Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Round Up...

The people have spoken, and I have heard them loud and clear: “Hayduke, you’re not funny.” OK, I get it. Please forget my failed attempt at humor ever happened and allow me to move on whilst some dignity remains.

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In other bloggy news, it seems like everyday I find another new local blog. The latest two: Fine Line and A Tale of Two Cities, which has posted a great piece about the WWJRD (What Would James Rouse Do) phenomenon. Go check them out!

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Meanwhile, in newsy news, candidates for various offices (County Executive and Council) are biting their tongues about solutions to the affordable housing situation. Someone told me a while back that affordable housing would never be a campaign issue -- for reasons that are fairly self-evident. Undaunted, People Acting Together in Howard are working to get it on the radar screen and in the hearts of voters. Unfortunately (or fortunately for some), the final report of a county task force examining the issue is due on Halloween, which effectively neutralizes the limited pressure on candidates by allowing them to prudently suggest that proposals from a panel of experts should dictate future policy. This task force is far better equipped to address the issue than any campaign.

Now, how the candidates react in the week between the panel's report and the election might be of some value to voters, but by that point most minds will have been made up.

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I went to the press conference today of the group of citizens committed to preserving the initial vision of the charrette. I got there late, so I missed most of it (damn all-day training at work!). But I did get to see all sorts of politicians jockey for position around the Hug statue. Also, there were several non-political people there that indicated this group has only good intentions. Criticisms of the charrette process have been a mixture of honest questions about the plan for future of our community and NIMBYism, and I was glad to see folks from the former camp rather than from the latter. It's important to remember, however, that with respect to downtown, we all want the same thing: a place we can be proud of. If only it were as easy to agree on the means.

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Speaking of the future of Town Center, General Growth and Howard Community College are sponsoring a series of four monthly forums titled "Voices of Vision." The first is on Thursday, October 19 at 7 pm at the Smith Theater. The speaker will be Vernon D. Swaback, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's former apprentices. RSVP is requested at 877.311.2944 or rsvp@generalgrowth.com.

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Finally, The Website That Shall Not Be Named. This has caused quite a stir on other websites, which is not unexpected. I'm disheartened to see so much emphasis being placed on the source of the site and whether it's negative and not the information contained within it. I don't want to get into a discussion of the details -- I think the site speaks for itself -- but this idea that Ken Ulman has "gone negative" in an act of "desperation" strikes me as completely lacking in merit. The tone of this election was set a long time ago, and to suggest now that he's the one responsible for dragging it into the gutter is disingenuous at best and completely dishonest at worst.

I've managed to bite my tongue several times with respect to unfair attacks on Ulman and on others who dare to express support for him. There have been unsubstantiated allegations and purposeful misrepresentations about his youth, his family, his votes, and his objectivity; most recently, he was flat-out called a "coward" in a blog post that was removed sometime between 3 pm and 6 pm today.

Similar statements have been made about his supporters as well. (There was one particularly egregious incident where a young woman who asked a question at a forum, deemed a "plant," was crudely connected to a potential riot arrest following a Maryland basketball game. The comment was later removed.) The mounting hostility and estrangement from the "issues" is largely what motivated me to move away from political blogging (my skin's only so thick and there's only so much one can take of being routinely called naive, a blind apologist, a hypocrite and more).

The internet, and by extension blogging, at its best is a place where information is easily accessed and connected. It provides immediate substantiation of one's arguments, with the supporting information only a click away. From what I've seen, the site in question has sourced the points it makes. To be sure, it is written from a partisan perspective and is clearly meant to impinge on the belief that Chris Merdon has a stellar voting record when it comes to growth. But that alone does not invalidate the conclusions it draws or the rigor of its sources.

On the flip-side, blogging and internet can be bastions of disparaging gossip, innuendo, ad hominem attacks, witch hunts, extremism and, worst, groupthink. Nobody wins when this is case. We are divided further and our dialogue screeches to a halt.

I'd like to echo the sentiments of at least one commenter: If there is a cogent, well-sourced refutation of the website, I (and many other voters) would love to see it. However, if the only response is to attack Ulman for negativity (something we all share responsbility for) and to claim it an act of desperation, this should be viewed as a tacit admission of the site's accuracy.

32 comments:

dwk said...

I am sure a response will be forthcoming. It takes time to respond to 134 pages of half truths.

For the record I am the one who called Ken Ulman a coward for hiding the fact that he won't admit taking responsibility for the distortions he posted. I should not have done it and I removed it.

Same with the girl.

I get to caught up in things sometimes and I admit it and thank God for the delete button. Saying it was wrong, taking it down was the right thing to do.

Lets see if Ken can step up and do the same.

Hayduke, he blasts Merdon for voting for the same bill that Jim Robey is campaigning on which was for 30,000 housing units. Ken doesn't mention that was part of a 20 year plan that was passed unanimously by the majority democrat County Council and signed by County Executive Robey. Ken doesn't mention that the original plan was for 50,000 units but Chris Merdon supported an amendment to reduce the number of units per year from 2,500 to 1,500. So yes, Chris voted for 30,000 units but he prevented it from being 50,000 units. Contrary to Ken's claims, he SLOWED growth by preventing 20,000 new homes. No where does Ulman mention that. He takes it out of context and distorts the record. But what impression is Hayduke left with - it must be true because Keelan called Ulman a liar.

Pardon me for being outraged by Ulman's tactics here. I apologize for being outraged when I see distortions and lies being bandied about by a man who doesn't have the courage or the decency to stand by his claims and hides behind a surragate (remember Joan Lancos?).

I digress.

He claims ethics violations when none exist.

He takes quotes out of context such as the I270 corridor implying the Merdon wants sprawl (who wants sprawl?) when Merdon was talking about how he envied the businesses along the tech corridor and wished Howard County could attract those kinds of jobs. Jobs? Who wants jobs in Howard County. We are after all just a bedroom community, right?

He claims Merdon wants to increase density in the West. The fact is that the bill in question attempted to move housing allocations already decided in the General Plan from the West and crowd them into the East without any adequate planning for facilities or schools. The houses were in the General Plan for the West and facilities and schools were planned for as a result. That provides predictibility for County planning and residents.

He fails to mention the that the Merdon Kittleman budget proposal was submitted during the debate about a 30% tax increase. During a time when we could slow the pace of growth (not cut the previous fiscal year budget) or whack the tax payers.

It goes on and on like this and then he won't own up to the distortions but hides his involvement. What does that tell you about his style and character. Wonder why I called him what I called him?

He posts documentation to provide the appearance of legitimacy. Who is going to read 134 pages of documents? You? He is betting that 1 or 2 people (you and me) will and that the rest of the voters will say "Well done. Great research." and then never ever give it the due diligence it deserves". That is a smear.

The questions about Ken's alledged position as the Director of the Board of Public Works is a valid question and it deserves an answer. By the way, it is another example of Ken's distortions. He never had the title, it isn't written any where and he gets a pass?

Hayduke, it is a desperate attempt on Ken's part. Claiming so is not a tacit admission of the site's accuracy at all. You can't take that position with any legitimacy at all. Have you read all 134 pages? Will you read all 134 pages? I have only just begun and what I cited hear is only the beginning of fleshing out the smear.

If you want an honest debate then before you bless the site's accuracy then download the entire site, all the attached documents, and then decide for yourself.

At least then I will respect your opinion on this matter.

dwk said...

Here is another straight out falsehood.

But Comp Lite is just part of his record of rezonings in favor of development. As part of the comprehensive rezoning process that preceded Comp Lite, Chris voted to allow a numerous new houses to be built on a property that was zoned for environmental protection. Though he now touts a “green” proposal for Howard County, the truth is that when he had a chance to ensure sensitive land and our environment were protected, he decided in favor of development. (CB75-2003).

That property was not zoned enviromentally protected. Never was. Ever! It was zoned R-ED which is not Enviromentally protected land. It is Enviromental Development (ED). Ulman wants you to think it was a wet land or bird habitat or something. It wasn't. Is their a distinction between Enviromental Development and Enviromentally Protected? I guess not since Ken says their isn't.

I will be back with more examples of the distortions.

dwk said...

Oh yeah, relative to numerous new houses do you know what they were going to build there before the zoning change? Numerous new Townhouses. Ulman doesn't tell you that does he. More half truths.

How much time did they put into making this stuff up?

mary smith said...

Where are the responses to this? dwk is presenting the opportunity to set straight the record.

Merdon has several varying connections with land developers and has voted in their favor 99% of the time during his tenure. Fact. He's monumentally more connected to developers than citizens.

Both Ulman and Merdon raised an obscene half million dollars, significant portions from special interests - in order to buy votes -unfortunately successfully for those who don't vote independently of party. Nov 8 is on schedule wherein working for special interests starts the cycle once again, promises are history.

It's equally dishonest to post signs that say, "voted against comp lite" and then vote in favor of every individual property re-zone, as anything Ulman has done.

And to have been on the council for years, and not support the programs Merdon now rushes to say he supports is not honest. If he really intended to carry out any of those "plans" he would have started working on them long ago. Instead, he was busy negotiating a huge personal land deal with a developer.

Fact.

hocoblog said...

Mary,

Comp-Lite. Merdon't position has always been that those 18 properties should have gone through the conditional use process and not comp-lite.

When those properties did EVENTUALLY go through the conditional use process Merdon found no issue with their petitions and welcomed the public input during the conditional use process (which was so lacking in the comp-lite process). That is why Merdon supported the petitioners.

He objected to the comp-lite process not being followed which allowed these properties to escape the public scrutiny of the conditional use process.

Again, the point is that the properties never should have been permitted in comp-lite thus by passing public input and scrutiny. That is not the purpose or design of comp-lite.

The proper process was conditional use. The petitioners/properties met the guidelines in the conditional use process.

Now Merdon is being hit for following the law. Ulman understands this as well as Merdon does. He is fogging the issue.

Jen left an interesting comment on my blog. It put things in perspective for me.

On another note I apologize again for calling Ken Ulman a coward for hiding the fact that he is behind therealchris.com. It was an over reaction on my part and I regret offending anyone.

hocoblog said...

BTW: hocoblog and dwk are the same person. I don't know why blogger.com is doing that.

hocoblog said...

"Finally, though he sidesteps the issue directly, Chris has indicated in words and actions his desire to help the Carroll family find ways to receive public and/or private money to keep their large, historic and undeveloped property in Ellicott City. Phillip and Camilla Carroll, both of whom contributed the maximum $4,000 to Chris’s campaign, have indicated that they are considering developing a significant chunk of their 892-acre estate, and part of their goal is to have water and sewer service extended to their property so they can increase the development density on their parcel."

Ken is right. We should just let Doughoregan disappear. Wipe it off the face of the map. He has not led on this at all.

What Ken fails to tell people is that in order to preserve the property the Carroll's need approximately $18M to fund upkeep and maintenance. He also leaves to speculation what "a significant chunk" means. It means that under current law the Carroll family could develop over 200 acres of their land. The Ho Co Times wrote "Under current zoning, between 211 and 450 new residential units could potentially be built on the land, McLaughlin said."

What Merdon is trying to do is keep those acres in ag preservation. Remember, the County is willing to spend $24M to do so.

Why do the Carroll's support Chris? He is the only elected official who has shown any interest in helping preserve this historic property. "My goal is to preserve 100 percent of Doughoregan Manor," Merdon said. "When there is the opportunity to put large tracts of land in agricultural preservation, we should try to do everything possible to make that happen."

What does Ken say? The Carroll's have "indicated" they might develop. He fails to mention that they also "indicated" and actually prefer to keep the property in ag pres.

Once again Ulman provides only 1/2 of the story.

mary smith said...

The part which continually gets obscured by playing the comp lite card is that Merdon does not oppose development of any kind, 99% of the time.

hocoblog said...

Mary,

Not true. Maple Lawn comes to mind.

mary smith said...

OMG. 1%, David.

The facts are indisputable, not open to interpretation, and are easily verified at the DPZ. 99% of Merdon's votes were pro-development on completed projects. Fact.

wordbones said...

The vote to deny the request for increased density at Maple Lawn was about as misguided as they come. Maple Lawn is the one place in the county that we can afford to increase the density. It has all of the necessary infrastructure (elementary, middle and high school, utilities, jobs, services, etc.) and is located on a major road network. It is amusing that politicians trumpet their vote against the evil developers who try to increase density in a location that could certainly handle it and then turn around and lament the lack of affordable housing.

and, btw, thank you for welcoming my blog!

hocoblog said...

Mary,

Merdon has done as much as anyone else to ensure that development in the County conforms to the law and to the General Plan.

If you can show that a completed project should not have been approved and Merdon approved it or forced it through I would like to know.

Anonymous said...

Mary:

I find this comment inaccurate, unfair, and offensive: "Instead, he was busy negotiating a huge personal land deal with a developer." Merdon and his wife bought a lot on which to build one house - their own. They live in a neighborhood with a bunch of other humans. Comments like that are why good people don't ever consider for one second going into public service. Stick to facts, respect the privacy of the personal lives of our elected officials of both parties. Casting aspersions with no basis in fact is not helpful.

was on the fence said...

Working as a sales engineer for an ISP business I can say that Keelan provides a fair and convincing piece of detective work.

Whether this tactic is fair or not Merdon may have to respond to the allegations in the web site (I don’t really care - no one is going to stop development so it is a non-issue). Is Merdon is pro-growth as www.therealchris.com claims? I don’t see the evidence as the information is wholly one sided and provides no context. The site relies wholly on the base instincts of those not willing to do their own research.

As for Keelan’s conclusion that it is a “smear” it depends. If www.kenulman.com admitted at the start that they were responsible for the site then I would say no.

Keelan provides convincing evidence that Mr. Ulman chose to conceal his involvement. In my opinion it is a smear and doesn’t make Ulman look very good.

One thing that hasn’t been pointed out by Keelan is that a great deal of cooperation had to take place between the Ulman campaign and the Democratic Party in order to put this level of information in one place. It didn’t happen over night.

I would conclude that this was a long term plan and strategy. That would lead me to respectfully disagree that it was NOT an act of desperation but rather part of a long term campaign strategy. That means that the Ulman campaign probably planned to conceal their involvement from the beginning.

My final conclusion would be that the Ulman campaign would be better served and better serve the voters by being open and upfront rather than conspiratorial and secretive. What does this tactic portend for a future Ulman administration?

(I also posted this on Keelan's site)

mary smith said...

Oh, I just saw this post.

No basis in fact? (second anon above).

You're lost. It is a fact, you reiterated the fact yourself.

Tom Berkhouse said...

Hayduke,

Once again you have proven yourself to be Ken Ulman's hypocritical defender in chief. I have posted many comments on your blog, and on Hocomd's blog, citing specific projects in which Ulman has been involved and done things that were not in compliance with Howard County laws and regulations. In the case of Comp Lite, the FACTS prove that Ulman, Robey, and Guzzone, improperly and illegally added applications after the deadline. Never have you ever addressed the facts presented (in fact you duck every question directed to you, why?)- you try to ignore the facts and claim that it's a personal attack. NOT SO. Ken Ulman's record is attacked based on clear cut facts. Chris Merdon's record is being attacked with misstatements and contorted references to legislation, taken completely out of context. If he feels so justified in what he's saying on the website, then why hide the fact that he's doing it? It only takes a minute to tell a lie, but it can take a whole lifetime to demonstrate the truth. I thought you were a person who wanted to debate on FACTS, not lies, which is what Ken Ulman is spreading. He's yellow, through and through. And, you become a bigger hypocrite every day you defend his lies.

hocoblog said...

Mary,

What does Merdon buying land from Charlie Feaga to build a house for his family have to do with his position on development?

"negotiating a huge personal land deal with a developer."

Am I in bed with developers because I purchased a house and land in Howard County?

Do you mean to imply something else other than Merdon building a home for his family? Pray tell.

mary smith said...

Repugnant Republicans: (yeah. You two):

OMG. Tom first. The attacks are not befitting a leading candidate supporter; does this mean that your poll shows Merdon is behind? At this point I’m using incredible self control not to mistype ‘a behind’, so please, some credit for not stooping to the levels wafting up from your quite childish name-calling.

David, David. Oh, Dav-id. You know darn well that the land was owned by the developer, and transacted with the regular attorney. Thanks for allowing me to set that record straight.

There now. It’s settled. Just like Merdon’s large private land deal with a developer, except this is out in the open for everyone to see.

Tom Berkhouse said...

Mary,

Name calling? I object. Hayduke IS being hypocritical, as are you to a degree. Maybe saying "yellow" was a bit of a low blow, but I don't think the "C" word is allwoed on these Hallowed pages.

Yes, I believe you are being hypocritical too. How is Chris's purchase of land from someone he happens to know improper, or whatever it is that see wrong about it? Have you ever bought something from someone you know? Nothing improper about that.

mary smith said...

Tom,

Your statements are crude. "Yellow"? What in the world is that?! I guess we're gunslingers now, or a more apt description, mudslingers. I guess your part in the production is that of a twisted John Wayne: "usin' yella' bullets, pardner".

Oy Vay, let's change the subject. So Merdon spent a boatload of time getting a good deal for his private coffers on his county-citizen established relationship with developers who buy votes so that he can hobknob with the Governor et al, and doesn't know the meaning of a good plan for citizens unless it's rhetoric for campaign season, and then hid the whole thing. So what?

People love that stuff. No need for name calling. I do, however, abjectly apologize for using the term 'childish' as it was an insult to children everywhere.

Let's move on.

We really don't care a hoot (there ya go) about who is elected. Right?

Let's all just bury the truth, it confuses the heck out of people. Particularly if it passes through David's grasp. If we keep telling everyone what they want to hear whilst we advance personal agendas and (heh, heh) collect power, who will be so brave as to claim to know the truth?

Only the anonymati. Another plug for we innocuous citizens who can't get good county services to save our yella hides.

mary smith said...

Hay,

Can you add the column wherein we see most recent comments titles on your main page, providing the ability to go directly to a discussion rather than search to determine if a discussion is happening?

dwk said...

Mary, I am disappointed in you.

Merdon lives on Folly Quarter Road. But the house sits on Stardust too. The property used to be part of the Feaga family farm. Feaga developed the farm. Merdon purchased one of the lots and built a house.

There are 13 houses on Stardust Lane.

The entire development was handled by a real estate attorney David A. Carney.

Merdon and his wife paid market price for the property even though a very very large chunk of the land is can not be developed since it is enviromentally protected.

This is all a matter of public record Mary and for you to suggest a sweat heart deal took place is wrong. The facts do not back up your story.

mary smith said...

David,

Why not make it all public? Why the upset? Now, I am no detective, but I do believe that land was owned by the developer, with whom Feaga entered a partnership, making the future home of Merdon held and controlled by the DEVELOPER. I'm no real estate expert but I do believe Merdon negotiated with the DEVELOPER.

Why all the hiding? Is there more to this? If it's all so innocent, let's get it out there, clear it up.

Speaking of respect for truth, did you delete all comments from the extremist "Ralph" yesterday after he was outed as Warren Miller?

What a year.

mary smith said...

Hay,

I'd really like to see a sidebar with the latest discussion linked. Am I really only talking to David or are others reading this, because "I know, I know, I been here before".

hocoblog said...

Mary,

No, I didn't delete Ralph's comments. Nor did I delete the comment from Warren Miller denying that he is Ralph. Nor did anyone else.

I guess you missed the part where I said it is part of the public record. Anyone "really" interested in the truth will find out that all the land in the Merdon neighborhood was owned by the same developer. That would even mean Courtney Watson. Many of the people in that neighborhood negotiated the purchase of their lots directly with the developer. Why are you holding Merdon to a different standard.

You are correct. You are not a detective. If you were interested in backing up your claims then you would do a little detective work and find what I found.

Do you have anything positive to say today?

My house sits on property that was once owned by a developer.

hocoblog said...

BTW: Ulman admits he was behind the smear.

http://hocomd.wordpress.com/2006/10/20/chutzpah/

mary smith said...

If anyone is an enigma, it must be David.

You allow the truth about extremist Ralph (aka Warren Miller) to remain posted for all to see, and still attempt to obscure the fact that those who negotiated with the real estate representative do not make decisions about land use! Merdon does make decisions about land use, David. Merdon made decisions about land use while dealing with the developer. Developers contributed to his campaign! Developers depend on his decisions for their purposes.

Please keep responding so that I can continue to say this because while it doesn't matter to some, others think it matters greatly.

And a 60+ acre estate compared to a 1 acre lot is, what did you say...apples and oranges. More like apples and planets.

Merdon's deal was nothing like Watson's. To suggest otherwise is an expectation that we are all content to be mentally neutralized by blind loyalty to those who would do irreparable harm.

mary smith said...

Either everyone negotiated with a developer, or no one did. You're claiming that Merdon didn't negotiate with the developer,and then saying it was ok because he negotiated with the developer like everyone else.

Really?

It's dishonesty that gets my attention, hiding things gets my attention, mutually exclusive claims attract attention. You blew it on the mutually exclusive responses, and this couldn't have come as a surprise, I expected better prep. Maybe you're overworked trying to clean up the mess that running an agenda for these few folks will engender. I'd be much more comfortable saying these things on your site. Pls post a link.

And I haven't a clue what you're talking about, "something positive today".

hocoblog said...

Did I say that?

Tom Berkhouse said...

Hayduke,

I was certain I had posted another comment on this topic. Did it get deleted or removed?

Hayduke said...

Tom,

I've barely had a chance to read any of the recent comments, let alone think about deleting them. It's not completely out of the ordinary for a comment to get lost after hitting the publish button -- it has happened to me before, too. Also, if I ever delete a comment, it's place will still be noted with the name of the author and a note below saying: "This comment has been removed by the blog administrator."

Tom Berkhouse said...

Hayduke,

Thank you - I was pretty certain that blog hosts leave a note if a comment gets deleted. Too bad I can't remember half of what I wrote or I could redo it. Oh well.