• Spartan Considerations

Brief preamble: I am stepping away from Forward Maryland for a bit to address some personal issues. I discussed this on the most recent episode, which can be found here (and many other platforms where fine podcasts are available). Just listen to Bill’s commentary, I was all over the place. You have to know when it’s best to not be in front of a hot mic. For me, that time is now. I hope to return soon.

Back to the topic at hand, I want to ask some questions. Please note, I am not an expert on housing/development issues. I put on my pollster hat in an effort to remove any bias – conscious or otherwise – in the wording. If I missed the mark on the articulation of any of them, please let me know. This is intended to spark a good-faith dialogue where we “come reason together” instead of talking at each other.

1. How many new homes should be built in Howard County, let’s say by the end of 2022? Note: 0 is a perfectly allowable response if you believe that is what the number should be. If you want to use another timeframe, please indicate the timeframe you are adopting for your response.

2. What is preventing Howard County from building 100% affordable housing only? Again, feel free to suggest a timetable.

3. Where should any new developments be built? Again, if you say “they should not be built anywhere in Howard County” that is an allowable response.

4. To avoid appearances of impropriety, should all County Council candidates pledge to not accept developer money, either directly or indirectly? If the first clause of the previous sentence bothers you, feel free to focus your response on the rest of the question.

5. What types of affordable housing should be built? For example, thinking globally, are there case studies regarding types of housing/developments that we could/should emulate/adapt. Again, "no" is a valid response.

6. How can we best address school overcrowding, infrastructure (broadly defined),and congestion issues while still building new affordable housing?

7. How can we best ensure that developers are paying their fair share?

8. How can we best ensure that deals that are made don’t “evolve” in a way that runs contrary to the spirit and principle of building affordable housing?

9. What are the best arguments for building now as opposed to waiting on other spending priorities such as alleviating school overcrowding? What are the best arguments for waiting to build?

10. Bonus question: What defines a “progressive?”

Feel free to answer all, some, or none of the questions. No skin off my nose.

In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Like Danzig playing a quinceañera, some combinations of people and roles are wildly inappropriate.

Thus, we find ourselves approaching the Columbia Democratic Club Board Elections, which are occurring on Wednesday, May 12.

I was once quite pleased at the prospect of Jake Burdett assuming the position of CDC President. Here was a young, decidedly Left activist on the come up who, in conjunction with the Board and membership, could help get the Party ready for what is likely to be a brutal election cycle.

And I appreciate someone who pushes the Overton window, even if the elected officials bristle about it, because public officials need to be held accountable. And f#$% their comfort levels. And if you think I am talking about you, I am.


As presidential historian Richard Neustadt famously noted, “presidential power is the power to persuade.” Now, the CDC presidency is not the same as being the “leader of the free world” (need I say this?). Verily, the former title and 99 cents won’t get you a cup of coffee at Mad City. But the principle holds – and Jake Burdett is simply out of persuasion capital.

I have heard all sides of the controversies that have occurred over the past several months. There is no one blameless although I tend to assign more responsibility to the person sitting behind the “buck stops here” desk sign. Ultimately, it is that person who needs to find a way to work with others in a productive manner. There is an inside game and an outside game, and too much of the former was taking place in full public view via social media. This was, and is, not helpful.

Colloquially speaking, the Left gets screwed over when “party unity” is the order of the day. Policy-wise, we are expected to swallow whatever measures the right of the party (and their establishment media outlets and financial backers) deem necessary. And we are expected to fall in line (see Joe Biden 2020), which most inevitably do with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

But faced with a Republican party committed to an ethno-nationalist agenda and heading into the midterms where, historically, the party that does not hold the White House gains seats, at the risk of invoking yet another cliché, the Stakes are Too High. And yes, this applies at the local level too.

As a whole, I am not particularly pleased with most of the County Council. As a private citizen, this is fine. Having a “very particular set of skills,” I know I can express this displeasure in a way which will be heard – in primaries and general elections. However, I know these abilities are not conducive to being a team player. I don’t believe that Mr. Burdett, in his current capacity as CDC President, gets this…or he is choosing to ignore that facet of the gig. The job of the CDC is to help build the Democratic party locally. The abilities to collaborate, and persuade, are essential. Hack and slash, particularly directed against one’s own side, is not a critical attribute for a CDC President…organization is.

So, I encourage all of my friends, acquaintances, and yes, comrades to vote for Cynthia Fikes for President along with the rest of the #TakeBackOurClub slate. I simply believe that they are better equipped to get the Party ready for the battles to come.

Frankly, I think Jake is better off being a consultant/lightening rod for a progressive campaign or cause. I look at the Fikes et. al. slate and I see people with a deep commitment to the Party and a willingness to do the heavy lifting, in a collegial and respectful manner, even if some are - in their heart of hearts - Clintonian New Democrats.

In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Voting has concluded in the 2021 Columbia Association Board/village community association races. Only two CA Board races are yet to be determined. The Long Reach tally is expected to be released to the public today. How long does it take to count votes, Oakland Mills? Is this community association using the Iowa caucuses software? Is the fix already in?

Contested CA Board races in three villages witnessed very close outcomes:

· A flip of 5 votes, out of 431 residential votes cast, from Tina Horn to Bill Santos would have changed the victor of the Wilde Lake CA Board election.

· In Dorsey’s Search, a flip of 7 votes, out of 191, would have led to the election of Marlon Brown over the incumbent, Richard Boulton.

· In King’s Contrivance, a flip of 17 votes, out of 339, would have meant the defeat of Shari Zaret by Broderick Young.

Only one of the aforementioned winning candidates, Tina Horn, was endorsed by the Rouse Project. It important to note, however, that 265 votes out of 431 (61.5%) cast in the Wilde Lake CA Board race went to candidates not supported by the Rouse Project. I have a feeling that there is significant overlap between the Santos and Campbell voters, so I anticipate had it been a one-on-one race, Horn might have had a much tougher route to 50%+1. Still, interesting that Liz Bobo’s candidate finished a relatively distant third in this race. And that fact alone deserves at least the raising of one eyebrow.

But let’s focus on the Rouse Project.

The unfortunate thing about the Rouse Project is that if (most) of the individuals who belong to the Rouse Project Steering Committee endorsed candidates, independently of the Rouse Project, their candidates would have fared better. At least that is my belief. Here is why:

You can’t just create an organization full of local heavy-hitters with the intention that it would be involved in civic affairs and be opaque about its purpose and funding sources. This is Politics 101. In doing so, they gift-wrapped their opponents a ready-made issue.

Let us do a simple thought experiment, had all of the Rouse Project-backed candidates already been on the CA board, and a shiny new and apparently well-funded organization emerged on the scene supporting their opponents, the Rouse Project folks would be fracking livid. You and I know there would have been many, many calls for Transparency, Transparency surtout!

The African American Coalition of Howard County, an established and trusted organization, was much better positioned to be a major player in this election cycle. Meanwhile, the Rouse Project was busy unintentionally sending up red flags, talking about who their “enemies” were and touting a coalition including “businesses” (small businesses? developers?) There is a huge difference in how they are perceived, and the Rouse Project was tight-lipped on such matters.

So instead of running on a positive change platform, the Rouse Project candidates found themselves in an oddly defensive posture, having to answer questions about their supporters. Now, I know some people have claimed that these elections centered around the wrong, or trivial questions, but remember (again, Politics 101), the voters get to decide what is important. We might not like the questions, but campaigns and affiliated organizations need to come up with answers for those questions. Yes, it makes life harder. Oh well. No one ever said campaigning, even for local positions, would be easy. But did you really need to be told that?

If nothing else, we saw higher turnout for village elections, which I maintain was a good thing. In the two outstanding CA Board races, I hope Rashida George pulls out a W in Oakland Mills. I don’t have an opinion on the Janet Evans – Adam Herson match-up in Long Reach.

Is there more to say on this? Yes. But I will wait for the final results to come in…and discuss them on Forward Maryland.

In solidarity.

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