Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Did This Happen?

I was looking through the Planning & Zoning Department information on the Howard County website when I ran across this nifty little video on Land Planning. The nine and half minute video is hosted by Kimberly Flowers, the Deputy Director of Planning & Zoning.

About five minutes into the video, Bridget Mugane appears. During her piece, which lasts almost a minute, she proceeds to state that she believes “a majority probably feel threatened by development.”

How did this happen?

For those of you who don’t know Bridget, she is the president of the Howard County Citizens Association, a decidedly anti development group. How come she is given such a prominent posture (more than 10% of the video) in a government sponsored piece on land planning?

This appears to be an outright endorsement of the Howard County Citizens Association agenda by the Howard County government.


Anonymous said...

It does seem odd that the president of a special interest group would appear in a DPZ sponsored video. Bridget has absolutely no business pretending to know what the majority of people think about development or anything else for that matter. HCCA speaks for no one but a small number of HCCA members.

JessieX said...

Hey, WB! Were you just over on The Avenue in (the real) downtown Columbia about an hour ago? On Dobbin Road, I saw a sweet black Mercedes, top down, with a passenger that looked like you. I hope it was you; what a lovely day to be out and about.

wordbones said...

Yes, twas I. My buddy TW brought his rag top to work today!

It is a lovely day. You hanging out at laptop alley today?

Anonymous said...

OMG. Stop the madness.

I've started 6 sentences and erased them all.

You really must be kidding.

JessieX said...

Yes, WB. Laptop Alley for coffee and early morning coworking (and sitting outside in the sun). Across the street to Chipotle for the most rockin' lunch scene in downtown Columbia (and some more sun). Trapeze, a place with some heart, soul and style for a party, dinner and drinks. And, I did actually get a lot of work done today in between it all. Rock on.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:46- your comment strikes me as unintelligent. Do you really not see anything unusual about the president of a special interest group being in a DPZ video? Would you be comfortable with someone from Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown or Bring Back the Vision claiming to know what the citizens of the county think in a DPZ video about land use?

wordbones said...

Back to the topic...

Anonymous said...

Wow. When she say's a "majority" of people are against development", is she talking about the same 30 citizens (out of 100,000 citizens) that come out over and over again against any development in Howard County? I hardly think 30 or even 200 is a majority.

Anonymous said...

Nor is 100,000 a majority. 8:26, if you're going to throw numbers around, please at least TRY for SOME accuracy. Otherwise, your comments are quickly and rightly recognized as being far removed from reality.

If you can somehow make a credible argument that the majority don't have valid concerns about development (vis a vis traffic gridlock, air/noise/light pollution, school overcrowding, exceeding our water supply and sewer capacity, increasing our sewage effluent, increasing crime, decreasing quality of life, increased tax burden, etc.), please go right ahead.

And I'm not sure what coworking is, but I doubt the cow appreciates it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:18- can you elaborate more on our "decreasing quality of life". I am not sure I am understanding what is meant by that. I really don't know anyone who believes that quality of life in Howard County is decreasing.

Btw, I love your comment about the cow!

Anonymous said...

Liked that cow item. It's the same way I view the word 'coworker', as in cow orker. Maybe we could just say 'colleague'.

Regarding the quality of life; the traffic, school over crowding, neighbors too close and becoming testy with one another -is living on top of each other natural? Not for most of us and it makes people cranky. The driving is much more aggressive than it was 10 years ago - without question these qualities of life have dropped in this county. Murders have doubled; ok, it used to be 2 and now it's 4 - but does that mean we can go up to 50 before it's bad?

The culture is more rude and now we have the civility police to contend with thank you very much.

Stores and banks still close at the same time, but everyone crowds into them during non-work hours, and with limited schedules, not many people are making friends out there. It's dangerous to go to the Home Depot in EC on Sat am. You might get run over, or verbally attacked. I know first hand - ouch.

And the cost of increasing numbers of residences falls on the taxpayer - this is not reasonable from any perspective. Taxpayers have to build the downstream roads, schools at 50 million each these days.

And you ask why a taxpayer representative is on the government video? It must have been a jolt since the government has been in the developer camp for so long.

Stop worrying - the DPZ may be just placating people to keep them quiet. Look at decisions, rather than fluff. Developers still have the grip on the decisions being made.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Mugane is not a taxpayer representative. She is, and was billed in the video as, the president of a special interest group. She represents no taxpayer other than herself and possibly a few HCCA members.

We have low crime in Ho Co as evidenced by our low murder rate. The fact that we had two more murders probably has to do with drug culture more so than development. We can surf the internet while sitting outside Lakeside CafĂ©. We have Trader Joe’s and now a Harris Teeter. Wegmans will be open soon. There are dozens of big box stores with wide selections of products with great prices. There are dozens of restaurants to suit all tastes budgets. Howard County is a consumer paradise.

With a rising population of people come more people to which the tax burden is shared. More people may use the roads and schools, but more people are paying for them as well. Our population is diverse and IMHO we along very well with each other. Quality of life is alive and well in Howard County.

Would anyone rather be alive in any other time?

wordbones said...

I guess my main problem with Bridget Mugane and her small HCCA group is that they purport to speak for the "majority of the population" of Howard County. Bridget and Alan Klien have much in common in that regard as he has claimed to speak for "the people of Columbia."

Contrary to Bridgets belief that most people in Howard County "feel threatened" by development, I believe most people don't really care one way or the other. In fact, evidence would suggest that more people are "intrigued" by development than threatened by it. The fact that 500 people showed up at GGP's presentation on Town Center and were mostly supportive of the plans lends credence to this view. A recent GGP public meeting on transportation attracted only seven people. That is hardly the response of a "threatened" community.

In any event, Bridget Mugane's appearence in this DPZ video is both inappropriate and troubling. I'd really like to find out how it came to be.

Stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

I'd like to find out how it came to be as well.

I wonder how much of Kimberly Flowers time is spent responding to inquires from Bridget on behalf of HCCA. Not that there is anything wrong with groups asking questions of our leaders- I think it is great- I am just curious.

HCCA No More said...

I agree that her appearance in the video appears as though it is an endorsement, especially considering that the HCCA moniker sounds a lot like it is associated with HoCoGov.

HCCA and Bridget are paid an undue and unfair amount of time and credibility from the County and its employees. HCCA is routinely given a seat at the table - or given the choice of who to put there- in important focus groups, for no plausible reason.

Bridget and the HCCA board regularly discount and condescend dissenting opinions of its own members, then use those membership figures to add weight to her testimony.

Anyone who is under the impression that greenhouse gasses can't be expressed in tons because gasses don't weigh anything probably shouldn't be entrusted with testifying on green development or smart growth.