Archive for the ‘Howard County, MD’ Category

Politics at The Howard County Fair

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Politics at the Howard County Fair in West Friendship, Maryland began this morning. As you can see from this picture, I was there before much of the activity began as most exhibitors were just getting set up.

These exhibitors included the Howard County Republican Party. We spent about two hours getting the booth in place and decorated this morning to be ready for the crowds. It would have taken a lot less time, but there were two cars located in our reserved spot for our booth and we ended up standing around for a little while waiting. When all was said and done, I think it came out pretty good.

Because the temperatures are going to be in the high 90s this weekend and into next week, we are giving the people a way to stay cool.

It will be cool to see a bunch of people carrying these around all the fair. I know there were thousands of these ordered. An obligatory shot of me in the booth to show I actually worked this morning.

Meanwhile, our elected Republicans always have their own booth located right near the entrance of the fair in a prime location.

And to show I am fair and balanced, here is a shot of the Howard County Democrats still putting together their booth well after we had already finished.

One non-fair shot from last night’s Howard County Republican Club First Friday happy hour at Ram’s Head Tavern in Savage.

It appeared their were close to 80 people in attendance throughout the night including Delegate Gail Bates, Councilman Greg Fox and a slew of candidates for various offices as well as First Vice Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party Chris Cavey.

The Incredibly Shrinking Newspaper

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

So my Columbia Flier was sitting on my sidewalk leading to my house this afternoon and as I picked it up, I noticed it seemed heavier than it has been recently. My first thought was it must be a heavy news week in Howard County and Columbia Now the point of this post has probably been going on for a while, but it seemed more noticeable than usual today As always, the middle of the Columbia Flier was filled with inserts as normal.

I started to pull them out and then realized how many inserts were included compared to the actual thickness of the newspaper itself. By the time I pull everything out that was not part of the newspaper, there was barely anything left. Laying them side by side, the difference was stark.

Now I am not criticizing Patuxent Publishing for the inserts, clearly they need to make money and the inserts are one way of doing it. But it would be nice if the actual paper could actually compete in quantity with the number of inserts that are stuck in it. I know, I am just complaining for no reason, but I miss those days when the Flier would approach eighty and ninety pages easily and it could take a couple of days to get completely through it. Now, I can read The Columbia Flier in about twenty minutes and have it in the trash before I eat dinner.

The demise of newspapers continues….

District 12B: A Challenger For Bobo

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Howard County Times had an article last week about early filing candidates for political offices. One of the names mentioned was a new challenger for Delegate Liz Bobo, John Bailey. Here was what was stated in the article about John.

Dissatisfaction with Democrats and their handling of the economy is one motivating factor for John Bailey, a 32-year-old Republican from Columbia who filed July 17 to run for the District 12B seat currently held by Democrat Elizabeth Bobo. Bailey, a high school social studies teacher, said he decided to file in the summer because he is on break and has more time to organize a campaign.

Bailey said the national economy and the state of Maryland’s budget will be on voters’ minds next November and could help him unseat Bobo, a former county executive who was first elected as a delegate in 1994.

“They may want to make a change and go in a different direction,” he said. Bobo could not be reached for comment.

John already has a website up and running and has posted a biographical video to introduce himself to Howard County.

Bobo won her election in 2006 by a 75%-25% margin, but judging by the fact that some people were unaware that Bobo even had a challenger, it is clear that Feldwick did not make his presence known as well as he could have. Clearly Bobo will have the incumbency advantage along with the Democratic edge in registration at her back, but I consider John a friend and I believe John will have a much more active campaign and look forward to doing my part to help him at least make Bobo have to answer questions along the way.

Another candidate mentioned in the article is Kyle Lorton, who threw his name in the ring to take on James Robey for the State Senate in District 13. His website can be found here.

“Un”Healthy Howard

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Ahhh, the joke that is Healthy Howard just continues to get funnier. Monday, The Baltimore Sun wrote an article showing how badly Ken Ulman’s pet project is faring.

Howard County’s highly praised attempt to provide low-cost, preventive medical care for uninsured residents is off to a slower than expected start.

Only about 200 people have joined since enrollment in Healthy Howard began last Oct. 1, county health officer Dr. Peter L. Beilenson said, falling short of the admittedly ambitious goal he set of signing up 2,000 members in the program’s first year.

“Enrollment is not where I hoped it would be,” Beilenson admitted under critical questioning at a recent county council budget hearing.

Regardless of whether the numbers were too optimistic or not, Ken Ulman claimed he needed to spend $500,000 of the county taxpayer’s money to fund a program to serve 2,000 people by his own administration’s estimates. The failed program clearly has not come close to this number and now even Ulman and his administration are claiming they are now only hoping (desperately I am sure) that it will serve 900 people. Yet they make no effort to cut the costs. Greg Fox applies some logic to this seemingly simple change in prediction, as reported by the gang at Explore Howard today.

County Council member Gregory Fox, the council’s sole Republican, submitted an amendment to the budget that would have cut funding for Healthy Howard from $500,000 to $250,000 and shifted the money to the budget for the Association of Community Services of Howard County, the umbrella organization that pays for Healthy Howard and other non-profit groups.

Because Healthy Howard has fewer participants than initially predicted, Fox argued , it should receive less money.

“Healthy Howard is asking to do less with more and I guess I’m a little bit perplexed by that,” Fox said.

I am perplexed too. In fact, isn’t Ken Ulman basically admitting his failed program is going to cost more than twice as much as he originally said it would by not cutting funds when he is cutting the number of people he is hoping to serve with this program? He claimed he need $500,000 for 2,000 people. Now he says he needs $500,000 for only 900 people. So in one year, the budgeted cost of this failed program has balooned from $250 per enrollee to $555 per enrollee. Of course, that doesn’t even consider that barely 200 people have signed up for this program to begin with, or nearly $2,500 per enrollee.

But I have no hope that the County Council is going to cut any money from this program since the last thing they want to do is admit that their party’s leader’s program is an abject failure and will just continue to throw money at it to make it look like it is working. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Explore Howard article:

Ulman’s $1.4 billion operating budget includes layoffs for nine county employees and mandatory furloughs in December for most other county workers.

I wonder how those people are feeling right now knowing some of them are losing their jobs and others are taking paycuts (via furloughs) so that Ken Ulman can use that money in what is clearly nothing more than a cynical attempt to put a bullet point on his resume to use in bids for higher office….

HoCo: Whatever Happen To….

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The Baltimore Sun had a good article yesterday on the growth of blogging in Howard County. A couple people emailed me asking why my website was not included and Wordbones even highlighted this on his website when mentioning the article. The truth of the matter is the reporter did contact me by email a few months ago. I responded by both email and phone, but never got a return call after that. I honestly assumed the article was dead since it did not appear for months after the reporter’s initial contact and never really followed up again. Anyway, I’ve been profiled before by local newspapers (Columbia Flier, Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner) and honestly, my blogging about Howard County news and notes has tailed off anyway, so my site probably was not a good fit for this article, so no big deal to me.

With the previous profiles in mind and looking at the websites mentioned in this article, I did find it interesting how things have changed. The Baltimore Examiner probably had the most in-depth profile of the Howard County Blogging Community in April 2006. The article is no longer available on the Examiner website (heck, The Baltimore Examiner doesn’t even exist in paper form anymore) and at the time, there were only four known blogs be written out of Howard County. I still hold some pride in that I was the first (starting in December 2002), but it wasn’t long after I started that the other three joined the fray. But a mere three years later after that profile, out of the four profiled in that Baltimore Examiner article, two are completely dead and a third is on life support.

Howard County Maryland Blog is still somewhat active in that has an occasional post from the original blog writer as well as from the occasional guest blogger; but, the site is not nearly as active as it once was. Interesting story back when I first started, I was still somewhat unknown and the writer of this blog came to me and mentioned he saw my site online. I had never really advertised my site to anyway, preferring to just live in my own world. It wasn’t long after that he decided to start his own website and, in my opinion, became the go to place for local news from Howard County. Our sites together did start gaining some recognition in Howard County to the where even local politicians were leaving comments and mentioning our sites in public. I know the writer of this blog, as well as a couple of his guest bloggers, personally and know they have enough on their plate to keep them busy. I am sure the blog is far down the list on priorities.

The other two blogs mentioned in that April 2006 profile are completely dead. One publicly announced on their blog they were closing down and the other by just natural attrition. HoCo Hayduke was actually the first pure Howard County blog I ever found. It was written by Ian Kennedy, who is now a cog in the Ken Ulman administration. He started out anonymously before “outing” himself online and running for the Columbia Association Council from Oakland Mills. Hayduke spoke strictly on local Howard County issues, adding in the occasional personal story as well, and was a daily read for me. However, it was understandable when he became a flack for Ulman that posting his own opinion online that might contradict the opinion of his boss would not be feasible and he decided to shut it down. Howard County Blog was started by Evan Coren and eventually added some additional writers such as former County Council candidate Jim Adams. His site was very detailed in looking at Columbia issues, especially on the development of Downton. However, once Coren won a seat on the Columbia Council from King Contrivance, his website went dormant and has had only one post since July 6, 2008.

For close to a year, we WERE the Howard County blogging community and knew each other to the point in 2006, we developed what we called the Howard County Blogger Forum for all the local candiadtes running for County Council and the General Assembly. Despite our political differences, Hayduke and Coren on the left and myself and the other blogger on the right, we came together and attempted to promote an online dialougue leading to eh 2006 election. I will freely admit that it did not become as successful as we had planned as some of the candidates (mostly Democrats) refused to particpate, but I believe it was a good hearted effort and I would like to believe the four of us helped create a great foundation for the much more thriving online discussions on local issues we have today.

Anyway, I am so glad to see a slew of new blog sites based in Howard County and talking about Howard County. As my site gained some national following, my blogging on local issues went down, so I am more than happy to have others pick up the slack (and then some). I sometimes find more news about what is going on in Howard County from these websites than I do from the local newspapers and my favorites sites were some of those mentioned in the article. Being a political guy, I tend to follow sites like Wordbones, FreeMarket, Columbia Compass, Columbia Now and Columbia Blog Project, but I do dabble occasionally in the others when something on HoCoBlogs strikes me as interesting.

Kudos to everyone mentioned in the article and hopefully the added notoriety brings you increased traffic and encourages you to keep things going. I know those profiles in the local newspapers gave me a leg up and brought people here who have never left. And I am sure yesterday’s article will do the same for everyone else.

CA Election Results

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Explore Howard has the raw numbers for the competitive races in teh Columbia Association races for the Columbia Council and Wilde Lake Village Board.

Wilde Lake
Phillip Kirsch 308
Linda Odum 298

Hickory Ridge
Gregg Schwind 135
Sharlene Ferguson 115

Long Reach
Russell Swatek 301
James Howard 164

Dorsey’s Search
Kathleen Dragovich 101
Dan Woodruff 78

Wilde Lake Village Board (Top 5 win)
Nancy Alexander 454
Helen Kolbe 430
Edwin Sroka 400
Vincent Marando 392
Bill Santos 381
Terry Kuhn 341

HoCo: Ball vs. Jordan, Round 1

Monday, April 20th, 2009

It may only be April of 2009, but we already have our first war of words between two candidates vying for the 2nd District Council seat in Howard County. It started with this dismissive statement by Democrat Calvin Ball as reported by Larry Carson in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun regarding his already announced challenger Anthony Jordan.

“I think it would be challenging for someone with limited experience and who may not really have done a great deal in the community to be successful,” said Ball, 33. The former Oakland Mills community organizer said he intends to run for re-election to a second full term.

Jordan responds to Ball’s attack on his blog, part of which I quote here.

However, I am disappointed that Councilman Ball so easily discounts my service to our country in the United States Air Force as “limited experience” and suggests that I have “not done a great deal” in the community to warrant a council seat. I don’t intend to get into the muck of attack campaigning over the next year and a half, but I hope the quote from Councilman Ball does not reflect a discounting of the experience and leadership that comes from serving in our military. I also hope that Councilman Ball respects all of the work that is done outside of the council chamber that may go unrecognized by someone in his position. This work is what makes our county such a great place to live.

You can read more of Jordan’s response here. Also, for those interested, Jordan does have a fundraiser coming up on May 2nd at Houlihan’s. More of those details can be found here.

HoCo: Ehrlich Comes Back To Town

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

about two months after the former First Lady Kendal Ehrlich came to Howard County, her husband and our former Governor Bob Ehrlich came back to what he jokingly referred to as the greatest suburb of Arbutus – Howard County.

The Howard County Republicans had the largest crowd I can ever remember at the Lincoln Day Dinner last night. Turf Valley had to add tables to the room just to handle to much larger than expected crowd.

Oh, and despite the prodding of his wife during her introductory speech, no announcement by Ehrlich whether he was going to run or not run….

HoCo: Free Money For The State

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I seriously wonder whether some reporters even read what they write to see if it makes any sense. This was a set of two paragraphs in an article by Dan Schwind in the Columbia Flier describing the final outcome of the bill to convict Maryland drivers of speeding using still cameras.

One objection to the Howard bill and similar localized speed camera bills in Prince George’s County and Baltimore, was that the jurisdictions would use them mainly to generate revenue.

The statewide bill negated those concerns by including a provision that requires any money generated by the cameras that is not needed to pay the cost of operating them to be given to Maryland State Police and the State Highway Administration.

So how exactly does the state taking the money and giving it to another state agency “negate” the concerns that the cameras are being used to generate revenue? If they really wanted to convince me this was not about the money, they should rebate any money above and beyond the cost of this program to the taxpayers of Maryland in the form of a rebate on their taxes. Take the amount of money in excess and divide it by the number of taxpayers in Maryland and let Marylanders deduct that amount from the taxes they owe or add it to the refund they will receive. Even if it is only $1 per taxpayer, at least that money would be going back to the people and not just sent to another agency in the Government.

But of course, that makes too much sense….

Ethics And Bobo?

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

It is interesting when something from over two years ago becomes news again. Two years ago, fellow blogger Bill Santos was running for the Columbia Council from Wilde Lake and, during his election, Delegate Liz Bobo had sent out an email in support of Santos’ opponent which Santos had highlighted in a post on his blog. In his post, he had included the email address that the email was sent from – At the time, I made the following comment in response to Bill’s post.

I’d be curious if there is any ethical issue with Ms. Bobo using her official Government email (which it appears she did from what you show) for political purposes such as this? Granted this was a non-partisan race and I don’t have a problem with her advocating for a particular candidate (the merits of her argument aside), but it still seems somewhat questionable to me that she would use her official State Delegate email for this purpose…

I made the comment and never heard another word about it. Even Santos, in response to my comment, said he didn’t even think about the email address Bobo used to send the email attacking him. And I forgot about it until I read this story on Explore Howard.

A former Columbia Association board member has filed an ethics complaint against state Del. Elizabeth Bobo claiming she improperly used her state office and e-mail to influence CA elections.

Jud Malone, president of Columbia Tomorrow, a local group supportive of General Growth Properties’ downtown redevelopment plan, filed the complaint March 26 with the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. In his complaint, he cited e-mails from 2007 and 2008 in which Bobo, a Columbia Democrat, endorsed candidates in CA elections using her official state e-mail.

In his complaint, Malone cited ethics rules against using the legislature’s e-mail system for non-public purposes and to influence campaigns.

By the way, Malone is not some Republican trying to go after a Democrat for partisan political purposes. According to the State Elections Campaign Database, Malone has donated money to Democratic County Councilman Calvin Ball, County Executive Ken Ulman, and Democratic Delegate Shane Pendergrass. As far as I can tell, he has never donated to a Republican in Maryland. Unfortunately, you have to search for the donations yourself as the website does not allow for direct links to individual donation searches.