Today's newspapers had a couple of interesting stories. The first story that caught my attention was the Political Notebook column by Larry Carson in the Sun. In "Columbia tower bills a source of differences" he pretty aptly summarizes the prevailing political winds swirling around Councilperson Sigaty's two pieces of anti tower legislation, Council Bills 63 and 64.
What really struck me though were the quotes from Alan Klein, spokesman for CoFoDoCo. Alan posed the rhetorical question of "Why should you vote in favor of these bills?" to the council members during last weeks public hearings on the bills.
Alan answered his own question. "The simple answer is that you said you would. Three of you, along with both major candidates for county executive and many of he candidates who were not elected, announced your support for height limits in Columbia that would include the proposed Plaza tower."
As Larry Carson pointed out none of the council members actually promised to vote for THIS legislation and, ironically, Alan's statement actually lends support to those who oppose this legislation.
The very fact that that no candidate came out in support of the tower in the last election meant that pro tower voters had no clear choice of who to support. Most of us, myself included, were left to decide which candidates would use reasonable judgement when faced with legislation such as this. In my case, my councilperson is Courtney Watson and so far I have been impressed with her common sense approach to the issues. I hope she will dismiss these comments from Mr. Klein as just so much whining. "But mommy you said..."
The other Sunday paper story that resonated with me was in the Metro section of The Washington Post. In an article about a fence in the planned community of Montgomery Village Steve Hendrix explored the conflict over a security fence that has been erected between a neighborhood of "low income and subsidized townhouse" and its more affluent neighbors. Though the story did not deal directly with Columbia, it's central premise will be familiar to anyone in Columbia. The more affluent neighbors grow increasingly frustrated with trash and vandalism and seek to erect a barrier in what was previously open space.
The erection of the fence causes an uproar in the less affluent area and the neighbors then look to the courts to resolve their differences.
In the end though, the conflict has served as a catalyst for bringing neighbors together. As a result of this the neighbors may be able to get to the real root of the causes of the trash and vandalism problems rather than trying to put a fence around them.