Thursday, September 30, 2010
"In a 5 to 2 decision, with an opinion to come later, the majority ordered the lower court to have the referendum placed on the ballot in November."
This decision could have repercussions in HoCo. Marc Norman and his Citizens for Open Government, are also awaiting their own decision from the Court of Appeals on their failed petition drive to keep Harris Teeter out of Turf Valley. No doubt Marc and the other anti development activists in HoCo are heartened by this turn of events over in MoCo.
"Exactly what the decision will mean for petition signers - and gatherers - across the state will depend on the judges' written opinion."
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Though I didn't stay for the entire marathon forum last night I did catch the council candidates and these are my somewhat random observations:
Courtney Watson and Bob Flanagan were probably the most evenly matched of all the council candidates last night. That being said, Bob still came off as a bit dour while Courtney seemed more confident and relaxed. The only real "moment" between them came when Bob said that the county is facing a $16 million budget deficit for next year. Courtney immediately countered that this was not true. Later, when I mentioned to Greg Fox that I thought Courtney won that point, Greg said that Bob was right and that there is a "projected" $16 million shortfall for the 2011 budget. I don't think Bob said "projected" but Greg insists he did. I guess we'll just have to wait for the rebroadcast to see who's right.
Reginald Avery seems like a nice enough fellow but he is no match for Dr. Ball. Among the initiatives he said he'd tackle as a council person is eradication of the mosquitoes at Lake Elkhorn. That should win him a couple of votes in Owen Brown.
Tom D'Asto appears to making a pitch to the supporters of Alan Klein. He blamed "the developers" for every ill affecting the county. He said he'd make them pay for dredging Columbia's lakes since they were ultimately responsible. For a Repub he sure came off as anti business.
In District 3, the former incumbent Dennis Schrader seemed more in command of the issues than the current incumbent, Jen Terrasa. When asked about the possibility of imposing an ambulance fee in HoCo like MoCo, Dennis drew on his hospital experience in explaining his reasoning as to why he didn't support it. Jen simply said "my sense is that it is not a good idea."
Afterwards I asked a senior elected Dem how they thought Jen did and the answer was a lukewarm "reasonable."
Zaneb Beams looked very uncomfortable last night. The last time I watched her in a candidates forum she went right after Greg Fox's jugular. In contrast, last night she seemed a little out of it. When asked to identify the biggest environmental concerns in District 5 she answered "water and air" and then proceeded to talk about air and water pollution and it's effects on her pediatric patients. When it was Greg's turn to answer, he spoke of working with the agricultural community in the rural west to control runoff, once again demonstrating that he actually knows where his district is.
According to this story by Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition, a "new study from the insurance industry finds texting while driving laws have had no immediate benefit in reducing crashes."
It turns out that the law causes people to lower their phone to keep it out of sight which results in them actually lowering their eyes down and away from the road.
And then there's that...
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
An awkward silence followed.
He did poke a little fun at himself when he made his opening statement. He said that he knew some people thought of him as the mystery man because of his late entry into the race. Other than that it was an overall pretty weak showing for Mr. Avery. He readily admitted that while he had looked at the budget (he mentioned something about how he needed to touch it) he hasn't actually read it . He made some comment about how long it is, "over sixty pages."
But the type is big. I think he could handle it.
There were other notable moments as well but I seriously lack the energy to write anymore tonight. My day started with my annual stress test and ended at 8:30 PM in Smith theatre listening to loco candidates...lots of loco candidates.
I was one of the few people in the audience who wasn't associated with a campaign. The audience changed each time the occupants of the dais changed, except for me, Len, Larry, and Kristi.
Do I know how to have fun or what?
The kicker was that the group I really wanted to listen were the District 13 General Assembly candidates but by the time they took to the stage I was done. I'll just have to catch them later on the rebroadcast on hcpsstv.com.
I'll share more tomorrow. Time now to de-stress.
Still, I'd like to at least catch the District 13 House of Delegate candidates. The action on my post about District 9A has been impressive, particularly considering that my District 12B post elicited only one coded comment.
I really should be working on my column for the October issue of The Business Monthly tonight but I have no earthly idea what I'm going to write about yet. Perhaps tonight's forum will provide the necessary inspiration.
Monday, September 27, 2010
WAPO staff writers, Chris Richards and David Maliitz described it as "a 90-minute grand finale that spliced together rock-and-roll's bombast and disco's invincible pulse. "
Apparently their performance included a disco ball.
"But let's talk about that disco ball. It was a massive orb worthy of Sisyphus -- a hulking metaphor hanging over the heads of frontman James Murphy and the six supporting members of LCD Soundsystem, who put painstaking, workmanlike effort into their exhilarating songbook. After hours and hours (and hours!) of live music, thousands of exhausted fans lunged from their seats to throw their filthy hands toward the shimmering sphere overhead. "
According to this story by Shannon Baylis Sarino in The View some of those who admired his creations, "equated them to rock formations found in other places, including Hawaii and Barbados. Many cultures have used stacked rocks to honor their gods, Betts said, quick to point out he was not the person to "invent" the practice."
All I know is that they made me smile.
Thank you to commenter "Cathy" for alerting me to his passing.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
On the one hand, making two picks was a little tougher than I originally thought. My first choice was easy, Jon Weinstein. He’s smart. He’s a business guy with some chops in making government operate more efficiently. He’s a Dem in the mold of Courtney Watson.
The second pick presented me with a bit of a dilemma. Warren Miller and his tea party like antics makes me uneasy. Maryann Maher is the perfect pick if you are what Chuck Ecker refers to as a BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody) . Gail Bates was ranked by Gazette.Net as the ninth least influential delegate in the General Assembly.
On the other hand Warren Miller achieved “the highest MBRG cumulative score among all Republican veterans in The House of Delegates.” The MBRG is the Maryland Businesses for Responsive Government. Warren is a businessman and he looks after business interests in Annapolis and that's what we need to retain and create jobs. Warren Miller for the House of Delegates in 9A.
That’ll likely suprise a few people, including Warren.
Out on the 11th through 15th holes we could hear the music from the Virgin Fest at Merriweather. There were helicopters hovering around Town Center too. I quipped to my fellow golfers that the noise of the copter was affecting my concentration. Yeah right.
I couldn't tell if it was the HoCo Po's whirlybird.
We finished up around 3:00 PM but we didn't get down to Ellicott City until 5:00 PM, just as they were closing down the beer garden in Tiber Alley. Undeterred we sampled a couple of the pumpkin brews in The Phoenix.
My other intention was to write a blog post about my picks for the House of Delegates in 9A when I finally made it back home. That didn't happen either. The combination of the pumpkin beer, the day in the sun and the new interface on Blogger did me in.
One of the news stories we picked for the show was actually a blog post from HoCo Rising, “Brian Meshkin: The Unauthorized Biography.” Tom’s peak behind the curtain of the school board candidates resume was rather unflattering and inflamed his supporters. This blog posting was far better than the fluff pieces The Sun has been running on the various candidates for school board. Inspired by Tom’s stab at investigative journalism I have begun my own digging into Meshkins firm, Salugen Biosciences.
Our “two minute” guest for this episode was Chris Oxenham, local GOP activist and former candidate for the HoCo Republican Party Central Committee. Chris is outspoken and passionate about his party and loco politics.
You can listen to the 24th episode of “and then there’s that…” here.
Friday, September 24, 2010
This is what it looked like last December.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
He can’t even venture out for pizza right now for fear of being spotted. If this goes viral he’s really screwed.
I’m referring of course to the so called “Preppy Burglar” who was captured, or at least his image was, breaking into a home in Highland. According to this story by Peter Hermann in The Sun, the unidentified homeowner had installed a video camera by his front door after being broken into earlier. The video is priceless, Investigators were “as surprised by the quality of the video as they were by the way the man was dressed, quickly dubbed him the "Preppy Burglar." They released two videos Wednesday and have posted a $500 reward for help in his capture."
The story includes a copy of the video and it’s worth checking out if you have a black sense of humor like mine. If anybody knows this guy they’ll likely recognize him immediately.
Sure sounds like the middle school I remember, only back then it was called junior high.
Without passing judgment on the merits of this individual case I’ll just say that, from my own personal experience, the HoCo school system approach to bullying is a fairly proactive one. In the three different HoCo schools that Peanut has attended so far, both teachers and administrators have been fairly responsive in addressing this issue.
On the other hand I do take issue with the scope of this legal action. I mean really, a ten million dollar federal lawsuit for bullying?
Isn’t that a bit excessive?
Apparently the parents, Peter and Cindy Bulgarino, have since placed the traumatized child in a Catholic school “where he is excelling” according to their attorney Phillip Sweitzer.
“But he said that the student's family still deserves justice, having had to pay medical and educational expenses as a result of the school system's alleged negligence.”
I didn’t think Catholic schools had gotten that expensive. Must be the therapists.
When Liz settled into the District 12B House of Delegates seat in 1995 she pretty much fell off my radar. Even when I lived in her district, I basically considered her harmless because she was largely an ineffectual legislator. After all this time in Annapolis she still doesn’t head a major committee.
I no longer consider Liz to be harmless. Over the past four years she has worked to polarize the community, supported institutional mediocrity at the Columbia Association and lost touch with the county she once tried to lead.
After fifteen years it is time for an effectual leader in 12B and I believe that to be Bob Wheatley. Bob is a business man and an environmentalist. As someone who has spent many a day plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in a blow boat he has experienced firsthand the degradation of the largest estuary in the United States and the third largest in the world. People who sail share a personal connection with the eco system when they are out on the water. It is one thing to talk about the environment from our landlocked HoCo perspective but it is another thing entirely to get out there and to see where decades of political inaction in Annapolis have bought us.
I look for different things in my state house politicians than my county politicos. In the state house I want representatives who pay more than lip service to protecting our states greatest resource, the Chesapeake Bay. I also like to see business people in the general assembly who know what it is like to run a business in this state and what is needed to create and sustain jobs. I happen to think that Bob Wheatley is that guy.
Bob Wheatley for the House of Delegates in District 12B.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The only walking I did today was out to the car and back.
In theory, I should have been able to at least bike to work. I live in Ellicott City and work in Columbia, less than five miles distance as the crow flies. I have a bike, two in fact. There is even a shower at my office. The weather was beautiful.
The reason I didn’t do this are threefold. For starters, you never ride a bicycle from Point A to Point B “as the crow flies.” Instead you follow a maze of roadways, and if you are lucky, a paved pathway or two. Once I leave the relatively safe confines of the county roads in my Ellicott City neighborhood I merge into a series of state roads with heavy traffic and shoulders that come and go. The Route 100, Route 108, Route 103 chasm between Ellicott City and East Columbia is neither bicycle nor pedestrian friendly.
The second challenge is that, due to the nature of my job, I often have to travel somewhere local during the day. Today I attended a broker luncheon for a new warehouse condominium redevelopment project over by the airport. Making that trip by bike was not an option. Still, I do suppose that I could have caught a ride with one of my colleagues.
That would still leave the third hurdle. Wednesdays I have to pick Peanut up at school. I don’t have a tandem bike.
So today, on national car free day, I remained shackled to my car as usual.
All throughout this past summer I’ve kept a lookout for the rock stackers in the Patapsco River in Ellicott City. Beginning back in the summer of 2008, people began making temporary rock art by stacking rocks in the river and this impromptu art happening was revived in the summer of 2009. This summer however, the rock stackers seemed to have lost interest until now, the last official week of summer.
I was glad to see the tradition revived, even it was a bit late.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Many have now given up any hope that she can be defeated this time around. A Republican, they’ll tell you, doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of winning in District 12B. This is solid blue earth.
Still, there are reasons enough for optimism for those who prefer Cinderella stories. For one, John Bailey wasn’t exactly the strongest candidate. He sure worked hard and he’s a genuinely nice guy but he just didn’t excite people. He still got 18% of the vote.
One of those was my buddy Jim. Jim grew up in Longfellow, the very heart of Bobo land. His dad was a founding member of the Friends of the Traditional Fourth. This was back in the time that a keg of beer was considered an integral park of the annual softball grudge match between the Hesperus Wrecks and the Elliott Oaks Nuts. I’m told that is sadly no longer the case.
In all his years in Columbia, Jim has voted for Liz Bobo until this year. This year Jim voted against Liz Bobo more than he voted for John Bailey. His mother did the same.
Bob Wheatley is no John Bailey. Whereas John often came off as over eager, Bob comes off as a semi reluctant candidate. He initially supported John Bailey when John was running as a Republican. When John changed teams Bob sort of unfriended him.
Jim tells me that party affiliation at this level of government is just not that important to him. He votes the person, not the party. He’s a Democrat but Bob Wheatley can likely count on his vote.
Probably his mom’s too if she gets to meet him.
The other reason for hope is that Liz has pretty much alienated most of her loco Dem colleagues with this whole Alan Klein fiasco. Everyone in HoCo loco politico circles has long known that Alan was Liz Bobo’s surrogate. As far back as four years ago she was marching him around to various homeowner’s association meetings introducing him as the guy to preserve Columbia. Liz was miffed at Mary Kay Sigaty for finding her own voice on Columbia Town Center redevelopment and was determined to make her pay for having the audacity to cross her. She then essentially created her own FrankenKlein. I even called it in this blog post back in July a year ago. He of course denied it. The bottom line, nobody else in town was buying Klein’s act outside of the Columbia lunatic fringe who absolutely love the guy.
As a result this political stunt, Liz stands alone amongst her Democratic colleagues. Sure she is on Ed Kasemeyer’s “legislative team” but don’t look for Mr. Ed to get too cozy with her in the coming weeks. Right now, with her fellow Dems, she’s more toxic than Dr. Moonbeams.
So yes, there is hope. Voters in 12B just might choose Bob over Bobo. Stranger things have happened in HoCo.
Monday, September 20, 2010
In Columbia, it’s the Virgin Mobile Free Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though it is billed as a “free” event, no free tickets remain available but if you have $125.00 you can be a “very important person” with a VIP ticket that includes a seat in the pavilion, priority parking and a special bar/lounge inside the pavilion and at the West stage.
I actually recognized one of the bands this year; Joan Jett and the Blackhearts which actually made my old geezer heart feel a little younger.
In Ellicott City it’s the annual Fall Festival in the old mill town from noon to five. There will be live music, activities for the kids like scarecrow making and a blacksmithing demonstration and you don’t have to be a VIP to enjoy the beer garden in Tiber alley.
Later that night The Wine Bin will host their final movie night of the year in the parking lot next to the store. The featured movie is The Princess Bride. It’s also free and if you can act like a VIP by buying a bottle of wine and enjoying it with the movie.
The horse crowd will congregate at Marama Farm in Clarksville for the 23rd annual Howard Community College Classic Grand Prix. This event was moved from the college campus in Columbia last year to better accommodate the equestrian enthusiasts. Tickets range from ten bucks for the cheap seats to two hundred bucks for the high faluten VIP crowd in the big tent.
Mr. Ed’s District 12 “Legislative Team” includes Liz Bobo, Steve DeBoy and James Malone.
I noticed that from their website pictures, that team members, DeBoy and Malone both think it’s important to be shown sitting at their desks, heads down, like they are too busy to look up at the camera or something.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
That was easy, none.
I had arrived home in the late afternoon on Friday only to find that I couldn’t get on the internet. When I called the Verizon FIOS support number the recording suggested I try the online troubleshooting first as “that often is the quickest way to fix a problem,” or something like that.
That of course assumes you can get online.
When I finally got the opportunity to speak with customer service we quickly ascertained that the cause of my disconnect was a bad transformer.
“We’ll ship one out to you and you should have it by Monday.”
That was it, despite my entreaties that there must be some way to get this seemingly simple part sooner, the bottom line was that our household would be without internet this weekend. I first broke the news to Peanut.
“No You Tube?”
No You Tube.
Blog posts of course were out of the question as well, from home at least. Though theoretically doable, I just wasn’t up to attempting a blog post with my smart phone.
It wasn’t just the internet that was affected by this equipment failure either. The FIOS On Demand service was also disabled. No internet no on demand, who knew?
Peanut was relieved to discover that Fred the Movie wouldn’t be impacted though. She had been looking forward to this all week.
As for me, I too am grateful that the broadcast of the Ravens game will not be affected either.
Friday, September 17, 2010
I think both reporters missed the key point of voter turnout. Most loco politico prognosticators believed that a low voter turnout strongly favored Alan Klein. The belief was that those opposed to Columbia’s Town Center redevelopment would be heavily motivated to get out and vote while supporters, believing that the legislation was already a done deal, would be somewhat less so. I was one of many loco politico watchers who believed a low turnout would be bad news for Mary Kay.
It was a historically low turn out, ergo, advantage Klein.
It didn’t turn out that way. Even with this seemingly big advantage, Mary Kay still garnered over 60% of the vote.
According to Larry, Alan Klein believed “"An awful lot of people didn't know what the issue was."
That’s extremely doubtful. Voters who tend to turn out for primaries are generally more informed than voters in a general election. Columbia Town Center redevelopment has been a top local story for the past three years. It has been endlessly debated in the papers, the pubs, the coffee shops, churches and blogs. If anything, this issue suffered from overexposure.
The truth is, the community and the developer, after years of negotiations and public input, crafted a good plan. Now they are simply ready to get on with it and nobody was buying what Alan and Liz Bobo tried to sell.
Alan and CoFoDoCo were completely repudiated in this election. Liz spent a good deal of her political capital on a dog that just won’t hunt.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
They basically gutted the place and rebuilt it from the inside out. The owners had originally hoped to open last month.
Keeping with the Beatles theme, instead of numbers the rooms are labeled J, P, G, and R for you know who.
It now appears they’ve begun to have second thoughts about their blogging brethren.
No longer are local blogs included in the Social Networking section of the online newspaper. There is no link to The Mobbies. Links to related blog posts are no longer provided at the end of news stories.
Was it something we said?
The Washington Post on the other hand, is still showing the loco blogs a little love. They still maintain a directory of local blogs complete with feeds of latest posts.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
After squeezing in a couple of poll visits during the workday I met up with HoCo Rising and Indiana Jane at the Iron Bridge Wine Company to buy a fellow blogger a drink for his birthday.
My first stop after that was Ken Ulman’s campaign HQ in the Lakeside shopping center just off Dobbin Road in Columbia. When I arrived, the first returns indicating that Mary Kay had won the day had just come in from the Board of Elections. The first candidate I actually spoke with was John Bailey. Even that early in the evening he knew that the game was up. I felt bad for the guy. No one can say that he didn’t work his butt off in this election but it in the end it just wasn’t enough.
I also ran into more than a couple of well known Republicans among the gathered Dems. Mike Davis and Lin Eagan among others were there to show their support for Mary Kay.
Jim Robey asked me where my microphone was. I suppose from now on he’ll see me as a podcaster instead of a commercial real estate guy…not that there is anything wrong with that.
Calvin Ball told me that he had spent the afternoon working the Dunloggin polling station for Mary Kay. I told him that HoCo Rising had mentioned that when he dropped by Dunloggin there was no one there for Mary Kay. It looks like these two just missed each other.
The big gun, Elijah Cummings dropped by too. I may not always agree with his politics but the more I talk with him the more I like him as a person.
When I arrived across town at the GOP gathering at Union Jacks the first group I ran into was David Yungmann, Kristi Simon and Ed Wadell. Ed bought me my third and final glass of wine for the night. Thanks Ed.
With wine in hand I went over to talk with Trevor who was talking with Dennis Schrader and his campaign manager Sharon Gilbert. Dennis told me that he had knocked on about 3,000 doors in District 3 and was feeling pretty good about his prospects. I told him that the word from the Dem camp was that Ken was going to turn his attention to helping Jen Terrasa now that Mary Kay was taken care of. Dennis didn’t seem too concerned.
He did tell me he thought that Ken should be concerned about his own race. I asked him what he was drinking. He sincerely believes Trent Kittleman has a good chance to upset the county executive in November. I’m just not seeing it.
Before leaving I spent a few minutes with Bob Wheatley. Bob seems pumped for his showdown with the now battle scarred Liz Bobo. He seems wholly undeterred by the odds but then again it was a night when all things seemed possible.
It’s a sickness.
It was a good night for incumbents. With 97.4% of the precincts reporting the two top vote getters were Sandra French (16.16%) and Frank Aquino (16,07%). The remaining six who will compete for the four open seats in November are Larry Walker (9.78%), Brian Meshkin (9.02%), David Proudfoot (8.98%), Cindy Vaillancourt (8.71%), Robert Ballinger (8.20%) and Leslie Kornreich (7.41%).
Now I think I’ll have that cup of coffee…
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The big news for the GOP tonight was the apparent victory of Kyle Lorton over Jody Venkatesan in the primary battle for the District 13 State Senate race. If the numbers hold true, it will be Kyle who will face Jim Robey in November.
There is more I’ll share about the Union Jacks gathering tomorrow. For now, sleep beckons it’s time to shut down the computer and call it a night.
A big wag of the wordbones tail to all those volunteers who worked hard for their candidates and democracy in HoCo this primary season.
After joining fellow blogger Tom Coale for a birthday drink tonight at the Iron Bridge Wine Company, I headed over to Ken Ulman’s campaign headquarters. When I arrived around 8:30 PM the early returns were showing Mary Kay Sigaty with a commanding lead over Alan Klein and Liz Bobo with an even more commanding lead over John Bailey. In other words, the election was turning out pretty much the way many thought it would.
The big news among the Dems however was how this primary battle diminished Liz’s standing in her own party. Her decision to back a losing candidate against a popular incumbent marks a turning point in her political power. It certainly changes the dynamic for the general election in November. While Mary Kay emerges stronger from this primary battle, Liz is definitely weaker.
Though Liz beat John Bailey by a wide margin she’ll find Bob Wheatley a much tougher opponent in the next go round. She better hope she can mend some fences with her Dem colleagues before then.
From there I swung over to Swansfield Elementary where I ran into local blogging legend, Hayduke who was also working the poll for Mary Kay. As fate would have it I also ran into Liz Bobo and Lloyd Knowles. Though Lloyd pretty much avoided me, Liz and I were able to share a brief laugh. I had just told Hayduke that I seemed to recall that in the past bars weren’t allowed to open on Election Day until after the polls closed. I asked Liz if she remembered when that changed.
“Before my time,” she responded.
I do intend to make the rounds of a few bars tonight starting with Victoria around 6ish. Hopefully I run into some fellow loco politico wonks to trade notes on the day’s proceedings over a beer or two. From there I’ll venture to Ken Ulman’s HQ on Dobbin Road and then wind my evening up the Repubs at Union Jacks all of which will lead to an election night post when I return home.
For the rest of the county it’s all about the school board today when the crowded field of eleven will be winnowed down to eight.
I spotted Courtney Watson and Jon Weinstein working the polls at Ellicott Mills Middle School this morning. Courtney said that as of 8:00 AM this morning the turnout was about average for a primary.
Average won’t cut it. It’s a gorgeous day in HoCo…get out and vote!
Monday, September 13, 2010
Well its certainly better than Spinco anyway...
Sunday, September 12, 2010
“However, I will say that it is a shameful example of the county choosing to ignore the requests of the residents of Thunder Hill and Talbot Springs neighborhoods who will be most affected. These neighbors were unanimous in their opposition to the Walgreens project at that location for very good reasons, a major one being the unsafe traffic situation at that corner.”
The residents of Thunder Hill and Talbott Springs were unanimous in their opposition?
That is simply not true but the truth is a bit elusive for Mother Russell. She goes on to say that “there is a pharmacy located in the health care complex located practically across the street from the Walgreens site.”
That’s a stretch. In fact it is over a half mile away, across Route 175, with no sidewalk or pathway connecting it to the residences in the village.
Come on mom!
Last Thursday, as I watched the opening game of the season on NBC I realized that the game was also live on my phone (albeit with a short delay). The implications of this were immediately obvious to me. I can now watch NFL games even if I am compelled to be away from the warm embrace of my couch and high def TV on Sundays.
Need to go shopping with the spouse or SO?
You still got game.
Your turn to take the kids bowling?
You still got game.
This is huge.
I counted them up and could only get to about 15 local blogs. Nonetheless, Chris went on to explain that his company, CSRA, Inc. had “evaluated Columbia’s “online voices” for engagement, depth, visibility, influence and many other factors”
Many other factors?
He then invited me to participate in a survey by asking “Are you game?”
Sure, I’m game. I went ahead and took the survey. Well at least I sort of took it. It wasn’t a very good survey in my opinion. For example, question number five asked “How many hours per month do you spend discussing and acting on Columbia community issues?”
I answered “Too many.”
Another asked “What are the best Offline venues for discussing community issuers (group or meeting names).” They provided five spaces. I thought about naming five local bars but I left all five spaces blank instead.
Question number 9 asked “With regard to Columbians online activity, what issues need to be discussed LESS often?”
They provided three spaces. I couldn’t think of one. I left this one blank as well.
Number ten asked “If you could change TWO things about Columbia’s online community of blogs, social networks, Twitter streams, YouTube channels and websites, what would those things be?”
I had no idea of where to go with that one.
As near as I can tell, CSRA is one man operation based in Chicago. Considering the wealth of social media expertise available right here in HoCo, I found it odd that a guy from Chicago, who is largely clueless about the local “Web 2.0 ecosystem,” was hired for this project. He even sent me a subsequent email asking me who 53 Beers on Tap was.
I’m fairly certain a local consultant wouldn’t have had to ask that question.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
As it turns out, he was in Clyde’s for one of his business roundtable meetings that he has been hosting around the state. Since we were already planning on taping our podcast at the restaurant, I asked Bob if might join us for a few minutes.
Of course we already had a guest for the show, Rachelina Bonacci, the executive director of Howard County Tourism. We asked her if she’d mind sharing her guest spot and she readily agreed. She told us that this had actually happened to her once before when she was interviewing the Farm Queen and Bob interrupted her to borrow the queen for a photo opp.
With two guests and our regular stuff, episode 23 was our longest so far, almost forty minutes. In addition to having the Republican gubernatorial candidate explain why he is spending so much time in HoCo we also found out why we all should spend more time in HoCo this fall. Rachelina told us that there are 23 farms open to the public in HoCo this fall with everything for the family from apple fritters to corn mazes. She also provided some interesting background stuff on the selection process for the Money Magazine recognition of Columbia/Ellicott City as the second best place to live in the country. Rachelina fully intends for us to grab the number one spot the next time around.
You can listen to the latest episode of “and then there’s that…” here.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I cast my ballot for Frank Aquino, David Gertler, David Proudfoot and Larry Walker.
As I was leaving I stopped to chat for a moment with the three people who were working the polling station on behalf of candidates. In fact, one of them was a candidate herself, Leslie Smith Turner, who is running for Orphans Court Judge. I learned that Leslie is also the wife of District 13 Delegate, Frank Turner.
One of the other people I spoke with was Zola Boone. Zola lives in Council District 4 and so I asked her who she was supporting in the council primary. She told me that though she supported Mary Kay Sigaty last time around this time she was leaning towards Alan Klein. When I asked what it was about Alan that she liked her answer threw me for a loop.
“I think he’ll do a better job with education.”
I asked her if she knew that Mary Kay had served on the Board of Education before becoming a council member. She said she knew that. She couldn’t tell me exactly what it was about Alan’s “education policies” that she liked. I told her I thought that Alan was anti business. She said she may have to reconsider.
If I were Mary Kay I wouldn’t worry too much about Ms Boone, at least not yet. She also told me she’s a registered Republican.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Last year Ellicott Mills was awarded a blue ribbon from the state making it eligible for the national award.
Congratulations to the students, teachers, staff and parents at St. Louis and Ellicott Mills.
We were in a progress meeting in North Laurel yesterday for our development project. There are an accumulation of details that need to be addressed as we rapidly approach our targeted completion date, a mere three weeks away.
One of the challenges for our general contractor these last few weeks is keeping the job moving. The tradesmen, on the other hand, view our deadline a bit differently. They would just as soon spend an additional month or so finishing up because after this, there is no job. They’ve got nowhere to go.
It is a poignant reminder that we are not yet out of the recessionary woods. No new office projects have started in HoCo this year and none is expected until next year at the earliest. Ironically, there were more projects started last year, at the height of the recession, than this year, the recovery.
It is doubtful that these guys will find one of those supposed green jobs anytime soon either.
Now she is chastising the HoCo Board of Education for not making accommodations for a new school site in the Town Center redevelopment legislation. According to this story by Larry Carson in The Sun, Liz accused the board of “not reserving a site for a possible new school for the proposed 30-year Columbia redevelopment.”
If she had actually read the legislation she would have known that this isn’t true.
In responding to Liz, board member Ellen Flynn Giles sought to educate the state delegate.
“The zoning gives the board the ability to study school needs in downtown Columbia before the first building permit is granted, which would allow the board to review the enrollment projections closer to actual construction. The board then has the right under the approved plan to reserve a school site when 10 percent of new residences are built. The site must be provided before a quarter of the units are completed, she said”
Perhaps Liz is relying too much on the Cliff Notes version of the Town Center legislation from her sidekick Alan Klein.
You’d think she’d know better.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
David Proudfoot, candidate for school board, sent me this video of the latest campaign sign war atrocities. Shot at one of the early voting stations it clearly shows that certain campaign signs had been singled out for premature wind damage.
Or had they?
Perhaps someone was merely trying to protect these signs from wind damage; after all they weren’t taken away. They appear to lying gently on their sides.
I’m told that Susan Gray is considering asking the federal courts to intervene in this matter as well.
Yesterday I saw an Alan Klein sign on 29 with a yellow sticker splayed across it that read “Illegal” in big black letters.
Silly season indeed.
This is not a good omen for the GOP candidate, Bob Flanagan. District 1 is a swing district which means that either party needs all of their voters plus a few of the other guys in order to win the day. A public defection in the ranks like this can easily have a ripple effect.
The bottom line is that Courtney and her moderate approach to loco legislating has resonated well in this district.
He did get me thinking about what some refer to as “Columbia’s shared values,” as if such a thing actually exists. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a fine thing for people to be accepting of others. I grew up with all that in Columbia, but as I grew into an adult and traveled outside the new town to continue my education I came to discover that Columbia wasn’t really all that unique in this regard. The genius of Jim Rouse was in how he packaged it with all of his other community innovations (open space, open schools, etc.) to sell his massive real estate development to the home buying public.
And not everyone who came to Columbia in those early years bought into everything Rouse espoused either, like my mother.
Our family moved to Columbia in 1968 shortly after my father died. In reentering the workforce, my mother took a job with the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville. At the time, most of her friends were living in the Baltimore area and so the choice of Columbia was largely based on location.
That is not to say she wasn’t sold on the other attributes of the planned community. She liked the open space and the other amenities like the neighborhood pools and mini bus service. She didn’t care much for the interfaith centers though. Mom liked her traditional church and she didn’t need Jim Rouse to tell her how to be ecumenical. In all other ways mom was an involved member of the new community, volunteering on boards and committees. That was just simply a community value that she never shared.
You can read this month’s column here.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
The county recently filed a response to Paul Kendall, Philip Rousseau and Frank Martins last ditch attempt to get the federal courts to overturn fifteen years of zoning and land use decisions in Howard County. The latest chapter in this two year legal saga is being played out in the United States Court of Appeals.
In their answer to the appeal, the HoCo attorneys argue that the plaintiffs, “in support of their own appeal, ask this Court to interpret County law in a way that, according to the Residents’ own allegations, directly contradicts the County’s long and well established legal and regulatory framework for land use and zoning.”
This small group of activists would like to see nothing less than “the total dismantling of the County’s land use and zoning procedures as well as federal oversight of the process “in perpetuity.”
And some people think that this is just about a grocery store…
Thanks again and a wag of wordbones tail to Lotsabogeys for continuing to track the filings in this case for me.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Five Guys and In-N-Out shared the top rankings.
Zagat also released the results of their own survey of fast food hamburger joints last week. According to this report on Cheese-Burger.Net, “6,518 Zagat.com diners, eating at chain outlets an average of 10.7 times a month, weighed in on 97 major fast-food chains across the country.”
This time Five Guys took top honors and In-N-Out came in second.
I am a fan of Five Guys but I also think Fuddruckers ranks right up there as well.
There was no mention of Fatburger in either story.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
The development of Harper House is as much a story of money in search of a project as a story of providing truly affordable housing in the new town of Columbia. The building was developed by a then newly formed joint venture of The Rouse Company and their first ever international real estate partner, Waites, at a time when real estate was cresting another big ol’ bubble. It would crash soon enough.
The venture, Rouse-Waites was supposed to be this groundbreaking housing collaboration that would create innovative affordable housing projects that could be replicated across of the land. Unfortunately for Abbott House, by this time Jim Rouse had already begun to focus his creative energies on the inner cities of Boston and Baltimore. They built a concrete dorm instead.
It was one of the few projects that the venture ever finished and when the crash hit and federal subsidies for housing projects dried up, the partnership was dissolved and the assets were sold off.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
It was still a great run for the eighteen year old Ellicott City native and undoubtedly we will hear from her again.
While I was somewhat gratified to see that this post comes up first from the search term “bobo klein”, I was equally disappointed to discover that the search term “Klobo” is all about furniture until you get to the 17th result and a post by HoCo Rising.
Isn’t it just wonderfully ironic that a Klobo is also a loveseat?
The turtle eggs were discovered by Kathy Colston who alerted the Howard County Parks & Recreation naturalist, Sue Muller. Sue turned them over to Ray who served as midwife to the little fellas.
Actually it’s those native turtles that really pose a threat this Labor Day weekend, particularly if you’re a Navy fan.
Friday, September 03, 2010
Take my vehicle emissions inspection for example. When the original notice arrived in the mail in June, I took one look at the August due date and thought, “I’ve got plenty of time.”
Funny how time just slips away, isn’t it?
It wasn’t until I received this second notice in the mail that I realized the original notice had gotten buried under a stack of other “to do” items and sort of forgotten. I mean I remembered that I needed to get this done in August. I just forgot that it was early August, very early August.
Still, I thought I had time and so last night as I was going through the stuff on my desk I was somewhat surprised to find that I actually had but one day left to get this taken care of. No problem, I’d just head on over the VEIP station first thing this morning and get this taken care of. I planned to be there when they opened at 8:30 AM.
I pulled up to the VEIP station at about 8:40 AM only to find it was closed. A sign attached to the gate informed me that the inspection station would be closed the Friday before Labor Day. My immediate reaction was anger mixed with righteous indignation. Isn’t that just like a fat state agency with their pampered employees with their overly generous benefits, I thought to myself. They go and get an extra day on a holiday weekend when everyone else has to work and I’m stuck with having my registration suspended because of state bureaucratic largess!
I was pissed. I called the 800 number on the notice. They were closed too.
And then it hit me, furloughs.
And this really was my stupid fault after all. If I had taken care of this back in July like I should have this wouldn’t be an issue. The recording on the 800 number suggested I visit the website. Somewhat humbled by my misplaced anger, I drove to my office and got online.
I should’ve done that last night. Within minutes I had an extension until January and was informed that my suspension notice had been rescinded. I was even provided a nice little printout as proof of my new status.
That was easy.