Did you watch/attend the State of the County address last night? If so, what did you think?
In case you couldn't tell by my opening questions, I don't really have much to say about it. I thought it was a good speech. It touched on the new county executive's major issues -- education, the environment, public health and technology improvements -- included some news about a large corporation relocating to our county and generally seemed like a good first go for Ken Ulman, who as he mentioned a couple times last night, has only been in office 77 days.
If I had to single out a few things worthy of mention, I'd start with his commitment to innovation in government, which came at the end during the promises portion.
Moreover, his very detailed description of efforts to bring the county's technology infrastructure into the current century was both frightening and reassuring. We've lagged a bit on this front, and Ulman made clear that his team will have us caught up in short order.
But I can also promise we are going to take some chances.
I have instructed our team to try new things---that bold, innovative ideas have a place in government and a home in Howard County.But I ask that you work with us…that you send along your ideas…that citizens continue to be involved.
His discussion of the environment, too, was welcome, particularly this line, which was music to my Herman-Daly-educated ears: "We must break down the false dichotomy between the environment and the economy."
I also thought he did a good job describing the budget constraints we're facing, especially the new federal accounting standards for retiree health benefits. And the personal stories he told about registering his daughter for summer camp and the lack of parking at the library were nice touches. (Did you know 95 percent of county residents have a library card?)
I guess the one incongruity I noticed were the sections dealing with Howard's business climate. Because the same speech was delivered to the Chamber of Commerce and the general public (a first), the business stuff seemed a little lengthy and somewhat out of place. Maybe that's just my perspective as a resident, though. I'm sure this was the part the chamber folks were most interested in.
On the whole, I'd give it a "pretty good" with room for improvement next year. His coverage of issues was excellent, but -- and this is just my personal preference when listening to speeches -- he could definitely use more highfalutin rhetoric. I like me some smart talking.
But that's just me; what about you?
The Sun's story is here. Full text of the speech is available here, and you can download the audio of it from the county's website.
What? No video? Oh, well. I'm sure you can catch a replay on Gtv sometime this week.