When I first attempted the "Redevelopment Discovery Project" months ago, Alan Klein noted to me that the CB-58 and 59 proponents were fighting a semantic war where they could say that NCA was for redevelopment and the Coalition for Columbia's Downtown was against it. He said that he would not allow NCA to set the parameters of the debate, and, therefore, was not interested in engaging in any further discussions within those terms. I thought it was a fair response, we met, and I ended up with a very favorable impression of Alan and his views.
Since that time, I still think Alan is a good man with good intentions, but I disagree with his policy. I don't think GGP would have been willing to have their funding held up in the manner he suggests, and I don't think it would have been an attractive investment for outside investors. I think the development of Downtown Columbia would have gone forward, but it would have been a discordant, piece-meal, big box graveyard that resembles the areas around Snowden River Parkway and Route 175. There would be little predictability in what was coming. There would be no community goals. The Council, and hence the public, would all be spectators.
That is why I don't get why Mary Kay Sigaty appears to be allowing Alan Klein to set the parameters of their debate. In just about every account I can find of last night's debate, she was on the defensive, only going on the offensive long enough to suggest that Alan's attacks were false and/or misinterpretations of the redevelopment legislation. How about this:
"First, Alan has presented no alternative plan for bringing GGP to the table and making sure these plans, which were the subject of years of deliberation, became a reality. His approach is one of conflict, stone-walling, and stubbornness, all the while giving empty recognition to the fact that Columbia needs to move forward towards redevelopment. Politics, while it might not always appear as such, is more collaboration than conflict. I don't think my opponent sees it that way.
Second, I will no longer discuss the enforceability of this legislation. The non-partisan Howard County Office of Law has thoroughly researched this issue and provided taxpayers a confident answer that this can and will be enforceable in a Court of law. Mr. Klein has yet to provide a legal argument in his belief to the contrary."
Mary Kay should then follow up by leading Alan onto her battlefield: the real work of the Council. I am sure she hit these points last night, but my understanding is that Alan has yet to have an opportunity to review a County budget. Um, really?
Alan suggests that going along with GGP's Plan for Downtown was like going along with Bush's plan to invade Iraq. I think this is just another example of empty rhetoric made to stir the masses. Meanwhile, you have not read the Budget, you missed the first televised Candidate forum, and you spent your first public appearance confirming that your one issue candidacy is focused on one issue that has already been voted on.
I guess that would make you John Kerry?