Today's post: a post about a comment. Specifically, MCat's comment about my post last week about the new General Plan, copied below:
A job well done? Or pablum for the masses? Trees are good. We need public transportation. We should study healthcare needs. Diversity of housing is important... Is that a plan or a credo? I suggest the latter. It's a great credo. Now... where's the plan?
A bit of a thought provoking comment, and I felt, worthy of a more well thought-out response.
First off, we-- the bloggers, the activists, the political types, the community volunteers-- we are truly the 1% in this county. In a county of 300,000, it's hard to imagine that the number of civically-minded and civically-active people in this county numbers more than 3,000? Not talking about membership rolls or lists of contributors, I'm talking about the number of people who actually DO something active to make their community a better place to live.
That said, the other 99% of Howard County can't handle anything more complex or controversial than what's written. A lot of people live in the pink cloud that everything is just peaches and cream in the HoCo. Nothing is wrong here, and oh, well, golly gee whiz, if something is going on here that's bad, people ARE trying really hard and they care SO much. Whatever.
To be fair, I do not think the General Plan should be a forum for specific legislation to be advanced. It is what the name implies, a General Plan of how we're going to get from Point A to Point B over the next ten years.
However, it is also fair to say that there is a blind eye turned towards certain things. Public transit is one. I get that the funding picture over the next decade is uncertain at best. But there does lack an expressed vision here.
"Full-spectrum" housing? Nice buzzword that means nothing. Here's what it means to me: there should be sufficient, good quality housing available for sale or rent for all residents of Howard County, at income levels from minimum wage on up. But, we've all seen "It's a Wonderful Life". Developers and bankers don't get rich building and selling housing to poor people. Or here, even middle class people. So if we agree on the definition let's talk about ways to make that happen.
Our county should only commit itself to initiatives it can afford; but the question is, what can it afford? Where are the best places for the HoCo to spend it's cash? We don't know. This is why a few weeks ago I stated that the county should do a nose to tail performance review of county operations. And if the Executive doesn't commit to one, maybe the County Council ought to demand one. Nonsense like the uncollected revenue coming from the lack of payment of outside groups who need police support for events is nonsense. What could those millions of dollars to go if they were actually collected?
But no, there is no one out there who wants to ask these questions. Until someone finally finds the intestinal fortitude to do so, we'll just keep on keeping on in the HFC, resting back on our little pink cloud.