Tuesday, August 31, 2010
As I’ve said before, these types of accolades should always be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, it is still nice when others acknowledge what those of us who live here have long known.
This time Eden Prairie didn't make the cut.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Then they went to town on Liz. Though she got the endorsement it came with a pretty strong left hook.
“It seems that Liz Bobo has become part of a growing local segment of ‘reactionary anti-progressive liberals,’ all having to do with opposition to affordable housing,” according to a statement from the African Americans in Howard County. “And this endorsement is being given in the hope that Liz Bobo begin to mend her ways understanding that it’s far past time for ‘lip service’ to African Americans and working class families to enjoy Jim Rouse’s dream of racial and economic justice throughout Columbia and Howard County — especially when it comes to economic development and housing.”
That’s akin to endorsing someone while holding your nose.
Alan Klein was criticized both for his position on Columbia Town Center and his lack of a rational plan for affordable housing.
“Turner said Klein “has just not been articulating issues that would support affordable housing.” While Klein has mentioned that he would like to see affordable housing in downtown Columbia, he has not presented a “rational plan” for affordable housing there, Turner said, or in any other area of Howard County.”
And that’s supposedly one of his major issues.
It seems as if Alan is starting to become a liability for Liz. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
Today, Cybercore Technologies, a company based in Elkridge, announced that they have fifty job openings in their newly expanded facility in the Meadowridge Business Park.
But wait there’s more.
Hanover based Ciphent, Inc, is looking to add 40 people in the cyber security field this year. Proteus Technologies in Annapolis Junction is looking for 25 software engineers, preferably with those with clearances. This is just a sampling from the list of local companies with job openings that was compiled by Carolyn M. Proctor in the Baltimore Business Journal this week.
That list doesn’t include the 2,900 construction jobs that will be created in Crofton over the next four years.
Fabricating ever forthcoming jobs?
Some areas have a rather pungent odor as well.
Last week we learned that this project is also $1.2 million over budget.
Still, there are signs that the lakes eco system is coping with this extreme makeover. Yesterday we spotted turtles sunning themselves on the yellow skimmers crisscrossing the lake and the ducks and the herons were out in full force. We also spotted two young deer enjoying an afternoon drink in the wetlands by the power lines.
That’s appropriate. There is a bunch of stuff “ta get” for our returning students. Peanut now seems to grow out of shoes every three months and fine stores everywhere are bustling with parents their ubiquitous school supplies list.
Don’t forget the box of tissues for the homeroom!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The International terminal is not like the other terminal. It is the lesser terminal in many ways. There are no shops. It’s big. It’s empty. The lower level arrivals area is even bleaker, more closely resembling a bus terminal.
Everyone who is there to greet someone must wait until the newly arrived spend a little quality time with the US Customs Service and emerge through the translucent glass doors. It doesn’t happen all at once. Every time the doors part all eyes turn to the opening to see if this time it will be their people, most of the time you just sit and wait.
The only distraction in this otherwise drab environment is the Freedom Shrine, copies of historic documents protected by a Plexiglas shield.
An app saved me. True, I have been critical of apps since becoming a smart phoney, but Thursday night, while hunched over on a backless metal bench in the International terminal, I began to see the possibilities. I watched a series of ten minute NFL highlight videos. I was happy.
Last week Verizon sent me a notice on my phone that I could download the NFL app for free. I didn’t get an opportunity to check it out until that Thursday night in the bleakest part of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
I was just finishing my fourth video about Chase Daniel, the third string quarterback for the Saints who had a break out game against the Texans, when Mama Wordbones and CG strolled through the open doors.
"He was put on this Earth to draw beautiful women," Alonso says. Alonso places Cho in a long line of illustrators associated with "good girl art" -- im-ages of attractive women mostly in skimpy attire -- that include Frazetta and Wally Wood, whose work remains popular and coveted by collectors.
"His women have a light and intelligence behind their eyes you rarely see," Alonso says. "Others can draw a curvaceous body. What he does is different. It's the difference between a classic beauty and a Playboy centerfold."
In Gene Weingarten’s column in the same issue, Gene lists things that are now worth less than buck. Item number 12 takes aim at one of my favorite targets, the phone book.
“It still arrives at one's house, thudding onto one's driveway unordered, unwanted, unneeded -- an obsolete compendium of land lines in a cellular world, a nine-pound slab of irrelevance that the average household will need to consult less frequently in their lives than they will, say, a cat dentist. For some reason, two days after this item arrives, you get an automated phone message making sure it was delivered promptly. To my knowledge, no one has ever not hung up on this call.”
Saturday, August 28, 2010
“Kevin M. Joyce, the attorney representing the group, conceded, "There's no excuse," but said confusion caused the gaffe.”
Another fine showing from what has now become known as the gang who can’t shoot straight.
Though he’s the lone Republican on the council he’s actually found ways to be a fairly effective councilman. Instead of standing alone on the outside railing at the majority he’s found a way inside to work with his Democratic council colleagues. In a way, he views the real loco politico battle as being between the council and the executive, particularly in matters concerning the county budget.
Coincidentally, our open mic guest this week was one of the longest serving elected Republicans in HoCo, Kay Hartleb, the HoCo Register of Wills. In yet another example of how small our county is, Kay’s daughter Holly went to high school and college with my sister Maura, better known as Mumball. It was a message through facebook from my sister in Florida that originally put Holly in touch with us to get her mom on the show. As they say, it’s a small world but I wouldn’t want to paint it.
You can listen to the 22nd episode of “and then there’s that…” here.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Today I ran across a posting by school board candidate and Dyer disciple, Cindy Vaillancourt about students “hanging out” in the HoCo public libraries.
“We have to do better. There are so many exciting things we could be doing to engage kids all year round in learning and enrichment activities--- and it wouldn't have to cost a fortune. Of well, maybe next summer.”
That’s a great idea Cindy. Maybe we could encourage them to go to the mall instead.
When I wrote this post about the growing influence of the loco blogs in loco politics I found out that if you type the words “Liz Bobo” into a Google search, the sixth item in the results list is a blog post I wrote over two years ago. That made me wonder what would happen if I did the same for Alan Klein.
Alan Klein is a much more common name than Liz Bobo so I added “County Council” to the end of his name in the search bar. Despite the perception by some that I spend an inordinate amount of posts on Alan, none of the top ten search results were for this blog. This time the number six slot was claimed by HoCo Rising with this post.
Alan has just too many things going on. His absence at the League of Women’s Voters candidate’s forum was the subject of the second, and eleventh search result. A post by 53 Beers on Tap about Alan was number 13 and the fourteenth search result was also about the missed forum.
Tales of Two Cities was all the down at number 35 in the Google Search for “Alan Klein County Council.”
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I needed every bit of those thirty minutes. Guests, who were required to register well in advance and provide some cursory security information, had to pass through three checkpoints with armed guards before parking their cars. Once inside the OPS 2B building we were escorted in groups the short distance to the reception room while even more guards stood at each corridor along the way to keep anyone from wandering off.
The event was put on by the Fort Meade Alliance, a “non-profit independent community membership organization created to promote and support Fort George G. Meade, its 80+ government agencies and organizations and surrounding areas as an economic asset, to promote the well being of the region with programs that support FGGM priorities, and serve as a resource to help facilitate connections that make a difference.”
The event was limited to 400 attendees and was completely sold out within six hours. There were at least another 200 people on the waiting list.
The meeting was largely a networking opportunity for the business community serving NSA but the politicos were there as well. Congressman John Sarbanes, State Senator Jim Robey and Delegate Warren Miller were all in attendance.
General Keith Alexander, the head of NSA and the newly created cyber command welcomed the assembled group and quipped that he was selected to lead the cyber command “because he already had an office.”
He said that when the cyber command “stands up” this fall it will already have 1,100 people in place at the fort and that while much of the mission of the cyber command is classified, he could say that it is “huge.” I wrote that down. It reminded me a business outreach symposium that NSA sponsored about five years ago where they showed an escalating bar graph without data points. We were told those were classified too.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Brookfield already has a sizable presence in this area. The company owns Keswick Homes and over seven million square feet of office space in Silver Spring, Bethesda, Reston, Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC. They are also developing two master planned communities in Arizona; Brookfield at Verde Santa Fe, a “480-acre Master Planned Golf Course Community located in Central Arizona. Set at a beautiful location between scenic Sedona and historical Cottonwood” and Brookfield at Fox Creek, a “750-acre Master Planned Community located on the Bullhead Parkway across the Colorado River from the excitement of Laughlin, Nevada. A 750-acre Master Planned Community located on the Bullhead Parkway across the Colorado River from the excitement of Laughlin, Nevada.”
Brookfield is investing $8.55 billion into the restructured GGP and will own 16% of the new company that is temporarily known as Spinco.
It is likely that this new management group will keep the Columbia development team intact but will likely add a few new players as well. They have a pretty good bench after all.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The good news is that there appears to be eight good choices.
What I look for in a school member is someone who is capable of working with others. No one school board member can affect good policy, it takes a collaborative effort. Contrarians like Allen Dyer sometimes may make good press but rarely good policy.
David Thalheimer and Cindy Vaillancourt are little too close to Allen Dyer for my comfort. They both appear to be smart but after watching them during the League of Women Voters candidate’s forum and sampling some of the posts on their Yahoo group, howardpubliced, I came away with the impression that they just don’t play well with others. As a parent of a child in the schools, that’s not what I’m looking for on the school board
Marcelino Bedolla’s proposal that the schools use volunteer labor to paint classrooms and cut the grass made me think he is a little detached from the reality of the size HoCo school system. Not only is it doubtful you could ever get enough volunteers to take on this labor, just coordinating a volunteer effort of this scale would probably cost the school system even more money.
My short list for the school board includes (in no particular order of preference) Leslie Kornreich, Frank Aquino, David Proudfoot, Larry Walker, Robert Ballinger, Brian Meskin, David Gertler and Sandra French.
After the primary I’ll pick my final four.
Monday, August 23, 2010
As I was saving my completed masterpiece to a file on my laptop I inadvertently named it “lizal.” This might be even better than Klobo.
Leaving her to her morning slumber I headed down the road to my neighborhood Dunkin Donuts for my first coffee of the day when I spotted Bob Flanagan working the street. No doubt Bob was somewhat energized by Larry Carsons story about the District 1 contest in The Sun this weekend and his recent endorsement from his former boss, Bob Ehrlich.
I don’t think Courtney Watson is actively seeking an endorsement from the current guv.
Back at home I sipped my coffee while watching the Board of Education candidates’ forum online. With eleven candidates seeking four open seats there is a lot to digest in order to thin out this herd. Since the school board is so important and also receives so little play in the printed press, I’ve decided to hold off on making my endorsements for those four seats until after the primary on September 14th. I will, however, help voters to winnow down the eleven for the primary by making my picks for the eight who will stand for election in November. Look for those eight picks sometime this week.
Midway through watching the forum my coffee ran dry so I took another break and headed down to the old town for my second cup of the day. Fortunately, I ran into Ellicott City impresario, Kimberly Kepnes and asked her the question that has been on HowChows mind.
“Just what is The Blue Goose?” I asked, referring to sign in the window of the former Sarah & Desmonds café on Old Columbia Road.
“It’s a home goods store,” she informs me.
Then again, by now he already knew that.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
“In order to compare a legislator‘s score with his or her colleagues, both Senate and House members have been ranked by percentiles. The percentile represents where a legislator‘s 2010 MBRG % rating ranks in relation to other legislators‘ ratings. For example, a Senator with a percentile ranking of 78 has a 2010 MBRG rating greater than 78 percent of his or her fellow Senators during this time period.”
It will probably come as no surprise that in HoCo, all the business friendly legislators are Repubs. The highest ranking loco politico is Warren Miller with an 89 followed closely by Alan Kittleman with an 87. The next highest was Gail Bates with a 75.
The highest ranking loco Dem is Ed Kasemeyer with a 57, followed by Shane Pendergrass with a 39. Guy Guzzone, Frank Turner, and Liz Bobo all received a rating of 17 while Jim Robey earned one of the lowest ratings in the state with a 2. He did a little better with his cumulative rating of 40% while Liz Bobo’s cumulative rating was 25%, a distinction shared by only a handful of her fellow state lawmakers.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I think it is outrageous that teams charge full price for a ticket to these games too.
That being said, I’ll still have the TV on this evening when the Ravens take the field against the Redskins. I just can’t help myself.
It’s a good thing Shane Pendergrass wasn’t around then. Could you just imagine the desk slamming that would’ve gone on in the House of Delegates if that had come up under her watch?
Savage blogger Janis Markopoulus also got a nice little shout out.
Friday, August 20, 2010
He served on the Columbia Council representing Harpers Choice for six years.
He emceed every big thing at the lakefront.
He was a Benjamin Franklin impersonator.
He was not married to that Barbara Russell, ever.
He had what people refer to as a ready smile.
I liked that Bob was hip to the times as well. He has a HoCoMoJo page. He even ran a blog for a short period documenting the battle for his life.
He will be missed by many in the town he loved so well.
For instance, while Jim Robey (east county) has one of the lowest rankings from Maryland Business for Responsive Government, Allan Kittleman (west county) has the highest. Both ends of the spectrum right here in little old HoCo.
A house divided?
Delegate Elizabeth Bobo has consistently received low rankings from Maryland Business for Responsive Government. Out of the six delegates representing Howard County in the Maryland General Assembly, Liz has the lowest cumulative rank from her fifteen years in office. I suppose that is why she felt compelled to create yet another video showing how much she empathizes and relates to business people.
In a staged and seemingly heavily edited video on her deck, she has a roundtable discussion with Brian England of British American Auto Care, Dr. Terri Hill, a plastic surgeon and Richard Duetscham, a vice president of GroSolar. Curiously though, she spends most of the video promoting government created jobs as opposed to private sector job creation.
It is also interesting to note that none of her roundtable business people actually operate a business in her district. This is interesting because her district covers all of Town Center with about a million square feet of retail and almost two million square feet of office space. Couldn’t she find a business in all that space in her district that likes her?
There are so many other things odd about this awkward business discussion. It seems that just when it could get interesting something gets edited out.
Liz seems to enjoy these staged and edited interactions better than facing real questions from informed questioners. She is still the only local politician from either party who has declined to be a guest on our podcast.
And then there’s that…
Yesterday, our 150 pages plus proposal was delivered to the client and so now I can come up for air and get back to more prolific posting here. One of the things I will be dissecting later today is the latest campaign video by Liz Bobo. This time Liz lets us know she likes business people. I am grateful to Liz for continuing to provide fodder for this blog.
Apparently Patuxent Publishing likes Liz too only in a different way. The paper is rapidly losing street cred as an impartial observer in the loco politico scene.
With the proposal now put to bed and nothing left to do but wait, I’ve taken this gorgeous Friday off. Peanut and I are headed off for a hike this morning on one of the lesser traveled trails in Patapsco State Park.
More news later…
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Bavar Properties purchased the former BB&T bank branch four years ago for $2.7 million. After entering into a contract with Walgreens to build a 14,820 square foot store on the property, Bavar had to address traffic concerns and Barbara Russell in order to get a new site plan approved.
Columbia based Manekin Construction is handling the development and construction of the new store.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Magic Johnson and his Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds invested $17.1 million into the Oxford Square development project in Hanover. Oxford Square was recently rezoned from an M-2 industrial zone to a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zone allowing for a mix of apartments, offices and retail as opposed to warehouses.
Preston Partners was able to convince the Zoning Board that the development qualified for the TOD designation despite being located on the opposite side of MD Route 100 from the MARC station. Preston Partners uncovered an easement dating back to 1749 that provides direct access to the train station from the 122 acre parcel off of Coca Cola Drive which they used as justification for this change.
It remains to be seen how many people will use this easement underneath the highway to actually walk to the train station.
I wonder if the development will now include a movie theatre too.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I wonder which blog she was referring to?
She still didn’t mention anything that Alan has actually done for the HoCo environment. We’re still waiting on that.
This endorsement comes as no surprise to anyone who follows the loco politico scene. Liz has been miffed at Mary Kay ever since Mary Kay found her own voice on the issue of Town Center redevelopment and, despite his claims to the contrary, Liz was instrumental in his decision to get into the race.
In many ways, Alan Klein is Liz’s creation. Shortly after the formation of CoFoCoDo and his self anointment as spokesperson, Liz shepherded Alan around to every homeowners association in Town Center that would grant them an audience.
Liz has often said that Alan speaks for her on issues related to Columbia Town Center. Now it appears that she wants him to be her proxy on the county council as well.
Now if he can only show up…
The chain had already closed stores in Bowie and Bel Air back in February.
Closing stores in order to survive is rarely a good sign for a company.
There is no word yet as to whether the Ellicott City or Elkridge stores would be included on the hit list. In Ellicott City they will soon be facing even more competition from Target at Long Gate which is expanding to offer more grocery items including fresh produce.
Monday, August 16, 2010
She was a brown and white Springer spaniel with a pink collar. She was definitely old and more than a bit confused. She wouldn’t come to me and kept wandering back in the road while I played crossing guard to the occasional passing car. Soon enough one of those occasional cars rolled to a stop. The woman rolled her window down and asked if she could help. I quickly explained the situation as I knew it. She just so happened to have some liver treats with her. We used these to get a closer look at that pink collar. This had to be somebody’s dog.
Another car stopped. This time it was my neighbor Melanie, One Eyed Jack’s owner.
“That looks like Lucy,” she says as she approaches. If it is Lucy her house is less than a nine iron away. I run up the street and find Lucy’s owner, Brittany, in the driveway. Yes, Lucy is in fact missing, she somehow got out, the kids are suspect.
Lucy is an old dog Brittany tells us as she takes the dog up in her arms. She’s fifteen and senile. She said it would be awful if the dog went out by being hit by a car. I immediately thought of Mr. Bones in the book Timbuktu.
As Brittany and Lucy headed back home I turned to Melanie. Her eyes were reddened. She still misses Jack… a lot.
This day however, she helped another old dog to live another day.
I can certainly understand the county reimbursing the cost of a damaged car, so long as it wasn’t parked in a snow emergency route, but the county is also paying for mailboxes damaged by a plow. If a plow took out your mailbox you may be eligible for up to a $75.00 reimbursement from the county.
“County spokesman Kevin Enright said there were so many damaged mailboxes, the county could not investigate each claim, and so reimbursed residents up to $75 per mailbox.”
It seems to me that in this day and age of tight county budgets, individual homeowners should just suck it up and consider a mailbox damaged by a snowplow the same as a tree or shrubbery that was damaged by the heavy snow.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Four people walked down the midway holding a “Western Howard County Democratic Club” banner. I joked to Mama Wordbones that this was probably the entire club.
From their joint float in the parade, it appears that Cindy Vaillancourt, David Thalheimer, and Leslie Kornreich have formed a slate for their campaign for school board.
After the parade, as I was talking to Greg Fox, I was bumped from behind by fellow HoCo blogger Free Market. I didn’t get a chance to speak with him though before he ducked into the 4-H exhibition building.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Liz Bobo has a new video on her campaign website that appears to be an effort to prove that she’s in tune with the younger generation of Columbians. In a staged setting at the Wilde Lake boathouse, Liz has a light discussion of issues with Brianna Wertz, Sharlene Ferguson, and Brent McBride.
In the video Liz, who has served as a State Delegate since 1995, tells Brianna that sustainable living is about preserving Wilde Lake for future generations. It is sort of ironic that she says this just as we learn that, despite a $3.4 million cost overrun in the planned dredging of the lake, the lake will still have an algae problem. How come she didn’t procure “shovel ready” funding from the state for this project?
Sharlene Ferguson wanted to know what Liz could do to help her find a job. After fumbling on Charlene’s major Liz proceeds to talk about green jobs…for a criminology major!
Brent McBride needed a civics lesson. He wanted Liz to explain the difference between her role as a delegate and the role of the county council. Liz took this opportunity to talk about Symphony Woods which she says will become a “somewhat more active park, still passive but more active...”
She also talks about the café in the woods that, according to CA’s own documents, will be in a “future phase” perhaps as late as 2014, if then.
Liz Bobo is also now calling herself “an agent for change.”
That’s a pretty big stretch for an incumbent that’s been in office for fifteen years.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Welcome HoCo360, a feast for loco eyes. I hope you post often.
As the early evening affair wound down, a group of industrial brokers decided to take the party across Route 1 to the Pine Log Tavern. I thought of the Pine Log Tavern today when I read this article by Larry Carson in The Sun about the impending demise of the 999 Tavern just south of Meadowridge on Route 1. The Pine Log wasn’t as nice as 999. Its regulars included blue collar workers, bikers, and a few of those whose ship had passed by. The place had real character.
When a group of thirty something young men, all in dark three piece suits, full of alcohol and confidence, pushed through the door that early summer evening, the place suddenly got very quiet. In an attempt to immediately neutralize the turf, the young guns announced a round of drinks for all at the bar. I mean how badly could they get hurt? This was a PBR crowd.
All went well until it came time to settle up. The presentation of a credit card was met with a frown as the bartender pointed to dog eared beer stained sign by the cash register that read “In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash.”
Somehow they had missed that.
There was a bit of panic as the boys emptied their pockets of all available cash to the snickers of the old timers. Thankfully the pot was made right along with an honorable gratuity for the innkeeper.
The Pine Log Tavern was torn down around 1998 and a new business park was built in its place. The recession was finally over.
Up until about 2006, the Howard County Fair had a Farm Queen but in this age of political correctness the queen title has relegated to the dust bin of political incorrectness and replaced with a bureau. Call me old fashioned but I think this is ridiculous. Even Tess lamented the fact that she doesn’t get a crown like her predecessors did.
I’m with her. Tess is a lovely young lady who has a passion for animals and is a self described country girl. In my book she is more of a queen than a farm bureau.
All in all it was a great night at the fair and we had lots of fun with the various vendors and exhibitors. There are still two more days to head to West Friendship and perhaps check out a deep fried Oreo, but if you go visit the animals, be sure to watch your step.
You can listen to our 21st episode here.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Today gas stations are more about selling milk and cigarettes than they are about servicing cars. Gas is more often than not seen as a loss leader to draw people into a convenience store.
In Columbia’s original concept, a gas station with service bays in a village center was seen as important as the village center grocery store. Every village center included one and yet I haven’t heard anyone, with the notable exception of the station operator, complain about this change in village center concept. Even when a developer proposed putting an office building on the former gas station site in the Oakland Mills Village Center, nobody insisted he include a gas station in the design.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Even more troubling is Cynthia Coyle’s understanding of the scope of work. Cindy is the chair of the Columbia Association and this is her pet project.
First it was the $3 million computer software fiasco, today we learned about the $3.4 million dredging cost overrun. I can only imagine what will happen with the $4.5 million park makeover.
Fortunately I had to attend a meeting in Annapolis Junction for most of the morning but when we returned just past noon the inside temperature had risen to 88. The rest of my colleagues had already bailed to go work at home. We expected that it would be fixed by this morning. Our expectations were not met. We came to find out that our office had been somehow mysteriously been removed from the list of suites that were sans a/c. With beads of sweat dripping from his brow, Bill informed the property manager that this was in fact inaccurate.
When I left just before noon today it was already 84. I’m not going back until conditions improve. These are salad days for HVAC contractors.
Inside the board room there were even more Klein supporters in Klein shirts. In fact, the only thing missing was Alan Klein. He was unable to attend because he was away on business. This of course raises the question as to whether he will be able to make the time commitment required of a county council person should he be elected.
I suppose his supporters were trying to over compensate for his absence. They were a bit aggressive too. When I tried to take a picture of his empty seat next to Mary Kay Sigaty I was told by a woman who I assumed was with the league that picture taking was forbidden “because it interferes with the television cameras.”
I told her I wasn’t using a flash but she insisted that it would still interfere and therefore was not permitted.
It is interesting to note that nothing was said earlier in the evening when I took several pictures of the county executive candidates on the dais. I’ve also taken lots of pictures in this board room at county council public hearings without a problem. Last night, with the Klein Kommandos running things, new rules were applied.
All in all the evening was basically a campaign appearance. Only the county executive candidates were questioned by the LWV while the county council candidates were simply allowed to give four minute speeches. The highlight of these was Dr. Moonbeams all out attack on Greg Fox. The pediatrician left her beside manner at home and went straight for Greg’s jugular. Choose civility indeed.
The loco blogging community was also well represented at last nights forum. Sarah Says and HoCo Rising posted their observations last night.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Apparently their investigative techniques have had more in common with the Spanish Inquisition than with good forensic accounting. This actually may have been the impetus behind Steven Sattler’s sudden resignation.
Texting has now become the preferred method of communicating. I suppose that explains why my smart phone is at best mediocre for conversations yet excels at messaging.
“Not only are people making fewer calls, but they are also having shorter conversations when they do call. The average length of a cellphone call has dropped from 2.38 minutes in 1993 to 1.81 minutes in 2009, according to industry data. And between 2005 and 2009, as the number of minutes people spent talking on cellphones inched up, the number of cell phone messages containing text or multimedia content ballooned by 1,840 percent.”
Deborah Tannen, best selling author and professor at Georgetown sees the potential for a serious communication breakdown in this trend.
“Tannen, 65, worries that texting may fall victim one day to the same neglect that phone calls now face. Her generation's feelings, she said, are perfectly captured in a recent New Yorker magazine cartoon that shows two older, balding men sitting at a bar. The caption reads: "I used to call people, then I got into e-mailing, then texting, and now I just ignore everyone."
And then there’s that…
Monday, August 09, 2010
2006 was the first year that local blogs began to play a role in an election. Those four top blogs even got together and sponsored an online candidates forum for local and state races. It is doubtful whether their efforts had any impact on the election. In 2006 blogs were still considered a little “out there.” A few voters took note, most didn’t.
Four years later the blog landscape has changed completely. Hayduke ceased blogging in November 0f 2005 after a futile attempt to balance loco politico blogging with his new role as an insider, Evan’s blog began to fade away shortly after he was elected to the Columbia Council in 2007. Howard County Maryland Blog hasn’t had a new post since this past March and Hedgehog rarely posts on local issues anymore.
This time around two of the top loco politico bloggers were not even blogging in 2006 yet the readership and influence has noticeably increased. In 2006 most politicos paid little more than lip service to the nascent blogging community. This time around loco politicos not only read the blogs they also see the blogs as an important conduit for their messages.
It’s a shift of sorts, not a dramatic shift but a shift nonetheless and if it has the effect of reaching more voters and expanding the dialogue on local issues, it’s a good thing. Case in point is HoCo Risings post today on the Taxpayer Protection Initiative and the HoCo GOP. That is the sort of commentary that is best suited for this media.
The players may have changed but loco politico blogging is alive and well in HoCo.
Some have suggested that there is much more to this story than is being disclosed.
While I am certain that the current CA board would prefer to simply move on I think it might be helpful to have an independent investigation into what exactly caused this train to run off the tracks. The CA board owes that much to the Columbia property owners who are footing the bill for this mess.
Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
The next day when I arrived at work I found The Big Burn by Timothy Egan lying on my desk. My colleague Bill had dropped it off. I read a few pages and I was hooked.
The Big Burn chronicles the largest recorded wildfire in US history. It coincided with the arrival of the first US Forest Rangers in the west and the fire was a defining moment for the agency that forever changed their stewardship of our public lands.
As it turns out this month is also the 100th anniversary of the fire that claimed 86 lives and consumed over three million acres of virgin timberland. The story of the fire and the people who fought it is also the story of the America. It includes the heroics of first generation Americans from Europe and a platoon of Buffalo Soldiers from Spokane.
“On August 20, 2005, a day when the sun baked the Bitterroots with not much of a breeze to break the heat, top brass from the Forest Service assembled along Placer Creek, less than a mile from Wallace, Idaho. They came to northern Rockies to remember that other August 20 nearly a century before. An honor guard in crisp green uniforms and while gloves marched in single file along the road to the creek. They carried flags and blew bagpipes, the sound filling the forest and the steep slopes of the mountains. They also carried Pulaskis, shiny and chrome plated, holding them across their chests like riflemen clutching their weapons.”
All in all an excellent read. May I have another?
That being said, HoCo is a small county and I suppose I still know the rural west better than many east countians.
For the past four years this district has been represented by Greg Fox, the lone Republican on the county council. Despite being the lone opposition party member, Greg has had an outsized influence on county issues. He fought hard to insure that commercial development the Columbia Town Center redevelopment legislation kept pace with residential development. Greg understands the importance of those ratios in maintaining the county’s high bond rating. Commercial development helps keep the bond rating high because commercial properties don’t demand the same services as residential properties. and typically pay for more than they get back.
Despite being outnumbered, Greg has shown he knows how to work with his Democratic colleagues on the council to best serve the interests of the residents of his district and HoCo in general. It can’t be easy being the odd man out but for the most part Greg has found a way to be more than just a voice of opposition.
The Democratic challenger for the District 5 seat is a newcomer to loco politics and so far has demonstrated that she really doesn’t understand the role and functions of the council much less the important issues in her district. I applaud Dr. Beams for getting involved but maybe she should have started her loco political career in the farm league like the school board. She’s just not ready for primetime.
For the District 5 council seat I support Greg Fox for reelection.
What has Alan Klein actually done besides complain?
I challenge the Sierra Club point to one, just one, example of an initiative by Klein that has resulted in improving the environment in HoCo.
The fact is that the Sierra Club of Howard County has a history of being against green initiatives that actually benefit the citizens of HoCo. This is the same club that waged an all out effort to stop the construction of the wildly popular Grist Mill Trail in the Patapsco State Park back in 2002. Despite enlisting the support of William Donald Schafer who was then State Comptroller and a critical vote on the Public Works Board, they eventually lost that battle.
This same group now singles out Mary Kay as the only incumbent unworthy of their endorsement even though they admit that “There's not a lot we can say about Klein because he hasn't held office.”
So let me get this straight, Mary Kay supports a plan that will restore the stream beds in Town Center and correct the storm water runoff problems that have plagued Town Center for decades but the Sierra Club prefers someone who has done nothing but obstruct and complain?
Saturday, August 07, 2010
As has been pointed out elsewhere, the farm stand she singles out as “key in protecting the rural west from big-box developers,” is hardly a poster child for preserving HoCo agriculture. The Harbin family sold their farm to developers for an active adult community and the farm stand is all that remains.
Don’t get me wrong, I support the Harbin Farm stand but not because it holds the key to supporting HoCo farms. I just happen to like farm stands.
And there really isn’t any imminent threat of “big box retail” coming to western HoCo. The area simply lacks the key elements that these retailers are looking for in a location such as population density, highway visibility and public service.
The real economic issues for HoCo farms are things like whether a farm can host weddings and other events or whether they can put cell phone antennas on their farm silos.
I certainly hope Dr. Beams practices medicine better than she studies local issues.
Friday, August 06, 2010
“One of the boys said he got the idea from YouTube and admitted it had been the four of them the previous night as well, according to the report.”
This is just further proof that a smart phone does not convey intelligence.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Even back in the mid eighties Bolinas was legendary for its attempts to keep outsiders like me out. Residents continually tore down any sign that Caltrans erected identifying the exit for the town to keep people like me from visiting. Caltrans eventually gave up.
I thought of Bolinas when people got all excited about the second place ranking of Columbia/Ellicott City in Money magazine last month. Sure, it is nice to be recognized but this type of thing should be kept in perspective. There are plenty of nice places to live in America and not all of them care to promote that fact. Some like Bolinas, are perfectly content to keep that fact to themselves.
You can read this months column here.
Also, this issue of The Business Monthly also includes a nice little voter’s guide for HoCo and Anne Arundel county residents.
“The Business Monthly has asked each candidate for local and statewide office, as well as those running for office in counties or districts falling within our primary coverage area, to provide us with a biography and to answer a short questionnaire.”
They got a pretty good response but surprisingly 7 candidates did not bother to take a swing at this softball pitch. District 13 Senate candidate Kyle Lorton, Council District candidate Reginald Avery, School Board candidates David Thalheimer and Robert Ballinger, Register of Wills candidate Larry Blickman, Judge of Orphans Court candidates Leslie Smith Turner and Ajile Brown all took a pass.
There is also a HoCo politico piece by George Berkheimer about the slow pace of this years election.
“Compared to Howard County's last General Election, there's a bit less excitement in the air this year. Candidates have filed later than ever, some at the very last minute, and the first candidates' forum has yet to be held.
By contrast, forums were well underway by mid-May in 2006.”
He also writes that Alan Klein continues to insist that he is not a one issue candidate.
You can find the complete guide here.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
One of the first races to get battered around was the District 13 State Senate race. It was noted that Kyle Lorton failed to participate in the Business Monthly Candidate Guide. This is essentially blowing an opportunity for some favorable free press bringing into question as to whether he has enough fire in his belly. Kyle is one of two Republican challengers in a primary fight to see who will face Democrat Jim Robey in the general election. Kyles primary opponent is Jody Venkatesan. Some felt that if Kyle isn’t going to be serious about this race he should step aside and support Jody. This is a seat that was formerly held by Republican Sandy Schrader so it is a winnable seat for the GOP. The consensus of the group was that Jody is the better candidate. There are quite a few people out there who supported Jim last time that have since jumped ship.
The House of Delegates race in District 13 also was discussed. It was widely agreed that Guy Guzzone is the safest incumbent in this district, followed by Shane Pendergrass. The group perceived Frank Turner as the most vulnerable incumbent and that Ed Priola had the best chance of the four Repubs vying for a seat in this heavily Dem district.
One of the more interesting observations by one of the group was about the primary battle between Mary Kay Sigaty and Alan Klein. This political observer put the odds in this race at 60/40 in Mary Kay’s favor, which is a little too close for comfort. It was pointed out the primary contests in off year elections like this are dominated by the true believers. The trouncing that Linda Odum took at the hands of Phil Kirsch in the Columbia Council election this past spring augured well for Klein.
Nobody in the group liked slates. I personally happen to think that they are an insult to the voter. Just because I like Guy Guzzone doesn’t mean I like Shane Pendergrass. If anything that association detracts from Guy. I think candidates should stand on their own two feet, not on somebody elses slate.
And speaking of Guy, this group did not shy from looking into the HoCo politico future either. It was widely agreed that Guy will make a run for county executive in 2014 but not without a challenge from Courtney Watson. The Repub candidate for county exec that year will likely be Alan Kittleman.
This group of political prognosticators has agreed reconvene on a regular basis for more political crystal ball gazing so stay tuned.