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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Glen Campbell

   Most of us can remember the Glen Campbell show back in the early 1970's.  What you may not know is that he played guitar for a number of other bands including the Beach Boys and Elvis Presley.  Here are a couple videos of his playing talent.  William Tell Overture   Ghost Riders in the Sky with Roy Clark.



Friday, August 11, 2017

It gets serious now

      I have a link on my computer to a radio station that does a "question of the day."  I can't help but notice how many of the questions are about a difference between men and women.  Not infrequently the question refers to how men overestimate their abilities and women underestimate their abilities or how men make decisions without consulting with others and women prefer to make decisions collectively.  It took women in the Senate to stand up to the President and his male Senate allies on the health care legislation .
     Recently this reality again showed up in our "bully in chief" threatening to bring "fire and fury" with his threat of nuclear war.  For all of Hillary's tough talk I doubt she would be this stupid.  It is one thing for Trump to cheat his contractors, only tolerate people who proclaim their devotion to you and to make up names for your opponents but it is another thing to think that the world would be better off destroying an entire population on the Korean peninsula and who know where else.  Once you start down that road accidents can happen that no one expects. If you want to see how that happens all you need to do is read Barbara Tuchman's book "The Guns of August."  A world with building conflicts that set off World War I by an assassination of the heir apparent to the throne of the Austria-Hungary empire Archduke Ferdinand.  Nobody wanted it and no one thought it would happen but it did.  Once the threat genie is out of the bottle it is hard to put it back in the bottle without looking like you are weak.  We all know how Trump feels about looking weak and his own sense of personal inadequacy .  Trump with nuclear weapons is beyond dangerous for the world.

P.S.
    Chinese proverb:  He who seeks revenge builds two graves.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ellicott City Master Plan to prevent flooding

Ellicott City Watershed Masterplan

     Ellicott City is situated in a valley that funnels water down Main Street and is along a river that floods.  This reality has been a fact of life since Ellicott City was founded.  Patapsco River flooding has not been the problem recently.  The runoff from the surrounding hills being funneled down Main Street has been the source of the recent devastating floods in Ellicott City.  The development on the surrounding hills channeling more rain water and climate change seems to make this flooding something that will occur more frequently in the future.  To address this issue the County has launched a process to mitigate the problem.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that 6 inches of rain in short amount of time will probably cause major flooding even with the proposed changes.  Here is the information on the Master Plan.  

"Howard County launched its master plan process for Ellicott City and its watershed on May 31st. The master plan process will help define a comprehensive community-driven vision for rebuilding a stronger and more resilient Ellicott City. The master plan will take a fresh and creative look at potential long term flood solutions and strategies. 
ECMasterplan Map
It will also incorporate a watershed plan in a way that many traditional master plans do not. Ellicott City’s unique topography, hydrology, road network, and mill town heritage will require a tailored, well-planned roadmap for long-term rebuilding. A Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study (the "H&H Study") was recently completed for the Ellicott City watershed. The H&H Study is an unprecedented, comprehensive analysis of the Tiber-Hudson watershed. The analysis models how certain water retention controls and channel enhancements will reduce the amount of flooding on Main Street in various storm conditions. The results of the hydrologic and hydraulic study will be used as a touchstone throughout the master plan process and help guide decisions, set planning parameters, and test choices."




#hocoblogs

Monday, August 7, 2017

Premier of the documentary "Columbia at 50" September 13th

The Premier of the documentary Columbia at 50, a bridge to the future will be on Sept 13 2017 at the Smith Theater join Josh Olsen author of Better Places Better Lives, free tickets at columbia50movie.eventbrite.com

Friday, August 4, 2017

TD Ameritrade "therapist" commercials



     If you watch any of the cable news shows you have undoubtedly seen the commercials for TD Ameritrade where the advisor talks about everything but your stock portfolio.  He comes across as a therapist or close confidant.   I think that is why he has a beard and a sweater.  I almost wait for him to say "so how was your relationship with your parents."
     If you wonder why these companies are taking this tack in their commercials you only have to understand that index fund investing is eating into the financial advisor investing business.  Now that we know that advisors charging us substantial amounts for advice that can't beat index funds the financial advisor companies are having to give us another reason to have an advisor.  Think of your financial advisor as a life coach.

P.S.
      The Obama Administration proposed a rule to require advisors to tell you if they are a fiduciary.   Simply the "fiduciary rule" was a consumer protection rule that:

  "...... demands that advisors act in the best interests of their clients, and to put their clients' interests above their own. It leaves no room for advisors to conceal any potential conflict of interest, and states that all fees and commissions must be clearly disclosed in dollar form to 
clients."

    So it is not surprising that the pro business/anti consumer Trump Administration is trying to stop this rule from going into operation.  I guess financial advisors winning is more important than consumers winning.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Warning to men---the sky really is falling

     This week I happened to hear these two stories of note for men on NPR.   The first is this story on the dropping sperm count for men in the past 40 years.   The report states:

    "Sperm counts appear to be plummeting throughout the Western world, according to a large study of men around the world.  An international team of scientists analyzed data from nearly 43,000 men in dozens of industrialized countries and found that sperm counts dropped by more than half over nearly four decades.  "I think that we should take this very seriously," says Shanna Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. She helped conduct the study published in the journal Human Reproduction Update. "I think it's a wake-up call," Swan says."

    Later that day they had a report that scientists are discovering more species of animals where females can self fertilize.  Those tricky females!  For human males we better hope women don't learn how to solve their own computer issues in the near future or we are really done!

     

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New blog party August 21st

   

    It's been awhile since we have had a blog party so it is good news that we have one at Bare Bones Grill in Ellicott City on August 21st.  Here is the link for tickets.

P.S.
Question:  

What has a shorter life expectancy than a fruit fly?

Answer:

 Having the title "White House Communications Director"

Question:

  What's the difference between the Trump Cabinet and The Game of Thrones?

Answer:
 
   With The Game of Thrones you have to wait till the next week to see who gets killed off.


#hocoblogs

Monday, July 31, 2017

One Hour to understand the Russian hacking scandal

Richard Engle's show On Assignment Friday night aired a one hour report that shows how the Russian hacking impacted the United States.  A must view.   The starting link will continue on to other segments of the show on Russia.  Watch each to hear the entire show.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

How your own mortality focuses the mind



   One has to wonder how John McCain's illness and impending mortality impacted his decision to have a "profile in courage" moment in voting against the Republican health care legislation.   John McCain returning to his "maverick" past was timed bad for the Republicans but good for our nation.



Saturday, July 29, 2017

Howard County Food Bank needs your donations now!

From the Howard County Food Bank:

"The images you've seen on social media are accurate. The shelves at the #HowardCountyFoodBank are looking a little bare. It's not an uncommon phenomenon for food banks during this time of year. Demand often increases in the summer when kids aren't getting breakfast and lunch at school. And donations drop off during the summer. If you want to help us out, you can drop off food at 9385 Gerwig Lane or you can click on this handy little link and make a monetary donation." https://www.cac-hc.org/get-involved/donate-2/

Friday, July 28, 2017

Hail to the "Bully" in Chief

      OK I have held off for a while but it is getting to the point that yelling at the TV when Trumpy comes on is not enough anymore.  Trump's speech to the Boy Scouts pushed me over the edge.  So today is blowing off a little steam.  Pardon my need to do this.
      I have always been unsure how citizens of country with an authoritarian leader could blindly follow this type of leader.  Of course with control of political opposition and any media there is limited or non existent counter information available to the citizens of these countries.  Citizens of a country that has always been ruled by authoritarian rulers have no experience with hearing a wide range of information.  We are not surprised that citizens of countries like Russia and North Korea blindly follow their rulers.  I guess what surprises me a little is that we have 30-40% of our citizens who could blindly follow our own homegrown authoritarian bully.   His cabinet having to proclaim their honor of serving him is truly scary. Trump's attempts to discredit and belittle the judiciary, political opposition and media because they will not blindly follow his interests shows his true authoritarian nature.  His willingness to lie and his obsession with Hillary Clinton and Obama show some character flaws that leave many to question his delusional mental health.  His willingness to throw even a supporter like Attorney General Sessions under the bus for his independence should make anyone in his administration wonder about their job security.  Apparently loyalty only goes one way.  Imagine trying to recruit people to join the present administration.
    So where does this leave those of us that are appalled by Trump?  The Democrats can try to win back the House of Representatives in 2018 so that they can start impeachment hearings but to get 67 senators to convict him could be next to impossible.  Maybe to only way to get rid of him is for him to realize that to get a pardon he has to resign with the understanding that Pense will pardon him the way Ford pardoned Nixon.  Of course Trump might test out the constitutional question of him being able to pardon himself.  When you think that the Supreme Court would have to rule on the ability of a criminal president to be totally above the law you realize how dangerous a situation we find ourselves in as democratic republic.  Is it any wonder that Western Democracies are shaking their heads at our country right now?

P.S.
     Know what Trump was referring to when he was talking about William Levitt's yacht? Here it is.
   

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

6 new stores at the Columbia Mall and Village Center redevelopment


From Columbia Patch:
   
     "Downtown Columbia revitalization is getting another boost from The Mall in Columbia, which has announced new retailers and restaurants. Sub Zero Ice Cream and Z Galleriehome décor opened last month. The Walrus Oyster & Ale House will replace departed Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill. Shake Shack will open in a portion of the space previously leased by Champps Americana. Main Event Entertainment, Barnes & Noble and Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande Café will take over space on the upper level previously occupied by Sears. All are expected to open in the Fall of 2018. The Sears Auto Center and drive-through will be eliminated to make way for an outdoors plaza and seating area, similar to the existing adjacent plaza area. Sears will consolidate its business into its existing lower level space. Completion is projected for late 2018."

On the Village Center front here is information from the Columbia Association:

"Columbia Association (CA) and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) are collaborating on a new initiative to support retailers in Columbia’s nine village centers.

The Columbia Village Centers Retail Development Program is being implemented to strengthen the village centers as retailing and community gathering destinations, and will assist small business retailers with technical resources to help ensure their success.

The program will focus on three components:
Retail Retention: Identifying and coordinating technical resources that will help existing village center retailers be more successful in their operations.
Retailer Recruitment: Locating and suggesting potential retailers to the village centers owners that would complement the existing tenants.
Branding, Promotion and Events: Identifying village center promotion opportunities.

“Columbia’s village centers are a signature element of our community, but they have been affected by the changing retail marketplace over the past couple decades,” said Milton W. Matthews, president/CEO of Columbia Association. “A goal of this program is to have fewer vacant spaces in the village centers and to attract more people into the centers for shopping and social gatherings.”

“This partnership with Columbia Association will allow us to leverage our small business services with their intimate focus on the village centers to make sure that they can be enjoyed by families for decades to come,” said Lawrence Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

Columbia founder James Rouse conceived and built village centers at a time when limited retail competition existed. This allowed The Rouse Company to place village centers in the center of the neighborhoods rather than along major roadways and to use limited retailer signage and an insular shopping center design. Today, there are many more competing retail outlets — both brick and mortar stores and online options. In addition, retailing and consumer preferences have changed significantly since the village centers were developed, with a preference today for locations with expanded merchandise or restaurant choices in one place and greater vehicular access/visibility. Many of the village centers are at a disadvantage in today’s marketplace by not being located on major roadways.

The Columbia Village Centers Retail Development Program will focus on providing county and other technical support resources to existing retailers to help improve their operations, recruiting potential new tenants and promoting events for retailers to engage with new customers.

This initiative builds upon recommendations made in the Columbia Market Study. The consultant study, sponsored by Columbia Association, Howard County Economic Development Authority and Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, examined existing market conditions and future potential opportunities for Columbia’s village centers. It recommended the consideration of a retail recruitment and retention program for Columbia’s village centers."

#hocoblogs

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A day without an Amazon delivery is like a day without sunshine


     Remember how as a kid getting a letter in the mail was enough to make your day?  Well our grown up equivalency is getting a delivery from Amazon.  I admit it ----- I am a "hooked" Amazon Prime subscriber.  I find myself checking my phone frequently to see if I have a notification of another delivery.
  A part of me is concerned about the number of trees that go into making all these boxes.  And what do you do with the boxes that I have saved in all sizes?  I know that Goodwill has a program to donate clothes in these boxes.  And why do they send a box that is 5 or 6 times the size of my item?  What to do with all the bubble packing?  Why do they bubble wrap an order of bubble wrap?

Bought some bubble wrap on Amazon. This is how they shipped it

     I love not having to go to stores.  My store trips are limited pretty much to Home Depot and grocery stores.  Why shop for an item where my store choices are so limited and more expensive than going on Amazon at home and get a hundred choices that can be delivered in one or two days at a cheaper price.  While Walmart killed budget stores, Amazon is killing off most of the remaining retail stores.  Sears, Kmart, Macy's are all on their "last legs."  Without these anchor stores malls are dying.  It is becoming more difficult for smaller retailers to find a viable "niche." Welcome to the digital world of Amazon.

P.S.
     I just placed my first order with Alibaba the Chinese giant that is bigger than Amazon.  I just hope that everything from them doesn't ship from China.

     

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Story Corps

     

    I blogged before on Story Corps but there is something new that I wanted to share.  Story Corps records two people talking with each other.  These conversations are fascinating and often heartwarming.  Here is one example with Sarah and Joshua Littman pictured above.  You can listen to these conversations on their website, Facebook page or their podcast on ITunes.
     Now everyone can record a conversation that they will archive with the Library of Congress with their smartphone app.








Monday, July 17, 2017

The savior of Medicare you probably have never heard about

The 

      When I hear the proposed cuts to Medicaid being discussed in the Republican health care bills it makes me remember something I heard from someone who was directly involved in the crafting of the Medicare and Medicaid legislation.


     In graduate school I had a professor, William Bechill, who was the first Commissioner on Aging with the Administration on Aging in 1965.   He was recommended for that post by Wilbur Cohen who had been involved with the creation of the Social Security program back in the 1930's.

Wilburportrait.jpg

                                                                      Wilbur Cohen

       The Johnson Administration brought in Mr. Cohen to help with the drafting of the Medicare and Medicaid legislation.  Bill Bechill remembered meeting with Mr. Cohen and administration officers in the White House while the legislation was being drafted.  From the start there was always an income based eligibility for Medicaid but there were some administration officials and Congressional legislators who wanted to have some income requirements in the Medicare program.  Medicare would be more generous for low income seniors and would reduce benefits for higher income seniors.  Mr. Cohen argued that this would make Medicare vulnerable to cuts and possible elimination from conservative administrations.  He spoke about how Social Security was more secure from cuts because it was universal in its eligibility.  Sure, millionaires didn't need the Social Security payment but if it was a benefit that only went to low income retired persons Social Security would have always been under attack.  Fortunately for today's Medicare recipients Mr. Cohen's arguments won the day in the final Medicare legislation.  We have Mr. Cohen to thank that the present Congressional proposed healthcare legislation is not taking a "meat axe" to the Medicare program as it is proposed doing to the income based Medicaid program.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Annual Rain Gardens blog


   If you have followed this blog you know that I have a hatred (too strong a word?) with lawns and grass (the legal kind) and have been an advocate for rain gardens.  Our home has become a rain garden haven with rain gardens on both sides of our home.





     To find out a little more about the Columbia Association rain garden program watch this You Tube video.

P.S.
   Greening your roof?

#hocoblogs

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Prepare for Success provides backpacks to low income Howard County students

  


 Do you know that 12,177 children in Howard County Schools receive federally funded school meals?  Last year over 2,300 students were served by the Prepare for Success program in providing backpacks and school supplies.  Since its inception over 26,000 backpacks have been distributed. The current year drive is now on for the upcoming school year.  Here is some information on the program administered through the Community Action Council:

"HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

To get the most supplies for the lowest prices, PFS makes wholesale purchases from a national education supplier. Our price of a backpack filled with required supplies average out to about $25 per student. That’s far less than the cost of buying retail at local stores.
WHEN DO YOU NEED DONATIONS?
ANYTIME is a great time to contribute. Our major drive is during the summer. BUT since PFS has a year-round cycle we can use support anytime.
WHAT IF I WANT TO COLLECT SUPPLIES OR HAVE SUPPLIES TO DONATE?
Great!! You can donate supplies at any number of locations throughout Howard County. You or your group can start collecting now and then make a drop off at your local library, county recreation center, Columbia village center, or CA sports facility between July 10th and August 18th. Many businesses elect to run their own collection program and then turn to PFS to assist with the distribution. We welcome these partnerships. Contributions are tax deductible. Community Action Council is a 501 (c)(3) organization."

 There are two ways to send contributions for this program:

1)  Send check payable to “Community Action Council/PFS” to:
Community Action Council / PFS
6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046

2) Donate online at:
https://www.cac-hc.org/get-involved/donate-2/
Select "Prepare for Success" under the donation restriction box.


#hocoblogs

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The loss of a dream for Columbia moving into the future

      A recent discussion at the "Longest Table" I brought up a concern I had for Columbia and Howard County moving into our second 50 years of Columbia's existence.   Has the Columbia goal of diversity and integration of groups across the economic scale been lost in Columbia and Howard County.  Has affordable and subsidized housing been limited to only certain areas in both Columbia and Howard County?  Why was River Hill Village designed for mostly single family homes unlike the diversity of housing, both subsidized and unsubsidized,  in our earliest villages?  The lower density zoning of Western Howard prevented diversity of housing in half of Howard County.  Is this the new reality as we move farer from Rouse's vision of what makes a community exceptional?
     This new possible reality is seen in our school system.  While our school system is still seen as a valuable asset to our County we see signs of a "de facto redlining" in Howard County.   This reality is known to any realtor in our County.  The first statement for many home buyers in Howard County is "here are the school districts I will only look at homes in."   This reality is based on the school test scores.   I experienced this reality when I tried to sell our home a few years ago.   After being on the market for almost a year we finally had an offer that we were ready to accept.  The couple was from out of state with school age kids.  On the way to our realtor's office to sign the contract the husband received a cell phone call from his wife telling him not to sign the contract because she had looked up the test scores on the internet and our school fairer poorly in comparison to other schools in Howard County.  As they were looking at Howard County because of the schools this was enough to not sign a contract.
     For most of us who have lived in Howard County we know that any school in Howard County will give a good education to any student regardless of academic ability.   Teachers in schools with lower test scores are just as good as teachers in schools that score higher.  I am sure that our school administrators work to minimize the impact of our the housing reality.  But if we are honest with ourselves the school system's job of providing an excellent education to every student in Howard County is made more difficult if our housing patterns move farther and farther from Rouse's vision of our community.  Is the 1960's goal of "fair housing" no longer relevant in the 21st Century Howard County?

P.S.
      I really struggled with not bringing into this discussion the new reality brought in at the Federal level the past 6 months.  I will just post this link.

#hocoblogs

Monday, July 10, 2017

How Chow now back on Twitter


   For those of us who have missed the HowChow blog I have good news.  They are back on Twitter.  Like them at  https://twitter.com/HowChowBlog?refsrc=email

#hocoblogs

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Tomato Palace is closing

  One of my favorite outdoor dining options will soon be closing.



The Tomato Place had a nice location near the Lake and summer evenings were a great place to take out of town guests.  Moving over to the stage for some music or a movie made for a nice way to show off what Columbia had to offer.  Unfortunately it will be closing to allow Clyde's to open a music and dining venue.



No more take out pizza from their brick oven



Or the chicken rigatoni



#hocoblogs

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Longest Table


      Last week I had a chance to participate in an event that is so Howard County.  The event was called "The Longest Table" and it brought together Howard County residents from all walks of life to discuss how living in Howard County has impacted us and how we want Howard County to improve moving forward.


    Interestingly the people near me were asked what we missed in Columbia or Howard County and the one thing that got the most vigorous response was the Visitors Center that many of us remember as the place we learned about what made Columbia special.  It gave us a common vision for the community we were moving to.
     This event was co sponsored by Howard County Library, United Way of Howard County, the Columbia 50th Birthday Celebration, #OneHowardand the Howard County Community College .  I hope that events like this will continue.

#hocoblogs

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens


    This week I once again took the Anacostia Bike Trail down from College Park to Bladensburg.  Just past Bladensburg is the sign for the dirt trail that leads a third of a mile to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  The water lilies are in full bloom now.








    The trail is easily accessed in the parking lot near Lake Artemesia in College Park.  Here is a link to the parking lot for the trail.   https://www.google.com/maps/place//@38.993154,-76.9208288,170m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x89b7c6ad95f76fdf:0x2b9e880bc48532d1!2sLake+Artemesia!3b1!8m2!3d38.9876488!4d-76.9220875!3m4!1s0x0:0xa559604fd0995b3a!8m2!3d38.9933!4d-76.9205967

    Down from College Park to the Aquatic Gardens and back is about a 16 mile ride.  Here is a map showing the trail.  The Aquatic Gardens is at the bottom of the picture.


Friday, June 30, 2017

3 fixes to Obamacare that the Republicans will never consider

      I know that this is the second time this week I have blogged on the Republican efforts to change Obamacare.  I use the word "change" because I don't see how their plans improve the program in covering more people with health insurance.  So here are the 3 Democrat ideas on improvement that we would be considering if not for the electoral college this past November.
    1) Develop a public option plan along the lines of a Medicare for all plan.  The federal government could use its collective negotiating power to lower healthcare costs the way it does presently for older people in Medicare.   I know critics will say that the Medicare program is going bankrupt but Obamacare added years to the solvency of Medicare.  When Republicans talk about adding competition to the healthcare market they never offer this choice which will have the best chance of bringing real competition to the market.
    2) Coming up with a constitutional way to get all states to expand Medicaid to more low income persons.  The private market place will never be a good place for persons on very limited incomes.
    3) Mandate that everyone purchase health care insurance and provide healthy subsidies to make health insurance affordable for everyone.  The only way the health care pools will ever control costs is for everyone, young and old, healthy and sick, to be included in the pool.  Now the pools tilt too much in the direction of the old and sick.
      Finally, the escalating costs of Obamacare insurance is related to lack of competition (see number 1 and 2 above) and having health care pools bringing in more young and healthy persons (see number 3 above).  Of course the real solution to providing health care is a single payer system and not just reforming Obamacare.  Bernie had it right.

P.S.
     I tried to make the political arguments for not reducing the number of Americans who have health insurance.  What really bothers me is that so many Americans have bought into a political agenda pushed by Trump and conservative Republicans that shows a lack of concern about the well being of other Americans.  How can you in good conscious deny the care that so many others may need because you have values that place more value on tax breaks for millionaires than care for children born in low income families?  By supporting Trump and his values you are as morally impaired as he is and should recognize your lack of a social conscious.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New possible expansion in Downtown Columbia will transform our town

     While many areas of our State and Country are struggling with growth Columbia seems to be moving ahead with expansion and revitalization of our town.  We are all familiar with the new buildings going up in Town Center.


      New MedStar Health building


Little Patuxent Square building

       Over the next couple of years the Crescent development will bring many new buildings to the Symphony Woods area.  Scott Kramer took these photos from the County helicopter that gives an aerial view of the progress on the Crescent development.




     Here is a conceptual drawing of the completed Crescent Development.



     Dr. Chao Wu, a CA Board member posted information provided to the Board on possible expansion of the dock area of Lake Kittamaqundi.  This was provided by Groundswell Design Group.  This are just recommendations for the Board to consider.




      Over the next 5-10 years many of the areas of Town Center that we have known will be replaced by new high rise development.  The American Cities building, the Copeland Restaurant site and Sterrett Place buildings will be replaced with new high rise buildings.  Ground parking in the area will be replaced with parking garages.  Recently Howard Hughes Corporation has put out information about possible changes.  Not since Jim Rouse made his presentation on the original Columbia plans have plans for development of our area been so significant.



       The drawing above is just one of the concept drawings presented.



    Plans for 100,000 square feet of new office space, 500 new residential units and 50,000 square feet of new shops and restaurants will dramatically change the look of  downtown Columbia.  To read the entire report click here.

#hocoblogs

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The real winners and losers in the Republican "health care" plan

   

     It is easy to see the winners in the Senate Republican health care legislation.   Those couples making more than $250,000 or a single person making more than $200,000 will have a repeal of the 0.9% additional Medicare tax and 3.8% tax on investment income put in place with Obamacare legislation.   For someone with a million dollars in investment income that would be an additional $38,000 in taxes.   These taxes are to pay for the dollars to fund the subsidies given to lower and moderate income persons purchasing health care through the exchanges.
     While there are a variety of losers with the Republican health care bills there is one group that will probably be the biggest losers.    The Republican plan would have the amount spent on Medicaid over the next ten years at the amount spent in 2016.  Obamacare would have the amount spent growing by a little over 200 billion dollars in the ten years.    Before Obamacare Medicaid paid for medical care for elderly poor (mainly in nursing home care), the disabled, pregnant women and children.  Obamacare through expanded eligibility gave Medicaid to those making 138% the federal poverty level or $21,000 for a single person, $28,000 for a couple or $42,000 for a family of four.   Most of this expansion went to what we would call "the working poor."    Someone making minimum wage would make $15,000 a year and someone making $10 an hour would make $20,000.   With the Republican plan of no growth in Medicaid funding this group of working poor is where the cuts would be most dramatic.  The groups funded by Medicaid before the Obamacare will continue to have priority on the Medicaid dollars and it will be the working poor that will be most impacted by the reduction in funding.
       So there you have it.   People making over $250,000 get a tax break and the working poor lose their Medicaid coverage.  Sure these working poor can buy insurance in the health care pools but they will probably only afford the lowest level of coverage which has a $6,000 deductible every year.   This deductible will mean that most will go without any health insurance coverage.   Hospitals are against the legislation because they know that these working poor will be back using the emergency rooms for routine care that will be uncompensated care.

P.S.
     Amazingly Trumps promises during the campaign seem to have fallen flat.  Here are some examples:
       1) You will get so tired of winning you will say stop I can't take anymore winning.   Here is his "winning" record.
        2)  If you elected Hillary Clinton you will have one investigation after another.  Now who should you have voted for if you were afraid of having a president under investigation?
        3)  What type of health care program does Trump want?  What plan does he deliver?  Obamacare still around over 100 days into the Trump Administration
        4) Trump accused Hillary Clinton of having too many Wall Street ties.
         5) Trump on destroying ISIS.  Has ISSI been destroyed yet?  Just like Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War that lasted longer than his presidency.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Columbia turns 50 today






     50 years ago today the first residents of Columbia moved in.  While we have many examples of beautiful buildings and amenities in Columbia the fact that Jim Rouse gave us a great deal of natural beauty is what still defines Columbia at 50.

P.S.
      As a 40 year resident of Columbia I can only image how the next 50 years will play out in Columbia but my hope is that our community will retain its unique qualities that adhere to the principles that Jim Rouse espoused so well at our founding.   It is a legacy worth passing on to our children and grandchildren.

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Why Obamacare is not working well

 

    Contrary to what Republican opponents of the Affordable Health Care Act want you to believe the program is working well in areas that have multiple insurers offering insurance.    So why is there a problem in other areas?  Two factors are significant in the program not working.  First, states that didn't expanded Medicaid eligibility have less success offering affordable insurance.  Those people eligible for expanded Medicaid tend to be less healthy and putting them in the market pools raises the costs of those pools.  States that expanded Medicaid mostly have more affordable private market pools.   Second, the lack of a mandate to purchase insurance has kept younger, healthier people out of the private market pools.  These young people are likely to purchase insurance only after they have an illness.  It is like being able to buy home insurance after you had a fire.  Think about how healthy the home insurance market would be if you could buy the insurance after you needed it.
      What will come out of the Republican controlled Congress soon will not address either of these issues because their intent is not to fix the issues with the program but to propose ways that will further weaken the program so that they can kill the program and return us to the old situation of having millions uninsured.   Their talk of improving the program is just a cruel smokescreen for their real intent.  It seems that the United States will continue to be the only major Western democracy that doesn't view healthcare as a right.  I guess we have to take "comfort" in the fact that our budget priorities still give us the military capacity to "bomb the *hit" out of our perceived enemies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"The Keepers" on Netflix is riveting in its story of sexual abuse by priests

    

    Whenever I hear someone talk about the "good old days" as a simpler, gentler time I can't help but think of the many bad things that were a reality in those "good old days."   Sexism, racism and physical punishment were acceptable facts of daily life.  I was reminded of this recently watching the Netflix show "The Keepers" about sexual abuse by two priests in Baltimore in the not too distant past.  The series centers around the murder of a nun who was ready to blow the whistle on the abuse. The fact that one of the priest was responsible for an Elkridge church makes the show even more relevant.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The heART of Columbia exhibit has opened

   The heART of Columbia exhibit opens on Saturday, June 10 at The Rouse Company Foundation Gallery at Howard Community College. The opening reception is Sunday, June 18 from 4 to 6pm. It is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10am to 9:30pm daily.

Columbia Archives, in collaboration with Howard Community College, has gathered artifacts, photographs, documents and ephemera from a number of arts organizations and the Archives collection. Collectively, they tell the story of the importance of the arts to building the Columbia community. 

The exhibit begins with the commitment of The Rouse Company to providing a music venue and public art and how that continues to evolve, and it then highlights the growth of organizations such as the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, Columbia Center of Theatrical Arts, Toby's Dinner Theatre, Columbia Orchestra, the African American Museum of Art, and the Faithful Quilters who created a Columbia quilt that Jim Rouse bought and was part of his personal collection.  

Jim Rouse believed in bringing art to the community and providing a platform for artists. The story of Merriweather Post Pavilion, public art, and the cultivation of arts organizations speaks to the achievement of Rouse's belief.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Highlight of the 50th Birthday Celebration starting this Friday: The Architects of Air

From the 50th Columbia Birthday Celebration Committee:

Architects of Air: Katena Luminarium
June 16, 17 & 18 | On The Columbia Lakefront Presented in Partnership with Columbia’s 50th Birthday






     The highlight of this year’s Free Opening Weekend will be the Architects of Air: Katena Luminarium, presented in partnership with Columbia’s 50th Birthday. Katena is a soaring structure that has been seen across the globe and is now coming to Columbia. A luminarium is an inflatable multi-room lighted sculpture that people enter for an encounter with the phenomenon of light. Those who enter the structure experience a spectacular and surreal world, touring visually stunning interiors. The installation awakens all the senses, creating a sense of wonder and enchantment for all ages. Visitors are transported and immersed in an amazing world of architectural beauty with subtle and saturated hues, creating a unique visual arts sensory experience, in ways you wouldn’t expect.

   The inflatable walk-in sculpture from the United Kingdom will be free and open to all, June 16-18, 2017. It is part of this summer’s Columbia Festival of the Arts free weekend Your Summer Starts Here! and Columbia’s 50th Birthday Celebration at the Columbia Town Center Lakefront . The three-day event includes live music, kids’ entertainment and crafts, a fine arts and craft sale, festival food fare, a beer garden, wine tastings, and a variety of activities for all ages.

    How to Enter
Katena is free of charge to enter and is accessible to wheelchair users and individuals with mobility difficulties. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (maximum 4 children per adult). There may be a short wait time before entrance is possible. There is no time restriction on how long you stay inside Katena, though we suggest 20 minutes as the maximum time, allowing other visitors to enter the luminarium. For the safety of the structure, guests are required to remove their shoes to enter Katena (with rare exceptions for medical reasons). For more information on the luminarium, visit architects-of-air.com

Hours of Operation:
Friday, June 16, 5pm-10:10pm
Saturday, June 17, Noon-10:10pm
Sunday, June 18, Noon-6:40pm

Parking and Shuttle Service
Free parking (including Handicap Parking) is available nearby at the Wincopin Circle and Sheraton parking garages. Visitors can also park at the Sterrett Place lot located at 5575 Sterrett Place.

Take the Shuttle to the Festival!
On Saturday, June 17, and Sunday, June 18, departing every 15 minutes, FREE shuttle service is being provided by Howard Transit between parking lots B and C at Howard Community College (located at 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway Columbia, Maryland 21044) and the Downtown Columbia Lakefront. For details visit columbiafestival.org

LakeFest Shuttle Schedule:

Saturday, June 17
Departures from Howard Community College: starting at 11:45 am; last departure at 11:00 pm.
Departures from Columbia LakeFront, Wincopin Circle: starting at 12:15 pm; last departure at 11:30 pm.

Sunday, June 18
Departures from Howard Community College: starting at 11:45 am; last departure at 7:00 pm.
Departures from Columbia LakeFront, Wincopin Circle: starting at 12:15 pm; last departure at 7:30 pm.

View this video to discover the experience of walking through an Architects of Air Luminarium

P.S. 1
     Video showing the exhibit going up.



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