Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ideas Are Fungible (Tuesday LINKS)

As a hobbyist blogger, I have the opportunity to sit at my computer, propose ideas, and walk away.  If the ideas get some traction, I am awesome.  If the ideas end at the corner of my keyboard (as most do), I am none the worse.

The April 3 Primary is three weeks away.  I have not yet decided who I will be voting for or whether I will post that decision here.  Readers who have been with me since 2010 know that I really do not like the endorsement game.  Makes social gatherings awk-ward.

But I will say this -- beware the temptation of voting for someone on ideas alone.  The real measure of an elected official is not in what they think, it's in what they do.  Can they get things passed?  If they can't, their ideas, and their representation of your ideas, are worthless.  If they can, you are one persuasive phone call, e-mail, or lunch meeting away from affecting positive change.  The key is that the really good ideas are almost always group-sourced.  Sure, a politician may run on a particular handy phrase or policy concern, but once they are in office, the well inevitably runs dry.  The effective legislator/executive will have the ability to tap the community network of ideas to determine where to go next.

Effectiveness and group-sourcing are why relationships are so important.  If an elected official cannot build and sustain relationships, they are wasting a spot on the dias.  Respectfully, I think we have a good example of this in Allen Dyer.  I don't doubt that his heart is in the right place or even that he is a very smart man with good ideas, but he has ruined his effectiveness.  Even if he were able to get this voting bloc that he has been pushing for, it would not result in the policy changes he wishes to see.  If anything, it would just create a new obstinacy between the Council/Exec and the Board of Education.  For those that sympathize with Mr. Dyer's concerns, your interests may be best served by someone who shares those beliefs, but has the relationships (or relational capacity) necessary to make policy.

Both our loyalties and the press are drawn to passionately held beliefs that are prosecuted in an aggressive manner.  It is exciting.  It is engrossing.  It is not real government.  Real government is a collaborative process that is rarely exciting, especially when those involved are governing well.  The act of governing does not contemplate lawsuits, because that process is anathema to collaboration.

So while I may not list all of those I plan to vote for on April 3, I can tell you that I will certainly not be voting for Allen Dyer.  It has very little do with the merit of his ideas.  It has everything to do with the simple fact that he just can't get anything done.


A federal transportation bill poised to pass the Senate would send over $100 million dollars to Maryland for bike trails and "street beautification projects."  I would support something like this if it was focused on actual connectivity and not recreation.  I'm a cyclist, but like others in the area, I often find it difficult to get from here to there without the need to traverse one or two highway interchanges that makes my wife hide my bike helmet.  As for "street beautification", I don't really think that is a measure of austerity.  On that point, I think our Country needs to figure out whether we are going to implement austerity measures or continue to half...butt this thing and make a mess in the process.  Huge cuts to CMS does not pair well with "street beautification."

The Fulton UMD student that threatened to go on a "shooting rampage" now says that he was just "stressed out" and officials have determined that he was not a danger to himself or others.  This is an unfortunate consequence of the need to be on full alert for these types of comments.  I see things on Facebook every day that make me think "Hmm, that's a tad violent," but I don't feel compelled to call the police because I know that is just in that person's nature.  We don't have the luxury of taking that attitude with strangers, particularly in today's environment of seemingly annual campus shootings.

Lindsey McPherson reports that local elected officials are lobbying newly districted Congressional Representative Dutch Ruppersberger to help them keep intermodal out of Elkridge.  Quoting Council-member Courtney Watson: The general agreement among Howard County officials, Watson said, is that the Jessup site, near Montevideo Road, and the Elkridge site, near Race Road, are the two viable options for the facility.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: This is about a week late, but I really enjoyed TJ's review of the Senate's plan to pair a pension shift with tax increases.  I think he does a good job of explaining a complex issue in a way that is digestible and (as always) entertaining.

That's all for today.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!