downtown when a high school has needs.

Some would say the legislature would approve the Central Office move but not approve a school renovation. I say bunk. If the legislators representing this county get behind a school project, it has as much likelihood of passing as a Central Office move.

Meredith Fouche

Politicians need lesson in how health care works

To the editor:

Let’s take a deep breath and bring some rational thought to the political noise we are hearing. Politicians hire consultants who run focus groups to identify the public’s “passion points” and then use these phrases and talking points to manipulate you and me to do what they want us to do — vote for them.

We are hearing “socialized medicine,” “the government is taking over my health care,” etc. Let’s get real. Our health care system has two parts — how we finance our health care and how we deliver our health care.

Neither Medicare, the Affordable Health Care Act, Medicaid or the like have anything to do with health care delivery. They have to do with how we finance our health care. Except for military and veterans hospitals, the government does not deliver public health care. Medicare and the like hire no doctors, run no hospitals and deliver no pharmaceuticals.  They are programs to collectively pay for the delivery of health care services to those who would otherwise be devastated by illness. They are nothing like socialized medicine; they are more like insurance companies.

It confounds me that the American people are the most generous people on the planet (let disaster happen anywhere and we dig down and send billions of dollars to help) but when it comes to chipping in a few bucks to see that your neighbors are not financially ruined by illness, we get reactive and start with the panic-inducing slogans — socialized medicine, Obamacare, et al.

Neither Medicare nor the Affordable Health Care Act are our problem. Our health care delivery in America is approaching 20 percent of our gross national product — twice what other industrial countries are paying for their health care. Worst of all, we’re not getting the results they are.

Either our politicians are ignorant of how our health system works or they are lying and deliberately manipulating us for their political objectives. Either way, these panic-inducing public servants should be sent back to the private sector in the next election.

Bob Ayrer
Falling Waters, W.Va.

BOE candidate has questions about possible move

To the editor:

Moving the headquarters of the Washington County Board of Education to downtown Hagerstown was reported in The Herald-Mail to be an agenda item at a secret meeting attended by Board President Wayne Ridenour and other community leaders.

As a candidate for school board, I offer the current board president and incumbent candidates the following points to guide the hopefully nonsecret future discussions about such a move.

• How will moving the Washington County Board of Education’s headquarters downtown benefit students and their families?

• How will moving the BOE result in greater student achievement, better learning environments and/or additional educational opportunities for students?

• Is a new BOE central office first on the priority list of school system capital projects? Is it even on the list? Should any money, be it from the BOE budget or other sources, go to such a move before much-needed school renovations/repairs/replacements are complete?

• Can everything on Commonwealth Avenue be moved downtown or will at least part of that facility, such as gas pumps, car fleet, receiving dock and storage area, and bus parking lot need to remain? Can the school system’s budget withstand maintenance of a new central office facility plus retaining and maintaining what would be left on Commonwealth Avenue?

A move might be considered advantageous if the total moving expense did not reduce the usual funding of the BOE budget and if additional funding was added to the BOE’s capital improvement budget matching the total move expense. By providing matching funds for the BOE capital improvement budget, the move would not be at the expense of current facility needs or be seen as taking precedence over much-needed school projects.

• If a move downtown will help revitalize that area, will it follow that the BOE’s absence in the South End will have a negative effect on businesses in that end of the city?

• Can a move downtown be made without creating logistical and financial hardships for citizens and employees? Will there be sufficient free and convenient parking?

Melissa Williams

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