Could this be the end of open government in Howard County? It has been reported that the Howard County Council unanimously agreed to institute a closed-door policy in its Ellicott City offices. While the press and the public previously enjoyed free and open access to the council, this access has now been abruptly terminated. Reporters and citizens alike were informed that appointments will always be required and that an escort will be provided if a visitor wants to step one foot beyond the reception desk. I found this action shocking.

First, I could not believe that Councilman Charles Feaga had agreed to such a thing -- and, as it turned out, he had not. He heard about this decision for the first time from a reporter. Second, that a journalist doing his job or a citizen seeking help is apparently viewed as a threat is preposterous, as well as insulting.

The Howard County Republican Party strongly endorses the concept of open government. And I suppose it goes without saying that open government is particularly important to those of us in the minority party. I can assure the public, however, that we'll feel the same way when we're in the majority.

CAROL A. ARSCOTT

Chairman, Howard County Republican Central Committee

Ellicott City