Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wednesday Round Up...

Oh, my. There is a ton of stuff to write about today. So much, in fact, that the only way to squeeze it all in is with a Round Up.

Here, in no particular order, is what has transpired in the last few days in the Fourth Greatest – But Third Richest! – Community in America…or, FGBTRCiA for short.

First things first. There’s a new guy in Blogumbia (get it, a combination “blog” and “Columbia”). Bill Santos, lifelong Columbian, former member of the Wilde Lake Village Board, and all around good guy, has carved out his own little slice of blogging heaven over at Columbia Compass, which has by far the best tag line of all the local blogs: “Navigating through the social, political, and cultural world of Columbia, Maryland.” Welcome, Bill!

Second things second. I saw her waving at cars this morning, now you can see her on YouTube. Nina Basu – the plucky, upstart, outsider, darkhorse, (insert other clich├ęd adjective for non-incumbent) candidate in the five-way race for three spots on the Democratic ticket in District 13 – just released a commercial to help spread the word about her campaign. What she lacks in fundraising, she makes up for in energy – the video was produced, apparently, using only volunteers. This is probably as close as I’ll come to an endorsement in this race: Before you decide who to vote for in this race, at least check out her website.

Speaking of District 13, the Sun released endorsements for this race yesterday. Like the Flier’s endorsements, the Sun opted to keep all three incumbents. The editors offer very little reasoning for their decision, saying there is an “excess of good candidates” and that Guy Guzzone “gives the impression that he views the House of Delegates as a step back from the rigors of running a local government.” The second part is a reference to the fact that he decided -- at least in part because of his father’s declining health -- to run for the House rather rather than County Executive. And the Sun's comment is completely true -- but neither in a good or bad sense, which makes the paper’s use of it seem silly.

Delegates are in session three months out of the year, and the rest of the time, well, they pretty much do whatever it is politicians do on a nine-month break: some fundraising, a few constituent meetings, working a real job, golf, etc. The County Executive works year round – day-in, day-out – on county stuff, a schedule that is considerably more taxing. But does the question of whether a candidate is qualified to serve rest solely on his/her desire to put in full-time hours? Isn’t the General Assembly made up of citizen-legislators, who by their very nature aren’t supposed to be full-time?

Also in the above-linked story are the Sun’s endorsements for District 9 – Gail Bates and plucky, upstart, outsider, darkhorse Melissa Ridgely Covolesky.

Remember Doughoregan? Well, it sounds like they’re approaching a solution for preserving most of the estate(s), though much is still up in the air, and development -- significant amounts of it even – is still on the table.

Another day, another trailer park announces it’s closing. Residents of this park have known for sometime that they would be forced out eventually, but the letters making it official just arrived. Here’s wishing them luck in their quests to relocate.

For now, I also think it makes sense to have the transportation department reside in the broader Department of Planning and Zoning. This, I hope, helps integrate the planning for system improvements with the county’s overall planning activities. Eventually, however, as the transit system grows, there will come a time when the two should be separated.

I suppose I could find something wrong with this idea for purely political reasons, but on the whole Chris Merdon’s plan to strengthen middle school athletics is pretty good. Of course, limiting it to one sport is going to make deciding which sport a bit tricky. And doing something for athletics without commensurate support for the arts or other non-athletic, extracurricular activities isn’t really fair. Moreover, when I went to middle school (actually, junior high) we had intramural leagues within our school that worked just fine and didn’t require busing, like Merdon’s plan would. But, on the whole, I’m generally in favor of it.

As for the synthetic turf fields at high school, I will only support this if they allow the “community” to use the fields when not in use by the school – i.e. for my annual Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving. There’s one of these fancy fields up at Rockburn Park, but you can’t get on it without super special permission from some park overlord, which is malarkey. If there’s an empty field – especially a fake turf one – let people play on it!

Finally, I serve on an obscure Columbia Association committee and I have never gotten free booze at one of our meetings. I am outraged! In the big picture, this story doesn't seem very significant, but that doesn’t stop CA’s most vocal critic from making a completely invalid comparison: “But Alex Hekimian, president and co-founder of Alliance for a Better Columbia, a watchdog group, said he told the oversight committee, ‘If you give away free booze, why not give out free cigarettes because I'm sure people would like to have a cigarette, too.’”

I think I need a drink.


Mary Catherine said...

The Doughoregan news is difficult to understand- for almost everybody.. but basically this preservation option saves 75 acres of the 890 acres of the historic estate by allowing it to sell its development rights to lots being developed in the Clarksville area. I do not believe that the 75 acres includes the significant historic resources. It is a good use of a preservation tool and a step in the right direction. 75 preserved.. 815 left to go. ;-). (This also does not include the news about parcels being temporarily and permanently preserved on the South Manor property.)

Green Terror said...

I was at the press conference yesterday and Chris remarked that he would absolutely like to expand the program to both further sporting events and to non-sporting activities. He used the example of his daughter who tried soccer but wasn't that into it and then went out for drama and dance classes and has loved them. So he recognizes that not every child wants to play a sport, but most children do want to be involved in something.

Also, he said having artificial turf would allow the communities to have more access to the fields because they would be easier to maintain and wouldn't have to guard them so jealously. What the "request" process might be wasn't discussed, but having greater utilization of fields was a main reason for getting them.

Hayduke said...

MC: Thanks for the additional details. The story made it sound like the 75-acre parcel was the one surrounding the Manor and associated buildings, but from you I hear that might not be the case.

Although even small steps towards preservation should be applauded, I noticed that the Carrolls won't release any further plans for the property until after a new adminstration takes over the county in December. I wonder what impact the outcome of the county executive election will have on this?

FreeMarket said...

Hayduke: I totally agree with you that doing something for athletics without commensurate support for the arts or other non-athletic, extracurricular activities is unfair. Based on Green Terror’s comments, Merdon may feel the same way, but then, why does he still want them? Also, I am not clear how he intends to pay for these facilities, and they are not cheap. If having greater community utilization of the fields is a main reason for getting them that is a concern, because it is not the job of the school system to make sure the community has a nice place to play ball.