Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Friday, March 10, 2006

Open Meetings

The Columbia Association Board of Directors/Columbia Council (what is in a name? I think in the future I will refer to it as the Columbia Council because in fact they are the elected representatives of the lien payers of Columbia) voted tonight to continue to have open meetings on the creation of the downtown partnership between CA, the county, and General Growth. I applaud those on the Columbia Council who stood up for open meetings and allowing the public to observe such an important process that is crucial to the future of downtown Columbia and Howard County as a whole (the first time there was a public meeting on the creation of the downtown partnership I am told 13 members of the public showed up).

Here is a review of the final vote:

The vote was on a proposal to allow closed meetings.

Voting for open meetings were:

  • Henry F. Dagenais, Long Reach
  • Josh Feldmark, Wilde Lake
  • Phil Marcos, Kings Contrivance
  • Wolfger Schneider, Harper’s Choice

Voting to allow closed meetings were:

  • Miles Coffman, Hickory Ridge
  • Jud Malone, Town Center
  • Tom O’Connor, Dorsey’s Search
  • Patrick von Schlag, River Hill

Because the vote was tied the effort to allow closed meetings failed.

The irony of the evening was supplied by Jud Malone expressing concern about the creating of distrust while advocating for closing the meetings. I mean lets be real, a good part of the reason the public has been losing trust in the process has been a concern that decisions are being made behind closed doors and the public’s concerns are not being addressed. Most people I have talked to who attended the charrette thought the first day was great and they were thrilled by how much in agreement the public is, but then they felt that what they said was not reflected in the plan.

Anyway, back to open meetings. The way trust is built is by having a process that is open and where the plan is a true product of community input. I want to applaud Phil Marcos and Josh Feldmark in particular in being vocal advocates for keeping the meetings open. And while we are at it I think a lot of credit is due Ken Ulman for opening the whole downtown Columbia redevelopment process up by pushing to have the charrette.


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