Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In This Month’s Business Monthly

A lot can happen in five years. People get married, people have babies and people get proven wrong. All three of these events happened in my column this month.

Five years ago this summer I wrote a column entitled “Requiem for Rock Palace.” Five years ago The Rouse Company announced its intention to enclose Merriweather Post Pavilion creating a year round, albeit smaller, arts venue. Gone would be the outdoor music theatre that has hosted such rock legends as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. The plan was to choke off most of the parking with a mix of office and retail development. If they could get a few more housing allocations from the county for Town Center they’d throw them in there too.

It all seemed so inevitable back then.

Not to everyone though. There were many different forces that came into play that spared Merriweather from the wrecking ball, not the least of which was the acquisition of The Rouse Company by General Growth Properties.

Before that occurred however, another of those forces was a grassroots organization called Save Merriweather. It was formed by four young Columbians, Justin Carlson, Ian Kennedy and their girlfriends at the time, Tanya and Lena. They set out to try and stop the inevitable and five years later you’d have to admit that it looks like they largely succeeded, with a little help from their friends.

Five years later the girlfriends are now the wives and Justin has become a daddy. Everyone still lives in Columbia and they are generally encouraged by what they are hearing from General Growth about the Pavilion and its place in the redevelopment plans for Town Center.

Five years later it is time for me to acknowledge that I got it wrong. You can read this month’s column here.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

My compliments to Justin, Ian, Tanya and Lena for taking the establishment and shaking it up. It's a pleasure to see Merriwether hidden among the trees and still providing a venue for some bands that don't need the larger crowds to pay for their gigs. I believe that the future of Columbia and the downtown belongs to the younger generation and not the naysayers and nimbys that are 55+. If the 20 to 55 citizens take the initiate, they can recreate the dream and live in the a new Columbia designed by them for their families. Unfortunately, I don't see enough of the younger generation at the Council meetings and GGP meetings that can make a difference. All I see are the 55+ crowd which are saying "don't dream, don't go too high, don't allow people to live downtown, ban the traffic, and don't disagree with us, keep Columbia exactly the way it is...growing older like we are."
The future of downtown Columbia and Howard County belongs to the youth of Columbia like Justin, Ian, Tanya, Lena and their friends. I hope I live long enough to help them realize their dreams.
Happy Hunting 55+

Anonymous said...

Some comments are just so utterly off target, off color, intolerant, sweeping in generalizations, one-sided, prejudicial, smotheringly superior, stiflingly backward, and hyper-discriminatory that they don't elicit responses on the issues.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:38- your comment fits that bill, does it not?

Anonymous said...

I certainly never meant to offend you 2:38pm but your anger leaves little room to misinterpret. I must have touched something very sensitive to elicit your response. You're entitled to your opinion and I will continue to express mine.
Have a good day.
Happy Hunting 55+

Anonymous said...

anon 9:44:

You're over-reacting, presumably from guilt but one cannot determine via this venue (contrary to your absolute statement).

The self-righteous, over-wrought mixture of faux humility and passive aggressive insult does nothing for your position.

PZGURU said...

It seems a little odd. Four people formed the group and fought to "save" merriwether, but Ken Ulman campaigned as the man who saved merriwether. How exactly did Ken Ulman save merriwether? Was it because he was behind the scenes negotiating a deal with GGP to give them more density if GGP backed off their plans to enclose (not tear down as as been referenced many times, incorrectly, by ian kennedy et al) merriwether? Was it because Ulman ordered the Planning Board to stall/deny the plan submitted by GGP for development of the Crescent Property?

Ian et al opposed that plan on several grounds, including the enclosure of MPP. But when GGP took the enclosure issue off the table, and also withdrew big box retail from the table, the opposition continued. Why? I know he says it was for a lack of detail in the Sketch Plan, but it was only a sketch plan, and more details would come at later stages. This is a perfect example of how Ian and Ulman manipulate the system. The plan complied with the laws but they saw to it that it would die on the vine. But GGP wouldn't just abandon the plan without getting something in return, and the something was the charette and the proposed additional density for Town Center. It makes complete sense. Why else would Ian and Ulman oppose the sketch plan but now support the Town Center master plan that proposes 4 times as much development as the sketch plan did?

It was a nice political alliance that is paying off nicely for ian and GGP so far, as well as other friends of Ken, like Josh Feldmark who is now making a fat salary but has no qualifications or experience typically required for Department heads.

It's funny how Ian, and the anonymous commenters hereon, wants to re-create Town Center, but was totally outraged about a proposal to re-create Merriwether as an enclosed facility. And, then they decry and insult those people who oppose the changes.

Ian is definitely in the right field now - politics - since he has become a master of deceit, lies, demagoguery, and hypocrisy. After all, he has to serve his master.

wordbones said...

pzguru,
Nice of you to stop by.

It seems you have failed to factor in the effect that the GGP acquisition of The Rouse Company had in all this. You may recall that The Rouse Company initially was opposed to the idea of the charrette. The impetus for the charrette actually arose from a grassroots citizens effort, not from The Rouse Company. Within a year of this whole Merriweather dust up, The Rouse Company was acquired by GGP and all new development programs were put on hold except for those that were already too far along in the process like Gateway Overlook. It had very little or nothing to do with local politics. It was just good business. GGP needed time to develop its own startegy for Columbia since they paid such a high premium for the land.

I think you overestimate how much power any one individual has had in this chain of events. That was one of the key points of my column. Save Merriweather "got by with a little help from it's friends." One of those friends was Ken Ulman. Another friend was Seth Hurwitz. All can rightly claim credit for saving Merriweather in my book.

And about this vitriol you direct towards Ian, Josh and Ken, don't you think that's a little excessive? You could just as easily made your point by saying that you don't think much of the chaps and leave it at that.

-wb

Ian Kennedy said...

Oh, PZ, do we really have to chase our tails about this again? We've been at it for two years, and it's still the same:

I try to explain what seems like a fairly reasonable and logical thought progression that took place as circumstances changed over the course of (now) five years, and you call me names, distort or lie about things I've said, and involve me in some grand conspiracy that -- even given my current position -- I've yet to see evidence of.

I know this issue is a source of anger for you, and I'm sorry if you were ever wronged by me, my friends, Howard County or whomever. But, please, can we just move on?

PZGURU said...

WB - do you really think that GGP would have even tried to pursue what they are doing wihtout somehow first discussing it with the local officials? And by that I mean the councilperson who represents that district - which is Ulman, right? HRD could have appealed what happened to them on the Crescent Property plan, and they would have won.

You still have not addressed why Ian and Ulman, and the other 20 or so people, including Bridget Mugane, continued to oppose that plan if MPP was going to be preserved and big box retail was taken off the table. It doesn't add up for them to continue the opposition.

Even worse, the people who testified at those Planning Board meetings talked about too much development, too much noise, too much dust, too much traffic (Ms. Mugane especially). Yet, now, those same people are somehow ok with have 4-5 times MORE development than what was proposed under the other plan?

As for my animosity toward Ken and Ian, well I guess you'd have to have been on the receiving end of the insults directed at me during those Planning Board meetings to appreciate my position. When people in Ian's group called the writer of the DPZ staff report (that would be me) insulting names in a public forum, and to see Jessica Feldmark laughing and high-fiving Ian when it happened, well I guess that's when I realized that working in the public sector was not worth it. I mean, the assistant to a councilperson, applauding County employees being insulted, that's disgraceful. And you don't know how many developers have threatened to personally sue employees in DPZ if they didn't cave in to their demands - and did the employees get any defense from people like Ulman, or Robey, or Guzzone? NOPE? Because those guys were in bed with the developers every step of the way.

Now, I understand that GGP has a huge business stake in changing from the Crescent Plan to the current ideas being bandied about. But, the only explanation for why people like Ian and Ulman support this new plan but opposed the other plan is that Ulman has been making back door deals to help push the idea through under the guise of a publicly supported charette. The reality is that maybe 300 people came out to "support" the charette. The vast majority of Columbians either don't care or oppose it to some degree. If they knew the consequences of what is being proposed there would be a lot more opposition.

The ironic thing is that Ian is touted as a heroic activist for opposing the crescent property plan and saving MPP. Yet he condemns anyone who opposes the Town Center redevelopment plan. Now do you understand where I'm coming from when I label him a deceitful political hypocrit?

I, on the other hand, have always maintained that HRD/GGP had a RIGHT to pursue the Crescent Plan since the original Preliminary Development Plan for ALL of Columbia included that property and the plan complied completely with the PDP approval. I do not however support the Town Center proposal because it is basically cramming a square peg into a round hole.

Anonymous said...

PZGURU,

Did you forget you were posting as PZGURU and not Tom Berkhouse? Or do you not post as Tom Berkhouse anymore? It was fun to see your two personalities, but it seems now they have merged into one. PZGURU used to be somewhat more civil, but I guess that only lasted until people realized it was one person.

Someone in Ian's group offended your writing, not Ian, but someone in his group and that is where all this hatred comes from? Really? Wow! You should learn not to take things so personal. You must be a hard man to live with. And all this hatred must take a toll on your health. You need to learn to let things go. Its only hurting you.

PZGURU said...

Anon - I have previously said that TB was a namesake that several people commented under. Some of whom new of my experiences in DPZ, and yes me too. So what. How does that change the facts of the past actions of Mssrs Kennedy and Ulman? The answer - it doesn't.

As for your lame "anger" comments, all I can say is "weak". Is getting angry about government officials doing things that are inappropriate wrong? Is condemning lies and corruption and political payoffs wrong? The only people who think it is are the people doing the misdeeds and there lackey enablers like yourself. I pity people like you who blindly worship at the feet of certain politicians only because it benefits you somehow. It's exactly why so many people are cynical about the government and why 50% of the eligible population don't vote. So bravo to you and Ian for adding to the problem and making excuses for "your guy" instead of trying to expect government officials to be examples of moral and civic justice and rectitude.

To Ian - your response is so lame it's hard to describe. Let's just move on? That's always the sentiment of the people who have done the dirty deeds. You mistakenly think that I perceive myself as a victim. In fact, I guess I should thank you for helping me to see how truly corrupt and distorted government is, especially the arrogant unethical officials who run it, such as yourself and Ken, and motivating me to get out of there. I am much happier in the private sector. Wish I had made the transition years ago.

It's convenient for you to say I have no proof, but as someone who sat in many meeting and heard firsthand what people said, and saw firsthand what people did, I think I have a better perspective on what actually happened with repsect to a lot of these particular plans and issues. I don't recall ever seeing you in the staff meetings, so what is your "proof" that my version of things didn't happen? What Ken Ulman told you? Please....

Your explanations of your flip flop on the crescent plan - Town Center plan are feeble. I can in fact recall that you offered your ideas of what the Crescent Property should have been developed as and you offered that it should have a mix of retail stores, cafes, office space, and residential. Funny, but that's exactly what the FDP criteria proposed by HRD outlined as the possible proposed uses. So again I fail to see what you were opposing once HRD took MPP off the table and also took big box retail off the table.

The wrongs perpetrated by Ulman and so many in his administration, is that they don't believe in equal treatment for everyone under the law. He rewards certain developers and certain property owners, and certain lawyers, and assures approval for their plans (think comp lite rezoning or even the recent Meridian office building where parking was magically waived against the laws - but I'm just being too critical right?), but similar plans submitted by other people (ie: those who have not prostrated themselves before his majesty or paid him off with politcal donations) get slammed and denied. I saw it happen time and time again. I had to deal with those people whenthey called in asking why their plans were not being approved and how they had spent their life savings on the plans (I'm talking about old folks looking to sell off a lot or two as their retirement nest egg, not career developers mind you). And I'm not the only employee who felt that way. Many others do too but they have put too many years in and are too close to retirement to get out or else they would.

We obviously have very diverging views of what government is supposed to be, and what rule of the law is supposed to be. But it;s not a matter of having a different favorite beer for crying out loud, it's about the foundations of democracy and that's something I am very passionate about. Yea, you'll say you're all about democracy too, but when government does not treat all people the same, that is the complete opposite of democracy, and if you can't understand that then you're hopelessly lost.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen
I thank you.
I've learned more about the dark side of Howard County politics today than I ever imagined. How does Lloyd Knowles and Joel Broida fit into this caldron of political opposition in opposing the WCI tower?
HH

Anonymous said...

Ian, I'm surprised at your thinly veiled barb. If you really wanted PZ to move onward, you have the skills to accomplish this but instead prompt him for further reaction.

PZ: You made some solid points. And your comments would have more cred regarding anger toward gov't officials if the attacks on Ulman and Ian weren't so personal.

Anon: What in the !@#~#$ do Lloyd Knowles and Joel Broida have to do with anything?

All: Dignity is important. Give a little. It's why PZ is angry about the plan board meetings - it's intensely frustrating and humiliating to speak in front of your community for what you believe only to be ridiculed. No good can come from that.

Ian Kennedy said...

Anon,

I'll admit to being a little frustrated about being called out for a thinly-veiled barb in this conversation, but you're right that my tone was probably unnecessarily bitchy. But you're wrong that I have the skills to stop PZ's harassment. I don't know how long you've followed the blogs, but I've tried every tactic imaginable to stop PZ from dragging my name through the mud, and after two years have had no success. I've tried calmly responding to his specific accusations; I've tried angrily responding; I've tried nicely asking; I've tried banning him from my blog; I've tried ignoring him; I've asked people who we both know to intervene and have him at least stop lying about me...and so on. All to no avail. Now, he may well have valid and not-so-rosy points to make about all sorts of things, including me, but the tone he uses and his persistent lies and slanders are totally unacceptable.

At various times over the last two years, I've countered all of his erroneous charges, yet he continues to spread this misinformation. I'm sure you could tell me to get over it or just let it go, but in the interest of my reputation and my standing, I can't. How would PZ's comments about me look to a potential future employer if found via Google and taken out of context? "Master of deceit and lies"? Really? Is there ever a need for that type of talk?

Furthermore, I know it might be hard to understand for people who comment anonymously (and I'm not weighing in on whether this is a good or bad thing...just saying) but all of these things he's saying are about me personally. Blogging for nearly three years has thickened my skin, but I'm not immune to the emotional toll of having such things said about me. Call me a crybaby if you want, but some of this stuff hurts.

All I have ever tried to do with Save Merriweather, my blog and now my position with the county is work to make Howard County a little bit better. Maybe my perception of better is different than yours and maybe we'll disagree on what needs to be done, but honest people can have reasonable disagreements about such things. This doesn't mean, of course, that I've always acted saintly. I know I've said things in the past that were mean or snide or snarky when they didn't need to be. I'm human. I make mistakes. And I like to think I own up to them, but that's not for me to judge.

Anyway, because I've never really shared what I do, it's probably worth pointing out that my job with the county is completely disconnected from the insider, conspiratorial stuff that PZ accuses me of. Most of my days are spent trying to work with normal people who have problems with government or that government might be able to help solve. I write the occasional speech and have worked on legislation for the last few months because our normal legislative person is out on maternity leave. It might be thrilling to get to pull the levers of power, but frankly, that's not my bag.

Anonymous said...

PZ- your problem with Ulman's people is that they laughed at you?

Seriously? All the conspiratorial mumbo jumbo and years of angry, borderline psychopathic blog flaming is because you thought they were mean to you?

Wow. Life must have been tough on the playground when you were a kid.

PZGURU said...

Anon 6:57 - very well said all around.

The frustrating part was not for being ridiculed for sepaking what I believed in. In writing my staff report I had no legal basis wahtsoever to recommend denial of the plan. Even if I were personally against that plan, I still could not in good conscience recommend denial because the plan fully complied with the laws. Of course, politicians and vapid community activists can do and speak what they want based on emotions but we are a society of rules and laws, which provide order. Anything else leads to chaos and tyrrany.

Maybe in a different times and under different circumstances, I could have found Ian to be other than what I think of him presently. I mean, I like good music, and good beer, and dogs, and the arts, but that's superficial stuff in the grand scheme of things. If the world doesn't have honesty, and truth, and justice, if we let bad triumph over good, then what kind of world would we have. I value the real, true, honest to God character of someone over exterior style and "fun" stuff.

As for moving on, I guess the only thing I can say is that as long as those two continue to push for the Town Center Plan, and continue to have an odoriferous aroma surrounding their behavior, then I'll be all over them like a pitbull on a chew toy.

PZGURU said...

Anon 8:57 - you are trying to water down the situation. You latched onto one minor point that I made and tried to make the centerpiece of my position. I;m sorry that you're missing the forest through the trees.

It's about abuse of power by Ulman, and because Ian defended Ulman's past actions, and continues to defend Ulman, that I find Ian guilty by association.

Ian is basically an enabler. He allows Ulman to continue to get away with poor behavior, abuse of power, and whay I call political corruption. If he doesn't like being lumped in with Ulman, that he shouldn't have climbed into bed with Ulman.

PZGURU said...

Ian - wow, you almost had me feeling sorry for you. As I just commented, maybe I should have been clear over the last 2 years. I don't necessarily think that you are behind all of this stuff, but the fact that you were and still are Ulman's defender means you are tied into it whether you consciously choose to be or not, and I think that makes you guilty by association.

I haven't even commented about so many other rumors I've heard about so many other things Ulman has supposedly done - because I don't know about those things first hand. On the other hand, there are plenty of things that I do know about and do have credibility on.

As for you addressing my accusations or questions I have to disagree with you (I know you're surprised). For the most part all you could ever say was (1) you're saying nasty things so it's not true or (2) you have no proof. I can remember citing specific examples for you and telling you to go and review the files personally and did you ever do that? No - you said you didn't have the time to look into silly accusations. You basically decided to stick your head in the sand.

All I have to do is point out recent things Ulman has done to validity my prior accusations. The Meridian site plan for one. Talk about political payoffs. How do you justify what he did? Of course, Ulman let DPZ take the blame - just like a sleezy politician.

You say I slander you and Ulman. I merely point out your hypocritical and inappropriate behavior. People who lie are liars. That's just how it works. I didn't create the definition of liar. If you want me to think better of you or speak better of you, try being honest and not lying and smearing other people. I feel that I'm simply dishing it back on you and Ulman the same as you have done, and continue to do to others. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

PZ:

Though we're likely on opposite sides of the development issue, you're speaking my language regarding power etc.. What is the story about Meridian Square?

Ian:

It's not likely that your reputation has the tiniest chink based on what is said here. I've had terrible lies, believable lies broadcast about me and while it doesn't feel good, it passes and I no longer care. It's easy to see your make-up, stop feeling attacked. It's an opinion and is regarded as such.

wordbones said...

pzguru,

I have no idea what occurred in your DPZ staff meetings. I was also not present when the alleged slight a public hearing took place. I have no comment on those events.

What I do have is over twenty years experience in working with the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning as well as other branches and departments involving projects with both large and small development firms.

I have also had interactions with local goverment staff and officials in Anne Arundel, Prince Georges, and Baltimore counties. Compared to these counties Howard County is squeaky clean.

I applaud any citizen who questions authority. At same time I expect that citizen to be ready to bear the burden of solid proof. Accusations based on speculation and conjecture have no place in constructive discourse.

-wb

Anonymous said...

Wb:

PZ was there, what more proof do you need?

I see his frustration.

PZGURU said...

WB - I hear you and agree that accusations have to be based on substance. I feel that I have concrete basis for most/all of what I accuse Ulman of doing.

That's an interesting analogy about "compared to other counties". It's not enough to say that Howard County has less corrupt officials than such a such County. I think/expect officials to be non-corrupt. Some activities can be assessed as political but not in violation of any law such as pursuing certain policies (live being environmentally conscientious). I have no issue with those things. However, when laws are violated, such as approving a site plan that doesn;t have the required parking, or illegally spot zoning a property for a friend, I do take issue with those types of actions.

At his core, I'm sure Ian is a decent person but he has chosen his bedfellows and if he doesn't like the negative implications of that, then he can change who he associates with.

ANON - the Meridian Square plan is a development in the Village of Oakland Mills. The owner/developer is a large campaign contributor to Ulman. The plan was approved with inadequate parking - the Planning Board approved the plan with on-street parking being counted toward the requirement, which is directly violation of the Zoning Regulations. On top of that, Ulman agreed to purchase a portion of the office space, at what I would call above market rates, and apparently didn't fully divluge this info to the Councilmembers in terms of budget discussions.

This issue came up at the Council sessions a month or two ago and was briefly mentioned in a newspaper although the article was very lacking in details or substance to give the public a true understanding of the scope of what was done. A gloss over job in my opinion.

Of course, Ulman ran on a campaign of not being in developer's pockets, of having an "open" forum type government. I guess by "open" he meant open for deals.

PZGURU said...

WB - so what do you think of the Meridian fiasco? As a developer, how do you feel that another developer has access to different regulations than you do? I mean, wouldn't every developer love to have their parking requirement reduced by 50% so they can get a much larger building?

wordbones said...

pzguru,

You comment is timely. I just drove by the Meridian Square site and noticed that the development sign says it will be available in Fall 2008.

Not likely.

In fact, I am doubtful that it will get built at all. Metroventures will have a tough time financing this project given the current state of the capital markets.

As to whether or not I think I think Metroventures got a special deal, my answer is a bit more complicated.

I was not happy that the county executive pledged to buy a floor in the project. I do not agree with the way that it was handled. That being said I also understand why he did it. I firmly believe he was trying to use the county's need for additional office space as a way to help the effort to revitalize that village center. I do not believe it had anything with a political contribution. Other developers have given as much if not more to Ken's campaign coffers and they have not been given any handouts or special treatment.

As for the parking exceptions, I understand the logic. There is already a fair amount of under utilized parking surrounding this site. On the other hand, I think the developer is making a big mistake. If I were developing that property and trying to sell those condos, I would want as much on site parking as I could get. Prospective purchasers are not going to like having to park accross the street or on the street. Most new buildings look for a parking ratio of 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet of rentable space. Metroventures is trying to get away with 3.5 spaces per 1,000 rentable square feet (just over 100 parking spaces). If the county takes a floor and they put about 100 people in there (industry average of 200 square feet per person), all the on site parking would be taken up by one tenant. This would be particularly detrimental for any retail tenants that Metroventures envisions for the first floor.

As I have written in previous posts on this project, the county is doing Metroventures no favors by allowing them to build more building than they otherwise would have been able to build. Meridian Square is simply too big of a building for this location. Selling out enough units to break even (even with the county deal) is going to be a pretty a tough slog, especially for a developer who has never built anything this big before on their own account.

That's my take on it anyway.

-wb

PZGURU said...

WB - you are dancing around the issue a bit. If the Zoning Regulations require a certain amount of on-site parking, and the County waived that requirement without having the authority to do so, regardless of reason for doing so, then is that or is that not a violation of the law?

Did or did not Ken Ulman campaign as a guy who would uphold the law and not afford special treatment to developers? Regardless of whether you agree that this developer got special treatment because of campagin contributions, the fact is that special treatment was given to this developer.

There are no shades of gray here. As much as "revitalizing VOM" may be good-intentioned, there is no such provision in the law that says the CE can waive regulations for that reason.

wordbones said...

pzguru,

I do not claim to know the intricacies of the zoning regulations. I am not a lawyer nor an engineer. In my own dealings with the county I do expect that, in some situations, a bit of flexibility is called for in the intreptation of the "intent" of certain "non life safey" regulations.

If a law has been broken then it is the duty of the states attorney to enforce the law and bring charges.

In the absense of that, I treat any cries of "illegal actions" with skepticism. I think we went all over this with Comp Lite. I am still waiting on my pint of Guiness from David Keelan on that one.

-wb

PZGURU said...

You are a very skilled dancer!

So only the State's Attorney knows what the law is and when a law has been broken? And just because the SA doesn't file a charge against someone, then it must be that no violation occurred? Seriously, I find this type of hedging to be very disconcerting. Maybe in a world free of political wrangling you could make such a claim and garner my support, or even widespread support. This is the exact type of head in the sand mentality that Ian chooses to adopt.

Flexibility is afforded via submission of a waiver petition, subject to adequate justification. I do believe that flexibility is merited in some situations, subject to going through the proper channels. Wouldn't you agree? Or do you feel that public officials can just make and break the laws as the see fit (on a whim). Isn't this exactly why the public has so little trust in public officials?

However, in this case, there is no provision that allows regulations to waived on a whim, by the CE or anybody else in the County. Sure, it happened in this case, and has happened before, but Ken Ulman promised that he would have a transparent, ethical, whatever you want to call it, administration, and he is acting completely contrary to that. And I don't need a law degree or the SA's concurrence to justify my position.

As for Comp Lite, we may never get a final verdict. I found out that the lawsuit is in limbo because the judge that had been handling the case suddenly recused himself from the case (2 years into it), and Tim McCrone has been appointed the new judge. I tried to contact Judge Becker's office to get a more detailed reason for why he stepped down, but couldn't get any info. WOW! What are the chances of getting a fair unbiased verdict with a good friend of Ulman deciding the case now? Now that really is fodder for conspiracy theorists.

PZGURU said...

WB - I forgot to mention that the County attorney ruled at one of the Council meetings when the Meridian case was being discussed that the Director of DPZ, and also by inferrence the CE, do not have the power to reduce parking. Does that change your mind at all on this?

wordbones said...

pzguru,

Look, you don't like Ken Ulman. That much is clear. You also feel you were disrespected when you worked for DPZ.

I get that.

My experience is different. I don't always agree with him but for the most part, so far at least, I think he is doing a pretty good for the majority of the citizens of the county.

If the county attorney ruled that the Director of DPZ overstepped her bounds on this one I still don't see it as some sort of a crisis in leadership. That stuff happens all the time and that is why we have a county attorney to call them on it. I just don't see this as that big of a deal.

As I stated previously, this is a "non life safety" issue and therefore should be taken in context.

I do take offense to your inference that "the developers" are having their way in this county. All developers are different just as with any profession. To lump them all together in an open indictment does nothing to further your case.

-wb

PZGURU said...

I'm not saying all developers are getting there way. Far from it. My point is that it appears that a certain developer(s) is/are getting special treatment. If all developers received parking reductions, that would be perfectly fair (although the law should be officially changed if that's the desired policy).

Nor am I laying the blame on DPZ staff, although they did try to justify the site plan approval after the fact. The director takes orders from Ulman and since Ulman brokered the purchase deal with the developer, he must have known about the parking issue. The buck stops at the top as far as I'm concerned.

My dislike for Ulman (which stems from this sort of behavior which has been typical of him over the last 6 years) has nothing to do with it either. Nor does the immature remarks made toward me at a public meeting several years ago. I really could care less what Ms. Feldmark thinks about anything. I brought up that incident just to convey the mindset and behavior of certain people that you would think would have shown a little higher regard for County employees. That point obviously escaped readers of this blog.

The fact that you or others don't want to see the writing on the wall for what it is doesn't make sense to me. Nor is it relevant whether this was a life safety issue or not. It's a matter of adhering to laws or breaking the laws (I must have taken a differnt civics 101 course than you). You obviously believe that it's ok for officials to play fast and loose with the laws, and that's a shame. I happen to believe in the rule of law, as old fashioned as that might seem.

The fact that he did it (broke the rules) once means it's likely that he's done it in the past (as I have publicly asserted) and/or that he will do it again. It speaks to his credibility or serious lack thereof.

So instead of expecting our public officials to hold high standards, lets turn a blind eye and give him a free pass, or make lame excuses for him. And you wonder why people are jaded and cynical about politicians and have no trust in the government.

BTW - what was the bet that you and Keelan had made regarding Comp Lite? Just curious.