Monday, November 17, 2014

Soda "Ban", We Hardly Knew Ye (Monday LINKS)

Allan Kittleman's first act as County Executive will be to repeal the sugary drinks "ban" implemented by Ken Ulman, according to this piece by Amanda Yeager.  And as those who are paying attention know, this was never really a ban to begin with, but rather a decision by the County not to sell sugary drinks on County property.  The word "Ban" ignites just enough indignation and offense to merit coverage in the local news, while a vendor decision not to sell certain products does not.  Hence "ban" and not "decision not to sell".

Based on the fact that this came out during an interview on WBAL, I strongly doubt this was the policy decision Allan intended to kick-off his administration with.  Merits notwithstanding, the word "repeal" should probably wait a few months when following a overwhelmingly popular County Executive in Ken Ulman. 

But I don't disagree with the decision.  I personally had no problem with the County's "decision not to sell", but thought it was communicated poorly and came across as a political over-reach.  I think the more interesting aspect of this story is how the media will be covering the Kittleman administration.  We can expect any differentiation between Ulman and Kittleman to be blown up while those matters of continuity will be minimized or ignored.

Monday LINKS

Luke Broadwater with The Baltimore Sun notes that in the wake of Larry Hogan's win, state and local leaders are looking to "cut taxes and fees".  This article specifically notes Allan Kittleman's promise to "reduce or repeal" the stormwater management utility fee on the campaign trail.  I thought State Senator Ed Kasemeyer sounded like the only voice of reason in this piece, noting that it would be very difficult to start out cutting taxes with a $600 million shortfall in next year's budget.

Long-time readers know that one of my no-go areas for criticism and debate is Howard Community College due to my father's service on the Board of Trustees.  Well now he's Chair of the Board of Trustees and was quoted by Blair Ames in this article about the new Science, Engineering, and Technology Center.

The Economist provides a great analysis of the "housing first" model for addressing homelessness as implemented in Canada and other cities across the Country.  Great reading for anyone who cares about this problem and wonders why it has been so difficult to solve.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: Julia notes that some of the objections we're hearing to the Inner Arbor plan about destroying nature are actually retreads.  The idea that Symphony Woods is "perfect as is" bothers me almost as much as the suggestion that all we need is a circle path and "walkers will come".  Not counting Wine in the Woods, when was the last time you spent more than 10 minutes in the park?  Heck, when was the last time you saw someone spending more than 10 minutes in the park?  It is an under-utilized public space, which is a failure in leadership that is in the process of being remedied.

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