Coverage of the West Columbia Candidates Forum
In the meantime, Larry Carson at the Sun has the scoop. I am not sure I agree with Larry’s scene setting, though
A Blog on what is going on in Howard County
In the meantime, Larry Carson at the Sun has the scoop. I am not sure I agree with Larry’s scene setting, though
On a side note, the County’s Department of Planning and Zoning says they convened the Focus Group to get the reactions of the community to the plan so they can refine it before it goes into the approval process. If this is truly their goal then they should desire audience comments and participation so they can get as much input as possible so the plan so the maximum range of concerns are heard before the approval process starts. The new “moderator” seems not to get this and is trying to change the rules in mid-stream and not allow the audience to contribute in the discussion where it would have the most impact and instead wants all the audience to throw their comments out at the end of the Focus Group meeting without their relevance or context connected to the discussion that prompted them. To say that such new rules are not constructive to the Focus Group’s stated goals would be a huge understatement. I hope the Department of Planning and Zoning will live up to its declarations and make sure that anyone who takes the time to attend (in many cases people are using their leave from work to do so since they insist on having the meetings during the work day) will be allowed to speak during the flow of discussion as was allowed at all of the past Focus Group meetings (and I have attended all of them except for two).
The Focus Group on Downtown Columbia Redevelopment meets today from 3pm to 5:30pm at The Other Barn in Oakland Mills at
This redevelopment of Downtown Columbia will be the biggest change to the county since James Rouse proposed to take farm fields and build the city of
Here is some background on the Downtown Columbia Redevelopment:
Laura Greenback in the Baltimore Examiner has a great article on how the county’s proposed plan for downtown would destroy some of
As Laura points out in her article I have written about this before and suggested solutions to allow the developers to make a lot of money while at the same time preserving these community gathering places that are local treasures:
The solution preserves the Hug Park and the winding path through the trees in it.
Laura, thank you for giving the web address for this blog in your article. I think my fellow bloggers will agree that it is great when journalists covering blogs provide the web address so their readers can go out and check it out for themselves. I know I always try to link to news articles that I talk about so that my readers can go read the news articles. It is great to see that Laura is one of the ones that gets the etiquette of blogging. Laura also has several over great articles in the Examiner that you can check out here.
To find a recap of what has been going on with downtown
Tom Perez has been taken off the ballot in the Attorney Generals race. The MD constitution stipulates that the Attorney General must have practiced law in MD for at least 10 years. Though Tom Perez had practiced law on behave of the federal government effecting every corner of the country as part of the Clinton Justice Department the highest court in MD has said that because he had only been a member of the MD Bar for 5 years he is disqualified from serving. From a constitutional design point of view I think it is stupid to write restrictions on who may serve into constitutions. Let the voters decide. Whether it is professional experience requirements, or residency requirements, or age requirements they undermine voter choice. If the voters don’t think someone is qualified they won’t vote for someone and these issues can be political issues in the campaign, but fundamentally it is the voter who should be left to decide for themselves who they want to have serve them.
I wrote a letter to the editor on this, months ago, suggesting that by upsizing the village centers and stacking big box stores on top of grocery stores as is done in Seattle we can relieve some of our growth pressures by getting rid of the big box strip along Snowden River Parkway and build a new village of Columbia there, which will get more bang for the buck off that land and will revitalize the village centers by adding shopping draws that do not compete with existing businesses.
In the meantime HayDuke has a good suggestion on addressing the situation in
So, what to do with the space? The story provides no details, but there are two options that I would support. The first is getting David’s Natural Food Market and Produce Galore to join forces and give
it’s first (nearly) full-sized natural food store. The second, which is bound to happen eventually anyway, is to redevelop the entire village center, something we may want to hold off on, however, until the whole charrette thing is done. Columbia
The second option is already being pursued. I believe the effort is being championed by forward thinking Mary Pivar on the Wilde Lake Village Board.
I would add that if a grocery store cannot use the space our area could really use an REI camping goods store. I always thought that Oakland Mills should have gone after an REI when their grocery store problems were going on.
We believe that Peter’s character, education, background, experience and leadership make him the best candidate for this Congressional seat. In Congress, Peter will bring the intelligence, compassion and commitment to public service that served the people of
If, after the Q&A, you are interested in supporting Peter, we will describe a few specific opportunities to volunteer and/or donate to his campaign.
In order to plan for hors d’oeuvres and drinks, we would really appreciate it if you could let us know quickly whether you accept or decline. Please either call
We are proud to be able to introduce Peter to our friends and neighbors, and look forward to seeing you on the 29th!
Ken and Chris Crandell
Board of Education: (5 slots)
(Personal Note: Di Zou came one vote short of getting endorsed and since I really think he would be a superb addition to the Board of Education I am going to give him a quick shout out. Di just graduated from Glenelg High School and is about to start at my alma mater the University of Maryland – College Park, where he will be majoring in Physics and Math. As a recent graduate of our school system he probably has a better understanding of what policies are working and what policies are not than most people who do not spend every day in the school system. I think this shows in his three priorities 1) stop having standardized tests diverting attention from quality teaching (and I got the impression that he was willing to use the leadership role of the school board to advocate for state and federal officials to clean up the messes they are making of our education system when they mandate poorly designed tests), 2) promote vocational training, and 3) improve the school systems technological infrastructure. On this last point I can just think of the money the county could save if we had someone on the Board of Education who was technologically literate enough to ask the right questions before we buy programs like the county’s current grading software that is so clearly broken.)
Central Committee: (12 slots)
So here is a breakdown of who will be covering which results:
So this year the primary election returns will be available quicker and in more detail than ever before. This coverage will add a depth of understanding of the political geography of
Tuesday, August 29th, 2006, 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Congressional Candidates Forum hosted by the
Feel free to use the comments section also as an open thread to discuss your thoughts on the elections, what you are seeing and hearing on the campaign trail, and what you think of the candidates.
A politically diverse group of
bloggers is planning an electronic question-and-answer session for the general election that voters can use when and how they please. Howard County
Larry notes my point that blogging actually has taken off with places like
Now I love when people spout off without knowing what they are talking about so I really got a kick out of Donald F. Norris (public policy professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County)’s quote: "This is out there in the ether. If what you want to do is influence the election, a blog is not the way to do it."
Well I didn’t start this blog to influence elections and I think blogs perform a lot of functions (more about this below), but clearly Dr. Norris didn’t follow John Thune defeating Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 in South Dakota where rightwing blogs played a major role. In fact, word on the street in DC is the Republican Party has been encouraging the development of similar use of blogs to influence elections and has even been using the
Now as to why I did start this blog. An architect friend of mine from growing up in Columbia kept pointing out to me the use of deceptive sketches by the Department of Planning and Zoning that failed to accurately take note of topography issues or selectively picking an angle tried to sell an idea. He said this is quite common in the field and as I was talking to friends that were sharing their concerns with me about the redevelopment plan for Downtown Columbia I decided there needed to be a place I could direct people to find out about what was going on. Though most people might think I should have started a webpage I decided on a blog because this way we can discuss the plan and find solutions to problems in the plan together as a community. I like the participatory nature of the format. I have put out some possible solutions on this blog like:
1) My idea for the Lakefront
2) My idea for extending Metro
If you have ideas or suggestions, please write about them in the comments sections.
Now I found very interesting Jim Robey’s response to the idea of a Bloggers Candidates Forum:
Most candidates like the blogger idea, but not outgoing County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat who is running for state Senate this year.
"No, I'd rather show up and confront people face to face," he said. Answering questions electronically is "not my favorite way."
Now I should say upfront that I really liked Jim Robey until earlier this year. We had spoken in passing at several events over the years, including a very nice conversation when I was working the polls for Ken Ulman on primary day 2002. Now that changed at a candidates forum for state legislative candidates at the Columbia Democratic Club where I asked Jim something along the lines of: “I am a resident of District 13 and I am hearing from many of my neighbors that live in the district that they are very concerned that the current plan for downtown Columbia redevelopment doesn’t reflect what the community said during the first day of the charrette. I don’t want to see Schrader re-elected and I am getting concerned that Democrats will get hurt by this unless people are assured that the plan will be fixed to reflect what people said they wanted. Would you be willing to give us that assurance?” Jim got very upset by the question and said he had already spoken to me about it (which is not true because our only interaction on the subject until then had been less than 30 seconds at Ken Ulman’s announcement event when he was pulled away to go up to the stage before I had said anymore than the rough concerns I expressed in the later question to him. At Ken Ulman’s announcement he had given no response, though as he was getting pulled away I had suggested he check out the Howard County Blog where I had been writing about a lot of the concerns people had with the plan.) Anyway, since we really hadn’t talked before on it I went up to him afterwards, but before I could get two words out of my mouth he stuck his hand in my face and said he knew who I was and he didn’t want to speak to me and I should go vote for Schrader. I kind of stuttered at that and tried to continue, but with his hand still in my face he kept saying “I know who you are. Go vote for Schrader.” I was sure that there must be some mistaken identity. I kept trying to go on until he turned his back on me to talk to someone else. I picked my jaw off the floor and went off to see if I could get the mistaken identity sorted out another way. I spoke to three people who have known me for many years and who have a close political relationship to Jim, but I have never gotten any resolution on the matter. At the time I thought he may be mistaking me for the guy (David Keelan) who writes the HoCoMD Blog, which also goes by the name Howard County Blog. David is a Republican activist and has been very critical of Jim Robey’s friend Wayne Livesay who is running for County Council in District 5. Based on what I have heard since I no longer think that was the case, but as I said, I have not gotten a full explanation of what Jim’s outburst was all about. I would not even bring this up except for Jim Robey saying he’d “rather show up and confront people face to face". I am just still flabbergasted by that statement and his response to me when I asked him a question in a live candidates forum.
Anyway, back to your chance to ask questions of candidates. If you cannot wait for the Bloggers' Candidates Forum the Harper Choice Village Board is putting on a major candidates forum for
He was particularly proud of creating legislation that formed the Maryland Farmland Preservation Foundation and Program Open Space.
As Charles Feaga said of Senator Clark in the Sun obituary:
It could be said he is the father of our land preservation programs.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 2 at St. John Episcopal Church,
The Animal Planet Expo came to Centennial Park this weekend, as one of their thirteen stops this summer around the country. There were Frisbee dog shows, trivia games, and the popular Discovery Kids' Endurance Experience, where kids got to feel the exhilarating fun of the Discovery Kids' Channel's show Endurance.
The expo also included a theater where visitors came face-to-face with a python, alligator, fox, porcupine, or lemur. Visitors were able to meet Dave and Molly from Animal Planet's Backyard Habitat. As part of this wonderful opportunity for Howard County's families and pets, Comcast will also be making a $1000 donation to the Howard County Animal Control and Adoption Center.
The campaign finance numbers are out and David Wissing at The Hedgehog Report has a series of great posts on the numbers that affect
1) Politics1 – This is where I start all my blog hunting. It is one of the oldest blogs dating back to that ancient time of 1997. This is a link clicker/info seekers dream site. If you click the “State/Federal” link on the top you will get a US map you can click on and get a list of all congressional and statewide candidates in the state of your selection along with links to their websites, the states filing deadlines and primary schedules, links to most major and a number of minor local news sources, and each states Secretary of States websites. If you click on the “News Links” link you get a page full of links to some great news/info/political resources.
2) Political Wire – The best rundown of political news you can find.
3) Josh Marshall – This is a great investigative journalism blog that is the best source for covering all the scandals going on in DC including the Abramoff and Duke Cunningham scandals.
4) DailyKos – This is the biggest and best Democratic blog with a daily readership of about a half million.
5) RedState – The Republican version of DailyKos.
6) Andrew Sullivan – An independent minded Republican
7) Wonkette – The queen of DC snark
There are plenty of others like AmericaBlog, FireDogLake, and FreeRepublic, so go check them out for yourself and feel free to give a shout out to your favorite blogs in the comments section below or share what you think of some of the blogs that are mentioned above.
Now onto the campaign finance numbers:
The one thing I would add is that though money is very important for statewide (and Franchot’s money in the comptrollers race really stands out to me) or even big district races at a local level a candidate without much money can knock on enough doors to win a race through person to person contact without needing much money. For example, I keep hearing reports that Nina Basu’s energy and passion are really impressing people she is meeting as she is campaigning and though quite honestly she is fighting an uphill battle without much money, it will be very interesting to watch to see how many people respond to that energy and her ideas and see if she can pull off an underdog upset. What are you hearing from or about candidates in your part of the county?
League of Women Voters' State Legislative Candidates Forum is Tuesday night (i.e. tonight). It will be in the Tyson Room,
Rebroadcast on Gtv, Cable Channel 70 as follows:
Wed. through Mon. - August 16 through August 21 at 12:30 p.m.
Wed. - August 16 at 8 p.m.
Fri. - August 18 at 9 p.m.
Sat. and Sun. - August 19 and August 20 at 10 p.m.
As a reminder there will be a Bloggers Candidates Forum after the primary. If you questions for the candidates that you want to suggest we ask feel free to post them in the comments or email them to me.
Use the comments section as an open thread to discuss the state legislature elections and your favorite candidates. What are the issues that matter to you? How do candidates stand on those issues? Have you met a candidate on the campaign trail? If so, that was the experience like? What are you hearing from your neighbors on the race? Please use a consistent pseudonym or your real name so we can have a good conversation. Please also provide links to your source if appropriate.
Last night I went to one of the free outdoor movies at the Lakefront in downtown
I am so passionate about fixing the plan for the redevelopment of downtown Coulumbia because sadly the current plan for downtown
The plan to extend a road over the top edge of the grass amphitheater where we were watching the movie also destroys one of the great mixing places in
And of course we have the issue of exclusive pools that remove yet another on of the main mixing area.
It is generally appalling to me that the people pushing the current plan forward either to not understand or care how their plan will destroy the very core of what makes are community successful and that Rouse was able to achieve. And to think that many of these things (with maybe the exception of mixed income housing) could be fixed without much loss of profit for the developers. Here is one idea for solutions to some of these problems:
HayDuke and I are in absolute agreement that it is great to see a reporter actually fact check. As HayDuke says:
Flier reporter Nate Sandstrom has earned my respect for actually reporting the facts, rather than just repeating dubious claims verbatim. More like this, please.
Reading both of Nate’s articles on the candidates forum also highlights that the number one issue of this election will most likely be zoning/development, which is something I tried to get across to several of the candidates last fall. Zoning and community planning has the greater impact on voters day to day lives than any other issue. It is the leading factor in how long we are stuck in traffic, how easy it is for us to shop where we want to shop, how difficult it is to find parking at our house or where we shop, how crowded our kids schools are, whether those who work in our community can afford to live here, whether those who grew up in our community can afford to stay here, and, as James Rouse has shown us, on the character and values of the children who grow up here. The design of a development can have a huge impact on whether it divides sections of the community or brings people together and builds community. And of course the design of a community has an impact on the health and accessibility of nature in our community as well as an impact on the likelihood of crime in our community.
I was glad to see many of the candidates recognized the importance of accountability to the voters in the zoning process and want to keep the Zoning Board elected. A couple months ago I responded to HayDuke saying that impartiality was a myth when dealing with zoning by saying:
HayDuke declares “impartiality is a myth” when dealing with zoning and I could not agree with him more. I will add that though it is impossible to have impartiality in such matters, but you can have accountability. If the final decision rests with an elected Zoning Board ultimately the voters can keep the zoning process accountable to the citizens through the ballot box.
I went on in a later post to explain further:
There is no such thing as impartiality with such things as zoning decisions, but we can have accountability. That is if the zoning board is elected the voters can hold them accountable. That is the only way the public can have a voice in this very important process. The more the zoning board is separated from the voters the less voice the public will have and the more likely back room deals with developers will be able to go on unchecked. Let’s not throw out accountability in the search for the mythical notion of impartiality.
It is good to see that some candidates are realizing this. Hopefully the others will wake up and recognize that accountability must be the cornerstone of our zoning process.
As the Flier editorialized after their article:
Like running water, electricity and cable television before it, wireless Internet capability will soon be widely considered a part of living and doing business in American communities.
Communities that don't have it will find themselves at a competititve disadvantage for attracting and retaining business and keeping residents happy.
But, make no mistake, this technology is coming. And in a few years, we'll probably be wondering how we lived without it.
I could not have said it better myself. If we want a forward looking downtown for
The news coming out of the Middle East is sobering. The situation in Lebanon is deteriorating and the war in Iraq rages on. The cost of the conflict will reach $315 billion by the end of September and American casualties have topped 20,000. It's time to change direction by implementing smart strategies that defuse tensions, effectively combat terrorism and bring our troops home.
I want to hear from you. I will be hosting town halls across Maryland's Third District to have a frank discussion about Bush's Middle Eastern quagmire and what we can do to fix the mess. Please, join me for these important meetings and lend your voice to the discussion. I hope to see you at one of these events. Thank you so much for your support.
Peter Beilenson, M.D., M.P.H.
Evan Coren, who has been blogging since January, said his ... Howard County Blog allows him to delve into issues with greater detail than even daily publications can, and noted that the county's bloggers possess individual strong points that set each of them apart. For example, "Hayduke understands [the controversy surrounding] Merriweather better than I do," he said.
But the real beauty of blogs, Coren said, is that they "serve as community space, where people can have discourse in a civil manner and find solutions to common problems."
What about the fact that CA -- already burdened by debt -- will have to provide thousands of additional residents with the amenities all Columbians expect? Will they have to build a pool? What about pathways? What about a new community center, since the current Town Center location is well away from the heart of the village at Oakland Manor?
These are some excellent questions. I have raised the pool issue at past Focus Group meetings and my suggestion is that in order to save land space (which is very highly priced) that the new downtown pools are designed creatively. For example, the proposed 22 story condo building for the Lakefront is currently designed to have a pool on its roof. Now since exclusive pools are an assault on the very principles
I have also raised at a past focus group meeting the need for additional neighborhood center facilities for each new neighborhood. More residents will mean more demand for space for new community groups to meet and residents to rent for special events. I have already heard from some old friends that there is not enough appropriate space for the Israeli dance group, which probably means groups that do similar activities like Irish folk dancing, Jazz dance, ballet, step dancing, country line dancing, swing dancing, and ballroom dancing. The overall increase in the population of
Put of course all of this means that HayDuke’s conclusion is right on the mark:
In reality, CA isn't gaining more money or power. It's gaining more obligations.
And obligations for CA mean obligations for lien payers and thus potentially lien increases. Lien increases really amount to property tax increases. Thus it should be no surprise that the CA Reps currently on the focus group have been asking tough questions and that Jud Malone who is on the focus group and was a CA Rep got voted out of office last spring after preaching that we should trust the developers.
I believe that if the developers want the huge profits that they will get from building in downtown (or in my opinion anywhere) they must not pass on the costs resulting from the development (including roads, parking, mass transit, schools, sewers, water treatment, environmental impact mitigation, social services (and this includes the issues of pools, community facilities, etc. mentioned above), maintenance of developed areas, and preservations of community standards such as mixed income housing) to tax or lien payers. This is basic economics. When the costs of production are not fully absorbed in the cost of a product (these unabsorbed costs are known in economics as externalities), then it is the job of the government to require that the producer bare that cost as part of the cost of production so that third parties (i.e. the tax or lien payer) don’t have to pay for the unabsorbed costs. This is the accepted and normal fix to the third party payer problem that is used in every capitalist country. In our case the situation is very simple: What we (the community) has that the developers want is the additional residential units, so any elected official that wants to get elected again will not grant those residential units until the developer agrees to a plan with firm guarantees that are legally enforceable that the developer will cover these costs that must be met to make the plan workable.
As a side note, I think the article does a great job of portraying the mentality of some in CA, including Tom O’Conner, who is quoted in the story. I think HayDuke raises questions that I have heard other more realistic and forward think CA Reps like Cindy Coyle and Phil Kirsch raise at focus group meetings. Understanding the space limitation of the Examiner, I hope that this article becomes the first in a series that reports on how different elected parts of CA are looking at these issues.
HayDuke likes District 13 House of Delegate’s Candidate Nina Basu’s idea to give tax breaks to low income workers. As a side note, I have been hearing that Nina has been really impressing the people she has been meeting when she has been out campaigning in the community. One of the first things I heard when I got back from my summer vacation was how impressed people were with her and since then I have been hearing a lot of buzz about how passionate, intelligence, and hard working she is and how refreshing her energy and forward thinking ideas on regional transit needs.