Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Vote Ken!

I’ve gone back and forth on this for a while, but after attending the final County Executive candidates’ forum Sunday, I decided it was ultimately worth writing.

I support Ken Ulman for County Executive.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any readers -- though some might feign it for effect. But while my support for Ulman hasn’t been a secret, it hasn’t been explained much, either. And that’s what I hope to do here.

Sunday’s forum was sponsored by the Howard County Chinese School, which provides weekly classes on Chinese language and culture for local students.

Many of the questions asked of the candidates -- each of whom sat at tables covered with appropriately colored cloths (blue for Ulman, red for Merdon and white for Wallis) -- were standard forum fare – education, growth, transportation, etc. There were a few questions specifically about the Chinese and other immigrant communities.

But there was only one question that really stood out.

Towards the end of the event, after the floor was opened for audience questions, a woman began by mentioning the youthfulness of the non-independent candidates and followed by stating that only a fool would think these two don’t have political aspirations beyond County Executive. Which is completely true for both, no matter what they or their defenders say.

Given that they may soon seek to represent her on the state or federal level, she wanted to know how the candidates feel about some of the moral questions facing society today. And, naturally, she picked the most controversial of the bunch: abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage.

Wallis answered first and punted.

Merdon answered second and likewise ducked the questions.

Ulman stood up and responded to all three.

And in that moment, the differences between the two (well, three) and the reasons I’ve supported Ulman became even clearer.

When faced with the decision to follow principles or expedience, Ulman has chosen principles every time. Often, the two are no different, as was the case when he first proposed the charrette as a way to give citizens unprecedented zoning power and a real stake in the future of our community.

But just as often, they’re divergent, as was the case when he chose not to denounce the charrette and the planning department when their popularity began to wane, opting instead to support the messy, if all too public, process of working through the details to create a true compromise plan.

Like many of us who were raised in this county, Ulman is guided by bold principles and a strong vision for our future of Howard County, one that calls for exceeding our already high standards for education, public safety, and livability. The strength of his vision and principles are manifested in the strength of his actions. When it became clear that Howard County had fallen behind other jurisdictions with respect to public health and indoor smoking, Ken pushed for a quick and encompassing ban, while his opponent sought the path of greatest expedience, a blatant attempt to have it both ways on the issue (supporting it for residents, opposing it for business) that was similar to his approach on Comp Lite and the subsequent rezonings.

In short, he has positive, optimistic vision of the possible – a product of strong convictions and principles – and goes after it.

Ulman understands that being good is easy, but being great requires bold and forward thinking. Jim Rouse wasn’t trying to build suburbs with a few apartments thrown in for good measure, he sought to reorder how we think about community building and, in the process, create places where growth was talked about in terms of individuals, not just building units.

Sometimes, of course, boldness backfires, as it did when Ulman was criticized for proposing to change the zoning process during an election; a proposal that I believe will be vindicated eventually, as Oakland Mills has shown the power of proactive, community-based planning. But, ultimately, what we need are leaders who challenge rather than pander, who are unafraid to take reasonable, principled risks when there is a strong community behind them to help guide the ideas to realities.

Politics is not for those who would rather sit on the sidelines. By failing to answer the question posed of him, Merdon indicated that he would rather take a back seat than take a chance. Sure, it was only one question – and a controversial one that certainly would have hurt him in his quest to lure Democrats – but nonetheless, avoiding tough situations is not going to solve the problems we’ll face in the years ahead.

If I told you three years ago that by 2006 citizens will be in control of the Columbia downtown development process, would you have believed me? If your answer is yes, you’re not being honest. At that time, all most wanted was a seat at the table. Instead of a seat, we got the table.

As I said before, the master plan process hasn’t been perfect, but nothing is. That some would like to stop it entirely says more about their willingness to cope with difficulties than their commitment to a strong citizenry and a fruitful community dialogue.

Now, Town Center is but one issue we’re facing. There are many more: transportation, affordable housing, continued excellence in our schools, loss of open space, development pressures and so forth. To me, the question is not will we find a solution to these problems, but how?

Will we continue to adjust the bus schedules to get a few more riders, or will we create a truly effective and efficient system to cope with (hopefully, in the decades ahead) a decline in automobile use?

Will we create healthy, mixed income neighborhoods that respect our community’s character and open space at the same time they provide a range of housing options for those who need it? Or, will we add a few affordable units here and there until it becomes clear that the gates are closed?

Will we create a development system that truly benefits and empowers citizens, or will we keep doing what we’re doing, with small adjustments for "inflation"?

Will our open spaces continue to suffer the ill and exponential effects of development that has already occurred, or will we find ways – through mitigation, restoration and redevelopment – to bring back healthy, functioning ecosystems?

Will our schools excel beyond where they are now by attracting the best teachers and administrators (who need both good pay and affordable housing), or will we rest on our laurels?

The possibilities for us are endless. We are a strong community with a strong foundation to work from. If we are committed to fully addressing the problems we face, we need to act with strong purpose, for the challenges loom large. And, I believe, Ken Ulman is poised to face those challenges head on for us and our future.

By the way, I think Ulman wins it by 5.


Anonymous said...

While development and March 2005’s Comp-lite is the flavor of the month, you note that there are so many issues that are important to Howard Countians. The difficulty is when growth is an important issue, it is challenging to dismiss it. However, it is not the only issue. For many sections of Howard County, it is so unimportant, many do not even know what comp-lite is.

But they know what a good school is (we have only one that is overcrowded despite the “uncontrolled growth” of recent years), they know that there is more to green environments than election year promises during election year tax cuts.

Ken Ulman has grown up a lot since 2002 and still has a lot of growing to do (as do most 30-somethings. However, his heart is in the right place, he has given his yuth to public service and his keen intellect will serve him well.

Besides, despite Merdon’s 30 + Dems & Ind. and several biter Dems., Howard County leans Democratic and there is not enough negativity toward any of the 3 candidates (although no one knows who Wallis is.

Ulman by 7.

FreeMarket said...

I wasn’t there, but I need to attend these things in the future. What were Ulman’s responses on the three issues?

I hope whoever wins, it is decisive. Otherwise we will be in recount hell.

David W. Keelan said...

I was wondering the same thing Freemarket.

Hayduke, I don't know Ken Ulman. You saw Mary Catherine's email. If you know Mary Catherine she has no reason to lie to either of us. I believe her. I have dismissed similiar stories in the past and now I wonder if I should have.

I think Merdon is going to win this. Ulman is telling people he has internal polls that show him leading by fir 10, then 8, and now 6 points but he won't show the poll. Merdon has momentum.

The backlash against his negative campaign, and the backlash against the democrat activists who supported him are going to cost him at the polls.

The GOTV effort is strong, African American's are leaning toward Steele in numbers that people didn't expect and I think that translates is some part to Merdon, Ehrlich popularity is still over 50% and that counts for something too. Merdon has done strong in District 1. Ulman hasn't been strong in his district.

Merdon by 10% after all absentee ballots are counted - of the 11,300 sent out in Howard County alone the vast majority of them are Republican.

If Merdon is leading when the polls close it is his, if Merdon is down by 4,000 votes when the polls close he picks it up with the absentees.

Cory said...

I've never voted Republican in my 10 years of voting but I will do so this year for Merdon.

You say that Ulman has a great vision for Howard County. Where has that vision been outlined? Whether you agree or disagree with the proposals Merdon has put out (and I like some and don't like others) at least he put his vision out there. Ulman only gives vague 'I'm against uncontrolled growth', 'I'm for keeping Howard County one of the best in the country'. Ok great, but how is he going to do it? I can't vote for someone who isn't willing to tell me what they're going to do or how they will do it.

He solidified my vote for Merdon when he went so negative. I probably get 3-4 mailers/week over the last 2-3 weeks all negative. Tell me what you're going to do, not that the other guy is bad. That to me stinks of an absence of ideas.

BTW, Merdon by 2%.

Anonymous said...

There might be only one school that is overcrowded.. but it's because every year we do the student shuffle. My kids have been redistricted three times in ten years. We are paying through the nose to build more new schools to accomodate growth. Enough, already.

wordbones said...

I think it really comes down to actually doing something about your vision rather than just talking about it.

Ken Ulman got the community into the discussion about Town Center's future. This was no small feat.

And to top it all off he gets beat up for that!

Leadership is never easy.

Actions always speak louder than words.

Chris Merdon is a good man. He has served the county well. His alliance with Angela Beltram and the other "activists" however made me wary of him as our leader.

And though absentee ballots traditionally favor Republicans, this year fears over the reliabliity of voting machines have driven members of both parties to request absentee ballots in record numbers. I am calling the absentee ballots a push.

It will be close but I'll call it for Ulman by a whisker.

David W. Keelan said...

Call the Board of Elections. They will tell you the break down by party of absentee ballots issued.
Higher dem than predicted but still heavily rep.

Anyone checkout Wissing House/Senate and Gov/Sen predictions.

Hayduke, are you blogging on Tuesday evening?

Anonymous said...

Alliance? That's an odd choice of words. What kind of alliance does Beltram and Merdon have- other than her endorsement of him? If an alliance means endorsement- Does she have an alliance with Mr. Robey or Mr. O'Malley or Mr. Cardin, as well? She indicated in the press release she'd vote for them, too. Do you not support those candidates, either? Or can you make an exception for them?

Maybe by alliance you mean that Merdon agreed with her on comp-lite and voted against it? Hmmm...Does that mean that Ulman has an unusual alliance with Sang Oh? Or Dick Talkin? or Don Reuwer? Because Ulman voted to support them in comp lite?

Seems like bad logic to me.

"Doing something about your vision" seems a little more sound... but I wouldn't hold New Town up as an example for Ken. His vision was never executed for that. He initiated a process which is good- but which is far from realized. I don't think it qualifies as doing something about your vision. Successful leaders finish what they start. (He may yet finish that vision- its just way too soon to judge it as realized). I think Ken showed a realized vision in fighting hard for a smoking ban that he believed in- despite a difficult council split.

I think Ken does a good job solving problems and bringing people to the table- when he's interested.

I think his lack of experience is a problem. Chris has the edge in experience. He has four additional years on the Council and management and corporate experience in his career. Ken needs a little more to be Executive material.

I think Ken's lack of even temperment is a problem. You can't curse people out and hang up on them and still be a "leader". I think he has the potential to grow beyond that eventually. But he isn't beyond it yet. Chris has the edge in temperment.

Chris also has the edge in being able to work with people from different political backgrounds. The Dems and Independents that endorsed him are very signifcant activists in the community. His literature and website have been above reproach, he has not resorted to the typical end of campaign scare tactics and distorted truths. Ken, or someone on Ken's behalf, has not done the same. I think this will make it difficult for Ken to build bridges to the Republican community.

I'm not sure Ken can lead the Council as it is being predicted. He has had major issues with Sigaty. Watson may or may not toe the line. He will never have Fox. He may have Terrassa and Ball- if they win, but they are not enough. To be fair, Chris may also have a difficult time with the Council. But if Thewes and/or Gina wins he'll be in fair shape. So maybe the Council issue will be a draw.

Anonymous said...

Ulman should have waited. He could have been the leader on the Council and gained experience and maturity. He didn't have time to rebuild all the bridges he burned by playing the role of Guzzone's attack dog. Remember when Guzzone was the candidate for County Executive? Seems years ago. Ultimately it comes down to how you treat people and how good you are at building relationships - whether or not you can actually get things done. It was a big gamble for Ulman to run, and one that someone (his parents) should have talked him out of. Merdon by Five.

Anonymous said...

Only one overcrowded school currently? Umm, maybe we need to improve our schools a bit more so more bloggers can count. Last time I checked, there were plenty of schools in the county over 100% capacity and many more than one school over 110% capacity.

David W. Keelan said...

" bloggers can count."

As a blogger myself I resent that :=)

Just ask how he came up with his numbers.

Anonymous said...

Merdon 49
Ulman 45
Wallis 6 (possibly more)

My understanding from a friend that at the Chinese forum was questions asked at the forum, which you say Merdon "ducked" were:
Are you for gay marriage? Ulman said YES
Are you pro choice? Ulman said YES
Are you for stem cell research? Ulman said YES
These are National/State issues, and do not have anything to do with the Leadership of the county.
Hayduke states "And in that moment, the differences between the two (well, three) and the reasons I’ve supported Ulman became even clearer."

If Ulman being for Gay Marriage, Pro-choice and stem cell research are the reasons you support him, I think you have truly missed the mark in your CE analysis. (FYI - I don't necessarily disagree Ulman's position, but not at a CE level). These are state/national issues, obviously you support him running for higher office, and using Howard County as a stepping stone to get there.

Merdon did not answer the questions because he wanted to remain on topic (you never mentioned this in your post), and to issues relevant to the county. Just has he has done the entire campaign.

Ulman has never defined himself, has run a negative campaign, and is now conducting a "withchunt" for the democrats/independents that support Merdon. How can I as a voter respect a person like that, and expect him to be a true leader?

FreeMarket said...

Anon 7:05 AM- You are way off base in your criticism. A candidate’s position on these issues shows their moral compass. Don’t you care what kind of value system the CE will use to make decisions?

Anonymous said...

Merdon would be the worst thing possible for this county. Not only is he aligned with the biggest developers in the county, but he is dishonest about it. That gives Ulman the ‘lesser of the two evils” title.

FreeMarket said...

Anon 7:39- What has Merdon been dishonest about on the development front? Or was that just a cheap shot?

Numbersgirl said...

re: "These are state/national issues..."

WRONG. Doesn't Howard County currently provide benefits for domestic partners of employees? If Merdon is against providing legal protection to homosexuals via civil unions or marriage, he may very well take away this benefit. So this is very much a LOCAL issue with LOCAL consequences for County employees and residents.

I don't want a bigot as the head of my country, state, or county. If Merdon doesn't answer the question, who knows what we're voting for?

wordbones said...


I don't know what anon was referring to but I do know that Chris isn't quite as slow growth as he portrays. I do know for a fact that he contacted Nancy Cavey directly on behalf of JP Bolduc to suggest she talk with Bolduc about the development of her property.

Who is Nancy Cavey?

She is the daughter of Ruth Braun whose property is one of the properties that was added to Comp Lite.

Anonymous said...

Numbers girl, I think you missed the point. Regarding domestic partners you are putting words in Merdon's mouth - which is truly unfair. He maybe more empathetic to this issue than you realize.

Also, I may agree with Ulman's position on these items, but they have a very low relevance to COUNTY politics, compared to slow growth, schools, taxes, etc. I think they are important issues that I will consider when I vote for the President, Governor, State Senator, US Senator and Congressman.

My point was, Ulman hasn't defined himself, and Hayduke was making his final recommendation on National/State Issues, not local issues (these are Hayduke's own words). The issues identified were not even topics in the bloggers forum, which Ulman didn't even have time to respond to. Hayduke gave a very selective assessment of the Chinese forum, which is his choice, but I wanted to present a more balanced portrayal of the questions that were asked.

Hayduke said...

Anon-10:02 a.m.

If you think I made my endorsement based on National issues, then either I failed to properly convey the meaning of my words or you're misreading me.

I used the Chinese forum as a selective anecdote to draw broader conclusions about the candidates. It's classic journalism. The reason I didn't say more about the chinese forum is because, as I said, the questions were mostly hum-drum, heard-them-before. Please note that I didn't even post Ulman's answers. Although I agree with Freemarket and Numbers that these are relevant issues, I didn't think it was essential to the overriding point of this post to include his responses.

To those who say Ulman has no message, I would urge you to look at his website, where there is a lot of information about his plans for Town Center, education, and public safety, as well as his past record.

Thoughtful voters should be using whatever information is available to inform their decisions. It's clear that many commenters are relying on what they've heard from a few select sources.

Anonymous said...

Well said Hayduke.

Numbersgirl said...

re: "Regarding domestic partners you are putting words in Merdon's mouth - which is truly unfair. He maybe more empathetic to this issue than you realize."

I didn't put words into his mouth. And how am I to know if he is empathetic or not? He dodged the question.

re: "they have a very low relevance to COUNTY politics, compared to slow growth, schools, taxes, etc."

They have a very low relevance in what is important to YOU. But YOU can't dictate what should be important to every voter. We all make our own choices based on our own priorities and our own interpretation of the information we have been provided.

I didn't miss any point. I just don't agree with yours. I believe Ulman has defined his message, as has Merdon. In 5 days, we vote for the messages we believe in.

Anonymous said...

Numbers - you assumed the worst with domestic partners, you stated:
"If Merdon is against providing legal protection to homosexuals via civil unions or marriage, he may very well take away this benefit. So this is very much a LOCAL issue with LOCAL consequences for County employees and residents.

I don't want a bigot as the head of my country, state, or county. If Merdon doesn't answer the question, who knows what we're voting for?"

You assumed the worst. Why didn't you assume that he maybe he supports it?

I think the issue are very important, but in the bloggers forum (which Hayduke participated in creating the questions), there were no moral issues identified. I am curious why that is was the case, and why it is an issue to him now, and in his words, again:

"And in that moment, the differences between the two (well, three) and the reasons I’ve supported Ulman became even clearer."

Hayduke said...

Anon - I'm assuming you're the same one.

Please reread my comments. The point was not Ulman's repsonses. It was that he did respond, while others did not. Rather than trying to parse every sentence and look at things out of their context, please try and read the endorsement as one coherent piece. The anecdote I used is a literary device, something I make use of often. They help keep things interesting.

And I don't think Numbers assumed the worst. But the fact is, Merdon left open to interpretation his opinions on these issues -- which actually do matter to some people, even locally -- and in so doing, gave people a chance to assume whatever they want. He could have eliminated speculation altogether, but choose not to.

As for the forum, due to timing and family issues, I was more of a copy editor than an originator of content.

Anonymous said...

Ulman supporters must get out and vote, or this could be the same devastating heartbreak as '00 and '04, facing another 8 year incumbency.

Anonymous said...

Numbers had the opportunity to say that Merdon was for the issues OR against, and decided to take the low road. If she is a true "Numbers Girl" not knowing the candidate personally or hearing it for herself, she should have taken a more balanced approach (probability 50/50), instead in assuming Merdon would be as she stated a "bigot." Merdon is sensitive to this issue, anyone who really knows him, understands this. That is why Numbers comment is so offensive.

My issue with your post is that all the Newspaper endorsements, bloggers forum (which you participated in), past posts by yourself, etc. addressed the growth, tax, schools, maturity, and temperment of the candidates. Key issues at at CE level. You seem to minimize all of these because Merdon stayed on point, and chose not to address morality issues. Your post would have more validity if you stayed on point instead of digressing to issues that have not been part of the campaign.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:37pm

Typical knee-jerk overboard reaction to a mild statement that happens to be in opposition to your view.

This is America. Don't tell American's how to state their opinions, particularly when you are taking issue with a method that you are using in the same paragraph.

Anonymous said...

1) As I pointed out earlier, I may agree with Ulman's positions. Please read above, I stated that several times. I just like balance views/opinions based on truths, not half truths.

2) Regarding Hayduke - I question the issues' relevancy to a CE position, not the issues themselves. Also, Hayduke's criticism of Merdon's desire to stay on point.

3)I think the Sun, Post, Flier and HC times have made their endorsements on these issues, and they also have stayed on point.

Hayduke said...

Anon: The Chinese forum anecdote seems to have thrown you off track. If you had really read the rest of the piece, you'd notice that I do talk about local issues. But the foundation of my endorsement isn't the candidates' positions on issues, but how they approach the issues. And, I believe that how they approached the question at the Chinese forum is reflective of how they'll approach the issues that confront them while in office.

Ulman took a stand, Merdon deflected.

Anonymous said...

I think Merdon's lack of even temperment is a problem. Just think back to that heated exchange regarding whether or not a napkin saves a seat. Is this the type of person who should lead a county?

Anonymous said...


I recommend that we will agree to disagree.

Hayduke said...

That's not fair. You can't agree to disagree with me over the meaning of something I wrote!

If it's not clear from the post that Ulman's actual answers were not as important as the fact that he answered, then I'm to blame. But, as far as I can tell, that doesn't seem to be the case with others.

I'd be interested to hear, however, if other commenters think as you do -- namely, that Ulman's positions on these issues were the determining factors in my endorsement.

shouldbejogging said...

Actually, I thought your comments were very clear. You were basing your decision, in part, not fully, on the fact that Ulman was willing to answer the hard questions and the others were not. That was the point of the anecdote.

This has actually been a difficult decision for me. I like both men personally and think that each has good and bad points.

I'm voting for Ulman because he had the creativity and foresight to involve the entire community in a planning process in a way that has never been done before in this county. It wasn't perfect, it's not finished, and there are still some very hard decisions to make and questions to answer. But just the fact that he was willing to go there and try a new, inclusive process is very important to me.

Nevertheless, I think either would be a fine county executive. Guess that puts me in a small minority.

I appreciate your thoughtful comments and the respectful way you deal with others on your blog. I always look forward to reading your opinion.

Anonymous said...

I can't get past the resume issue with Ulman. Secretary of the Cabinet, etc.

Even once questions arose, did Ulman ever release his job descriptions? After the Sun article, he should have (unless he had something to hide)

Despite the overwhelming Democratic tide and registration advantage, Merdon will carry the day

Anonymous said...

Ken has an ad on his website that says "Ken Saved Merriweather" - he also has a large trailer driving around with the same claim.

I seem to remember a lot of people involved in the effort of saving Merriweather, including a large committee (which Ken did not head up). I'm not saying he didn't get involved, but to take sole credit for it is another sign of immaturity.

Watch for: "Ken Makes the Sun Rise" or other outlandish claims as we get closer to election day.

Anonymous said...

Hit the bricks, "shouldbejogging"... never been done in this County before?! Geez... how old are you? Charettes and similar planning processes were used many times in this County during the planning process for Columbia. It's an old idea and guess what? It wasn't Ken's idea to use it in this instance. He did a good job of ensuring it was funded and that it took place... but he didn't invent the idea (or invent the internet) nor did he originate at as an idea for the Downtown redevelopment.

accurate couch potato(e)

shouldbejogging said...

I didn't say that Ulman invented the idea or even that it was his idea to use it in this case. But he did take the initiative to make it happen.

And you're right, I wasn't here for the original planning process for Columbia--that was over 40 years ago. But even then, I don't think residents of the county at the time were involved in the planning of Columbia. My understanding is that the workgroup that came up with the original Columbia plan consisted of planners, sociologists, psychologists, architects, and other experts that James Rouse brought together, not ordinary citizens having a say in planning the future of their own community.

David W. Keelan said...

I saw an email circulating the internet the purports to be from Ken Ulman's mother imploring her friends to write to their friends to ask for support for Ken.

I reminded me very much of the scare tactics used in your post Hayduke.

The County Executive doesn't have anything to do with these issues. Diane Ulman's letter went so far as to connect the county health department and women's issues and how Merdon would be terrible in this regard. WHAT? Tell me specifically, what does the CE have to do with or can do abotu abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage? Please. If you don't like Merdon's answer then don't avoid mine.

This is not an honest debate if you think Chris Merdon can do anything about these issues. I don't know where he stands on these issues and I never thought to ask because they don't mean anything at this level of government.

When I read this post at that moment I realized that you were just looking for an excuse to endorse Ken Ulman.

You can support Ulman - it isn't my business. But to pretend to have an epiphany over this - it is just too much.

Hayduke said...


What are you talking about? Scare tactics in my post? Are you serious?

And now you're making the same mistake made by the other commenter. How many times do I have to say that I didn't endorse Ken Ulman because of his positions on these issues. I did it, in a small part, because he wasn't afraid to share his answers, like Merdon was.

I can't believe that there is so much confusion over a simple anecdote. Either it's purposeful, or partisanship is truly blinding.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Keelan,

There are also emails circulating the internet purporting to be from Elvis. Email is a hotbed of fake emails. All you are doing, again, is circulating gossip.

If the most you have is seeing an email "purporting" to be something, you shouldn't engage in idle banter about it.

Hayduke said...


This was the first actual "Charrette," which is a specific and fairly new type of planning exercise. The planning for Columbia was a cooperative, comprehensive process, but it did not involve the citizens of this county to any meaningful extent. If there are other instances where the citizens truly had as much say in planning I'd love to hear about them (specifically). I'm not that old.

As for the comment about Merriweather, I don't think anyone thinks that Ulman alone saved Merriweather. But of all the politicians, he is the only one who could legitimately claim it.

I haven't heard any others contest Ulman's claims. In fact, I remember the Flier running an editorial over a year ago that preemptively discounted the role of citizens in the whole Town Center/Merriweather Saving process.

I felt slighted at the time. Now, not so much.

David W. Keelan said...


I will scan the email it and put it on my blog.

Anonymous said...


Don't assume we all read Keelan's blog. I don't want to be tracked on his list.

If it's important, it'll be posted here, I'm thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hayduke, you are incorrect regarding Charette. Charettes have been around for more than 100 years. The Visioning process that took place in the late 1990's here in Howard County was a charette that involved citizens. And while the original work of designing Columbia may not have involved citizens- it was, none the less, a charette. The Route One redevelopment issue also involved intense planning and input from citizens.. and therefore meets the definition of Charette. The only thing new about the process that involved Towncenter was that they dug up the word "charette".

Tom Berkhouse said...


Once again, you are at it with your misguided manipulations to try to paint Ken as a Halo- wearing divinity.

Never once have you responded to my direct engagement with you on many of the topics that you have posted. Talk about "ducking" issues and questions - you're the best.

Ken did NOT save Merriweather. All he did was promise GGP a lot more density and then GGP "promised (wink wink) that ehy would not tear down MMP. GGP never really had any intention of tearing donw MMP. GGP and Ken did a nice dance routine in public, making it look like they were sparring over development. Once the backlash started, against the Town Center plan, GGP realized that their little quid pro quo qwith Ken was unravelling. Why do you think Dennis Miller was let go/fired by GGP?

Ken did not create a more open zoning process. He has merely given the appearance of that. He has constantly worked to negotiate back door deals with developers, to circumvent the zoning process. I have cited several project names and file numbers in the past for you, Hayduke. Did you ever go look at those files? Did you ever go talk to the people I mentioned that could corroberate what I've been saying? No, you ducked all along the way, just the HYPOCRIT you are.

You have tried to say that Chris is taking huge amounts of money from developers, when in fact, Ulman has taken MORE - as evidened by the election finance records.

Did you ever stop to think that Chris did not take a stance because it is a sensitive issue and he doesn't want to offend someone on "either side of the aisle"? You and Numbersgirl, and other misguided commentors forget that many people do oppose gay marriage, but that does NOT make them a bigot, nor does it mean they support discrimination against gay people. Ken was merely pandering to one side of the aisle by responding the way he did. Chris is reaching out to BOTH sides of the aisle - but you somehow try to twist that into a bad thing. YOU'RE an IDIOT!

Any elected leader must be able to govern and listen to people on both sides of the aisle. Ken has proven time an again that he is too PARTISAN and absorbed with delusions of self grandeur (NAPOLEAN complex) to be able to govern for all people. He has one agenda, his own personal aggrandizement (eg: recreate Columbia in his vision). There is nothing wrong with Columbia as it is. Then, according to you and Ken, anyone who deosn't support his ideas just doesn't have the intelligence or vision that Ken has. How insulting can you be?

Change has the potential to be good. But changing just for the sake of changing is FOOLISHNESS! Changing to prolong a quest for political power is ARROGANCE. And that's what Ken is - a grade A FOOL.

And Ken taking a "stance" on the smoking ban. Please. The County had already reached an agreement with restaurant and bar owners, several years ago, through which the owners would install expensive ventillation systems to provide clean air. What Ken, and the other pandering democrats did was renig on an agreement with those restaurant and bar owners! That's what democrats do. Make agreements and then break them (see also BGE electricity deregulatino fiasco).

Hayduke - your credibility level is now at -45 and descending.

Merdon is going to win by 7% (should be a lot more, but too many people like you that have been duped by the deceitful, negative, tricks of Ken "Napolean" Ulman.

Anonymous said...

If Merdon is going to win by so much, why do you sound so upset?

Go over to the fineline site if you want a response. Hayduke is not likely to get into it with you, but maybe Steve will.

"misguided" numbersgirl said...

Mr. Berkhouse,

Why are you incapable of a discussion on issues without resorting to namecalling and throwing insults?

It's a shame, because a discussion on the merits of a candidate's position can be lively and passionate without resorting to personal attacks.

If all you have to say in favor of your candidate is that those who don't support him are "idiots, hypocrites, or fools," you don't present much of a case.

Anonymous said...

so, no comment on the resume then?

Hayduke said...

I don't think the resume questions need more of a response than what was already said in this story, which you mention. The questions raised went from idle speculation to a news story sheerly because of persistent partisanship.

As for releasing his job descriptions, I'm not sure he has all of his past job descriptions. I certainly don't, and if anyone wanted to question whether I was a reporter or even camp counselor, I'd be hard pressed to prove it.

Anonymous said...

Tom -

Interesting that you call a 1996 health safety law an "agreement". Laws protecting the public can, and should, be changed, especially when existing laws provide less protection to some than others. And shouldn't such laws change when science, history, and public disclosure further increase the known dangers these laws address?

Would you also say the State of Maryland reneged when a '90's statewide ban was provided for all workplaces except restaurants? Or when the County Council banned it ten years ago in 1996 in restaurants, too, except for those enclosed portions the restaurant owners chose to continue operating with separate ventilation systems?

The restaurant owners did not have to segment their businesses. Those that did, chose to, with no commitment, guarantee, or promise on the County's part (which would have been embedded in the County Code) that regulations wouldn't be changed 10+ years later.

And I find it hard to believe any of these establishments installed improvements that were so expensive they had returns-on-investment that exceeded 10+ years.

Anonymous said...

I haven't met you, but I haven't met a single Democrate who is voting for Ulman. Most people seem to look past the smooth talking persona to see the over-privileged lightweight that he is.

About his resume, Ulman could have requested his official job descriptions from the state but he didn't. Instead he used lofty job titles and accused Merdon of faking HIS resume.

Seriously, an Ulman victory would make Howard County the laughingstock of the state. As the Post, Sun and Flier all recognized, Merdon has over twice the county government experience that Ulman does.

Anonymous said...

When did Ulman accuse Merdon of faking his resume? Are you talking about the satirical post by Hayduke? The one that stated in the post that it was done tongue in cheek?

I see this as a recurring problem on behalf of the partisans (the Republican partisans). They get so wrapped up in their own agenda that they spiral further into delusion and lose touch with reality.

To Anonymous said...

So the Post, Sun and Flier are all Republican partisans?! Talk about delusional! The reality is that Merdon has been endorsed by every objective source. Even Democrat "partisans" have endorsed him.

Have you actually followed the campaign? Ken commented on the "Vice President" title used by Merdon and called him a lobbyist (gasp!).

In your world, was Ken really Secretary of the Cabinet?

Anonymous said...

Ulman had the chance to prove that his resume was not faked. He didn't. He will lose, and deservedly so.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:59am: So true.

Anon 10:34, Anon 10:40:

Every projection I've seen has the two parties splitting the electorate. It is purely an illusion to think Merdon is a sure thing, even by your colleague's own estimates.

David W. Keelan said...

When did Ulman accuse Merdon of faking his resume? Are you talking about the satirical post by Hayduke? The one that stated in the post that it was done tongue in cheek?

At the CBX Forum Ulman looked directly at Merdon and said " fact you are a lobbyist". It is on video.

Tom Berkhouse said...

Anonymous (1:52 p.m.),

Yes, I do believe that when a law is passed, that constitutes an agreement of sorts. You don't? I do realize that laws can be changed ad nauseum, as was done in this case. It's one thing to outlaw smoking in an office building. It's another thing to outlaw smoking in bars where smokers ARE the predominant clientelle. And, when 86% of the bars have separate smoking areas, why the need to change the law, and why in an election year??? To protect the bar employees? Please. Most or all bartenders are smokers thmeselves - and if they are not, then they make the choice to work or not work in a bar that allows smoking. There is no need for Ken Ulman and the other democrats to try to make some pathetic election year push to appease a vocal minority.

And, yes, the owners that installed the ventilation systems spent tens of thousands of dollars to install them. How would you like to have the government WASTE tens of thousands of your dollars? I guess as long as it isn't your money, you feel it is ok for morons like Ulman to waste other people's money and wreck their businesses.

It's sad to know that there are so many fascists/socialists like you out there in this world.

Ulman is a notorious flip flopper on issues. Just look at how he is ow trying to support height limits in Town Center. What a crock! It is good that three days before the election he finally realizes that Chris Merdon has the right platform on the issues, so now he's copying Merdon. So much for Ken Ulman's vision!

Numbersgirl - I have repeatedly laid out FACTUAL evidence to Hayduke to refute his misconceived stances on a lot of issues, going back many months. He obviously is very adept at researching things and delving into issues, but he refuses to look at what I have provided to him - WHY? Because it sucks to be provven wrong, over and over again. As for name calling - well he is a hypocrot because of how he has criticized Merdon on a variety of issues, but turned a blind eye to Ulman's record (eg: accusing Merdon of being in the pockets of developers when Ulman has taken more money from developers, inlcuding out of County developers).

People like you and Hayduke choose to be blind to the faults and past actions of your candidate. I have NEVER said that Merdon was perfect. I have simply said that Merdon is the better candidate, with a better platform, and better LEADERSHIP skills than Ulman.

If you want to elect a politician, vote for Ulman. If you want to elect a LEADER, vote for MERDON!

Anonymous said...

shhh... now, now... deep breath... inhale... exhale... We will get through the week and at the end of the week - no matter who wins- we will have a new, inexperienced government and it will have to rely on all of us who deeply care about the county. Put your swords and shields down the battle is over and the hard work lies ahead.

Anonymous said...

Berkhouse- it is hard to find any facts among your posts since it is littered with so many insults. Perhaps if you removed such things from your posts, people would be willing to listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Tom, it's amazing how many ways you're trying to rationalize risking peoples' health and mislabeling me, too.

Smokers are now the predominant clientelle in bars because the regulations permitted smoking to continue in those areas. Assuming pre-'96 smoking patrons all moved to the bar areas of establishments, possibly multiplying smoke density in bar areas. Ever wonder how many of MD's 75+% non-smoking population would find bars more hospitable with safer/cleaner air?

Why change the law now? Because it's a public health and workplace safety issue. It should have been changed years ago when, unfortunately, $ took precedence over health. Howard County isn't on the forefront of this issue, but thankfully we're catching up.

And your supposition that the status quo is ok because workers can just choose to work somewhere else is loaded. That's like saying it's ok to send mine workers into unsafe mines because they can choose not to work there. Should we really be taking a third-world mindset that labor is just an expendable resource?

If your assumption that most bartenders ('all' bartenders is definitely incorrect) are smokers themselves is correct, I'd suggest it's only because the previous regulations denied a safe workplace to nonsmokers who would have become bartenders otherwise. It appears 12.609, however, now grants (without waiting for 6/1/07) employees/applicants their full rights to a safe workplace without risking retaliation/discrimination.

And just because most employees in a workplace might find it ok to engage in a practice that endangers themselves and others in the workplace, that doesn't make it right. Similar flawed logic would say it's ok in a workplace of predominantly one sex to hang up explicit centerfolds of the other sex.

What vocal minority are these regulations appeasing? Last time I checked, most people were in favor of safe workplaces.

No one likes seeing money wasted. However, assuming your estimate of the additional ventilation systems' costs is accurate, let's run the numbers (where's numbersgirl when you need her?) $20,000 to be recouped over ten years would require $7.74 per day (with 7% interest) in additional profit as a result of those optional improvements. I'll even toss in an extra $15,000 to cover additional operating and maintenance costs, considering these newer systems both were more efficient and reduced existing systems' operating and maintenance costs. That would still only bring it up to $13.55 per day. It's not a stretch to imagine this amount was reached and exceeded, thereby easily recouping the entirety of the investment over the '96-'06 period. Unless you've got better numbers, I doubt your assertion that anyone's money is being wasted.

As for wrecking businesses, just look at Montgomery County, where these updated regulations have been in effect for years prior. Last time I checked, their establishments were doing just fine. Again, there's 4-5 times as many non-smokers as smokers out there, all of whom enjoy refreshing days and evenings dining and socializing out.

You said I'm a fascist/socialist. I don't consider myself either. Fascism typically includes an all-powerful dictator, belligerent nationalism, suppression of opposition through oppressive means, and racism, all of which are wrong. Supporting workplace safety laws makes me a fascist? What a crock. Socialism is a system where the production and distribution of goods is collectively owned. Where is the relevance of that philosophy here? I think you're just using these labels to throw mud.

Hayduke said...

Last three Anons: Great comments! Thanks.

(Yeah, I was trying to get to 60 comments. I'm shameless. Though I did like the comments, I had nothing of substance to add.)

David W. Keelan said...


wordbones said...

I think Mr. Berkhouse needs to lay off the caffeine!


Jane said...

Apparently Mr. Keelan has taken it upon himself to claim Mary Smith is posting to his site. This would be impossible, and I would know.

Call me Mary's sister. More outspoken, less naive, and hearing that the local band of "drunken sailors" are posting to this site, ad nauseam. It’s ok! Unlike others, I would encourage free speech. BTW, Mary never said anything nearly or remotely as incendiary, insidious, insulting, and immature as what Tom says here, and what comes from a few out-of-control on Keelan’s site, aka the Jenny Jones version of blogdom.

(break to local band reaction to the term ‘drunken sailors’: “Let’s say that she’s saying that our US Navy are drunks! Let’s say that she’s saying that all drunks are sailors! ……Wait,…..she’s repeating what we said……”

Actually, I do take issue with the description of those who lie, (both on the national and the local level), in which they’re termed “drunken sailors”. It gives both drunks and sailors a bad name.

Cory said...


You say those who say Ulman has no vision (like me) haven't looked at his website and only used select sources when making decisions. I wish to challenge that thinking.

I have been to all 3 CE sites many times. I have attended one of the CE forums and read just about every Sun, Post, Times, and View article regarding local issues and elections since moving here 5 years ago. In addition I read yours, Evan's, and both David's blogs each day. I believe I have taken in enough info to make an informed decision and I still believe Ulman has not outlined a vision.

Ulman's website says he wants to keep HC schools the best. Well, DUH! Any first year polysci student would know to say that. However, no where does he say how he'll do that. How will he keep it the best? What ideas does he have to keep it the best? There are no ideas listed.

Public Health:
Yes, he supported the smoking ban which I also support. I'm glad it passed. However, there is nothing saying what he'll do for publiic health if elected. Nothing no how to better handle flu vaccines each winter. Nothing on better ways to handle a medical crisis or outbreak.

Public Safety:
He wants to encourage landlords to rent for free or low costs to police to improve safety. Ok, it is worth discussing. But why now EMTs or firefighters? They also contibute to public safety. He claims to want to get more police on the streets but doesn't say how he wants to do that.

Town Center:
Three days before the election he comes out with a plan. A plan that is a reverse from his earlier position. Now unlike many I like politicans that allow their views to evolve as they learn new things. Maybe that is what occured here. But THREE days before the election he comes out with this. It smells of election weekend politics. Am I to believe that the epiphany only occured 3 days before the election.

His plan talks of growth of town center but there is NOTHING on his site telling how he'll handle growth in the rest of the county. Not all of us live in Columbia or town center. He doesn't speak of the rest of us at all and how he'd help us with growth.

So again, I say he has no vision. And I make that statement from reading his website, candidate forums, newspapers, etc. While I may not agree with all of Merdon's proposals or ideas at least he gives me something to decide upon. Not just horribly negative mailers. I'm tired negative ads that basically say the other guy is evil vote for me.

Have a vision, stand up for it, and we'll talk. Ulman hasn't done that.

Anonymous said...

Napoleon Ulman. Is that the French dictator or Napoleon Dynamite? Should Ulman poll workers all rush out and get orange wigs? Vote for Pedro!

Tom Berkhouse said...

But Ulman should work on getting some "skills".

Anonymouses - The point about the smoking ban is that the ventillation systems already provided a space for non-smokers. No need for a new law.

Also, you forgot to factor in the loan interest for the costs of the system. Those bar owners don't carry $20,000 in their back pocket you know.

And yes, if a coal miner doesn't think it safe to work in a coal mine, then don't work in a coal mine!

I used the term fascist/socialist not becuase your stance equates to all normal definitions of those philosophies, but because it equates to some of them. You like to spend other peoples money and use government to strong arm others. You wouldn't feel the same if it were your money, or your bar that was being impacted. You get bogged down in what percentage of people are smokers. It's irrelevant the exact percentage. The fact is smokers still have rights. If you don't think so, then I guess were back to you being fascist/socialists (maybe elitist snob is a better description).

Should the government outlaw trans fats (no more fast food chains) because of the inherent health impacts. It should be up to people to make that choice. It should be up to each bar owner to decide if they want to alow smoking or not. At least then EVERYONE would have a choice. The government should be the decider of all that is right and wrong, or healthy and unhealthy for we the people. I strongly believe in LIMITED government, and this ban runs contrary to that position.

Thank you and good night.

Tom Berkhouse said...


Last paragraph should state that "...government should NOT be the decider...."

Anonymous said...

The mud continues.

"The point about the smoking ban is that the ventilation systems already provided a space for non-smokers. No need for a new law."
It's a question of enforcing workplace safety laws equally in all workplaces. Bartenders, servers, kitchen staff, and the occasional band are entitled to safe air in their workplace, too.

"And yes, if a coal miner doesn't think it safe to work in a coal mine, then don't work in a coal mine!"
Think? My premise wasn't if the coal miner 'thought' it was unsafe. My premise was that the mine was actually unsafe. Second hand smoke isn't just a perceived danger by some. There's plenty of medical research validating its many lethal dangers. The link is worth reading. I wouldn't expect anyone to work in a mine that wasn't operated safely. Period. It's immoral.

"Also, you forgot to factor in the loan interest for the costs of the system."
Umm, no, my figures included interest. Quoting from above - "(with 7% interest)". In fact, my numbers accidentally also applied that 7% interest to operating and maintenance costs, thereby errantly inflating the additional daily profit required. The 7% interest estimate should have only applied to the $20,000 lump sum for purchase/install, with a lesser interest amount used to cover the $15,000 worth of recurring subsequent smaller disbursements for operation/maintenance. Bottom line: return on investment occurred at at even faster rate than I estimated. (Numbersgirl should have caught this.)

Similarly, when refuting your assertion that these regulations would "wreck" businesses, I also didn't include the increased productivity they'll enjoy due to fewer sick days (less sinus and respiratory illness and less headaches) just as other workplaces enjoyed when they went smoke-free. This should also decrease the rate at which their healthcare premiums increase.

Again, until you have better numbers, I'm skeptical. Telling me I left out interest when I didn't failed to allay any of that skepticism.

"I used the term fascist/socialist not because your stance equates to all normal definitions of those philosophies, but because it equates to some of them. You like to spend other peoples money and use government to strong arm others."
I didn't spend anyone's money. The government didn't spend anyone's money. Some establishments chose to spend their money and, as shown above, had ample time to recoup the costs of their choice and then some, while maintaining a portion of their workplace in a state less safe than others. Other establishments (Clyde's being one) chose to forego segmenting their businesses.

Strong arm others? One person's rights stop where they start to impinge on another's. A person's right to smoke should not be allowed to impinge on another's right to a safe workplace. If an establishment's patrons want the convenience of ingesting nicotine while socializing in another's workplace, they're still free to do so via any of the other vectors now available (gum, patch, pill, etc.) that don't involve putting those that are serving them at risk. Who's strong arming who?

"You wouldn't feel the same if it were your money, or your bar that was being impacted."
How do you know how I haven't been in this situation, in this county? You don't. What you do know is I won't put $ before safety of others. And I have made that decision repeatedly. I'll leave you to guess if that included while I held a liquor license in this county. But without knowing for sure, it would be foolish to assume it didn't.

"You get bogged down in what percentage of people are smokers. It's irrelevant the exact percentage."
The percentages are not irrelevant when addressing your argumented concerns for the establishment's revenues. You tried to make the business case against the new regulations. Of course numbers will be part of the response. I guess the costs of workers' lifetime effects of exposure to such workplace hazards are irrelevant, too. Guess where a substantial portion of those future healthcare costs wind up coming from. My and your pocket for publicly subsidized healthcare. Who's spending whose money?

"The fact is smokers still have rights."
I never said they didn't. As stated above, those rights stop where they begin to impinge on the rights of others.

Wow, I even agree with you on the last one. Government's role in trans fat should be no more than to determine the danger and protect the public from the danger by informing them of that danger. One person's ingestion of trans fat won't kill the person sitting next to them. Yet, we may all wind up paying for someone else's chili fries-induced healthcare bill down the road.

Tom Berkhouse said...


Not mud - dialogue. Passionate dialogue. You vigorously defend your position, and I am doing the same.

I did miss the interest factor - I can only read so many numbers before they blur together. My bad.

However, by enacting a total ban, you, and the lawmakers who passsed the law, are putting non-smokers rights over smokers. How is that fair? Having separate rooms for smokers and non-smokers was the fair course of action. Workers choose where they work. If the job comes with certain "dangers"...AND, did you or any of the sage lawmakers ever go and ask the bartenders, cooks, chefs, etc., if THEY minded the smoke. No - again you are trying impose your thoughts and philosophies on everyone else. There was no mass public over this issue, just a vocal minority and a desperate politician (Ulman) trying to score some points with radicals.

Then you get into the costs of health coverage. Again, what about fat people, or alcoholics, or drug users. There are many things that the government spends money on that maybe they shouldn't.

We disagree. Oh well. Good luck with your positions.

FreeMarket said...

Anon 5:10 AM- You make some good arguments. I normally lean Libertarian which argues that people should be able to smoke all they want. However, since smoking creates such huge externalities in terms of health costs (monetarily and loss of life) to those who breath second hand smoke, the smoking ban is a good idea. Your comment about smoking substitutes, such a nicotine gum, is a great point.

Tom Berkhouse said...

Again with trampling others rights and making decisions for them... forcing smokers to chew gum?

If people don't want to eat in a bar with smokers, then they don't have to go to that establishment.

I give up.

Anonymous said...

The revised law didn't put the rights of non-smokers over smokers. It simply drew the line where one person's right to pursuit of happiness fairly stopped - at a point where if they went beyond it, another person's right to life is endangered. We have many other laws that draw the line far shorter than there, protecting individuals against their own actions (drugs, seat belts, air bags, guard rails, speed limits).

And by the way, a total ban wouldn't be just prohibiting smoking in restaurants. Putting tobacco products to the same regulatory scrutiny as cereal would get a lot closer to a total ban. Maybe an ingredients label would be a good next step. Heck, if I have to read the ingredients on my cereal box, it can't be that oppressive to put one on these, too.

Workers do choose where they work. Yet without workplace safety laws, we'd still have textile sweatshops with locked doors and no fire escapes, factory and other machinery without safety cut-off switches or safety guards, sausage factories without rails protecting workers from falling into the grinding vats, welders operating without proper ventilation, reflective vests for road workers, etc. Without such laws, how many employers would claim voluntarily providing these protections was too expensive? Again, it sounds like a third-world mentality. If business can't be conducted without putting lives at risk unnecessarily, business shouldn't be done. Laissez-faire is fine up to the point where unnecessary danger is created and maintained in the workplace.

Some of the above workplace dangers were addressed due to massive public outcry, others weren't. So what? It wasn't massive public outcry that resulted in requiring seatbelts, but hundreds of thousands of adults' and childrens' lives were saved.

Just who are the 'radicals' with whom the points were scored - the staff? their family members? Those are the groups that benefit the most from these increased protections.

Did I specifically ask staff in these establishments? No. Some staff have, without being asked, mentioned the air quality as an issue to me. As for the lawmakers, you would have to ask them if they asked, but it's hard to imagine they didn't get feedback from parties involved. My opinion is that if the staffs were asked to participate in an anonymous survey about the matter, the majority would favor having a safer, cleaner workplace.

Grayer areas

I mentioned the costs of health care both because owners would incur more productivity and lower healthcare costs with a 100% smoke-free workplace and because, in the case of establishments where smoking is allowed, the owner is shifting part of their operating expense (employees' additional healthcare costs as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke) to the general public. You are right that society also bears some of the health care costs of establishments that serve foods that promote obesity and establishments that allow people to consume unhealthy amounts of alcohol.

Both fat people and alcoholics are harming themselves without endangering others' health. There are good reasons to spend money to address these issues and alter behaviors, but since other people aren't being significantly endangered by their behaviors, laws in these cases (other than truth in labeling) would impinge on personal rights. Laws do cover DUI because other people's safety is put at risk and the driver has rendered themself incompetent to drive, greatly increasing the degree to which they are immediately endangering themself.

Regarding drug users, society does bear a high cost - both when healthcare dollars are spent and when healthcare dollars aren't spent. When society invests in education and provides increased access to treatment, crime to support drug use goes down, thereby reducing society's costs of loss due to crime, law enforcement, court costs, and incarceration.

Yes, society does bear additional health care costs because of obesity, alcoholism, drug use (and just being couch potatoes, too). Society shouldn't mandate we all get off our rear ends and exercise, but there are returns on investment, both personally and societally, from suggesting we do so.

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