Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm tired of feeling tension...

The Columbia Flier today began it's full-tilt coverage of the Columbia Elections, which included a nice, long piece about my race. Although the article gets it mostly right, there's one thing that I really can't let stand.

As I've made clear, I don't think Town Center should be the defining issue in this or any other Columbia Council race. But I realize that each time I mention it -- even when brought up by someone else, like a reporter -- I'm basically shooting my strategy in the foot. My desire to keep Town Center out the race isn't because I think I'm "weak" on that issue. I just think there are many more important things we need to be talking about, particularly in Oakland Mills.

Anyway, here's the excerpt that I take issue with:

Kennedy said he is taking on Russell because he does not think she is a strong enough advocate for the concerns and ideas of Oakland Mills community residents.

He said the "tipping point" in his decision to run against Russell was a letter to the editor she wrote in the Feb. 8 Columbia Flier, which Kennedy said discredited the resident group Bring Back the Vision's support of 20-story buildings.

In the letter, Russell explained her view that Columbia planner James Rouse's original vision for downtown did not include 20-story buildings as some residents have supported.

"We all live here, and we all deserve to have a say in what we want in downtown," Kennedy said.

Russell, who knew James Rouse and saw design plans for Columbia that he presented to the county, said she was simply responding to comments made in a Feb. 1 Flier article.

"I don't think I displayed an attitude of any kind," she said. "All I was saying is the person who was describing Jim Rouse's vision was doing so inaccurately."

I don't particularly care if my opponent wants to attack and discredit another group, especially one I'm not involved with. The reason her letter was a tipping point in my decision to run for Columbia Council was its arrogance, which is also on display in her quote here.

The implied premise of the letter -- which is also evident in several letters this week -- is that the validity of one's views about Columbia and Town Center is predicated on length of stay in Columbia or proximity to James Rouse or both. Nobody, except Rouse himself, can claim to "know" what his ultimate vision for Columbia was and to think otherwise is foolish and strikingly non-democratic.

More generally, the object of our discussion about Town Center should not be to determine what James Rouse would do if he were still alive. Rather, it should be what do we, the people of Columbia, those grown in this garden, want. Rouse created a mission-driven city with high-minded principles and values, none of which are being debated (it's their interpretation vis-a-vis Town Center, silly). For many years, he steered the ship, but now the responsibility is ours. It's time to stop looking over our shoulder hoping he'll swoop in to save us from crashing into an iceberg.

More than anything, Rouse was focused on the future and looking forward. And in that respect, spending so much time debating the meaning of the past is truly how we fail to honor his legacy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. Your reasonableness is one of the reasons why you should be elected to the CA Board of Directors.


Town Center is not your main concern? What a crock. You should apply for a job at Burger King, because that's a whopper!

You're so fixated with cramming the Town Center Plan down every Columbians' throat it's ridiculous. You disparage Ms. Russell for no apparent reason other than she's trying to represent her constituents. Isn't that her job? There's a possibility that a majority of people DONT support the Town Center plan, so her statements aren't laced with arrogance. Maybe it's you that has let your arrogance cloud your judgement.

I hope you lose the election big time - the world doesn't need another ultra-biased Ulman puppet in a positiion of authority.

tomberkhouse :)

Chris said...

wow tom,

thats really disrespectful. wishing ill on someone to their face is generally something discouraged in civilized society.

Anonymous said...

Why not just respond to the idea rather than the delivery? Each time Tom's attitude is addressed, the readers loose. He's entertaining! Address his claim and we'll all be better informed.

And fyi, extreme civility aka passive disconnection (laziness?) disguised as genuine civility is every bit as damaging as extreme incivility, and more egotistical. Some would argue it's worse than extreme incivility.

And, should people wish ill behind backs?

Maybe not wishing ill, not falling into the entertaining part but addressing an issue would go farther over the long term.

FreeMarket said...

What ideas is Tom putting forth? All he does is spew hatred and claim that Hayduke is partisan, which is ironic because Tom is as ex parte as you can get. Tom’s obsession with Hayduke is bizarre, and his hatred is not the least bit entertaining. In fact, reading his comments is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard.

Anon 8:47, being civil is not egotistical. Your rationalizations are what I find entertaining.

Anonymous said...

tom/anon 8:47 --

It's hard to address specific claims when they are based on little but personal anger towards another.

Hayduke appears to be in favor of the town center plan, but that doesn't mean he is "cramming" it down our throats. That would be a matter of perception.

I think if you read the actual post you are commenting on, you can see that hayduke is not disparaging Ms Russell for representing her constituents. That's an absurd claim, which you clearly made for effect, but it misses the point of the post.

I'm not sure I follow your argument on extreme civility vs extreme incivility. Im sure you could pick out some notorius serial killers or dictators throughout history who had an "extrememly civil" public face. But you could also look at how the US senate conducts their business, which is extremely civil, and seems to work well for the most part.

Anonymous said...

How is she trying to represnt her constituents? T.B., do you live in OM? I know about 100 or so people in the village and their biggest concern is NOT Downtown. It's the schools, crime, the village center, and most of all, the revitalization efforts.

Let the 2006 election go; I know getting whooped must hurt, but suck it up!!!

tomberkhouse said...

Great, so youknow 100 people whose main concern is not Town Center. Maybe she knows 200 people for whom Town Center IS their main concern.

Hayduke said his tipping point for deciding to run was her arrogance.

I simply want to know how her comments were arrogant.

What I see here, and in a few other elections, is that current Village board members that don't support the Town Center plan are being targeted. So, how can Hayduke, or anyone else for that matter, say that the Town Center plan is NOT the main issue driving the upcoming elections and why certain people are running?

FREEMARKET - I'm ex parte? You're confusing a legal term which has nothing to do with partisanship with the word partisan. I may be partisan against Hayduke, but generally speaking I'm not partisan.

Anonymous said...

Tom, did you check the Dictionary?.

tomberkhouse said...

I must admit - I have never seen that definition of "ex parte". I always thought that term (as in "ex parte communication") was more associated with appearance of bias not partisanship. I have never thought of bias and partisanship as being the same (similar, but not interchangeable). My hat off to Freemarket for his linguistic prowess.

jim adams said...

Such gracious civility, impressive

tomberkhouse said...

People really take me too seriously. I guess they never stopped to think that I could just be simply pushing Hayduke's buttons (which I am, I admit). Why? Because I think fighting fire with fire is a great strategy. I view Hayduke as a person who feels that insulting someone else while smiling makes it less insulting. It's smug, and snobbish, and elitist. Do I really hate him - No. But I still wouldn't vote for him. :)