Wednesday, January 16, 2013

All the Marbles: Columbia and Ken Ulman (Wednesday LINKS)

One thing I'm asked fairly often is "What do you think Ken's chances are for Governor ?"

But for politics, it would be rude and petty for one man to talk about the ambitions of another (maybe it still is), but, nevertheless, I am constantly tempted into these conversations and tend to take a more optimistic view than most: "It depends on Columbia."

Ken has two significant hurdles to cover in his pursuit of the Governorship: 1) Howard County is thought of as a utopia of sorts, where the tax receipts are always overflowing and an occasional murder is cause for front page coverage in our local papers; 2) Name recognition.  In other words, when the average voter is asked about Ken Ulman, they will either say "Who's that?" or "Oh yeah, he's the Executive for Howard Cownie.  Man, must be nice."

But Ken knows this.  If Ken knows this, why is he still making an aggressive push for Governor when he could have set himself up as a front-runner for Attorney General or just about any other State seat he wanted?

Columbia.  Ken finds himself in the enviable position of being in the control booth during a transformative time for not only our County, but the entire State.  Columbia could be the next great thing.  Columbia could find itself mentioned with Baltimore, Annapolis, and Silver Spring as a center for business, recreation, and urban living.  Columbia could have the next great Maryland recreational park in Symphony Woods.  Ken Ulman could be the name associated with all of the "new big things" happening in Maryland, making his opponents look like "old Maryland politics."

The down-side is that this is somewhat obvious, prejudicing Ken's negotiating position with anyone who is deciding between a 2014 and 2015 ribbon cutting date.  "I really want you to be able to put your name on this, Ken, but I'm really concerned about being able to open this in time with all of the trouble we're having in getting through the development approval process."

The good news is - Ken hasn't blinked.  He has fought the fights that needed to be won and smoothed the paths that would otherwise cause his hometown to stumble.  He has done this without fanfare or even mention in the paper.  Whatever we wind up with in Columbia, it will be in great part to these efforts.

The real tragedy in all of this, at least if you think it is a tragedy to see hard work well done fall short, is that the timing may still be off.  Fundraising reports are due this week and AG Doug Gansler has already reported that he has raised another $1.2 million with $5.2 million in the bank.  To put this in perspective, Ken reported having $1.3 million total in last year's January report.  I expect Ken to have out-raised Gansler for 2013, but I don't know if he will have anything near the $5.2 million war chest that the AG will have on hand.  Ken will have some hard choices over the next four months.  Stay in, and bump shoulders with the next Governor, or drop out and maintain his footing for a redirected political career.

Either way, Columbia, and its good news, may come too late.

UPDATE:  I was wrong.  Ken has raised $1.1 million in 2012 and $2.1 million on hand.


Mom Mom's Obituary in The Sun.

An accused murderer is facing the death penalty for indiscriminately killing young African American males.

Sometimes I wonder if Columbia may have a few decades as the "young brother" to places like Towson and Silver Spring.  Government officials out of Towson have aspirations to make their town a "tourist destination" with a number of recreational attractions to tune up the "two stop lights and a traffic circle" that make up the County seat.

Early review on Gov. O'Malley's gun control proposals: Mikey don't like it.

A Johns Hopkins panel examining gun violence has recommended universal background checks for the purchase of firearms.  Is there a reasonable argument against this proposal?  Is there a reason why this proposal has been encumbered with more aggressive gun control measures that may stall in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.?  Is anyone really interested in moving the ball, or do they just like calling one another names?

School Superintendent Renee Foose reported to the County Council that bullying has not increased in Howard County schools in recent years, but that new technology has made bullies more pervasive in the lives of the victim.  I hope that these deliberations on addressing bullying in our schools understand and contemplate how slippery a word like "bully" can be, often interchangeable with the title "victim".  This is a dangerous pursuit.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB was at the "wall-breaking" at the Columbia Mall yesterday and notes that announcing vendors before the sign the dotted line is bad for business.  Like Whole Foods?

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