Despite the fact that this legislation seeks to create a new section under the County Code, the make-up of the Partnership will essentially be another branch of Howard Hughes. As noted by Lindsey, there will be seven members: four ex officio (Howard Hughes senior vice president John DeWolf, Mall in Columbia General Manager Katie Essing, Columbia Association President Phil Nelson and County Executive Ken Ulman) and the remaining three will be representatives of Howard Hughes until 500,000 square feet of commercial space is developed. To put that in perspective, the new Warfield property will be 76,000 square feet of commercial space. Once that benchmark is met, the three board seats will be filled by individuals who own or operate a business in Columbia, own commercial property located in Columbia, or reside in or in close proximity to Columbia. Notably, a quorum is four members. And the bill excludes this portion of the code from the Howard County Charter, which I'm not sure is even legal.
When considering this bill, I kept thinking of Larry Carson. More specifically, his quote just to the left of this post describing Howard County, a beat that he made his own: "It's a dynamic, interesting place with people not content to just sit back and let the other person do things." -- Larry Carson. I'm not interested in imputing bad motives or conspiracy theories here. I genuinely believe this was a well-intentioned negotiation that does not wear well in the light of day. But how can you create this Downtown Partnership without leaving any room for the residents of Columbia? I am baffled. This legislation holds off any community investment for at least the next five years, if not much longer. Meanwhile, the bill puts all of the hard won concessions the County fought for in the hands of those who many not be inclined to execute them. 500,000 square feet of commercial space is a deadline left to the discretion of those put in charge of the Partnership.
I understand why Howard Hughes would want control of the Partnership and don't neccessarily disagree with providing them a controlling interest. But in the six months in which the By-Laws are drafted and the years between now and 500,000 square feet, this Board will require a counter-weight more significant than the County Executive and the President of CA. As strong-willed as both of them may be, they still cannot stand in the way of being a minority vote. This Board should be expanded to 10-12 members with additional appointments by the Council. A quorum should be extended to six. If we're going to do this, let's make the Downtown Partnership a real partnership and not just an extension of interests by those who have the most to gain by staying its existence.
I'm sure I'm missing something, and the benefit of this blog is that I will hear it, but right now, this legislation has me concerned.
The Orioles are in a tail-spin after losing their fourth straight game. I hate to be so fatalistic, but this starting rotation is beginning to show its true form.
A federal judge has ruled that Ehrlich consultant Julius Henson must pay $1 million in damages related to the use of robocalls to discourage black voters from going to the polls in November
Council-member Greg Fox has proposed an amendment to the County's proposed budget that would limit the county-wide fire tax to 14.25 cents per $100 assessed, as opposed to the 17.6 cents per $100 assessed that was proposed by Ken Ulman. The current tax is 13.55 cents. I believe Mr. Fox can expect to receive a letter from Mr. Norquist any day now.
Same-sex marriage opponents collected and submitted twice the required signatures necessary to get this issue on the ballot in November, which is pending approval by the State. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that the National Organization for Marriage, an organization that proposed to dump scores of money into a primary challenger to oppose Allan Kittleman, contributed a measly $25,000 to the state-wide petition effort.
Featured Blog Post of the Day: HowChow finds another Taqueria in HoCo, this time in Ellicott City, and gives it a very good review. For those that could never get right with "gas station tacos", Tere's should give you a good idea about what you're missing.
That's all for today. A genuine thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday's discussion regarding term limits. It was very educational for me and for those considering this legislation.
Have a great Wednesday doing what you love!!