Letters to the Editor - Jan. 29

January 28, 2012

Humane Society thanks plungers, sponsors

To the editor:

On behalf of the staff, the board of directors and the 5,700 animals we care for annually at the Humane Society of Washington County, I want to thank everyone who made Polar Bear Plunge 2012 the most successful to date.

To returning and new polar bears, teams, spectators, sponsors, donors, volunteers, law enforcement and emergency response personnel, Washington County Commissioners Jeff Cline and William B. McKinley, and Williamsport Town Clerk Donnie Stotelmyer, Williamsport city workers, Mayor McCleaf, the town council and residents of Williamsport, Washington County Special Operations Team, State Police troopers from Barracks O, Williamsport Volunteer Fire & Emergency Medical Services Inc., Hagerstown Auxiliary Police, Red Men Riders Tribe 84 and the fantastic HSWC volunteers, thank you for all your support.

I would like to recognize our sponsors: RBC Wealth Management, Petco Foundation, Petango, Redmen Riders Tribe 84, B-Pwsitv Good manners training for dogs and their people, Landis Corp., Fives Cinetic, Jersey Mike’s, Panera Bread, Wolf Furniture & Mattress, 4-Legged Friends Pet Services LLC, AC&T, Allegany Dental Care, Bowman Trailer Leasing, G.A. Miller Lumber Co. Inc., Greenlawn Memorial Park, Hagerstown Ford, Hagers-town Honda, Jewells & Jewells, K&R Engraving, Keller Stonebraker Insurance Inc., Leiters’ Fine Catering Inc., Main Line Broadcasting Inc./WQCM 94.3-FM, Mr. Natural’s Tattoo Studio, M.S. Johnston Co. Inc., Peaceable Pastures LLC, Peaceable Paws LLC, Rentals Unlimited Inc. Equipment & Truck Rental, Sanders’ Cookie Jar Bakery, Town of Williamsport, Weiss Bros of Hagerstown Inc., Williamsport Auto Care and WJEJ 1240-AM.

Thank you to everyone whose support illustrated our community’s kindness and generosity.

Paul F. Miller, executive director
Humane Society of Washington County

Canon, feudal men were way ahead of the game

To the editor:

In a December letter, Ernst Arnold backed his claims about separation of church and state with John Adams’ “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law.” Hardly a study of church/state relations, this is actually a call for revolution, like Paine’s “Common Sense.” Adams’ Puritan animus to papists and all things Catholic is used to bolster his revolutionary arguments. Logically, it is incoherent for Adams to complain about feudal laws and extol the Magna Carta. It was to reclaim feudal rights that the nobles and clergy forced the king’s hand. This is a black mark for “canon and feudal law?”

Also in Jefferson’s library was a copy of “Patriarcha: The Natural Power of Kings Defended Against the Unnatural Liberty of the People,” by Robert Filmer — well notated in the margins by Jefferson. In this defense of the divine rights of kings, Filmer blames all this stuff about the rights of the governed on Robert Bellarmine, a cardinal of the Catholic Church writing 200 years before Jefferson and following Aquinas from the 13th century.

Compare the following:

Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Bellarmine: “All men are equal, not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind.”

“Let rulers remember that they preside over men who are of the same nature as they themselves.”

“Political right is immediately from God and necessarily inherent in the nature of man.”

Aquinas: “Nature made all men equal in liberty, though not in their natural perfections.”

Similar comparisons exist for every major proposition in the Declaration of Independence. Seems like canon and feudal guys were way ahead of the game.

Richard Giovanoni

Let’s find a solution to revitalize downtown

To the editor:

During my lifetime in Hagerstown, many changes have taken place. Gone are the days of the beat cop, the Christmas tree in the center of the square, the movie theaters in the downtown, the vibrant businesses within two blocks of the square in every direction, the trolley and a community of people who lived in the city limits.

During World War II, when everyone was either in the military or working in the defense industry, life was good. Everyone had a good income and the community was blessed with the Maryland, Colonial, Henry’s and Academy theaters. The cops walked the downtown, which gave everyone a sense of security, built relationships with the merchants and the shoppers, and promoted a feeling of community.

We also had several hotels in downtown, namely, the Alexander, the Dagmar, Colonial and the Hamilton, all of which were thriving. This all changed when the suburbs became popular, shopping centers were erected and businesses began to migrate to where the people lived.

 Downtown revitalization has been discussed for the past 50 years, to no avail. Some progress was made when the city planted trees along Potomac and Washington streets, rebuilt the square and built parking garages to accommodate downtown shoppers. However, if it were not for city, county and state offices, not much foot traffic would be downtown.

How do we bring back the foot traffic? Let’s try by bringing back the beat cop, holding more events at The Maryland Theatre, offering entrepreneurs long-term tax incentives, promoting the beautiful park at USMH, patrolling the alleys and creating an atmosphere like Georgetown or Frederick.

As with all problems, everyone knows the problem, but nobody has a solution. Let’s take this opportunity to quit talking and start moving forward with the solution.

C. Richard Miller

Internet a good source of public records

To the editor:

You’d think today’s ease of Internet would make fact-checking almost worth it.

In a few short clicks, anyone would know Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership has received past funding from CHIEF — even its president, Joe Marschner. You’d also find groups like Greater Hagerstown Committee and CHIEF are interconnected by virtue of their mutual efforts often lobbying expense of significant public dollars. While I never stated folks were compensated for these efforts, nor used the term “shady” or “back-room deals” to describe their intent, here’s some historical facts.

The HNDP community development corporation (CDC) evolved through recommendation by Richard Phoebus to combine efforts of the existing Home Store in space owned by the City of Hagerstown in 2005. This included $50,000 per year in grants to HNDP from CHIEF while Phoebus served as director of CHIEF and president of HNDP. To claim no connection to CHIEF when city minutes of Feb. 8, 2005, and a Herald-Mail article of Nov. 30, 2008, state otherwise is contrary to public record.

HNDP operations are covered by public funds; it holds the lease for a public school; it is working on redevelopment of hospital property; it pursued joint efforts to purchase the CVS building; and received $250,000 from CHIEF for the Massey property purchase while Phoebus served in those dual roles. Fact is, HNDP does not operate “independent of any other nonprofit or government agency,” but rather “interdependent with” these community partners.

HNDP not only sold the county the Massey property “at its inflated 2004 price,” but showed a property value increase of nearly 20 percent from its purchase during the bubble of 2005 to the economic slump in 2010. Further, it was Phoebus, representing CHIEF, who approached GHC director and library board chairman Art Callaham for sale of “only all” this HNDP land, as reflected in library minutes of Sept. 9, 2009.   

Not once did I mention the Home Store, as my letter was in reference to Callaham’s reinvention of a CDC that already exists and, frankly — sharing responsibility for establishing it — I believe it continues to do good things. 

While so many public records sit idle and aging, the Internet has made them a good tool to ensure that an educated, respectable leader of our community may find some benefit in their use before representing to the public “facts” that aren’t supported by a public record that is readily available with a push and click.

Kristin Aleshire

Editor’s note: The letter writer is a former member of the Hagerstown City Council and Washington County Board of Commissioners, and a candidate for city council.

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