This PDF is worth 10,000 words. And a brighter future for my village. Thank you Dan Kirk-Davidoff for putting this together.
Have you heard of Ignite? I had only heard of it in passing until recently. Ignite is a symposium held in various cities worldwide, and brings together thinkers and visionaries in a format very similar to the TED talks. What makes Ignite different is that the talks are generally shorter-- 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds into a 5 minute talk, and 12 talks for the evening, followed by a reception.
The first ever Ignite Howard County is being held on Monday, April 13 from 5:30-8:00 at Jailbreak Brewing Company in Savage. I learned about it on Facebook, but you can sign up for it (tickets are an awesome deal at only $10) here! Register early!
Here's the speaker list for the 13th:
• "The Premise & Promise of Conscious Capitalism" - Jeffrey Cherry
• "The importance of homelessness and community service in Howard County" - Ryan Forbes
• "The Nicotine Cure - The Lie, The Fear, The Cure" - Timothy Patrick
• "We have met the enemy and its YOUR brain!" - Umar Hameed
• "How a Handful of Pictures Triggers a 1000 Memories" - Rachel Jenkins
• "How your Divorce Affects the Kids Upstairs" - Meghna Sreenivas
• "Music education: Does it make us smarter?" - Joanne Alme
• "The Merriweather Strategy, Past & Present" - Michael McCall
• "Presenting from Scratch: A Live Experiment" - Todd Fidelman
• "Great Idea, Bad Timing: How to Capture Your Subconscious Genius" - Jon Barnes
• "Sipping Life On My Terms - Finding Myself Through Wine & Travel" - Amanda Laden
• "Transform an Idea into Reality in 5 minutes" - Wendy Moomaw
I am excited to be part of this event and I hope you'll join me on the 13th! No one asked me to promote this event, but I feel that this is the sort of event that advances Howard County as a community. We should be an aspirational community and supporting and joining this sort of an event is a step towards achieving that goal.
Let's be careful out there.
#ignitehoco #ignite #hoco
County Executive Allan Kittleman is making good on a campaign promise to continue his campaign town hall meetings across the county as County Executive. And the first such town hall meeting will be this coming Tuesday, March 31, starting at 6:30pm at The Other Barn in Oakland Mills. It's recommended that if you want to speak, that you sign up early.
This is a terrific opportunity for people in Columbia, or anywhere in the county, to have their voice heard on whatever topic they want to speak about in Howard County. Rest assured that the turnout from people in Columbia will be compared to other town meetings to come in other parts of the county. So it would behoove us all to come out in full voice, and force, on the 31st.
Thus ends the fun part of this post. Now begins the necessary part.
I've understood that those who are opposing my candidacy for Oakland Mills Village Board have been saying mean things about me in their little meetings at Second Chance, in people's homes, and over their little email lists. As I'd imagine these people will soon be campaigning for themselves-- in fact they are already-- I have to wonder if any of these people will have the guts to look me in the eye and say these things.
My guess is not, because they have very little positive to say of their own positions, accomplishments or records. But please allow me to address the things I've heard are being said about me, and please use this blog post as my response. And in fact, the truth.
1. Bill Woodcock is against development in Oakland Mills.
That's a fascinating claim, as during my time on the village board I worked to bring the Food Lion, Second Chance (and its predecessor, Fire Rock Grill), and the Walgreen's to Oakland Mills. And worked on the development of Blandair Park and have supported other ideas which unfortunately did not succeed here, such as the development of the old Exxon lot into a senior housing community, then into a corporate campus. And I was village board chair throughout the Oakland Mills revitalization. I have proven experience in bringing new businesses to Oakland Mills.
And in fact, I support the redevelopment of downtown Columbia, and my support of the Inner Arbor project at Symphony Woods, which will be a key part of the downtown redevelopment which will increase property values in Oakland Mills, was criticized by the current village board leadership. Oh, and I was involved in the downtown charrette which resulted in the Downtown Columbia Redevelopment Plan.
What I do not support is new development that displaces any current residents. We need to continue to be a diverse community and that includes full spectrum housing.
2. Bill Woodcock was on the village board that kept the news of the Verona sale from Oakland Mills residents.
This just a simple lie. I was on the village board during the 2013-2014 board year. I recall the village board chair, Bill Gray, bringing up at a board meeting that Howard County Housing Director Tom Carbo "wants to talk (with him) about the Verona". We suggested that Bill find out more specifics about Tom's ideas and bring them back to a village board meeting.
When we learned that the plan was for the Verona to be purchased by the Housing Commission, we were informed immediately and unanimously, the board decided to call a community meeting. And that's the meeting that happened in November, 2013. Which the members of the current village board who were/are members of the Oakland Mills Improvement Association will claim was their meeting, but it wasn't. It was a meeting called, organized, and run by the village board. We did allow the OMIA people to take over the meeting and that was a mistake.
However I do want to thank my opponents for starting the conversation on my convictions and commitment to the community. That must be why as board chair, I worked as part of a great team of activists, on and off the board, in Oakland Mills to perform the first revitalization effort and write the Oakland Mills Master Plan. This also would be why as a board member, I worked with the community and local and state elected officials to prevent a planned methadone clinic from coming to Oakland Mills. I support the cause of those in recovery from addiction, but the location was a bad one and the community came together to voice its opinion on that important issue.
And speaking of my commitment to the community, here's the last one.
3. Bill Woodcock doesn't live in Oakland Mills.
This one would be funny if it wasn't pitiful. Here's the truth.
I am separated and working towards my divorce being finalized. That's been my situation since April, 2011. From April, 2011 until October, 2012, I lived in Dorsey's Search in an apartment. However, I have remained an Oakland Mills property owner the entire time-- my name was, is, and always has been on the deed of my house on Orient Lane, where I live-- and as such, I cast my household's vote for Oakland Mills office in 2011 and 2012. I have no plans to leave Oakland Mills.
I have raised two children here, through Stevens Forest Elementary School, Oakland Mills Middle School and through Oakland Mills High School. Besides my village board service I have been an active PTA member (including two years on the board of the OMHS PTSA), and youth sports coach for children in Oakland Mills. Add to this my other community experience and service, and truly, this claim is bizarre and laughable.
Throughout my time on the village board, and in fact, many times during my personal and professional lives, I have had to make tough choices. Difficult choices. And sometimes, unpopular choices. But, always, choices guided by what my common sense and my gut told me was the reason why people have put their faith in me to lead their community.
I haven't had a perfect community record, but I am proud of so many chocies I made. Like to hire Calvin Ball as the village's first community organizer. And hiring Ben Hunter as the second. By having all board members become members of all the Oakland Mills schools' PTSAs. By working on interesting programming for the village with Sandy Cederbaum and her staff. By going through two reviews of the Oakland Mills architectural guidelines during my time on the board.
I've been privileged and honored to do a lot on this village board. But the work is not yet done. I have more to give and to allow me to do the job I know Oakland Mills deserves, I need your vote.
Thanks, everyone. Let's be careful out there.
I was asked the other day why I was running for Oakland Mills Village Board. Specifically, what sort of "new leadership" would I really bring to Oakland Mills? The person asking me came from the premise that the current board was doing a good job, it's just that the leadership was taking things a bit far sometimes.
Upon reflection, I consider that a gross understatement. The leadership of the current Oakland Mills Village Board has abandoned Columbia's values. Instead of finding allies, they seek to make enemies. Instead of bringing people together, their plans seek to pit people against each other. Instead of openmindedness, they bring closed, selfish perspectives to the table.
I don't think all members of the Oakland Mills Village Board feel these things, but unfortunately it is the leadership that reflects upon all 10,000 Oakland Mills residents.
I and my colleagues who are running together for the Village Board believe in the values that make Columbia strong, and at its best, great. We do believe in opportunity, growth, positive energy, and openmindedness. We believe in bringing out the best of our community, for shared purpose, shared sacrifice, and for helping each other selflessly.
Specifically, my colleagues and fellow future outstanding members of the Oakland Mills Village Board-- Marcia White, Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, and Fred Eiland, believe in the following:
Inclusion—We love Oakland Mills’ diversity, and we want it always to be a place where all sorts of people can find a place to live and a great education for their kids. When we discuss the Village’s future, we need to do it together- renters, homeowners and condominium owners.
Promotion—We need to share our story in the Washington/Baltimore area, to attract young families who will take good care of our stock of 1970’s homes. They’ll help maintain a market for goods and services in the Village Center.
Connections—A new bridge across Route 29 will connect us to all the good things going on in the Town Center, and let all the new people there reach our Village Center easily and safely.
Collaboration—We will build and strengthen positive relationships with all those who can help us achieve this vision. That includes agencies and elected officials on the local, state and federal levels, Columbia Association leadership and staff, Oakland Mills village staff, and leaders in OM’s school, business, and faith communities.
And so that's what we stand for. And that's not what we're seeing from leadership in Oakland Mills right now.
In fact, what we're seeing right now is negative campaigning. And I'll be using this blog to shine the light through the darkness that is being cast. As only I can and do. What are they saying? What's the truth? That, and news of a great opportunity to have your voice heard in Oakland Mills, tomorrow.
Let's be careful out there.
Here's an example of the blogoverse beating the local media to the punch! Because, well, Amanda's gotta rest sometime.
Did you know that Center Ring Circus School in Columbia attempted to set a Guinness World Record on Sunday for the world's largest pie fight? If you did, well, not enough people knew, because they fell about 300 people short of the number they needed to have the world's largest pie fight, which apparently was about a thousand? And my sources are never (well, very rarely) wrong!
This is the most awesome thing to go on in Howard County that I never knew about. If I had known about this pie fight, I'd have attended, I'd have gotten my friends to attend, and I'd have sold this bad bay strong over social media! I get that they used Crowdrise for Internet sign-ups but people often no-show to things they sign up for online, especially free events.
So look, circus people. I hear you're going to try to break this world record again. And IMHO this world record is just madcap enough for Howard County to be the place where we Choose Civility, yet also stand as the Pie Fight Capital of the globe! Therefore-- please reach out. Let me know your plans and let's spread the word far and wide, to all of our little friends, so that we don't simply break this record, we set the bar so high that no one dare touch it.
OK Howard County, let's help these folks out. Let's answer the call when they send it forth. Tell your friends and neighbors, and especially enemies, and prepare to get medieval on all of 'em with some steamy hot pie action!
Let's be careful out there.
The inevitable reality of Columbia's redevelopment took a major step forward last night-- a bold step that went almost unnoticed in this county. However, Amanda Yeager, doubtless committing to up her game given her failure to adequately describe anti-gun fringey wackos, and feeling the loneliness of the departure of Luke "By cracky, I'll take that job!" Lavoie, wrote this article about the event.
(Note to the editors: it's time to pay Amanda, or else you're going to lose her. Then again, you may not care if you do.)
So the Crescent property, the area of downtown Columbia around Merriweather Post Pavilion and the Inner Arbor, is moving forward. The Planning Board voted unanimously for the redevelopment Thursday night. And only one person came to speak on it. And Joan Lancos was for it!
And her and the Hickory Ridge board's concerns are well-founded. Traffic and parking are serious matters. Which is why now is the time to start to think holistically about downtown redevelopment.
Because, downtown Columbia, IMHO, is not just, downtown Columbia. Am I weary and brain-addled on this Friday night, and thus practicing doublespeak? No, I am not!
Downtown Columbia is, and should be thought of as, more than just the narrow swath of land surrounding Columbia Mall in Town Center. What we call "downtown Columbia" should be bigger. And it should expand to the east, across US29 via Broken Land Parkway, MD175 and an enhanced bridge/transit connection, to include Oakland Mills.
Imagine. Nice single family homes on decent-sized lots within walking distance of the mall, Merriweather, the Inner Arbor, the library, new crescent-based attractions, Blandair Park, Oakland Mills Village Center, not to mention schools and playgrounds? Huh! Life in Oakland Mills got much, much nicer.
Or...... we could just sit and pout and hate on the county and hate on people who don't look or talk or act like "us". We can just complain and complain and complain. That's what some people in Oakland Mills in the wrong positions do anyway. That's going to change.
Let's be careful out there.
#columbiaMD #MPP #TownCenter #OaklandMills
Back in 1999 and such, when I was President of the Howard County Citizens Association (HCCA-- yes, THAT HCCA) one of the most potent local civic groups around was the Southern Howard Land Use Committee (SHLUC). These were some hardcore land use activists who kinda knew their stuff. They believed in an even playing field between development and community concerns and were successful in influencing the managed growth of the largest development their area had seen, the development that we call Maple Lawn. Although many hardcore SHLUCers would claim defeat, because Maple Lawn was even built to begin with.
But, over time, and as Maple Lawn became reality, SHLUC had nothing left to fight for, and just withered away. Now, here comes the next generation!
The Southern Howard County Civic Association (SHCCA) has apparently been formed and is holding an organizational meeting April 7, writes Donna Thewes in this article. Although, created by whom? This is unclear. Created for what purpose? This is unclear as well.
Is this an offshoot or seedling planted by HCCA, despite the slight name change? Is this the brainchild of local Republicans, looking at an open Council Seat in District 3 in 2018 and seeing-- no possibly viable candidate? Are these some of the original SHLUCers rejoining the battle? Are these people of whatever political stripe who are anti-homeless shelter, and are POd with the Kittleman administration's support of the shelter?
Unlike the number of licks it takes to get to the middle of a tootsie pop, the world will know. Starting April 7.
Happy National French Bread Day!
Let's be careful out there.
Dinner for SHLUCs? #hoco #savage #northlaurel
It's not often that I have a regret, but I do regret not making it by the County Council hearing last night. Because I would've enjoyed testifying for Council Bill 8, the bill co-sponsored by Councilmembers Ball, Terrasa and Weinstein that would ban guns from all county property.
Amanda Yeager turned in a subpar effort in writing this article about the hearing. Amanda normally rocks so she's due an off day. Heck, even certain posts to this blog fail to exude total excellence! Where Amanda erred was by failing to adequately capture the nuttery and buffoonery of those who spoke against the legislation.
So someone from something called the Maryland Munitions League spoke? Someone who has a permit in 42 states and DC? Funny that except for Carol Loveless, who owns a security company, all the opponents who spoke were men. There's a saying that guys who are into guns are covering up for other shortcomings, and I'd have to say this may be the case here. Because I don't consider these opponents rational. They're conspiracy theorists of the first order.
So let's reboot reality. This bill does not forbid someone from being able to own a gun. Or to be a marksman or sportsman. This bill does not forbid someone from operating a handgun legally. There's no rational soul in the gun debate in this state who is discussing such things. And let me remind everyone that Maryland is not an "open carry" state. And let me remind everyone that I believe in the Second Amendment and the right of people to keep and bear arms if they want.
What this bill does-- all this bill does-- is say that guns are off limits in Howard County buildings. Just as they already are in local schools. Just like they are in state buildings, federal buildings, and many other government and private properties.
I love that some person from Queen Anne's County came up to the HoCo to testify against this bill! Awww, he's passionate. He maybe just buggy and freaky.
But what would really be freaky would be a single vote against this bill. Or a veto. And in the case of the latter, I'll gleefully be in attendance for the override.
Council Bill 8-- great legislation, extreme opposition, disappointing coverage. Two out of the three parts of this equation can all do better.
Let's be careful out there.
#hococouncil #councilbill8 #frommycolddeadhands
Sometimes when people don't achieve an ambition, they say they're still going to be around and be supportive, but that doesn't happen. They find other things to do, they tend to the things and/or people they didn't have time for previously, maybe other possibilities appear, and they go away. Never to be seen again or maybe to show up years later, happy, healthy, but in a bit of a context of "whatever happened to....?"
Such is not the case with former County Councilmember and 2014 Democratic County Executive candidate Courtney Watson. In addition to going back to her day job and enjoying time since the election with family and friends, she has created a new charitable initiative to reach out to Howard County and beyond. It's called "Bridge to Give" and you can find out more about it in this article.
I'm interested to know more about this and hope to learn more soon (yes, Courtney, that's an invite) and think through how this works. I think there are lot of micro-giving, micro-donation opportunites in Howard County that present themselves every day that don't get fulfilled. I think the connection of an immediate need with an immediate service could be a very powerful tool in sustaining and supporting our community. I see this as kind of working on a model like Uber, only with charitable work, not rides, being the commodity traded.
Or maybe this isn't how this works at all, and I'm thinking about something that doesn't exist yet. But I kinda think this is how this thing would work!
It is nice seeing Courtney Watson back in community life. Unfortunately, I missed her induction into the Women's Hall of Fame last week, where this initiative was announced. I look forward to learning more.
Let's be careful out there.
OK, so by my calculations, today, March 15, marks the 105th day of the Kittleman Administration. But we've got to have lines of demarcation and the first 100 days is a good one. Therefore, Amanda Yeager wrote this article which is an examination of the first 100 days of Allan Kittleman's stewardship of Howard County Government.
I think the article is a fair high-level examination and description of the first hundred days of Allan Kittleman's regime. And I think there are two articles I'd like to see spin off from this article.
I'd like to see, say at the six-month mark, something about how the new organizational structure in county government, especially at the level of the County Executive's office, is working? It's already been documented that the new County Executive's office is leaner than his predecessor's. I think it'd be interesting to see how that's working.
The other article that ought to be written is, what's going on with the transition reports? What are the transition committees doing? I'm sure they're out there, doing good and interesting work in support of the administration and the people of Howard County. But-- and maybe I'm just spoiled by seeing lots of commission reports come forth recently-- I'd like to know what they've done, and where they're advising Kittleman take the county.
All in all though-- I once had a mentor tell me that in the first 90 days of a new job, you're basically still finding out where the bathrooms are in the place. Meaning that you're learning the who's who, what's what, and your role. Kittleman obviously came in at a higher level and with a higher experience base.
And such being the case, I perceive the first 100 days of the Kittleman Administration as following the same theme of his campaign for the office he currently holds-- do what you have to do and don't create unnecessary waves. He certainly has created them-- witness the mid-year budget cuts, support for the North Laurel homeless shelter, and the opposition to the Hogan education cuts-- but in all cases, he didn't bring the fight. The fight was brought to him. And while he has, as expected, departed in many ways from the Ulman administration, he also hasn't turned county government hard right.
And as stated in the article, the second and even the third hundred days will say much, much more about this administration. Can't wait to see what happens with the budget and with negotiating new contracts with the public employees' unions.
Let's be careful out there.
#kittleman #hocopolitics #hoco