Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TAG, You’re Out!

The failure of Taxpayers Against Giveways to rally any significant support to subject the Columbia Town Center redevelopment legislation to referendum is now official. According to this story by Sarah Breitenbach and Jennifer Broadwater in The Columbia Flier the “effort to bring portions of a massive plan to redevelop Columbia to referendum has failed.”

“The official count of the 3,491 signatures submitted by the citizens group Taxpayers Against Giveaways found 2,139 valid signatures — 362 short of the 2,501 required to keep the petition moving toward the November election, according to the Board of Elections Web site April 13.”

Predictably, the petition supporters are claiming that the referendum rules in Howard County were stacked against them. The fact of the matter is that they knew full well what the signature requirements were when they began their effort. Their rejection rate of 39% was a vast improvement over the 80% rejection rate of a previous ill fated referendum drive.

In retrospect, knowing what they knew, their rejection should have been even lower. I suspect they got a little sloppy in the end when it looked like they might not get enough signatures to clear the first hurdle.

I think the main problem was their message. The Town Center redevelopment program is hardly a giveaway. While it is true that the developer was granted an additional 3,000 or so new housing units they didn’t come free. The developer is required to set up a multi million dollar housing trust fund for affordable housing, renovate and improve Merriweather Post Pavilion and a host of other community enhancements, programs and public amenities.

Even the petition supporters like Alan Klein, the spokesmo for CoFoCoDo acknowledged that many signers actually supported the legislation.

“Klein said many signers were in favor of the Columbia redevelopment and believed a ballot question would reaffirm the community’s support for the plan.”

I guess some people just think we should be able to vote on everything instead of letting our elected representatives do the job we elected them to do.


Anonymous said...

You may be interested into his story. Post to your group or blog and tune in tonight on NBC Washington's News4 and find out what's happening in MD's government.

Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich has already announced he wants his old job back and will challenge Governor Martin O'Malley to get it. What's he going to do differently this campaign? And what does he think about the state of the state these days? We're one on one with the former governor tonight on News4 at 5.

Anonymous said...

No referendum haiku:

Bobo, Klein, Swatek:
Columbia has spoken;
the train is moving.

Anonymous said...

I think you all miss
the point of the effort in town.
A groundswell heaves up.

It's not so surprising that this referendum effort failed. What is surprising is that it almost made the cut under the arcane HoCo set of rules.

The missing link here is the large number of people who moved to Columbia for what it IS now...not for what it could be if this profit- amd tax-motivated downtown plan takes place. Expect them to leave the town and take their tax revenues with them if this plan is executed...leaviing the remnants to suffer urban decay and a declining quality of life.

Extrapolate the number of people who were not asked to sign a petition, in addition to those whose signatures were disallowed. I think we'll see some effects of these numbers in the upcoming elections, and in a drop of the quality of life in Columbia in the near and long-term feature, as tax revenue flat lines in the years ahead.

Somebody will make money off of this, but it won't be the people who end up leaving in the remains of Columbia's "urban" center.

Anonymous said...

Hanging chads. What is this, Florida?

Anonymous said...

Just remember the Fat Lady. She's not even warming up to sing yet. Keep an eye on the Circuit Court (which has yet to rule on the current Turf Valley petition signature issue).

Anonymous said...

It seems that there are two types of people in this world - those who resist change and those who embrace change. For the former, downtown Columbia has changed little over the past 20 years. However, this is a two-edged sword because there has been little reinvestment is the existing infrastructure either. So, downtown is becoming more and more degraded. For the latter, the General Plan Amendment is seen as a way to reclaim the glories of the past, when Columbians looked forward, not backward. Looking forward will attract new capital, new "net positive" taxpayers. Which are you?

futurefan said...

Anon 11:36 - The anti-change folks had five years to speak up during this public process; then lost at the County Council vote and then lost on the petition drive for a referendum. It is pretty clear that the majority has spoken - and they did not buy the outrageous claims the TAGgers made in trying to halt this revitalization (and I do mean outrageous - some were outright lies). I'm sorry to speak so plainly, but you are really beating a dead horse here. Do what you want, but, please, stop trying to place blame elsewhere for your failure to get public support.

Gimme A Break said...

Everyone wants the best for Columbia. There's a difference of opinion as to what that involves.

For those who think the extensive infrastructure improvements are going to be fully funded by the developers and that the County will be in a position to enforce this, I have a simple suggestion - provide a personal financial guarantee to the rest of us.

Absent your personal commitment, stop complaining about those citizens who have volunteered their time to reverse this sweetheart deal and replace it with one that guarantees developer funding of ALL infrastructure improvements and IS enforceable.