Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Intermodal Football (Tuesday LINKS)

You have to love the recent development in the intermodal site selection process.  After months, if not years, of "It's probably going to be Howard County, we're just trying to figure out where", Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake says "You're taking too long.  Put it in Baltimore." 

CSX, becoming used to the role of the big kid waiting to be picked for dodge ball, didn't seem to know how to respond.  "Um, thanks?  I think."  The letter did not propose a new site in Baltimore, which makes you wonder whether it actually would have sped anything up.  "Ok, let's drop everything we've worked on up until this point and go to the place where the elected leader is nice to us."  Also, you have to believe that if there was a viable site in Baltimore, it would be preferable to sites further south.  Baltimore is closer to the port and there is a great deal of pre-existing rail infrastructure that undoubtedly would be useful to making it a new hub.  All they were waiting for was a nice letter from the Mayor?

But what I really love about this development is that is shifts the paradigm of the previous debate.  Elected leaders who  may have silently preferred a HoCo landing spot for the intermodal facility are now in a very difficult position.  Speak now or forever hold your train whistle.

Lindsey McPherson has a piece this week with quotes from a number of our local elected officials about the Mayor's invitation.  I found this set of quotes from the County Executive to be particularly interesting:

Like other local officials, Ulman has raised concerns about the impact the intermodal facility would have on the community if it were to be located in Elkridge. However, he also has acknowledged the economic benefits of having the facility in the county and has touted the advantages of the Jessup site, which is surrounded mostly by industrial land.

But ultimately, Ulman said his goal is finding a site that will allow the Port of Baltimore to continue to be a leading transportation hub and major economic engine in the state.

"If that's in Howard County, we'll work through the process," Ulman said. "If that's in a neighboring jurisdiction ... I will support that as well."

Reminds me of a high school romance.  "If you like me, that's cool, we can go out sometime.  But if not, well that's cool too.  No big deal."  The Executive has a very thin line to walk on this matter, especially in light of his clear interest in state-wide office.  Another post from the Columbia 2.0 blog made me think that this issue may have an even more interesting dynamic (that's impossible!):

If Mayor Rawlings-Blake can speed up the process, make the port more immediately competitive and put an old industrial site back to work in this economy, people all around Maryland will see this no nonsense, impatient-for-results leadership as exactly the kind of character that port union Democrats, chamber of commerce Republicans and practical Independent voters want in an elected official- whether a local or a statewide candidate.

CSX is an opportunity for state-wide leadership by local officials on, yet another, matter that our dear Governor has decided to sit out.  Could this possibly be an indication that we may have a fifth presumptive candidate for Governor?  Even worse, did she just dare Ken Ulman to a game of chicken?


Meanwhile, Mayor SRB can turn her gaze back to the disaster that is the Grand Prix.  Indy Car is now seeking a third leadership team to organize and execute the race that is planned for Labor Day.  If you're planning to fly anywhere on Labor Day, you would be advised to buy tickets soon, much less plan a city-wide race.  But hey, those cars sure are fast. 


100 Secret Service agents will be required to take an ethics course in Laurel subsequent to the prostitution scandal in Colombia.  Hmm, how do I write this without ticking people off

A recent study by the University of Maryland has indicated that the perception that methadone clinics attract crime is false.  Facts tend not to get in the way of NIMBY sentiment, but I think this is a good study that will (hopefully) allow elected officials to make the right decision, and not just one based on fear.

The new Milton Inn in my hometown of Highland is targeted to open in July.  I loved the description of the "sleepy crossroads of Route 108 and Highland Road."  Made me all nostalgic like.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB declares victory on the Wegman's front (literally "We won") and calls the book closed.  In the college town that my wife and I met, we had a Wegman's.  Both of us are excited about the new locale for groceries, but we'll probably wait a few weeks for you newbies to exhaust your excitement first.

That's all for today.  Very light on the news front.  Have a great Tuesday doing what you love!