Just reminding and informing everyone of some things. The global economy still sucks. North Korea is threatening to chuck missles at American bases in the Pacific. Our country is sadly divided in terms of politics and discourse. And yet, in Columbia, Howard County, Maryland, people are going all a-gaga over what was said in a blog about a plan to redevelop a park.
Barbara Russell-- the one who used to be on the CA Board from Oakland Mills (and I say from because she never really truly "represented" Oakland Mills)-- is that most virulent strain of Columbia activist. In fact, she is Patient Zero. She is a fear monger and bomb thrower of the first order.
Last night, she took the cake. And you can read more about it here. Her exploits were confirmed to me by several people. Beyond what Tom cites in his post, Barbara apparently said that Tom himself could be sued personally, and should be sued personally, for the comments made about Cy Sperling.... er, Paumier.... and his lobbying of the CA Board.
You know, I didn't know people could be sued for stating facts. Because that's exactly what Paumier did. And Russ Swatek's e-mail to certain CA Board members earlier this week was also direct lobbying of the CA Board. So what???
Oh, and Barbara also said that Tom should resign. How typical. And how hypocritical. Typical because Barbara's MO is to attempt to stop a movement by cutting of (or crushing) its head. But totally hypocritical because this is exactly what people used to threaten Barbara with in the early 2000s-- lawsuits against her personally, calls to resign-- because she was seeking greater transparency on the CA Board (which, at the time, was conducting most of its business as the Columbia Council).
So, I had some up-close-and-personal dealings with Barbara while I was on the Oakland Mills Village Board and as she served as CA Board/Columbia Council Rep. She might be a better person than this. She might be capable of better. But she refuses to be better. Instead, she chooses to talk in terms of "coulds" and "possibles" and raise fear among people. Because that has worked in the past. Instead, she bullies and threatens and casts aspersions and doubts. She never produces a shred of irrefutable evidence to support her claims; rather, she presents evidence that can be interpreted in multiple ways and asks people to trust her in her conspiracy theories. She is the Princess of Deception, a title I don't use lightly on this Good Friday. Am I saying that she is Satan incarnate in Columbia? I'm saying that there are a lot of things that could be possible. Satan was an early resident of the Garden of Eden too.
And she tends to make things personal. I could relate a personal encounter I had with Barbara that would make people toss their laptops against the wall, it would make you so angry. But I won't go there, yet, because I'm better than that. I will instead just simply state that she is a bitter, mean person whose time has passed who refuses to lend her wisdom as an aid to future generations, who still wants to grasp instead to her own self-serving vision of power. Pathetic.
I do know this. Whether you're one of Columbia's first 100 residents or one of the most recent 100, you have a voice in the future of this community. And everyone's voice is equal. The problem with people like Barbara is that they believe their longevity in the community affords them some sort of standing. Standing to threaten and to bully. That's not how a democracy works, and last time I checked, our country and our state followed that form of government.
Today, as we are in the Passover and Easter season, I call upon the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown and Alliance for a Better Columbia to state unequivocably that Barbara Russell doesn't speak for them, and to denounce her comments at last night's CA Board meeting as the hate speech it is.
And I call upon the good people of Columbia to finally renounce the darkness and hatred spread by people like Russell, Swatek and Klein. I call upon them to renounce suspicion and fear. I call upon them to get involved and vote in their village elections on April 20. There are plenty of good people to vote for who will bring great ideas and perspective to the discussion. Who will stand for the next 40 years of Columbia, not the past 40.
The 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly has approximately two weeks left in it. And as is typical, there are a lot of major issues left unsettled, although with the amount of press some of these have received, you might think they would be!
For example, there is no assault weapons ban yet in maryland, that has yet to pass the House. And the gas tax? Passed the house, but has yet to get through the State Senate.
Coming up quick on the outside (and there always seems to be one of these issues annually in the Assembly too) is medical marijuana. HB1101 would create a medical marijuana commission and would set forth criteria for medical marijuana programs in Maryland. I support this bill, and it seems that the bill is moving towards passage.
It, fortunately, seems highly unlikely that there would be any issue worthy of a special session in 2013. After all, there were two in 2012, so it looks like 2013's was taken up already! Plus, I would suggest that as soon as the sine die gavel falls next month, approximately 188 members of the Senate and House of Delegates are swinging into full campaign mode. In fact I would expect no less.
Yep, we are no entering the silly season for the General Assembly, but the silliest season of all is yet to come.
So yesterday morning, as I do almost every weekday morning, I walked down my steps, opened my car door, put my laptop for work in the car, and on this particular Tuesday, carefully negotiated the rest of my short driveway to bring in my recycling bin.
Apparently I wasn't careful enough, because, making my way back up the driveway, bin in tow, I slipped on ice and broke my ankle. Estimated healing time is 8 weeks, once I get a pin put in the ankle to stabilize it, which will hopefully be today.
Anyway, I was going to write on this yesterday but was too annoyed to. I'm not a fan of the gas tax right now. I'm actually OK with it, but I think now is a bad time to implement it, what with the economy still sucking and all.
But that doesn't stop the House of Delegates from voting to approve it. And you can read about the fruits of their labor here.
I respectfully disagree with gas tax supporters who think that this will encourage more people to use public transportation. Because that means that public transportation is possible, acceptable, and useful to all. It's not. Let me give you an example. Me.
If I absolutely needed to get to work today, and no one could give me a ride, I'm looking at a 3/4 mile walk (on crutches, BTW) to the Oakland Mills Village Center to hit the gold route of Howard Transit, an approximate 15-minute ride to the Snowden River Park and Ride, to take an MTA commuter bus for a hour and fifteen minute ride into Baltimore and my workplace. That's about two hours and over five dollars, one way. And that's just my first world situation.
So mass transit and funding of the same remains a chicken and egg problem. For people to use it, it has to be accessible and affordable. For mass transit to be accessible and affordable, it has to be built. For it to be built, it has to be funded. And for it to be funded, it ought to be used.
The Spokesman for the bitter, wheat germ-eating septugenarians with ponytails called the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown (or is that Coalition for Columbia's Destruction?) or CCD for short, is at it again. And since Alan Klein has told wordbones that "everyone is invited" to this very special meeting, here, reproduced below, is the "below message" Russ Swatek cited that I mentioned in yesterday's post.
It's yet another meeting announcement! And Alan Klein wants you there. Bring your own damn wheat germ. Oh, and this annoucnement as well is punctuated with the Blue Text Of Truth!!!
Dear CCD Supporters, Anyone who can stand us,
> Please save Thursday, April 4th, from 8pm - 9:30pm for a special informative propagandistic meeting at Kahler Hall in Harpers Choice Village Center.
> We will be examining the two plans for Symphony Woods and will be making the case that the best way forward is for CA to proceed with the approved plan for Symphony Woods Park while it makes preparations for the proposed Arts Village. Why does this case have to be made in this "special meeting"? Aren't there already avenues in place for all the case-making in the world?
> It is imperative that we build community support for this to influence CA both in their meetings and in the upcoming elections oh-oh, the game is afoot! so that we ensure that Symphony Woods stays the important community resource we have all come to love even as it is improved. As you know, we believe that the new course CA has embarked upon is a major step backward and could threaten the future of Symphony Woods as Columbia's "central park". What? Is it just me or is there just a lack of congruence in this paragraph? We want to to be wonderful, we're going to do everything we can do.... BTW, this sucks.
> Please let your friends know about this meeting. Because we have none and so we can't let any of our own know. Cy Paumier and others with intimate knowledge of Columbia, park planning, and the proposed Symphony Woods Park will be there oh, I can't wait, so it will be an excellent opportunity to get the most current information and to have any questions answered.
> ~Alan Klein, SpokespersonThe Coalition for Columbia's Downtown
Oh, Dear God. Russ Swatek, Alan Klen and the CCD fringe are at it again.
Below is an e-mail that Swatek sent earlier this evening to members of the CA Board. Not all members, mind you, but certain members. It is reproduced below, with my comments indicated in the Blue Text of Truth!!!
I am so going to enjoy attending the CA Board of Directors Thursday! It is going to be my mosterest favorite meeting ever!!!! But, I digress.... The Letter!
Columbia residents OK...so far he's accurate!,
Please see message below The "below message" is from Alan Klein and I am leaving it alone for now.. For those of you following the CA/Symphony Woods debacle, you know that CA is proposing to create a 501(c)(3) 'trust' to manage the development and maintenance of Symphony Woods. In reality it will not be the legal entity known as a trust, but merely a corporation seeking 501(c)(3) status. I understand there is a big difference between the two. And after reading the reasoning behind CA being denied 501(c)(3) status in the 1980's which is, of course, SO extremely relevant to now... how, exactly, Russ? , I doubt this new corporation will ever get that status which is necessary for it to apply for many type of grants and for donors to be able to make tax exempt donations And your basis for this statement is what? Contempt without investigation is a bad thing, Russ. Not very open-minded, are you?. '501(c)(3)' and 'trust' are simply feel good salesman terms to put the CA residents at ease while this is being put in place.uhh, Russ? You forgot to add, "in my opinion."
CA is currently creating this new corporation with no safeguards for the lien-payers Justify this statement, please. What are lienpayers supposed to be safeguarded against? Define, please the risks. Because as reported and understood, I see none. . The new corporation's initial Board of Directors may hold lifetime positions. Popes! Popes will be in charge of the Inner Arbor Trust. Well, it makes sense. Benedict XVI isn't very busy these days. I wanna be a Columbia Pope! Although service on the CA Board is non-paid duh, there is nothing that would prohibit this new corporation from giving its Directors hefty compensation or it could be volunteer too, like many nonprofit boards are. I know, I've served on a few in my time and have never been paid a penny. More scare tactics.. I am not saying they would no, of course not!, but just saying that the CA Board is not exercising due diligence with respect to establishing this new entity. Oh, this would of course, explain why the vote was postponed.
CA also proposes to initially transfer $1.6 M to the new corporation and to give it a permanent easement to the use of Symphony Woods well, wouldn't they have to have access and use of the property it is charged with managing?. CA's President Nelson has already stated that the new corporation may grant subleases of Symphony Woods property to other entities So?. There is nothing in the current proposal that would restrict any of this. Not sure there oughtta be, Paco.
In short, if these proposals are indeed carried out, there is very little chance of a Central Park environment in Symphony Woods ever happening Actually, there's an outstanding chance of that happening, but that's just me, and you're just you, Russ, I guess.. Our County Executive is already making statements about putting money in next year's budget for development in Symphony Woods.
Russ Swatek Marshmallow Man
It may be the most overblown local controversy since the pink flamingos in front of Cafe Hon.... actually, it's much bigger than that. It's the conflict (seemingly) between the Ravens and Orioles, involving MLB, the NFL, and a host of other entities over the Ravens' opening game on September 5.
Of course, you know Good Ol' MM would have stuff to say about the matter, and what better medium for it than Marshmallow Man TV? Check it out here.
I have been considering this post for a couple weeks now-- how to phrase it, how to frame it, how to build up to the big reveal.
In the end, I have decided to come out and say it. I had thought a lot about running for the Oakland Mills Village Board this past spring. I decided not to pick up a petition, actually, because I know our board does a good job and I had thought there would be no shortage of great candidates to run. Seems like there hasn't been in the years since I was on the board.
So a couple weeks ago, on my e-mailed "OM eNews" from the Village Manager, I see the list of candidates. All good candidates, at least those I know. I don't know a couple of the people. But, I also saw that there were six candidates for seven positions. So, if I had picked up that petition.... there would have been seven for seven.
I have come to believe in the recent past that God, a higher power, the Force, or something beyond our understanding places people, places and things before us for a reason. And that vacancy announcement made a switch flick in my head. It was that moment when George Bailey realized that this is what the world would be like if he had never been born.
So, I have decided to apply for the vacancy.
Not sure how this will work, because technically, the vacancy doesn't become official until after May 1 and the current board steps off. Guess I'll find out.
More on things as they all become clearer! But I thought about this over the past few weeks, thought about many things going on in my life and decided, yes, I can do this. And so I should.
I know I just made many people happy by this announcement, and many people probably a bit annoyed. Can't concern myself with others so not going to. Time for me to do only that which I know how to do best, which is work on how my community can become the best that it can be. Even if the best that it can be is.... awesome?
Happy Friday, True Believers!
I nearly aspirated the morning's caffeine source when I read this article about the homeless population in Howard County. Specifically, the size of this population.
At least in the article, they recognize that the number is probably low. And that they just counted whoever they could locate at the time.
I'm going to say that this number is at least 500. And as for where to look, I have some suggestions. Look at the rest areas and park and ride locations. Look around the various recovery centers that operate in Howard County. Look close to medical facilities. Look close to coffee shops, often the meeting places of Howard County's "upscale" homeless. If you just look at highway overpasses and known congregation areas for the homeless you're missing a lot. Maybe the folks who did this census looked at these areas, I don't know.
Another thing: since many of the homeless have mental health problems, they don't necessarily want to be found. Sometimes all they have left is pride which could manifest itself as anger if tapped the wrong way.
I know, even a population of 500 out of a county with a population of 300,000 doesn't seem worth considering, does it? Well, that's a fairly crappy view of looking at things. And I'm more than OK with the swearing.
So, Howard County is the healthiest county in Maryland. And if you doubt me, you can look at the data for every county in the US here.
This is the fourth year in a row the HoCo has been so named, so, speaking for myself, I turn my nose up and yawn at this data. BORRRRR-RRIIIINNG!
Here's what I want to know. Is Howard County the healthiest county in the entire nation? Well, is it? If so, why? And if not, why not?
And what if, someone with no life whatsoever crunches this data, and finds that indeed, Howard County is the healthiest county in the entire U S of A? Our work here is done, right?
No. No it is not.
It will then be necessary to ascertain if Howard County is the healthiest political subdivision on the entire planet. Will Howard County become, and can it become, the first ever man-made, non organic Blue Zone? Or will it come up short to those places in eastern Europe where centengenarians eat their Dannon yogurt?