Follow by Email

Monday, October 10, 2016

Public financing may come to Howard County

    We have a chance to provide public funding for our local elections for Howard County Executive and County Council.  A measure on our local ballot this November will set up the authority for public funding for these local offices.  Question A on the ballot, if approved, will amend our County Charter to set up a Citizens Election Fund System to provide this public financing.  Here is the wording:

Displaying Balltot question. png.png

     The funds for this financing can come from either the County Executive in their budget request or added by the County Council.  This is only the second funding, after the School Board funding, that permits the Council to add funds to the County Executive's budget.  The mechanisms for citizen donations to this fund are still to be worked out.  There could be a mechanism set up with County water bills or property taxes that allow a check off amount similar to our Federal Tax forms.
     This initiative came as a result of the work of Council members Jen Terrasa and Jon Weinstein.
Here is a link to a good article from the Maryland Reporter that gives more information on the question.   You can also check out their Facebook page.
     There are thresholds for candidates to reach to be eligible for these public funds.  The candidates for County Executive would have to have 500 donors and total $40,000 in total donations.  Candidates for the County Council would have to have at least 125 donors and $7,500 in total donations.   The caps for public funds are $75,000 for County Council candidates and $750,000 for the County Executive candidates.


Friday, October 7, 2016

BJ's Brewhouse

Image result for bj brewhouse laurel

    Decided this week to try the BJ's Brewhouse in Laurel to see what the restaurant was like since we will soon have one in Columbia at the Columbia Crossing Shopping Center.  The menu is varied with a little bit for everyone.  Burgers and pizza seemed to be the most popular items.

The Margarita flatbread pictured above was nothing special but a decent appetizer.  

      I usually try fish tacos when I see them on the menu so pictured above it their version of the dish.  Again not bad but far from the best I have ever had.  A good choice for fish tacos locally is the Green Turtle.
      First visit didn't leave me impressed but when they come to Columbia I will give them another try for their pizza and a turkey burger.

     I am not a beer drinker but being a brewhouse (off site of course) the menu did have a long list of specialty beers.

P.S. 1
     BJ's Brewhouse is not connected to BJ's Wholesale Club.  The Brewhouse started in Orange County California in 1978,  BJ's Wholesale Club was started in 1984 by the folks that brought us the old Zayre's Department Store.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Roads dangerous for pedestrians


     Last week the Columbia Patch had an article about another pedestrian being hit and killed along Route 1 in Jessup. How often have we heard of a pedestrian killed along this road?  When Route 1 was built sidewalks were never planned because no one ever walked along this road.  What has changed is that for many of the people who live and work along Route 1 don't have a car.  Many service workers in the businesses along this road are too poor to own a car.  Walking is their only way to get to a job.  Their jobs also may require them to walk along these roads in the dark, especially as the days get shorter.
      If you follow this blog you know my longstanding issue with the lack of sidewalks along Dobbin Road in Columbia.  Residential streets are not the only places that need sidewalks.  The need of sidewalks along our roads that lead our low income workers to their jobs should be as much a priority as affordable housing for this population.  Not all of these workers can afford to pay for cabs on their limited wages.  I would hope that as we make our communities more walkable we don't forget that walkability is economically essential for many of our service workers.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Large strange yellow object spotted in the sky yesterday

     What was that yellow object we saw in the sky yesterday?? Really, 7 straight days of heavy rain? Anyone ready to build an arc?  With our rainy weather of 6 inches or more last week it just seems that these heavy rains are becoming the new normal.  Even thinking back to the monster snow storm that we had last winter maybe something is changing.  It is always tricky to make assumptions about climate from any few of days of weather.  Weather is short term and climate is long term.  Even with the recent rains we are only a little above average for the year.  Remember how little rain we had this Summer and earlier in September or just the week before with blue skies for 5 days?
     Still the warmer oceans release more energy into our storms and create more frequent storms with increasing amounts of rain.  Time will tell if the storms of the past month are the new normal but with the rise of temperatures in the oceans it would be naive to think that we will not have to adjust to this new reality and plan for how we will cope with increased risk of flooding.


     At least this group of mushrooms along Cradlerock Way like the rains.  From a Google image search it looks like these are poisonous Jack-o'-Lantern mushrooms.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What's going on with the Sheriff's Department??

     In Howard County we expect civility and competence in our elected officials and for the most part that is what we get.   We watch other counties deal with political scandal and incompetence and wonder if an elected official in Howard County could ever get away with that here.  The past couple of weeks we may have had that question answered.  In a report by the Office of Human Rights  the behavior of the Howard County Sheriff Jim Fitzgerald has been described as one of intimidation and discrimination to some of the Office employees.  This has lead to a call from the present and former County Executives and the County Council asking the Sheriff to resign.
      This situation caused me to remember an experience I had as a County employee many years ago.  Starting in the 1980's and 1990's many companies and organizations started holding trainings on sexual harassment.   As sexual harassment cases became more numerous insurance companies started charging higher rates or denying coverage to companies unless they did these trainings and having written policies for handling claims of harassment.  I attended one of these trainings held by the County Government.  At this training there were employees from many of the different County departments.  The employees attending took the topic seriously and the questions asked were directed in the typical directions you would expect.  There was one exception to this behavior and that was from a supervisor from the Sheriff's Department.   His comments showed that he didn't take the issue seriously and his attempts to make humorous remarks fell flat with the trainer and the others attending the training.   During a break in the training many of the people attending the training couldn't help but comment on inappropriate attitude of the Sheriff Department supervisor.  During the past week it seems to me that not much has changed in the Sheriff Department in the 20 plus years since that training.  Howard County deserves much better.

    Sheriff says that he will not resign.

     Interestingly in doing Google searches for this blog post I found out that we are not the only Howard County who has had a problem with their sheriff