Smoke and Mirrors With Library
I read with increasing concern the St. Mary's commissioners current discussions over the location of the new proposed Lexington Park library. As you follow the events over the last year, which incidentally overlap an election, we are faced with some interesting situations.
First, the St. Mary's County Library Task Force made a recommendation for the new library to be in the Nicolett Park area of Lexington Park. Bear in mind this property is already owned by the county and requires minimal investment. This decision was not arrived at randomly. A questionnaire was presented describing over five alternatives. Over 500 residents responded and overwhelmingly stated their support for the Nicolett Park site. This recommendation was never formally presented to the new Board of County Commissioners, but they were informed and they decided that the formal presentation and recommendation would be delayed. Subsequently, they purchased (effective July 1, 1999) a large tract of land for over $1 million from a local developer adjacent to Great Mills High School.
The Library Task Force was asked again to reconvene and examine the Great Mills site for the possible library. The public was once again polled, the site was overwhelmingly defeated and the Nicolett Park site was once again chosen as the preferred site. Now the debate continues in executive session over another site, referred to as the Gabrelcik property, and whether it should be purchased to be another library location alternative. The price of this property exceeds $750,000, according to real estate records. This parcel is privately held by another local developer.
The questions become rather clear in my mind at this point. Do we take taxable property off the rolls for the developer' interests? How much support did these developers directly and indirectly provide to the current Board of County Commissioners in the last election?
To me it becomes evident that no matter what excuse is given, the new library is being used as a pawn in return for the developers' support for many of our current county commissioners. The current Library Board of Trustees, the public as a whole and the Library Task Force have overwhelmingly supported the Nicolett Park site. It is unfortunate that the public's desire is probably overshadowed by back room, executive session politics, and those desires will be mired in a sea of mud.
Doling Out Medicare Unequally
On Oct. 4, 1998, my insurance company, NYLCare, dropped Medicare in Southern Maryland. In trying to find out why NYLCare dropped Medicare, I found out that NYLCare was receiving $43.80 per month from Medicare recipients and $400 from the federal government for the people in Southern Maryland. NYLCare was being paid $600 for people living in other Maryland counties. Michael Hash, the administrator at the Health Finance Care Administration (HCFA), said the HMOs were being paid too much but Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.) said that HMOs should receive more money. When I talked to Jeff Valentine of Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), he told me the reason for the difference in the payments from the federal government to the HMOs for people living in eight counties and Baltimore City and Southern Maryland was that the people in the eight counties and Baltimore City did not use their HMO as much as the other . . . counties in Maryland. I asked him if people living in those eight counties were healthier than people living in Southern Maryland and he said yes, that they were healthier.
I do not understand how an insurance company can do business by not charging people that are living in certain counties or areas except for what they receive from the federal government, and charging others in different areas $75 per month additional if they want to be covered by insurance.
In January 1999, I joined Medicare First, a division of BCBS. They were the only company that remained in St. Mary's County after NYLCare left. This plan cost me $75 per month, plus the federal government paid $426 to Medicare First for the people living in Southern Maryland. The people in the eight counties and Baltimore City pay no premium for the same policy that I am paying $75 per month. The federal government pays Medicare First $525 for each person insured in the eight counties and Baltimore City.
As of Dec. 31, 1999, Medicare First will no longer be insuring people in 17 counties in Maryland, which includes Southern Maryland. They will continue to cover the . . . remaining counties and Baltimore City, but [policy holders] will now have to pay $50 per month for their policies. I guess the federal government will continue to pay $525 for each person insured in those eight counties and Baltimore City.
[Rep. Steny H.] Hoyer [and Sens. Paul S.] Sarbanes and [Barbara A.] Mikulski tell me they have not received a reason from HCFA for the difference in the payments for the counties.
Jeff Valentine, BCBS, has also stated that BCBS lost $10 million in the years 1996, 1997 and 1998 and recently made the statement that they were going to lose $5 million in 1999. I do not understand why the people in the eight counties and Baltimore City get the same insurance without paying an additional premium. I think that the federal government should pay equal amounts for all of Maryland.
JULIA T. DOOLEY
Board's Animated Characters
The following was written in response to Anita Jazwinski's letter to the editor, "Parran's Voice Heard More Than Enough," in the July 18 edition of Southern Maryland Extra of The Washington Post.
The letter cooked up by Ms. Jazwinski had the ingredients of four parts Harshness, two parts Viciousness and a dash of Bitterness toward Calvert County Commissioner John Douglas Parran. The current Board of Commissioners need a chance, including Mr. Parran, to learn to work as a cohesive team, and patience should be utilized by the Calvert citizens to help them achieve that goal.
After the last group of commissioners, this newly elected board is far more animated. While watching the previous board (Commissioners Mister, Krug, Buehler, Frazer and Kelley) on Channel 6, I often felt that someone should have poked each with a pencil to see if they were alive. No passion. No excitement. Hysterically boring. The few times that the last board had a pulse were when someone incited Mrs. Kelley.
If you added two more members, the current Board of Commissioners would have been a shoo-in for MTV's "The Real World," albeit an older version. Put them all in a house to live together. Sparks would fly even more, and passion and spirit would pour out. I am not advocating violence, just some excitement for the young voting constituents of Calvert. The last time I checked, they do not vote much -- do they?
Each commissioner brings a uniqueness and some personality to the board either by verbal expression and actions or past indiscretions. They are fun to watch on television to see who is going to get sarcastic first.
Board President [Linda L.] Kelley adds a level of excitement and passion through her feistiness and outspoken manner. Commissioner [David F.] Hale, "the boy scout," cannot seem to get that nervous look off his face. I feel eventually he will be able to exist past his catchy campaign slogan. Yes, the slogan got to me too.
Though unorthodox and really eccentric, Mr. Parran provides an element of surprise. There is no telling what he will say or do next, no matter how odd. That is pure excitement. For those of us who do not have the time to attend meetings or watch them on television, the county newspapers are a rich source of information. I haven't been inundated by the teachings of Mr. Parran like Ms. Jazwinski.
The two Democrats on the board are just as interesting. My vote for resourcefulness would definitely have to go to Commissioner [Patrick M.] Buehler. If I ever need help remodeling my home swiftly and economically, then I know who to call. Notwithstanding, Mr. Buehler has shown a deep caring for the community.
Lastly, I cannot help but notice that when things run amiss, when questions need an answer or when the ill-fated Democratic Social Club attempted to politically structure the board, Commissioner [Barbara A.] Stinnett always appeared dumbfounded. Either Ms. Stinnett is the craftiest and wiliest politician on the board or simply the most clueless. However, she appears to be tough and outspoken as well. On a side note, someone really should have told the Democratic Social Club that the plot didn't work in the movie "The Pelican Brief," either.
There you have 'em -- interesting, unique, diverse and human, with problems like everyone else. I hope the citizens of Calvert learn to respect the new board and appreciate the burden each has to bear to lead us. Also, that they do not hold this letter against me. To Ms. Jazwinski, lighten up and try some decaf and, better yet, give the new Board of Commissioners a chance.
More Support Than Opposition
I'd like to respond to a recent letter with the headline, "Parran's Voice Heard More Than Enough" [Extra, July 18].
The writer asked if I understood the meaning of "majority." Yes I do, and I made it clear in my letter that I was not objecting to the requirement that it takes a majority of the commissioners to vote in favor of a motion for passage. My point of objection was that the majority would vote to keep an issue from being brought forward for discussion and debate. Most readers understood the point of my letter and everyone I've talked to about this issue has agreed with me.
She writes, "Please, Mr. Parran, no more letters." This comes from someone who probably writes as much as I do, if not more. Before the election I said that if I was elected, I would report back to the citizens who elected me to represent them. I have no intention to stop writing, and I think all of us appreciate the fact that the local newspapers provide this public service.
The writer claims that I am an embarrassment to the county, but in fact I've received many more letters in support of my service and voting record than I've had opposed. I'm satisfied with my voting record and most citizens seem to be happy with me, but I realize that I can't make everybody happy all of the time.
JOHN DOUGLAS PARRAN
Editor's note: The writer is a member of the Calvert County Board of Commissioners.
Another Cheer for Railway
I was pleased to read about the new tourist railroad being set up by North Central Railway. My thanks and words of praise to [all those] who worked to bring this about. This should be an asset to Southern Maryland, and indeed to all of the state.
Prior to my moving to Solomons about three years ago, my wife and I volunteered on the Berkshire Scenic Railway in Massachusetts. She was a train attendant, I was a brakeman riding in the diesel locomotive, 15-mile trips each way, two trips every other Sunday, spring to fall.
What fun! Families, camp groups, Girl Scout and Brownie troops, senior citizens, all kinds. On Halloween the kids dressed up, adults also participated, lemonade and doughnuts were served; what you would call a joyous ride. The route of the Great Blue Heron sounds quite similar to the route of the Berkshire along the Housatonic River; the wildlife to be seen was fascinating.
I look forward to the day when the first whistle is blown for departure!
RICHARD L. SEIDMAN
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