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Monday, October 5, 2015

Howard County as an "outlier"

     The recent proposed rule by HUD that would group Howard County with other Baltimore Metro jurisdictions in determining subsidized rents for our County points out a reality that we are not like other Baltimore Metro jurisdictions.  With the third highest median income in the Country Howard County shares more in common with jurisdictions in the Washington DC Metro area than we do with Baltimore.  The median income in Baltimore County is $42,000 less than Howard County and Baltimore City's median income is $70,000 less than Howard County.  The average rent for a 3 bedroom unit in Howard County is over $2100.  In Baltimore City the average rent for a 3 bedroom unity is $1370 and that includes rents in the in the center city that drives up the average.  Outside of the center city the rents are substantially lower.
      I know when I read any report that gives statistics for the Baltimore Metro area I always seem to find that Howard County is an "outlier" in those reports.  Comparing Howard County to other jurisdictions in the Baltimore area shows how different we are.  We maybe geographically close but in almost every other way we seem to diverge from the rest of the area.  In many ways this divergence doesn't carry an public policy implications but it does in the case of the promotion of affordable housing in our County.  Nothing will limit the supply of affordable housing for those families with vouchers than to group us with the rest of the Baltimore Metro area.  Someone needs to tell the folks at HUD about this reality.  Fortunately our elected officials have been active in responding to this proposed HUD regulation.  Time will tell whether the proposed rule will be changed to continue to provide County housing opportunities to families with vouchers.

    Wisely HUD has seen the error of their ways.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Would you say that to my face?

All the "flame throwers" and anonymous posters should attend this symposium

Choose Civility Symposium
And Other Questions of Online Citizenship
October 8, 2015
social media
Join us as we explore what it means to be a good digital citizen and what impact our online presence has on our off-line reputation. How and why do our online and offline personas differ? Could our online personas benefit from more deliberate thought about how we portray ourselves and interact with others? What role, if any, should civility play in our online personas?
Learn how social media users of all ages can cultivate and demonstrate digital civility, appropriate communication, and personal responsibility when using social media platforms.
NPR’s Korva Coleman moderates a panel of national experts, including Tech Parenting expert Denise Lisi DeRosa; Towson University Professor Andrew Reiner; and Mike Ribble, Digital Citizenship expert.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
6:15 – 7 pm    Reception
7 – 8:30 pm    Symposium
Howard County Library System, Miller Branch
9421 Frederick Road in Ellicott City
Follow the conversation online using #HoCoCivil.
Event Partners:
The Business Monthly; Friends of Howard County Library System; Nicodemus Communications Group; Henry and Nancy Yee.
Baltimore Sun Media Group, Columbia Association, Howard Community College, Howard County Economic Development Authority, Howard County Public School System, and Voices for Change.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Columbia Association clothing drive


Winter will be here too soon for most of us enjoying the cooling Fall weather.  It also means a time for the CA clothing drive.  Here is their info:

   "To you, it may just be a winter coat you don’t often wear or a piece of clothing that no longer fits. But to community members in need, those individual donations add up. That’s why collection boxes are being placed around Columbia for Columbia Association’s (CA) seventh annual clothing drive organized by CA’s Youth and Teen Center and its Teen Outreach Committee.

Collection boxes will be stationed in October and November at:

All 10 village community association buildings
Columbia Art Center (6100 Foreland Garth in the Long Reach Village Center)
Youth and Teen Center @ The Barn (5853 Robert Oliver Place in the Oakland Mills Village Center)
Eggspectation restaurant (6010 University Blvd., Ellicott City)

Those donating can bring in new and gently used clothes, shoes and accessories, including but not limited to ties, belts, hosiery, hats, gloves, pocketbooks and jewelry. Also important are coats and socks, children’s clothes, and career clothes for both men and women.

These donated items will then be distributed to community members in need on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Sunday, Jan. 17, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Both distribution days will be held at The Barn, 5853 Robert Oliver Place in the Oakland Mills Village Center. Last year’s clothing drive brought in more than 20,000 items and served more than 1,000 families. The need remains this year as well.

Volunteering opportunities are not limited solely to the youth community. CA welcomes community members and organizations wishing to participate in the project. Those who are interested in earning community service hours by assisting with the collection, sorting, set-up and distribution should contact Safire Windley at or 410-992-3726.

The Youth and Teen Center (YTC) at The Barn is a fun, safe way for teens and pre-teens to socialize and participate in recreational and educational programs. Columbia and Howard County kids ages 9 to 18 are welcomed year round with after-school, summertime and some weekend activities and programs that are designed to promote self-esteem and to develop life skills. The YTC is located at 5853 Robert Oliver Place in the Oakland Mills Village Center. More information is available at "


Monday, September 28, 2015

I will never use a taxi again!!

     I think this is the first time I have ever blogged on a service.  On a recent trip I needed to take a taxi from my hotel to the car rental place-- a distance of about 5 miles.  Taking a taxi cost me $30 with a tip.  On my return trip I decided to try something different.  I signed up for Uber and thought I might as well try it for the first time.  It was easy to use.  I entered the address where I was and then where I wanted to go.  Within 30 seconds I had the name and picture of the person giving me the ride and the amount I would owe.  Same ride using Uber cost me $9.80 including tip!  The driver pulled up within a minute and took me to my hotel in half the time of the taxi ride.  The ride was charged to my credit card I had listed on setting up my Uber account and I had a receipt as I walked into my hotel.
   We have seen how Amazon killed book stores and it seems only a matter of time until taxis go away the same way with Uber and services like Uber.  The world is "getting flat".

   If you want to sign up for an Uber account use the code duanes270ue and get a $20 credit for your first ride.  Full disclosure I get a $20 credit for everyone who uses my code.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Want to have a rain garden?