Howard County Blog

A Blog on what is going on in Howard County

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Look From the Inside and What You Can Do About It

The CA Rep from Kings Contrivance, Phil Marcus, has a blog where he covers Columbia Association issues. Yesterday Phil wrote:

Lately the Board has fallen back on old, bad habits. More closed sessions are happening these days, usually for announced personnel or contract negotiation purposes. But I cannot recall the last time we declassified minutes after the deal was done.
. . .
But the sentiment on the Board is for keeping silence. We saw some indication when half the Board voted to re-impose secrecy on meetings regarding the “Downtown Partnership.” Fortunately, I think, half is not enough to make such a change. (It takes half plus one vote.) Those who voted for believed good brainstorming takes place when public and press are absent. I am not that afraid of what I say and the crazy ideas that I utter sometimes. I can always discard the really crazy ones, and some crazy ideas people have turn out pretty good.

I am also very much convinced that secrecy in dealing leads to more secrecy, and increasingly shrouds deals that should receive public attention. Not because they are likely crooked, but because all the secrecy foments what is called "team playing" but is really "group think". The bleach of sunshine is the most effective preservative of public interest in public institutions.

My hope is that Columbia voters will consider the attitudes of candidates for the Council/Board toward secret meetings, and ask if they do not know what the attitudes are.

I think Phil is absolutely on the mark. He has seen the situation from the inside and knows the barriers closed meetings cause between our elected Columbia governing structure and lien-payers. I would add that closed meetings reduce trust and cause a lot more trouble in the long run.

Jud Malone, the Town Center CA Rep, is one of those that voted to close meetings on the Downtown Partnership. This is one of the reasons I think Gail Broida will be a better CA Rep for Town Center. Another reason I think Gail would be a better CA Rep is I have attended every single Focus Group meeting on the redevelopment of Town Center and sadly during those meetings the current incumbent CA Rep, Jud Malone, has used his seat on the Focus Group to routinely preach that we must trust the developer. The logic of preaching trust while closing the public out of meetings escapes me. In contrast, I have watched the other candidate for Town Center CA Rep, Gail Broida, throughout the redevelopment process ask probing questions, listen to the concerns of other residents, and work to find ways to fix the plan so that the redevelopment will result in a livable, economically sustainable Town Center that reflects the Howard County values of diversity, preservation of greenspace, and planning before we build so that infrastructure matches community’s needs. If you live in Town Center please vote for Gail. If you have friends or family that lives in Town Center please ask them to vote for Gail. Your vote matters and is needed to keep the downtown redevelopment process open and to give Town Center a stronger voice.


Post a Comment

<< Home