Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

Open forum: Kanstoroom was there for those who needed help

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I am writing about the wild accusations County Councilman George Leventhal recently made about the Sandy Spring residents advocate, Steve Kanstoroom.

Steve Kanstoroom advocated for me and my neighbors when our homes were destroyed by Tropical Storm Isabel after our insurance companies wrongly denied our flood insurance coverage. We were total strangers to him. I lived nearly two hours from his home, yet he treated me and my family as though he was our relative. He worked tirelessly to help us and never asked for anything in return.

Long after our elected officials gave up on the situation, Steve Kanstoroom was there arranging meetings with the governor’s staff, testifying before Congress, and ultimately obtaining national TV coverage for us. When times got tough, he even offered to loan us money, no strings attached and no interest. And we aren’t alone. He has conducted community meetings arranged by government officials, helping hundreds of people at a time, in numerous states, always as a volunteer.

It is horrible to see Councilman Leventhal stoop to such tactics against someone who has been recognized time and again as a hero, by local, state and federal officials.

Just last spring, Gov. Martin O’Malley was on hand to personally congratulate Mr. Kanstoroom for being the only Marylander to receive the Civil Justice award in 2007. The award was presented for Mr. Kanstoroom’s work in spearheading legislation to bring penalties for insurance companies that fraudulently deny coverage to Marylanders — legislation that the governor signed.

Mr. Leventhal needs to stop trying to smear Steve Kanstoroom and focus his energies on reinstating Farm Road.

Eileen Thaden, Shady Side

I’m responding to the Jan. 23 article regarding the Farm Road people fighting for their properties. The article included quotes by County Councilman George Leventhal that enraged me so, I just had to write.

Mr. Leventhal accused Steve Kanstoroom of pretending to be an advocate for the folks on Farm Road so that he could purchase the land for himself. Where is his proof in making such accusations?

I have known Steve Kanstoroom for 35 years; he is my friend and my brother-in-law. It appears that Mr. Leventhal is unaware of all the people Steve Kanstoroom has helped over the years. Folks struggling with insurance companies when their homes were flooded or they were denied health coverage when they became very ill. Most all of these people were strangers to him and he never asked for a thing in return, because that is who he is. There have been many newspaper articles written about his charitable work, perhaps Mr. Leventhal should do some reading.

I know firsthand because he helped me when my daughter became paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury earlier this year. My husband and I, like so many other people, feel so very blessed to have him in our lives.

Mr. Leventhal is wrong and should be ashamed. To make such outrageous statements in the newspaper without a shred of proof is unconscionable. Mr. Leventhal would better serve his constituents by offering creative solutions to their problems rather than insulting their advocates and telling them to take it to court. How incredibly dismissive of him, and how hopeless does his ‘‘solution” make these people feel? I hardly think they can afford to go to court. I hope Montgomery voters are paying close attention to this man, he doesn’t deserve to be in office.

Janice Shumaker, Mount Airy