Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just Wondering But...

What gives Delegate Liz Bobo (MD House of Delegates District 12B) such stature in the debate over Columbia's downtown. Her duty as a state delegate is to concern herself with matters affecting Howard County on the state level. Issues such as Town Centers redevelopment are the responsibility of our local politicians. Granted, Liz was once County Executive but the voters were so unimpresseed with her performance that they denied her a second term choosing instead a then political neophyte named Chuck Ecker (who went on to easily win a second term). Liz does not even live in a CPRA assesed property so she isn't really even a Columbia resident (any more than I am!).

And who is Alan Klien. Until now, no one I know of in this town had even heard of him. What has he done to earn his stripes as a spokesperson for Columbia future downtown?

Does he live in Town Center?

Has he served on any community boards?

How long has he actually lived in Columbia?

I don't mean to be malovent but I am wondering why these two seem to get so much attention in the press. And it is not just me that is wondering that either. Others in the community have begun to raise the same questions.

As for Liz , she has a long record of public service for Howard County and I both admire and respect that. At the same time, however, her husband, Lloyd Knowles is one of the plaintiffs seeking to block the construction of the Plaza Residences in Town Center.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

32 comments:

Evan said...

Wordbones,

What have you done to earn your stripes?

And who are these other people who have been raising these questions?

No one I know has asked these questions or had a problem with it.

And for the life of me if you cannot see that state money will be required to address road and transit issues in downtown I don't have much confidence in your understanding of the whole issue.

Cynthia Coyle said...

Wordbones,
Why are you hiding behind a pen name? If you have something legitimate to say, you should let people know who you are. I don't understand how you can level such preposterous charges against two people (Liz Bobo & Alan Klein) who are working so hard to keep Jim Rouse's vision of Columbia's downtown from becoming just "another" metropolis with grinding traffic and over-sized buildings. Growth and change are good. Disregard for the Vision is intolerable.

You said: "I don't mean to be malovent but I am wondering why these two seem to get so much attention in the press. And it is not just me that is wondering that either. Others in the community have begun to raise the same questions." In response to your comment, I say, to what community are you referring? Alan Klein's CCD group currently has over 200 members signed on and the number is growing as the information about CCD's goals are spread. CCD is informing the public and it's my belief that you are afraid that they are succeeding. Oh, and to answer your question regarding the amount of press coverage, I would suggest that it may simply be a matter of what people are interested in reading. People want to be kept informed and the press is providing a much needed service.

CCD has been clear on their objectives. Liz Bobo has been a strong supporter of CCD...why does it matter where she lives?
As you also mentioned, she has a responsibility to the community and in my opinion, she has appropriately advocated on behalf of the community she represents. She will have no personal gain from this fight so why do you question her integrity? With regard to Alan Klein, he lives in Columbia and he obviously cares what happens to Columbia, just as I do as a resident of Columbia... why does he or anyone else in Columbia need to be a resident of Town Center to participate in a discussion of the future of our community. Your arguments are flawed. I suggest that you tell us what motivates your postings. Do you have an agenda? It appears that you do and if you don't have one, then I suggest that you really do not have your finger on the pulse of the community.
Cindy Coyle

Cynthia Coyle said...

Wordbones,
By the way, I noticed from your bio that you live in Ellicott City. It seems hypocritical that you feel that neither Liz Bobo (as a representative of her constituents) nor Alan Klein (as a resident of Columbia)should have a voice in downtown development since they are not residents of Town Center. Yet you, a person with no personal stake in what happens in Columbia has spent a significant amount of time preparing an attack on this blog for the purpose of discrediting two very fine people. Why would you do this when you don't live in Town Center... no not even in Columbia? I think that maybe you do have a stake in the development of downtown...
Cindy Coyle

Anonymous said...

Wordbones' ad hominem attacks on Liz Bobo and Alan Klein are sleazy, since Wb protects herself from similar attacks with anonymity and one of her two favorite links is to a WCI front group.

wordbones said...

Okay,
Allow me to respond:

Evan,
"What have you done to earn your stripes?"

Plenty, but I am not the one going around town professing to know Jim Rouse's vision for Columbia. Since Alan Klein is promoting his interpretation of that vision I believe it is fair to ask what he has done for the town. I'd be happy to stack my Columbia credentials against his any day.

"And who are these other people who have been raising these questions?"

You and I obviously travel in different circles. My crowd is mostly made up of community leaders and business people.

Good point on the transportation aspect. I think it would be great if Liz stayed focused on that.

Frankly, your confidence in my understanding of the whole issue pertaining to Town Center doesn't concern me.

Cynthia,

Wordbones is my pen name but I hardly go to great lengths to hide my identity. Ask around, you'll find out who I am.

I wrote nothing that I consider "preposterous" about Alan Klein or Liz Bobo. Kindly point out what you believe to be "preposterous."

No one is the keeper of Jim Rouse's vision. I take great exception to anyone who claims so. I knew the man. I worked for him.
I hold him in very high esteem.

The Coalition for Columbia's Downtown has over 200 members! Big Deal! There are over 90,000 people living in Columbia. CoFoCoDo represents less than a half percent of the population. That is hardly a goundswell.

I do not live in Columbia right now but I am still active in Columbia mostly as a volunteer on several community groups. Though I have owned property in Columbia, both residential and commercial, I currently don't own any. That could change at any time. I do not work for General Growth Properties or WCI Communities.

-wb

Eldersburg1976 said...

Wordbones,

You raised some good points and also believe that you don’t have to live in Columbia to have a stake in its future. I also work in Columbia and am trying to stay on top of the local issues. Your blog is an excellent resource, thank you.

Cynthia Coyle said...

Wordbones,
Are you by any chance a real estate agent? Is your first name David? Did you write an article for Business Monthly in January?

It may be no secret who you are but you haven't disclosed it, so I feel that you are trying to hide something. I don't have any desire to ask around to find out who you are. I believe it is clear that you have an underlying motive to see a highly dense city... your motive is monetary. It is not altruistic and whether you knew Jim Rouse or not, you have not espoused any of his visions... except maybe the one that says everyone is entitled to make a profit in the development of the New Town…. Which by the way, I agree with provided that the other aspects of his vision are maintained.

In response to your question about my use of the word preposterous to summarize your blog comments, let’s start with the definition… Preposterous:"contrary to nature or reason" or "absurb". Your argument is preposterous in that you have said one that Liz Bobo should confine her concerns to the State level issues. Why? Because you say so? If her constituents are concerned about the downtown issues, then she has every right to become involved on their behalf … I’m sure she is capable of multi-tasking. Her concerns for Columbia’s downtown do NOT translate to neglect of her state duties. And with regard to your statement “who is Alan Klein….no one I know… had even heard of him. What has he done to earn his stripes as a spokesperson for Columbia future downtown.”, why does it matter that he is an unknown? I agree he is unknown…. But doesn’t this speak VOLUMES about what the average person is thinking regarding this issue. For someone unknown and untested in the public sector to take up this banner, start a grassroots organization and advocate in this way, says a great deal to me about his concern for what is happening… and it must say a great deal to you as well or you wouldn’t be trying to discredit him.

So again, I say your arguments are preposterous. And I would also say that your disregard for the voices of 200 people who have already signed up is a failure on your part to see what this means. I agree that it is not yet a representational number of the whole of Columbia, but then wasn’t it you that said that there is general apathy in Columbia with regard to voting in the Villages. Most villages cannot even get three hundred people to the polls to vote each Spring. Therefore I say to you that 200 people represent quite a large number of the “engaged” public and this number is growing. There are 10 Villages with approximately 300 regular voters per village … that’s 3000 regular voters…200 is what percent of 3000? Let’s see it’s 6.67 percent. Not a whole lot, but let’s see how big this number grows as more people are informed about the issues.

By the way, I want growth, but I want it to reasonably planned. I want to see the businesses of Columbia thrive… and we can have a active and vibrant community, but we do not need to choke the community with so much density that it becomes an unpleasant place to live. Columbian’s pay an additional lien as you know and they choose to do this for the benefits of not just being another “Big City”.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia,

"Columbian’s pay an additional lien as you know and they choose to do this for the benefits of not just being another “Big City”."

Aren't your words above validating Wordbones original question? Would it be equally valid to state that "People that live in out parcels do not pay an additional lien and they choose to do this for the benefits of not just being another "Big City"?"

locke said...

In a random survey of the 30+ people who work in my office in Columbia.. ALL of them want to see higher density in the town center. Of all of the people I have discussed this issue with 90%+ are in support of higher density in town center. The groups who are against increased density and claim they have the support of the majority of the community are deluding themselves.

Active and realistic discussions and compromise is something that appears to be missing on this issue.

AlanAKlein said...

Locke,

We agree. Contrary to what you may have heard from WoBo or others, the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown in also in favor of higher density in Downtown.

numbers.girl said...

CoFo... is also in favor of an underground parking facility in the middle of a proposed roundabout intersection at South Entrance and LPP. Kind of dilutes the sincerity of the density argument.

In a comment on Hayduke's blog, Mary Pivar said “I have no need to agree with all elements of the position paper, and I don't, to agree with the importance of the group voice.”

I wonder how many of the 200 members of CoFo… are of the same mentality. To use the number of people “signing up” with CoFo…, a portion of whom don’t agree with the position paper but who wish to be a part of “the group voice” is to not only embrace an us vs. them mentality, but is to do so by artificially claiming who is “us.”

You basically have 200 people who don’t want the Plaza built.

numbers.girl said...

And a big thank you to WordBones for eloquently expressing what so many of us have been thinking, but don't have the blog to say it in.

Anonymous said...

"Unimpressed" with Bobo's performance is an understatement. She was awful - quite possibly the worst CE that I can remember (jury still out on Ulman).

Remember the budget mess caused by her over-spending? Then she tried to blame Ecker for the cutbacks.

At least she does not have any managerial responsibility now.

AlanAKlein said...

NuGi said:
"CoFo... is also in favor of an underground parking facility in the middle of a proposed roundabout intersection at South Entrance and LPP. Kind of dilutes the sincerity of the density argument."

Huh? What the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown says is, "As part of this study (of improving South Entrance Road), we suggest looking at transforming the intersection of Little Patuxent Parkway and South Entrance Road into a very large circle with cultural facilities on the perimeter, incorporating the existing Toby’s Dinner Theatre and the main Howard County Library. The center of the circle might include underground parking, topped by generous amounts of green space."

Notice the words, "suggest", "looking", and "might include". These, you see, are ideas to be looked into, not to be "in favor of" or for that matter against, until more data is collected and more ideas are considered.

And, please help me understand what that idea has to do with "dilut(ing) the sincerity of the density argument." A helpful place to start would be by explaining what that phrase means and then what its connection is to roundabouts and underground parking. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

wb,

Liz' years of residency and her years of continuing community service (both in and out of public office) give such stature. Issues such as Town Center are the responsibility of every member of our community. Do you really believe outparcel residents in Columbia should have no voice in issues that impact their community? Don't forget, the County, not just CA, forks out everyone's tax money, some of it coming back down from the state level, to cover new infrastructure and services when development happens.

The reason she, Alan, and so many others get so much attention in the press is because they have been and continue to be active in dealing with these issues. Other than your apparent support of the 22-story building, what's your issue with Lloyd being party to that suit?

alan,

"As part of this study (of improving South Entrance Road), we suggest looking at transforming the intersection of Little Patuxent Parkway and South Entrance Road into a very large circle with cultural facilities on the perimeter, incorporating the existing Toby’s Dinner Theatre and the main Howard County Library. The center of the circle might include underground parking, topped by generous amounts of green space."

Improve South Entrance Road? It has mature trees along it, is adjacent to a park, and has a dinner theatre and a library. Would cutting down a significant number of trees to build buildings that decimate a portion of the park really be an improvement? Planting a few saplings on top of an underground parking garage at the intersection wouldn't come close to writing that wrong.

And what additional pressures would this put on the already suffering stream buffer at the south end of South Entrance Road? The reconnect of South Entrance to 29 should have been a flyover to allow unfettered wildlife movement along the river. Too bad it was done on the cheap at ground level.

I keep getting the feeling that the South Entrance Road area has a big target painted on it by those that, when seeing greenspace, conjure up other green vi$ion$.

If a cultural hub is truly desired by a majority of the community, I'm sure existing developed space elsewhere in Town Center can be repurposed to do so. Don't cheat nature. That's just not nice.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wordbones,

Hallelujah! Someone is finally calling a spade a spade! I applaud your willingness to address the seeming righteousness of Liz Bobo, wife of Lloyd Knowles, one of the main opponents in this affair, and her inappropriate level of involvement in this entire issue.

***

To any of you who question Wordbones' earned stripes and the ground from which he can make such statments, I can decipher who he is. Wordbones has easily, abundantly and respectfully earned his "stripes." His perspective in such regard is honed, developed and deep.

(And he is not David, the realtor, as one woman guessed.)

Anonymous said...

I am dreadfully tired of people channeling Mr. Rouse's spirit and claiming they knew, absolutely, what he wanted for Columbia's future.

Bloggers, Ms. Russell in the recent Columbia Flier and a host of folk seem to think that they, alone, know and remember what it was Jim wanted.

From what I understand, from what I've read, and what I felt growing up here, he wanted people to BE CONNECTED in a VIBRANT town that was MUCH MORE THAN A SUBURB.

We be rich all right, as a locale, that is. But we ain't vibrant. Ask pretty much anyone who has moved here as an adult. You'll probably hear words such as "dull," "sterile," "lifeless," and "boring" in describing Columbia.

If I had to guess -- not that I could speak authoritatively -- but I'd say that what we have now -- particularly vis-a-vis people's interaction and connectedness out and about in Columbia wasn't at all what he wanted. But that'd just be a guess ...

Anonymous said...

I am dreadfully tired of people channeling Mr. Rouse's spirit and claiming they knew, absolutely, what he wanted for Columbia.

Bloggers, Ms. Barbara Russell in the recent Columbia Flier and a host of folk seem to all think that -- goldarnit, Jim wanted us all to have a house on a 1/4 acre of land and a little patch of meadow and trees off to the side. Ahhh ... open space.

From what I understand, from what I've read, and what I felt growing up here, he wanted people to BE CONNECTED in a VIBRANT town that was MUCH MORE THAN A SUBURB.

We be rich all right, as a locale, that is. But we ain't vibrant. Ask pretty much anyone who has moved here as an adult. You'll probably hear words such as "dull," "sterile," "lifeless," and "boring."

If I had to guess -- not that I could speak authoritatively -- but I'd say that wasn't at all what he wanted.

Anonymous said...

"From what I understand, from what I've read, and what I felt growing up here, he wanted people to BE CONNECTED in a VIBRANT town that was MUCH MORE THAN A SUBURB."

Columbia is very vibrant and much, much more than a suburb. Columbia has plenty to do, indoors and out, year round, including music, theatre, art, sports, dining, exercise, movies, bars, parks, trails, lakes, nature, clubs, shopping, libraries, activities of faith, festivals, learning, and community service. The list goes on and on.

For those claiming, like folks too lazy to see what's to do "goshhh, there's aaaabsolutely nothing to dooo", that vibrancy doesn't exist, give me a break. Maybe CA needs to, if one doesn't already exist, publish a map just for the something-to-do-challenged.

Plenty of folks moved here accepting the planned balance between urban and open space. That some now want it to become more like a dense city shouldn't make it so.

It would be very interesting to see a referendum on the matter of increased density. When's the next CA election? They could certainly throw such a question on the ballot. That would certainly put to rest any false claims about which opinion reflects the majority.

I do believe "malovent" is a malopropically-appropriate term for the original post.

Cynthia Coyle said...

Ok, so his name isn't David... maybe it's Dennis... anyway, it seems all of you know who Wordbones is ... at least you knew his name wasn't David....and it's interesting and quite telling that all of you are logged on as "anonymous" ... why is that? Where is your integrity? When you make accusations, you should at least have the decency to let people know who you are. This is a very cowardly approach. I do believe you have a right to your opinions and I also believe strongly that you have the right to express them, but to do it without revealing yourselves is the height of poor form.
Cindy Coyle

Anonymous said...

Columbia has turned into a crappy suburb getting more generic and haphazard by the day. I would never live there.

Visit any suburb around the country and see the exact same stores and restaurants. Nowadays, you can't even use the bike paths without fearing a mugging.

Columbia is a failed experiment, which provided several lessons for newer planned communities. Reston has won the war of planned communities.

wordbones said...

Anon 11:37,

I could not disagree with more. I have lived many places in this country you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to live than here.

Anonymous said...

You need to travel more. Reston is nicer.

The newer developments (like King Farm in Montgomery County) have it down - ground floor retail, neighborhood stores, etc.

The "village centers" in Columbia are terribly dated and old, as is most of the housing stock.

The police don't patrol the paths anymore like they used to and many of the paths are unlit or poorly maintained.

locke said...

Anon 11:37

I could not agree with you more.. I've lived in both (Reston & Columbia).. Reston is a nicer place to live.

I don't feel safe biking/running on Columbia's path's at dusk... never had a problem in Reston.

Anonymous said...

Make that 3 votes for Reston, none for Columbia. It is a shame what has happened in that town.

The majority of the commenters are biased, in that they own land in Columbia and need to prop up the inflated property values.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Reston go bankrupt?

Anonymous said...

You obviously haven't been to Reston if you prefer Columbia.

Hayduke said...

Locke: Are there specific pathways that you think are unsafe or is it just you general impression. I have always felt safe on the paths -- even late at night -- but most times, I'm walking with a dog that looks like a wolf. Have you ever had a problem on the paths?

I've been to Reston many times and still (obviously) take Columbia over it any day. You can't forget context, and NoVA's no good.

Also, I have a deeply rooted aversion to Virginia specifically and the Confederacy in general.

Anonymous said...

Having traveled paths all over Columbia day and night, both alone and with similar and other species, I, too, agree with Hayduke's overall sentiment that the paths are ok.

Anonymous said...

First let's start this out with the thought "Hell knows not the fury of a woman scorned". Liz felt she was left out of the Charette process as early as the pre-interviews of the "stakeholders". She felt the the leaders of the Charette ignored her. Two of the three(Josh Feldmark & Jud Malone) were soundly defeated by her political allies. Ken had to face an unprecidented crossover of stauch Democratics in support of his Republican opponent. All of these people are strong Liz backers. Luckily he benefited from a Democratic landslide in the national election (and he soldout his political soul).

How many of the people in Alan Klien's group were at the Liz Bobo rally at Slayton Hall. I'll bet there is a very strong correlation.

Liz is on record being a proponent of open meetings and dialog, but the use of surrogate groups and her strong political base in Columbia stifles open dialog.
And don't get me started on her state delagate record. How long has she been in Annapolis? What important committee did the Democratic leadership award her this year?
Liz gets her votes from medaling in local affairs not by bringing home any bacon for the county. Hopefully, Ken will be strong enough to politely tell her he is the CE and then he will be able to lead the County. It's time for Liz to focus on being the best damn State Delagate the County has ever had.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22,

I think your starting thought, in misquoting sexist dialog from an explicit Restoration comedy from a Whig dandy like William Congreve (even in his time his works were criticized as immoral and profane), lost more than half your audience.

I found about as much accuracy in the remainder of your comment, although your closing comment was close. Correctly, Liz should continue to be one of the best state delegates the County has ever had. To imply that requires ignoring the same local civic duties all of us have is illogical.

It would be nice to get back to discussing the issues at hand. As that P. T. Barnum sign said, "This way to the Great Egress"...

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Reston and when I moved to Columbia, it was supposed to be very similar to Reston. After living here for almost 9 years now, Reston has become more vibrant while Columbia has struggled in the same respect. Look at the Town Center in Reston. It is more dense but it is also full of life while Columbia's Town Center (although it has improved since we moved here 9 years ago) is (in the words of a previous commenter ) boring compared to Reston's. We certainly don't like over-development and in some respects the folks at Reston probably overdid the development in their Town Center. But I think Columbia's Town Center can do better. And wasn't it one of Jim Rouse's former employees who mentioned not too long ago that in terms of the Town Center's potential, it has been a disappointment considering how far other similar communities have gone?