• Spartan Considerations

From the Akkadian Empire to Modern-Day Los Angeles: A History of Tapioca


Take It to the Limit: My Years as a New Jersey Gas Station Attendant


Back, Middle to the Front, Don’t Front: An Exploration of 1990s Spatial Relationships


The above are all articles I would rather cobble together than another fucking piece on the Columbia Association.


But here we go.


The Columbia Association is a “nonprofit community services corporation.” That said, it essentially exercises quasi-public powers. Thus, one could argue that one should treat elections to the CA Board similar to how one would treat elections to local public offices such as the Howard County Board of Education or County Council…with a close eye on how the CA Board’s decisions can impact the common good.


Unfortunately, the regulatory regime surrounding the financing of CA elections has not caught up with the times. What have been, historically, sleepy races with no-or-low dollar spending and struggles to make quorum in multiple villages is turning – for better or worse - into something that resembles campaigns for county offices.


However, there are no mandates regarding financial disclosure and transparency (no FEC, no Maryland Board of Elections oversight). If this isn’t a problem now – and I believe it is – it will be an issue soon enough. And all “sides” will eventually call for greater openness.


So should the Rouse Project, or any other entity or individuals spending money on these elections publicly disclose their donors, donation amounts, and dates of donations prior to the election? Absolutely. The public has a right to know who is bankrolling the candidates, regardless of who the candidates are.


In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

How fitting since Godfather III was airing this weekend.


Yet as a Wilde Lake resident, I feel compelled to state, for the record, two points:


1. While I have some friends and acquaintances on the Rouse Project Steering Committee, I remain leery about their purpose and precise plans for Columbia in the months and years ahead. I see too many glittering generalities in their communications, their priorities could use more specificity. I wonder about the businesses and other “powerful” individuals and interests who may or may not be supporting this initiative. Also, I concur with those who have called for greater transparency, especially since real money is apparently being spent in these elections (professional looking signs and mailers aren’t cheap, folks).


2. In terms of the CA Board election in Wilde Lake, with the decision by Nancy McCord to not seek re-election, it is an open and contested race. I don’t know one of the three candidates, Steven Michael Campbell. The other two, Tina Horn and Bill Santos, I know reasonably well.


When I first moved to Columbia, I found Bill’s blog very helpful in understanding how this unique community operates. His institutional knowledge of Columbia is impressive, as is his attention to detail. And he obviously cares about Wilde Lake. Yet he has run before, and unsuccessfully, for the CA Board. While Bill embraces the community, does Wilde Lake feel likewise?


Tina has an impressive track record of community engagement with multiple organizations: the MLK, Jr. Holiday Commission, PATH, the HCPSS Community Advisory Council, the UUCC Black Lives Matter Team, and PTAs, among other causes. She is also a graduate of Leadership Howard County. I believe her commitment to equity is sincere and deeply felt. And at least her campaign materials offer a bit more specificity regarding her stance on preserving and enhancing Columbia’s open spaces.


I see this election as an opportunity to change the direction of the Columbia Association, which has seen some hard times of late. I think Tina Horn represents the best change option on the ballot. It was a tough decision between two excellent choices, but ultimately, I think that Tina Horn is the CA Board member Wilde Lake, and Columbia, needs.


In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Back over at the Assembly of the Aggrieved, it is fascinating to see the odd bedfellows who chose to engage in the “95 Theses” discussion that began on March 27. Let us briefly foray into the world of taxonomy and classify some of the participants, shall we? In no particular order, we have:


· The insiders who think they are outsiders

· The privileged-yet-somehow-downtrodden

· The apolitical who constantly bring up political issues

· Leftists who hang out with right-wingers

· Secret Republicans

· 200 Flavors o’ Karen

· Those showing out for their adoring crowds

· The “My God does he ever edit his writing before he posts?” clique

· The good faith actors (a few)

· The bad faith actors

· The ugly faith actors

· Faith No More

· NIMBYs, FIMBYs, and Gumbys


Do some groups overlap? Sure. Did I capture the entire ecosystem? Hardly.


What stews my radishes the most is the level of discourse. As an almost 50 year old essayist with an 96% winning polemicist percentage, it is shocking-adjacent to see how many arguments devolve into nonsense. The thread needs to be viewed as not a forum for a legitimate exchange of ideas or a haven for critical thinkers but a series of “Gotchas!” and “You tell ‘em Mac!” ripostes. In short, it gets very tedious very quickly.


So why am I talking about them? Because, for better or worse (and largely the latter), we are still operating in a virtual world and social media is where a great deal of action is taking place. In digital spaces, we huddle together, much like the robots in the critically acclaimed 2004 feature film, “I, Robot.” Where there is light, there is heat…or so the saying goes. Except there is little illumination in that space. And the voices mimic dialogue but they are really just shouting to be the Most Whatever (e.g., loudest, angriest, victimized, put-upon).


What is coming up? Fantastic question. Obviously, I have been less than active on my Spartan Considerations platform in recent months. Most of my civic engagement has been via the Forward Maryland podcast. That said, I think it is reasonable to assume that this blog will heat up as 2022 approaches. Once there are more candidates to write about, the posts will come shortly thereafter. And if anyone of a social democratic persuasion or further to the comradely, democratic left wants to talk about seeking public office, feel free to get in touch. It is an established fact that Spartan Considerations is the Best Trial Balloon opportunity in Maryland.


Coming up soon: thoughts on the Columbia Association Board elections (including one endorsement), musings on the Rouse Project (Selfless or Selfish?), and, if you are lucky, pictures of the Bold Gazebo Cats!


In solidarity.

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