March 6, 2016
BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse in Columbia?
Not to steal HowChow’s usual space, but he seems to have been quiet for a little while and I was looking for something at the Howard County Planning board website this evening and stumbled across a Site Development Plan for what appears to be the opening of a new BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse that will be located at the current spot where Macaroni Grille is located at Columbia Crossing.
Here is a link to the Site Development Plans that were posted around the beginning of February.
I can find nothing at the BJs website about this location or any news articles whatsoever. There is already one located in Laurel.
February 2, 2016
HoCo Board of Ed Election By District (But Which Ones?)
This weekend, an email went out from The People’s Voice, LLC with the following message about the potential that the bill to change the way the Board of Education is elected, from at large to partially by district, was headed to defeat:
Please take a moment and email the Howard County Delegation, specifically the Senators, as it has come to our attention that Senators Kasemeyer and Bates plan to vote against bill “hoco 12-16”, which calls for the election of the Board of Education (BOE) members by district (5 by council district, 2 still countywide). This bill increases the accountability of the BOE members to their voters (i.e., their Council District), which is deeply needed. If both Senators Kasemeyer and Bates vote against this bill -and the vote is scheduled for THIS Wednesday – it WILL FAIL. PLEASE email Senators Kasemeyer and Bates, and copy the delegates as well, and let them know that this bill is absolutely necessary.
If Senators Kasemeyer and Bates have an issue with electing by “council district”, they can amend the bill to create different “districts” that would address fair representation on the BOE for all of Howard County.
A sticking point about this bill, and even addressed in the above plea, that I have heard from even those in favor of the idea of districts for school board members is the use of the Councilmanic Districts to serve this purpose in lieu of districts related to the actual school districts. From a purely partisan standpoint, no one can deny Democrats have used their ability to redraw the district lines to their advantage at the council level. I think most people believe in the idea that the School Board should be kept as far away from partisan politics as possible. I am not naive, I know it is impossible to keep it completely separate and party’s will pick their favorites for the election of this non-partisan office; but I personally think, and agree with many others, that the boundaries should be somehow tied to the actual school boundaries they represent. Below is an image I was able to create using the Howard County Government’s very useful mapping program.
|• Councilmanic Districts 1-5 (shaded)
• High School Boundaries for the 12 High Schools (dark blue lines)
• Location of the High Itself.
You can click on it to make it bigger. Note, for whatever reason, Applications Research Lab shows up as a Thirteenth Public High School along Route 108. There is no way to hide this in the mapping program.
I am making an assumption that most people reading this site have a general idea which high school is which. By drawing the School Board Districts using the Councilmanic districts, we would end up with a situation where the only one high school is contained entirely within a Councilmanic district, Glenelg. Every other high school, with this method, would be chopped up into multiple districts and in some case like Wilde Lake, three districts at once.
You can think what you will about what it says about the voters and their knowledge of who their elected officials are, but I believe most people in this county have a better idea of which High School District they live in rather than which Council District or who their councilperson actually is. if the concern and reason for this bill is making sure people have someone they know they can talk to about school issues, then I believe the districts should be based on the high school district lines, not the partisan political councilmanic lines that are subject to the whims of whichever party is in power. The idea of an elected school board by district is a good one, but the delegation should make sure they do not rush this bill through and get it right.
This bill would not take affect until January 2017, meaning it would not affect an election until 2018. They have time to make it a better system later this year or next year instead of rushing it through now.
UPDATE (4:42pm): I just saw that HoCo Common Sense addresses this in a similar manner with regards to the partisan political issue with the current proposal.
January 29, 2016
The Money Chase: Incumbent Edition
I have had more than one elected official tell me you never stop raining money, even if you think you are never going to run for office again. In this next post looking at the Campaign Finance reports, this statement rings absolutely true. 2018 will see at least four of the five current sitting members of the County Council unable to run for the County Council again. Only Jon Weinstein is legally permitted to run again for this office. That being said, here is where each of them stand with fundraising as of January 13th per the Maryland Campaign Finance Database (check my numbers here:
COUNTY COUNCIL Official District Raised 1/15/15-1/13/16 Cash on Hand Jon Weinstein 1 $29,980.00 $34,567.84 Calvin Ball 2 $63,043.72 $50,443.36 Jen Terrasa 3 $14,268.15 $21,302.22 Mary Kay Sigaty 4 $250.00 $31,113.64 Greg Fox 5 $49,025.00 $43,525.02
Right now, the conventional wisdom is Calvin Ball is running for County Executive although you wonder if Allan Kittleman’s half-a-million warchest might be a deterrent. To date, I have not heard anything about the other three term-limited councilpeople on what their plans are. Mary Kay Sigaty raised little money this past year, but has a surprisingly large warchest partly due to the fact she had no opposition in either the primary race or General Election race in 2014. As you can see, Jen Terrasa and Greg Fox are still raking in the money as if they plan on doing something later on. Maybe hoping for a Deleagte seat to open up on the state level? Moving up to the Maryland State Senate, here is where the three current State Senators serving Howard COunty currently stand:
STATE SENATE Official District Raised 1/15/15-1/13/16 Cash on Hand Gail Bates 9 $30,660.04 $37,814.31 Ed Kasemeyer 12 $50,535.00 $51,997.92 Guy Guzzone 13 $77,595.03 $144,428.71
All three are well positioned for another run if they decide to go for re-election. And here are the current cash-on-hand totals for the current sitting members of the Maryland House of Delegates:
HOUSE OF DELEGATES Official District Raised 1/15/15-1/13/16 Cash on Hand Warren Miller 9A $18,915.00 $22,208.13 Trent Kittleman 9A $6,425.00 $7,420.09 Bob Flanagan 9B $10,510.00 $9,678.62 Eric Ebersole 12 $9,240.00 $9,713.20 Terri Hill 12 $8,602.00 $9,893.34 Clarence Lam 12 $15,470.00 $33,656.73 Vanessa Atterbeary 13 $9,855.00 $9,488.80 Shane Pendergrass 13 $3,710.70 $54,449.56 Frank Turner 13 $5,537.89 $22,584.38
While these numbers at the state level are great to look at, the caveat is that other than District 9B (which is more evenly balanced although with a slight lean to the Democrats), all these districts have been so heavily gerrymandered to favor one party (9 and 9A for Republicans) or the other (12 and 13 for the Democrats) that money is almost inconsequential in these races. In order for a Democrat to win in either 9/9A or a Republican to win in 12/13, they have the added complication of convincing someone they are hoping to get money from that they even have a remote chance of overcoming the built-in partisan disadvantage they are facing.
January 25, 2016
The Money Chase: Board of Education
So far, according to the Board of Elections website, we have seven candidates currently filed. The filing deadline is February 3rd, so we may yet have a few more officially jump in. Unlike my earlier post on the County Executive fundraising, this race is more immediate with the primary happening on April 26th. With that in mind, here is how the fundraising for these seven candidates currently stands as of January 13th according to the Maryland Campaign Finance website:
|Candidate||Money Raised 1/15/15-1/13/16||Cash On Hand|
|Ann DeLacy (incumbent)||$0.00||$519.95|
|Ellen Flynn Giles (incumbent)||$10,609.62||$11,745.77|
|Janet Siddiqui (incumbent)||$2,450.00||$10,625.43|
Of note, the four non-incumbents all loaned themselves money and that is included in the Money Raised. Coombs loaned herself $5,000, Ponnuri and Ellis loaned themselves $2,000 each and Miller loaned himself $900.
Unlike the County Executive race, early money is less of a driver here. Four years ago, the three incumbents running for re-election this time around had a varying amount of money. Ann DeLacy doesn’t even have a report for January 2012, but in the March 2012, she only had a little more than $1,000 on hand. Giles has about $1,400 on hand. Siddiqui had over $16,500. All three were the top three votegetters in the 2012 primary on their way to a victory in the General Election.
The Wrong Message At This Time
I love snow, wanted as much as possible. I have been beyond patient as the hardworking snow plow drivers are out on the Howard County roads clearing the roads. My cul-de-sac has not been plowed as of this morning and, since the Howard County Snow Plow Tracker is apparently just a massive waste of money, I am completely in the dark as to when my street will be plowed. The only information we have gotten from our elected officials is it will be sometime by Wednesday, could be up to 96 hours after the final flakes fell Saturday night. So why on earth is the Howard County Government putting up this, as I called it last night on Facebook, obnoxious Facebook post:
I will gladly shovel my sidewalk as I always do after snowstorms. I have no problem with this requirement and I know full well as a homeowner, it is part of my responsibility. But when you are telling people that they may not have their street shovel until up to 96 hours after the final flake falls and using the phrase “historic snowstorm” over and over again to justify this, telling people they will be fined for not shoveling their sidewalks within 48 hours just seems insensitive.
What is now even more aggravating is the County Government has yet to make any response whatsoever to the growing anger at this post. They have responded to other Facebook posts, but seem to be utterly silent to this PR fiasco. Allan Kittleman, please make some sort of public statement clarifying this Facebook post.
Moving forward, what may be appropriate is for our County Council to look into changing the law to something along the lines that people must have their sidewalks shovel within 24 hours after their street has been plowed. This then would at least put the onus on both the Government and homeowners/businesses to be in the recovery efforts together instead of pitting the Government against the people.
UPDATE 8:29am: Scott Ewart is making the same call on the Government to respond to this Facebook post.
UPDATE 12:04pm: The County Executive has apologized and updated Facebook concerning sidewalk shoveling. Much appreciated. My hope is with this issue, the useless snow plow tracker, and the communication in general that there is an after action look at how things went. AS much as I love looking at photo ops, they become increasingly irritating when you can’t even get off your own street and are truly in the dark about what is really going on.
January 21, 2016
The Money Chase: Kittleman Raises Over Half A Million Dollars
People who know me from my national site know me as someone who is into the numbers behind politics and my first post will deal with just that This evening, we received a press release from our County Executive announcing his fundraising over his first year plus in office:
The Committee to Elect Allan Kittleman announced it raised $571,995 and had $513,973.48 in the bank in the most recent reporting period ending January 13, 2016, according to reports to be filed with the Maryland State Board of Elections. The majority of donations came from individual donors in amounts of $200 or less.
“Just as I said the evening I was sworn into office, I am humbled and honored by the support shown to me by the people of Howard County.” Kittleman said. “I believe our fundraising progress is a direct result of our countless hours spent meeting with residents in every corner of the county, organizing citizen task forces on key issues, and making it a practice to tour schools each week. As County Executive, I rely heavily on the input of citizens at every level and I believe people appreciate that.”
The reports were due yesterday for all candidates who have active campaign accounts and it is worth looking back on how the two top campaigns for County Executive in 2014 stood at about the same time period that these new reports covered (January 2012). Based on the campaign finance reports filed at the Maryland Elections website (you can check my numbers here, this was the total fundraising and spending by both Allan Kittleman and Courtney Watson beginning on November 17th, 2010 through the report issued for the period ending on January 12, 2012.
|Candidate||Receipts||Expenditures||Cash On Hand 1/11/12|
Kittleman came out of the 2010 campaign with only about $8,600 in the bank while Watson had about $21,000 leftover from 2010. It was widely expected both candidates were running for County Executive the day the 2010 election ended and you can see from the annual reports for the first full year after the 2010 election that both candidates were already raising money. However, they were only just beginning. Based on the campaign finance reports filed at the Maryland Elections website, this was the total fundraising and spending by both Allan Kittleman and Courtney Watson beginning on November 17th, 2010 through the final report issued ending on November 11th, 2014.
|Candidate||Receipts||Expenditures||Cash On Hand 11/11/14|
Note, there was clearly some spending between November 12th, 2014 and January 14th, 2015 related to the campaign of just over $30,000 for each candidate as was reflected in the January 2015 report, which would raise the overall spending figures slightly above for the campaign itself, but overall, you can see what it took to win and even more impressive that Kittleman managed to win despite being outspent by over 50%. If you hate money in politics, you can at least be happy to see money doesn’t mean everything as we saw how effective Kittleman’s more positive campaign was to help overcome the huge spending deficit against Courtney Watson. But what is even more interesting in comparing the two tables is both candidates had only raised about 10-12% of what they would eventually raised for the entire campaign in that first full year.
|Candidate||1st Year||Total||Percent 1st Year|
If this pace were to mirror itself in the 2018 campaign, seeing Allan Kittleman with already half a million plus in the bank means he is already well ahead of schedule and is on pace to raise quite of money for 2018. By comparison, the Democrat most widely expected to take him on, Calvin Ball, raised $63,043.72 and currently has just over $50,000 in the bank. I am a little surprised by the low number Calvin Ball managed to raise for someone assumed to be running for County Executive, about 33% below what Kittleman raised in the first year and well below where Courtney Watson stood at the same time in the campaign cycle four years ago.
As I linked to above, you can check all my numbers here.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will look into the fundraising of some of the other candidates looking at reelection and also into the Board of Education candidates.
January 1, 2016
The New Beginning
After over five years, I have decided to make an attempt to restart Looking at Howard County.
You can read the reasons I stopped in the last post I made over five years ago. I have recently left the Howard County Republican Central Committee on my own accord for multiple reasons. Part of it was that I have been doing the job for over eight years and the other reason is I have become more and more disenchanted with the direction of the National Republican Party in general. I am a Republican and proud to have been a Republican and am still registered Republican. The local Howard County Republican Central Committee is in great hands and I am so proud to have been a member of this committee that saw the election of a Republican Governor in the state of Maryland and the election of one of the most honest and genuine people I have ever met in politics as County Executive, Allan Kittleman. That being said, local partisan elections will not happen again for another 34 months and coupled with my desire to do something else in the world of politics, I made the decision about a month ago to resign from the committee and let someone else who would be able to devote their 100% effort to the party to take to reins.
With the shackles of being an official member of the party behind me, I decided I did want to get back to something that I really enjoyed when I first started a blog back in the early 2000s and that is talking about local issues. As I indicated in my previous post about when I stopped five years ago, being a Central Committee made doing this nearly impossible.
I look forward to inserting myself back into the discussion. I like to say I still own the title of Original Howard County blogger and hopefully I can ring back the level of local discourse that I believe I added in the past when it was just myself and three others doing this (see our famous article from back then here).
I won’t post every day or necessarily every week, but will hopefully be able to add enough content that I can add to the discussion. I think it would be hard to deny that the current political blogosphere in Howard County tilts decidedly to the left, so hopefully at a minimum I can provide some balance from the right as well.
May 20, 2010
After a few aborted attempts at it over the past few years and for multiple reasons, I have made the decision to essentially stop doing anything with the “Looking At Howard County” website. In about a week, the URL for this website will redirect to the main national Hedgehog Report website.
Just a quick history, when I started the original Hedgehog Report site over seven years ago, before I ever got involved as much as I did in the local political world, one of my main goals was to create a local blog about Howard County that did not yet exist at the time. As I got into it, I would put up posts about local things as well as national items and was having a grand old time. I would get a comment every few days, some on the local stuff from a local person and some on the national stuff. It even got me a few profile pieces in local newspaper. As those early months went by, the site started to get linked by others and my comments grew. When the 2006 election rolled around, the local stuff was getting quite a bit of traffic and comments. Of course, 2006 was also a big national election year and while the local political audience for my site grew and discussion grew on the local content, so did the national audience and the comments on the national content. I liked doing both, but it was getting harder and harder to keep the two worlds separate on a single site. I did my best, but it quickly was apparent the local stuff was getting lost in the national stuff.
After the election, I decided to subdivide the site and make the local stuff appear as sub pages of the main site. One could go directly to the local stuff without getting lost on the main page if they wished. In reverse, my national audience didn’t have to get caught up reading posts about local material as it did not appear on the main page. Of course, whenever a new site is started, getting people to go to it is a struggle. When that got to be too cumbersome due to the limitations of the software I use for this site, I actually created a fully Independent site that was completely separate from the main site, which is what I have now.
The reasons for stopping are two-fold. One is my responsibility. In the early days, I was not really a part of the Republican Party in any capacity, so I could spout off however I wanted. Any information I had was stuff I had gotten on my own and had no compunction about slapping it up on the website and dissecting it and giving my two cents. Some people in the Republican Party were upset by it or something that I said that went against a candidate or the party, but I didn’t care. I saw myself as this independent voice. It was my website, my opinion, and I didn’t care who it might affect.
Gettign involved with the Party in a more official capacity and with local campaigns, there is a lot of information I am privy too that is handed to me that I could easily slap up here and look like I am this great source of information and/or “in-the-know”. There have been many times that I have wanted to respond to another local blogger about a political issue or candidate, but have restrained myself knowing that it could come back on more than just me. So I have restrained. The truth is, being associated in any capacity with a political party or a candidate (officially or unofficially) does carry some responsibility of discretion. I know in the past that there have been members of the Democratic Party in Howard County who have attempted to use my website and something that appeared here as a way to attack the Republican Party in Howard County as a whole by feeding stuff to reporters and trying to smear me and the Party. Again, I might not agree with everything that is being done by the Party or a candidate, but anything I say can be used against other people in a negative way and that would be skirting my responsibility I have to those people that have entrusted me with information and knowledge they would not otherwise.
Second, while this is just a hobby at heart, my national site and it has grown beyond my wildest imaginations when I started this seven years ago and has been making me some pretty good money each year on the side. It takes some real effort of time to keep it up to date and current. That, and my upcoming wedding, leaves me little time to focus on the local stuff the way I would want to. It goes against why I originally started this whole blogging exercise and part of my reason for trying to create the local site was to allow me to keep giving my opinion on local matters without it getting lost in the national stuff. I still like the local stuff and follow it, but there is just not enough time to really keep an active local blog going the way I would want to. And, to be honest, this site has never gotten the attention it needed from me to really make it worthwhile. In this day of blogging, you really do need to keep a blog active on a daily basis to keep people coming back.
For truly local stuff and debate, I think we have a great crop of bloggers out there doing the job (and I would suggest a better and more diverse) than we had even a short four years ago. While I may not agree with some of what they say, Wordbones and HoCoRising have really filled a great void for commentary on local issues and events, both political and non-political. Plus there are plenty of others to be found at HoCoBlogs.com. I will read them daily and comment occasionally.
And of course, while this site is ending as a separate entity, I guarantee there still will be the occasionally post about local political events at the main Hedgehog Report website. I won’t be able to help it. Maybe after the elections, if I happen to lose my re-election race for Central Committee (knowing we are going to have 18 candidates running and me being a man and at the end of the alphabet is not going to help my chances if history is a guide), I can start spouting off about local political issues again and restart this website….
May 18, 2010
Dems Have Candidate For Clerk of Circuit Court
I got an email from a new candidate running as a Democrat for the Clerk of the Circuit Court by the name of Jason Reddish and has set up a new website. The current Clerk of the Circuit Court, Republican Marge Rappaport, is running again for re-election. Marge Rappaport managed to escape the Democratic tide in 2006, winning her race over Democrat Leslie Cale by a 53%-47% margin and has been elected since 1990 despite the Democratic shift in the county over the past 20 years..
I’ve never quite understood why this position, like the Judge of the Orphans’ Court and Register of Wills, are still elected on a partisan basis instead of on a non-partisan basis like the Board of Education. I think it does a great disservice to these positions since so many people tend to just vote party line anyway and by the time most voters, sadly, get down to these positions on the ballot, chances are a lot of the voters will just vote for whomever represents their particular party. Let’s face it, most people don’t have a clue who the Clerk of the Circuit Court or these other positions even are. Then again, the fact that Rappaport has managed to win election after election despite Democrats winning countywide for County Executive is a testament to Rappaport’s strength.
May 14, 2010
Another Candidate For District 13 State Senate
I had alluded to this in my previous post about the Lincoln Day Dinner, but purposely left out the name since I was not exactly sure how public it was supposed to be and whether the candidate was ready to go public. Today I got an email from his campaign publicizing his new Facebook page and website. In District 13, the Republicans will have a contested primary for the State Senate as Jody Venkatesan has enter the race for State Senate. He has a website started here, but there is not a lot of information included on it yet. You will be better off getting information at his Facebook page here.
I don’t know either of them personally. I have met Kyle many times at various Republican events and know he has put a lot of effort into the campaign so far. My interaction with Jody has been limited to handshakes, so I personally can’t tell you much more about him.