Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Did She Go And Have A Private Meeting With GGP Without Telling Us?

Last night my buddy Jim Binckley attended the Village of Harper’s Choice candidates forum at Kahler Hall. He had the opportunity to query the incumbent Columbia Council representative, Cynthia Coyle about the deplorable state of the dock and piers tower in Town Center. Ms. Coyle had twice voted against any restoration funding for this centerpiece of the town. Jim wanted to know why she did that.

Apparently Ms. Coyle has everything under control. Jim told me that Ms. Coyle announced to those in attendance that she voted against restoring the existing structures because she is going to see to it that an entirely new “dock” will be built in its place.

Here’s the best part though. Jim told me that Councilperson Coyle has received assurances from GGP that they will pay for it.

How good is that!

Then I wondered how she got that assurance because I haven’t exactly heard anyone else talking about this.

Could it be that a member of the Columbia Council, acting on behalf of the Council, held a private meeting with GGP?

God forbid.


Anonymous said...

So she was against repairing the dock before she was "for" repairing the dock?

jeez-o-peets, I hope the residents of Harper's Choice see this post.

Anonymous said...

She was always in favor of needed repairs. She and the rest of the Council, opposed funding repairs before knowing how they would fit into GGP's overall plans for the Lakefront area. Makes perfect sense to me.

Anonymous said...

No one has been opposed to individual CA Board members meeting with GGP. What Cynthia Coyle and the rest of hte CA Board were against was having the entire Board meet privately with CCP. You are raising a false issue.

Similarly, I know that individual County Council members have met with GGP privately. Though this is appropriate, it would be illegal for the entire Council to do so.

Anonymous said...

nothing says you are for repairs like voting against funding the repairs

Anonymous said...

I, too, attended the meeting. Your friend Binkley did not "quuery" Ms. Coyle. He went on a literal rant. There was no question as far as I could tell. He also made a patently false statement about her belonging to the Alliance for a Better Columbia. I believe this guy has a personal agenda that has no relevance to Ms. Coyle's ability to represent Harper's Choice residents. As far as the dock goes, if the strong possibility of a new dock being built, why repair the old one?

Anonymous said...

Are u sure she is not ABC? Cindy's comments on budget where very similar to ABC's. Same phrases, order of discussion, etc...

Anonymous said...

Could somebody please provide some clarity?

If I let the front porch on my home deteriorate, become covered in mildew, and be in danger of falling apart, CA would take me to court. CA let's thier front porch deteriorate, and the response is that it's OK because GGP will pay for a new one at some undertermined time in the future?

Does this mean that if my front porch is in bad condition, I can justify the condition and say that I am waiting for my nieghbor to pay for repairs?

Do as I say and not as I do?

wordbones said...

Anon 11:02 AM,

One man's rant is another man's query.


Anonymous said...

If indeed Mr. Binckley said this to Mr. Lane (Wordbones), he was misrepresenting the facts. I was present for the discussion at the candidate's forum and Ms Coyle was actually attacked by Mr. Binckley in a most unpleasant and unprofessional manner. He started his attack with:... "Tell me why you voted against repairing the dock at the lakefront ... AND ...don't tell me that you wanted to wait to see what the downtown plan would look like!" Ms. Coyle responded that she did indeed vote not to repair the dock and she stated that she had two reasons for that: 1) She said that it was in such disrepair that it was her belief it needed to be completely replaced with materials that were more up-to-date that would fit into the downtown of the future and 2) yes, she said she also wanted to see what the plan entailed for downtown and possibly what GGP may offer to offset the expense of replacement. She commented that she was hoping that GGP would share in the expense of reconstruction and to my recollection she said that when at the Thursday night meeting (between GGP and the CA Board) the topic of the dock came up, she believed that GGP had indicated that they may help CA with this...
Statements such as the one on this blog are incredibly harmful to this community. Ms. Coyle was asked repeatedly if she had seen the deplorable condition of the docks and she responded that she had and this is why she thought that it was not worth the incredible expense to repair the dock... she said, and by the way, I agree with her, that the dock should be replaced with another one that will be more up-date. It only makes sense that if you believe that a new and better dock should be built that you would vote not to put any more money into the current one. Reading this blog, I get the impression that you would want her to vote for money to repair the dock and then also money to build a new one.... does this make sense?

Nothing Ms. Coyle said gave me the impression that she was meeting with GGP in private... to say such a thing without the facts seems to me to be a libelous statement. She appeared to be referencing the meeting that the CA Board and GGP had last week I would suggest that before you post such a note, you get your facts straight. Mr. Binckley was very angry ... it was apparent to everyone in the room and he has a right to be angry.... the dock is deplorable, but in my opinion, Ms. Coyle should have said something about the neglect of the dock which is obviously been let go for more that one or two years. The poor maintenance of the docks is an operational issue and clearly something that should have been maintained by the staff over the years. For the staff to neglect the dock this long and then come forward with almost a million dollar proposal to make these repairs is too little too late. To blame the members of the Board who voted not to sink a huge amount of money into repairs at this point, fails to recognize that the problem is a long term one and begs the question why didn't the staff come forward and budget money each year for many years on maintenance and repairs.

wordbones said...

Anon 2:14 PM,

"Statements such as the one on this blog are incredibly harmful to this community."

How so?


Anonymous said...

Interesting, attacked by Mr Binkley, you say that Ms Coyle was. And by raising his voice and asking a question, that was. With Ms Coyle is this becoming a trend, hmm? Did she claim to be attacked for the 2006 election not, hmm? For the city fair attacked, hmm? When did questioning an elected official in a public forum become an attack, hmm?

Is Ms Coyle known for raising her voice at times not, hmm? At times use blunt language, does she, hmm? As attacks by Ms Coyle could these be construed, hmm? The difference between Mr Binkley's raised voice and Ms Coyle's raised voice, what is, hmm?

Familiar trend, the blaming of staff also is. As you state, aware of the deplorable condition of the docks, Ms Coyle has, but took no action. Does this make her complicit in the current condition not, hmm? Why absolve the board, hmm? To identify the problem, the staff took the initiative. To the board, the staff communicated the scope. Pro-active staff, this sounds like. The board rejected the staff's concerns and must bear the responsibility of their decision, the end result is. Brought to their attention, it was, to address it, they refused.

wordbones said...

Anon 4:29 PM,

Your writing betrays you master Yoda.


Anonymous said...

It is laughable that someone feels sorry for Ms Coyle because someone may have been aggressive in the way they spoke to her. She is one of the most abrasive and disrespectful people on that board. I have cringed quite often when I've heard how she speaks to people.

Don't dish it, if you can't take it!

Anonymous said...

I don't know were Coyle or anyone else gets that the funds were for repairs only that the other compass blog said so. It sure seems that since there isn't money to do anything all there will be is minor repairs. Smells like Barney and Fred's feet are on fire trying to stop the car and put in reverse?

Anonymous said...

I was at the Candidate's Night meeting at Kahler Hall. I believe other responses to your blog have set the record straight as to what Cindy Coyle actually said. What I find most disturbing in Jim Binkley's presentation, and it came through not only in his words but also in his body language and tone of voice, was that he did not listen to Cindy Coyles calm and factual presentation. He did not engage in conversation but in a diatribe. I would not presume to guess at his motives, but he obviously was not interested in the facts.

Evan said...

Facts matter.

In this case some facts are:
1) The money was $35,000 to plan the replacement of the bell tower in FY09 and $200,000 in FY10 to replace the bell tower.
2) That money was cut from the budget. As I said in the comments to Bill’s post only Phil Kirsch and I voted to keep the funds to replace the bell tower in the budget. The rest of the board (with the exception of Gail Broida who was absent for a medical reason) voted to remove the replacement funding and move the planning funds to FY10. What I didn’t write in the comments of Bill’s post, but is true is that during the discussion of this budget item I got very angry and lost my cool. I am still angry over this budget change.
3) During that budget discussion and at one or more other CA meetings CA staff members did say that they thought it was likely GGP would share the cost of replacing the bell tower. I believe this is where Cindy might have gotten the notion of GGP paying money towards bell tower replacement if such a comment was made (it seems in dispute on whether such a comment was made based on reading the comments of others at the forum).

Both journalists and bloggers make themselves look bad when they do not do their research and investigate what they write before spreading info.

Evan Coren
Columbia Council Rep from Kings Contrivance

wordbones said...


"Both journalists and bloggers make themselves look bad when they do not do their research and investigate what they write before spreading info."

I don't believe any of this information would have been disseminated if I had not made this post. As I understand it only 15 or so people attended the Kahler Hall candidates forum. While that number is pathetically small, it is still considerably more than the attendence at a Columbia Council meeting. This post and the resultant comments have served to widen the discussion and a better understanding of the issues. How could that possibly be a bad thing?


Anonymous said...

"Both journalists and bloggers make themselves look bad when they do not do their research and investigate what they write before spreading info."

This coming from a guy that (and i am quoting one of the commentors on his blog) "used the memory of Dr. King to rail against the Tower" in his MLK Day blog post.

Anonymous said...

"This post and the resultant comments have served to widen the discussion and a better understanding of the issues. How could that possibly be a bad thing?"

It's possibly a bad thing when posts presents incorrect information.

It's possibly a bad thing when an original post presents hearsay information as fact ("Then I wondered how she got that assurance...", not "Then I wondered how, if she got that assurance...", information that could have easily been vetted via either secondary sources present or, better yet, directly with the person discussed, prior to publication.

If subsequent comments had not been forthcoming, an original post by itself would have remained a less accurate portrayal of what actually occurred at the meeting. For the 10+ hours after the post before any refuting comments were posted, that is exactly what existed.

To make it less of a possibly bad thing, there's plenty of good things you could do, including a follow-up post giving equal prominence to a more thoroughly checked presentation. Since you asked the leading question, you could follow up with a clear answer to it.

Nobody said journalism was easy. For something less, we already have tabloids that fit the bill. Basing a post on "he said she said they said..." without doing a little homework is hardly the best path to considerate understanding.

Evan said...

There are ways to widen a discussing without propagating false information. A good blogger or journalist investigates and checks their facts before they post/publish. If this is the standard you use for Business Monthly then I am shocked your editor has continued to let you write for them.

As for attendance at CA meetings, it varies by the issues on the agenda but it ranges from no one at some committee meetings to a packed house for some issues like dredging and most recently the golf course issue. I wish more would show up, since I think it would lead to better governance if we had a more engaged citizenry.

As for my post on Martin Luther King Day, I encourage everyone to go read it since it spoke of the values Martin Luther King Jr. fought for and the ways James Rouse sought to use design features to achieve a community that lived by the same values Dr. King fought for. I often find it strange how some people who disagree with the things Dr. King fought for try to divorce the man from what he did and what he fought for. Its like they think its alright to celebrate the man in a void without looking at what he fought to achieve is alright. It isn't.

Anonymous said...

My word. This discussion seems to have fallen off the tracks. And Evan wonders why more folks don't care about CA...

So, we all agree that Coyle voted against repairs for the dock in favor of an undefined replacement strategy. The disagreement is whether this replacement strategy involves General Growth, to what extent, and whether any movement has been made by GGP or CA towards forming a partnership on this matter.

Wordbones' man at the forum said that Coyle had received assurances that GGP will pay for the project, while Coyle and her defenders claim that no such assurances have been made but that GGP in their meeting with CA "indicated that they may help" with this.

Who's right? Who cares?

Either way, Coyle is now doing all she can to avoid responsibility for her vote against a very real safety hazard and, to be frank, a very real embarrassment for Columbia. To be even more frank, that CA members haven't met with GGP privately to discuss funding for full replacement for the dock is an abdication on their responsibility to steward our community's collective resources.

This speaks to an even more perverse problem with this current board; specifically, that their fear of doing anything that might anger the handful of people who care about this stuff has prevented them from working with General Growth to address the problems in downtown proactively and ensure that the community actually gets what it deserves from the downtown master plan. Instead, they spend months arranging meetings and flogging strawmen.

Seeing Evan Coren swoop into defend Coyle is just icing on the cake. He admits that he lost his cool in the discussion about replacing the dock and bell tower, yet after just one year he's adopted the insularity of CA's board as if it was his own. He knows Coyle is wrong on this, but instead of discussing why in a truly public forum -- i.e. on a blog and not at some late-night public hearing -- he brings his wagon into the circle and complains about blogging ethics.

wordbones said...


Please spare me the sanctimonious lecture about blogging ethics. A blog by it's very definition is a personal journal for public viewing. How I chose to intiate a public discussion is my choice. If I called someone a two headed cow it is up to the reader to decide whether that is to be taken literally. Those who believe they have been unfairly attacked here are more than welcome to post a rebuttal in the comments section. You can't do that in the newspaper or most other forms of media.

The readers here should consider the blog to be more like the editorial page, not the front page. There is a distinct difference between news and opinion.

I merely posted about what my friend told me of his experience in attending a candidates forum. Yes, I did it with a touch of sarcasm. That just happens to be my personal style. I mean, come on, I use a picture of a dog to represent myself (albeit one fine looking dog).

That all being said, I welcome your comments here and I am glad you used the opportunity to clarify the facts about the lakefront tower and pier.

Really it is you and the council that should be thanking me for allowing this forum. In the past two days well over 200 people have read this post and it's comments. In the next few days it will probably double that.

The CA Board does a lousy job of getting its message out to the community in general. Don't blame me for that.


Jim Binckley said...

My, my, my ......a 40 year resident of Harper's Choice uses his bi-annual candidate's forum to engage the incumbent on her performance and her minions fall to pieces over my less than glowing opinion of her results. Let's set the record straight on my lack of civility. I never once cursed, I was not loud( the incumbent asked me twice to repeat myself because she couldn't hear me) , I never interrupted her, or used threatening language. Was I angry ? Darn right I was.

Only weeks after being elected to her initial term as Harper's Choice rep., Ms. Coyle and her voting bloc called for the removal of the CA president Maggie Brown , who had served the Columbia public for over 30 years. That decision was not well recieved by her constituents in the village. It was sad to see how Ms. Brown's "lack of qualifications" were brought to the forefront in the media after 30 years. I felt it was a classless move by Ms. Coyle and I let her know about it. ( so did another couple in attendance )So, I'm the one with an agenda? Hmmmm

Bill Santos' recent Columbia Compass blog titled "Ignorance", exposed the unbelievable, and once thought unthinkable neglect of the Town Center lakefront dock and bell tower. In my opinion this is the most visible and noteworthy parcel of open space in Columbia, and my council rep, Ms. Coyle has voted to withhold much needed funding for it. What lien paying Columbian wouldn't be miffed about this ? Yet ,in a much unexpected response, Ms. Coyle informed those in attendance of her forthcoming proposal for a whole new dock and bell tower and that GGP will be helping in the expense. This is why she voted against the funding. WOW !!! That's an amazing 11th hour ramification. I'm surprised she didn't mention this in her 5 minute opening comments. It is rather perplexing that in this week's Washington Post's Howard section, GGP's Greg Hamm didn't exactly endorse dock funding, but I'm going to take Ms. Coyle at her word and look forward to seeing her proposal in the minutes of future council meetings.

So what's the score here folks, one angry guy, one new dock and bell tower. Works for me.

Look, I really don't care if a candidate's a member of the Alliance for this or the Coalition for that. I could care less about open or closed meetings. I want sound results. I want what's best for my town and village. Like most Columbian's , I'm sick and tired of the internal bickering and pre-existing voting blocs.Lien payers have been telling their council reps that for the last 5 years and it's high time it stopped.

It may come as a surprise to the thin skinned Coyleites that I actually left the meeting feeling that Ms. Coyle was the better candidate. Her grasp of the issues going forward and expertise far exceeded her opponent, and I said that to my friend Dennis ( sorry Wordbones ) at the end of my now heavily discussed phone conversation with him.

Have a nice spring weekend,

Jim Binckley

Anonymous said...

Your original post said Jim said Cindy said she *received assurances* GGP *will* pay for it. That differs from others' recounts of the meeting that say Cindy said GGP *may* *help* pay for it. Big differences.

Your original post then ponders how she got those assurances, extrapolating that if you haven't heard others talking about it, that a possibility for receiving those assurances was a private meeting. Yet, you didn't state another very probable possibility for explaining why you haven't heard others talking about such assurances - that she neither stated such assurances and that such assurances never occurred in the first place.

Fantastic deductive reasoning, Clouseau! Such logic fits well with a broken bell tower. :)

Martin Berdit said...

Jim Binckley,
As you probably gathered at the candidate's night meeting, I am a supporter of Cindy Doyle. While I felt in your interchange with her that you still question her decision about the dock and feel jusified in your anger, I would like to commend you for making making what I think is a valid and objective judgement of Cindy as the better candidate. Lynda Maxwell came across to me as a really nice person who has the interest of Columbia at heart, but who has not been active nor knowlegable about the current issues with which CA is involved.

I agree with you that CA has not been an effective institution, but I think the situation is more complex than one or two people. I see basically three factions in CA: 1, The staff which, like most bureaucrcies, over time get to judge issues from the point of view of staff convenience; 2, at the Board level there are the mostly longer serving Board members who align themselves with the staff; 3, more recent board members plus Barbara Russell who are more attuned to accountability and responsiveness to residents. Currently it is the interaction between these factions-legitimate Board oversight, or micro-management- which produces stalemate. I think Cindy in her first term espoused and helped establish better processes of governance. Now they need to be applied.

On a personal note, you brought back memories when you told me you were part of the Binckley "clan" who knew Morna and Beaver in high school.

Martin Berdit