My post from Wednesday became a bigger topic itself than did its subject, who was one of the most egregious cases of an elected official going off the rails from who they campaigned as that I have ever seen, on any level, in 30 years of political experience. Surprising to me as everything I had written, I had written before, except for one bit. Still, I'm aware of the offense raised and although none was intended, I took the post offline, at least temporarily.
I have no intention to write again about the subject of Wednesday's post-- and I mean EVER-- so any more comments about Wednesday's post, I will construe as an effort to pile on. So if you have further concerns, email me or call me and let's have coffee. Would always prefer to talk in person anyway. But I will be writing more about the BOE election next week. Stay tuned.
This week it seems I've done a lot of what this blog was set out to do, which is to call out the emperor and say they have no clothes. Today's post I'd planned for weeks, but it's more of the same.
There's only one contested election in the CA Board elections tomorrow. In Harper's Choice, Bob Fontaine is clearly the better, stronger choice against Alan Klein. You can count on Bob to be fair, open-minded, innovative in his thinking, and thoughtful of the residents of his village. I urge all Harper's Choice residents to vote for him tomorrow. He will work to make Harper's bigger and greater.
Last year, Candace Montague wrote this outstanding blog post and got a bit of razzing for it. She shouldn't have. She was right on then and she's right on now.
It's Candace's second of her three points that, for me, strikes the truest chord. The CA Board (and village boards in general) don't look like Columbia. The people thereon don't have a lot in common with Mr. and Mrs. Columbia. To a great extent, most of the eleven boards-- CA plus the ten village boards-- are composed of older Caucasians who have decades of life experience in Columbia. That's their filter. And that filter doesn't lend itself to inclusion or expansion.
I also agree with Candace's other points. For the most part, things in the villages are the way people like them. In Oakland Mills, there's still handwringing over subsidized housing, Bridge Columbia, a sports complex, the police substation, schools, etc. My take is that the majority of the board has used these items as things to maintain their control on the board. There's a lot of pots and none are boiling. But they're all being worked at some level and so, let's keep the current board so we can "keep the progress rolling". Except, there's no real progress. There's a constant exchange of letters and the occasional testimony, but no tangible products. See the Catch 22 here? So things are the status quo, which ultimately, is welcomed. Better no change than being held accountable for change.
And, it's also hard to get charged up about what the village boards do. As Candace writes, it's not like they're rewriting the Constitution. In OM, sometimes a board meeting brings out more than five residents, but by and large, every board meeting brought out as attendants, spouses and friends of the current board members. Two meetings this year, for a visit from Housing Commission staff and for a visit from three members of the School Board, did the board meeting attendees' gallery actually look like Oakland Mills. And it was wonderful. Those other twenty meetings (because I missed two along the way)-- not so much.
I'm also going to add a fourth reason why village elections don't much matter. A lot of matters for which people could be turning to CA or the villages to at least be sensitive to, are now being handled by other entities within the county. Does anyone really feel that CA is at the nexus of downtown development, much less leading it? Are they a major player? I would make the case that while they're certainly at the table, that neither is the case. Of course schools and police and fire and public works are handled by Howard County and always have been. But people who have moved here from other places are used to a civic government handling these matters. And, honestly, other entities are more well-suited, more well-skilled, to handle the rigors of downtown redevelopment. Which is unfortunate in a sense.
I'm still crazy enough to believe that CA and the villages could make a difference and so I hope Bob gets elected tomorrow. The promise of Columbia is too good for the status quo. But across Columbia, people are going to laze their way to the polls tomorrow, to see friends, out of some sense of civic responsibility, to buy plants, or just to do what they think they're supposed to do.
We need to find a way by which Village Election Day is much more than that.
Let's be careful out there.
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