A Double Negative
2010 represents something huge for Columbia: the second coming of the original planned community that was so ground-breaking in its day, it’s still awe-inspiring to consider how James Rouse pulled it off back in the 60s.
We’ve seen the creation of a 30-year comprehensive plan created to inject life into a fading downtown, re-invoking Rouse’s ideals – to respect the land, to create a place a for people, and, finally, to create a “real City.”
We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s good work. It’s environmental restoration of lands and bodies of water that have been sorely neglected; it’s building pathways and walkways that will allow us to travel by foot and bike, on a human level; and it’s a creation of a $43 million housing trust fund to help make these opportunities available to everyone.
As we look at the upcoming elections through this lens, two candidates in Howard County stand out as embodying what we don’t need going forward.
Alan Klein doesn’t have much of a record – a work record or a political record. The little we know about him is that he likes to oppose things. He continually criticized the downtown plan, although he couldn’t articulate why exactly. After that plan passed with overwhelming public support and major re-writes by local government, he helped with a petition effort to take the issue back to the drawing board. He couldn’t make that happen either.
Now, his one-issue candidacy hinges on unsupportable statements about that same plan. He continues to rant, for example, that the plan is too much, too soon, despite the fact that it is phased over 30 years and he can’t offer anything better. And he continues to insist that the plan is unenforceable, despite statements by the Council and legal opinions to the contrary.
Klein doesn’t have a better plan, alternative solutions, or even a reasonable basis for opposing the existing plan. He doesn’t have any expertise or experience on any of the other major issues he’d have to address as County Council representative. He just represents a big Dead End.
Liz Bobo began as a pioneer and participant in Columbia. She was really something. But times changed and she didn’t. Her effectiveness has been marginalized to the point that she seems to derive her political power from opposition – to almost everything. Let’s take a look at some of the things she’s done for Columbia and Howard County:
1. Fought to “limit additional medical centers from moving to Howard County.” (Flier, 8/26/10).
2. Fought to deny Dorsey’s Search’s inclusion in Columbia.
3. Fought the construction of Route 100. How much did that fight cost us, as taxpayers, with the eventual cost of Route 100 going up so much over the years?
4. Fought growth in western Howard County by trying to implement 20-acre zoning. Remember the tractor-cade?
5. Fought growth throughout Howard County by instituting the draconian concept of a growth moratorium.
6. Fought for a diminished vision for downtown Columbia.
7. Fought the current plan for the redevelopment of Columbia’s village centers.
8. Expressed grave concerns about Wegman’s being constructed.
9. Opposed Walgreens.
10. Instituted a land use policy for Howard County while she was County Executive that lost her her re-election bid.
And, this doesn’t even address economic development measures she has resisted over the years.
Columbia needs leaders with courage and vision, leaders who aren’t afraid to “make no little plans.” We’ve worked hard to keep that founding principle alive. Let’s not allow these negative candidates to take that away from us.