Katie Fry Hester increased her lead Friday morning over Gail Bates for the District 9 Senate seat. Shortly after 1:30 am, the Howard County Canvassing Board announced the results of the first canvass of absentee ballots.
Hester now leads Bates by 531 votes. The absentee canvass result was 1076 for Hester and 707 for Bates. After election night on Tuesday, Hester held a lead of 154 votes. Earlier in the day Thursday, the results of the absentee canvass in Carroll County was announced. Hester picked up 8 votes in the Carroll portion of the district with votes 116 while Bates had 108 votes. Hester now has 32,366 votes to 31,835 for Bates.
The all-day canvass began at 10 am Thursday in Columbia. A total of 4375 absentee ballots were processed. 4356 were accepted while 19 were rejected. The major time-consuming step is that emailed ballots had to be recreated by hand onto machine-readable ballots.
Voters should be reminded to remember to sign the oath and to NOT print the oath of an emailed ballot on the back of the ballot itself. Also do NOT write your name on the top the ballots apparently to differentiate which ballot belongs to the various members in a household. Also do NOT send in the ballot for the primary election. All of these ballot mistakes were rejected.
Representatives for Gail Bates challenged the decision to reject 6 ballots which had the oath printed on the back of the ballot arguing unsuccessfully that the double-sided printing was inadvertent and not done “purposefully” to place an identifying mark on the ballot.
The provisional and additional absentee canvasses will be conducted next week.
UPDATE: This post was updated to add the information on the number of ballots processed and the major reasons for rejections.
A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate statements of @realdonaldtrump that I unfortunately refer to as @POTUS. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. @GOP must clean up its act, FAST!
District Four County Council candidate Lisa Kim often makes the misleading statement in her biographies or at forums that she was elected to three terms will serving on the New Carrollton City Council. To those in Howard County used to four-year terms this would imply a total of 12 years. However the terms in New Carrollton are only for two years, and Kim served less than five.
As reported in theBaltimore Sun, Kim, who was known as Liza Fenton in New Carrollton, quit before the end of the first year of her third term. The video of her resignation speech can be seen here (13:45).
Kim also does not mention that elections for the New Carrollton City Council have very low participation–around 6 to 7 percent. Many people get more votes running for their homeowner’s association or in Columbia village elections or even losing an election in Howard County than candidates get in New Carrollton. In her first election in 2007, Kim received 258 votes. She did not run in 2009 but received four write-in votes. In 2011, Kim received 243 votes. In her final election in 2013, she also received 243 votes.
At the NAACP County Executive debate at the YMCA on October 3, County Executive Allan Kittleman continued to misstate the facts surrounding his veto of the bill implementing the Citizen Election Fund. He said that he did not believe that tax monies should be used to support candidates. He said that it should be a voluntary checkoff. He spoke directly to the audience and asked whether it was right that tax money be used to support candidates that they did not favor.
Well, Mr. County Executive these are your opinions. You would like a voluntary system to support the funding. But when you ask “the public” what they wanted, you expect a different answer than the voters gave. The voters of Howard County approved the Charter Amendment in 2016 and your view lost. The voters spoke. They voted for a tax supported fund.
The Charter is clear. Section 907(b)(1) states “Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, in each fiscal year the Executive shall include in the Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance required by Article VI of this Charter the amount necessary to fully fund the Citizens’ Election Fund System for the ensuing fiscal year, as calculated by the Commission.” There is no language for a voluntary funding mechanism. Should the Council have enacted a law for voluntary funding which falls short of the amounts determined by the Commission, the Charter mandates that it still be fully funded from tax revenues (subject to the exceptions in paragraph (c)).
The Council is specifically authorized to add funds if the County Executive fails to include the necessary amount in the budget: “Notwithstanding any provision of Article VI of this Charter to the contrary, if the Executive does not include the amount required by paragraph (1) of this subsection, the County Council may amend the Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance required by Article VI to include the required amount.” Section 907 (b)(2).
Mr. Kittleman, you are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts. You don’t like the Citizen Election Fund. The voters do. Please stop asking the public what they think. They already gave the answer.
This proposal presents a major alternative concept plan for Main Street which was seemingly not considered by Howard County in preparing the Five-Year Flood Mitigation Plan: a flood wall along lower Main Street. This proposal also preserves two of the ten buildings and the facades of up to six others, while increasing the channel capacity and lowering the water levels and velocities on Main Street.
In discussing facades, the Flood Mitigation Plan proposal dismisses the option to preserving facades; it states in one paragraph without any detail: “Another option was explored to remove the backs of buildings that spanned over the channel and were often built years after the original building. By removing the additions, the channel would not have constraints of a building blocking the flow of water to a specific height. Although this option would preserve the facades, the result showed that the water depth on lower Main Street did not decrease significantly.” There is no explanation of the details of these conclusions. What did they really envision in preserving the facades? What variables were included in reaching the conclusion that water depth did not decrease? Some have said that the County did not take into account any upstream mitigation. From the one map, this is hard to discern. However, what is clear is that the County’s proposal does, perhaps disingenuously, omit one important variable in maintaining facades–the Maryland Avenue diversion tunnel. How much water remains on Main Street when both options are combined?
The Fire Department has also expressed concerns that facades are unstable and dangerous. Yes, poorly supported facades are dangerous. But did the County consider constructing a new load-bearing wall to support the facade on the land between the channel and Main Street–perhaps only a “mini-building” with not much more than the front windows depending upon the location of the channel? The windows could be used for seasonal displays and could become a tourist attraction. Alternatively to a “mini-building” the facades could be directly affixed to a flood wall. This would be the case with the “Easton Sons” stone facade at the Bean Hollow.
Another flaw in County Executive Kittleman’s plan to remove the ten buildings is a concern, also expressed by several other people at the Historic Preservation Commission, is that the lack of structures and bridges over the Tiber leaves Maryland Avenue exposed. What will prevent the rushing water from blowing out the culvert, eroding the road, and sending water, cars, trees, and other debris cascading into the historic B&O station? The buildings and bridges over the channel are actually serving to send water onto Main Street and away from the historic railroad station.
Therefore, this proposal removes all of the additions and bridges over the Tiber channel from Caplan’s up to and including Discoveries. Great Panes/Joan Eve, Discoveries, and all but the Easton Sons facade of the Bean Hollow are demolished. It does not include the removal of the Phoenix Emporium or the historic stone part of Tea on the Tiber. The historic basements of these buildings are thus preserved. The basement would likely be lost if the Tea on the Tiber building were to be relocated.
The Phoenix has also been renovated and is open for business. It is the one building of the ten that is not substantially gutted and/or structurally comprised. From an economic view alone, demolition of the building is not warranted. It also serves as a focal point for those entering the city from the Patapsco bridge, and frames the streetscape of Maryland Avenue.
This proposal would construct a concrete and steel flood wall either behind the reconstructed buildings or serve as the rear wall itself after the portions over the Tiber channel are removed. If the wall was constructed at the channel beginning at Caplan’s, it would keep the water from flowing out onto Main Street. If the wall terminated at say the Tiber Alley bridge the water will flow out onto Main Street. From Caplan’s to this point Main Street would have lower water levels. Yet, the velocity and levels of water would probably be unacceptable where the wall terminates, so the proposal envisions the flood wall continuing to the Phoenix and then wrapping around along Tiber Alley.
The wall will be at least as high as the Phoenix to fully protect the building. A breakwater will probably be required to dissipate the forces of the rushing water and help direct the trees, cars, and other debris away from the Maryland Avenue culvert and diversion tunnel. This would form essentially a Tiber Alley detention area–perhaps 30 feet deep to the bottom of the channel. The breakwater could perhaps be used, like the County’s park plan, for passive use during low water level conditions.
A section of the wall along Main Street, in perhaps the area of the Tiber footbridge to the Phoenix, would be lower allowing an emergency escape for the water. Like the overflow hole in a bathroom sink, it would keep the detention area from overflowing. The wall and area of Main Street would be engineered to accept this minor flooding. The water levels on Main Street should be relatively low as well as the velocities.
Examples of wall waterfalls
Because this Tiber Alley basin would be filing with much of the water that formerly has escaped down Main Street, the County’s proposed Maryland Avenue diversion tunnel will also be necessary.
This proposal meets the County’s goals of reducing the depth and velocity of water on Main Street while increasing the capacity in the channel. The storage capacity on lower Main Street is dramatically increased over any other proposal. Yet in contrast to the Kittlleman Plan, it preserves two historic buildings. It also preserves the facades of six other buildings and helps to maintain an historic streetscape. In addition, it protects Maryland Avenue and the B&O Museum from flood damage. The unique flood wall might also in and of itself become a tourist attraction.
I was not aware that HoCo charges a mobile home site rental tax. In a county that has a policy to encourage affordable housing, it is really unconscionable that such a regressive tax is charged on those with the least amount of money. I read some of the written comments on the bill from those who live in a mobile home park. Their testimony is really poignant. One person wrote:
I support the CB55 Bill because my family is struggling. Not having to pay the rental tax would mean so much to us. Every year everything goes up except our income. We are barely putting food on our table. We watch TV by using rabbit ears because we can’t afford to pay for TV. We have the “pay as you go” cell phones because we can’t afford the contracted ones. We cook on an electric burner because we can’t afford gas to use our stove. We cant always see our doctor when we are sick because we can’t afford our copay. Rental tax may not seem like much, but that money could go towards food every month or copays when we need to see the doctor.
Another person wrote how they did not have any money for car repairs. It is really surprising that this awful tax has quietly existed for so long. Why did it take until 2018 for a bill for repeal to be filed?
However, I feel that the transition in CB55 will cause much confusion for a very vulnerable population. The bill repeals the tax retroactive to July 1, 2018. However, the bill also takes effect in 61 after enactment, which depending upon when the bill is passed, could be a period from the end of September to the beginning of November or December. So before the effective date, the taxes will still be due. However, some people will be saying, “no the tax is repealed from July 1, 2018.” I assume that the Department of Finance will send refunds for the taxes collected after July 1, but some clearer language and attention to a transition plan is needed to notify the owners of the parks and the renters of the mobile home sites. The tax is collected as part of the monthly rent by the mobile park licensee from the renters of the mobile home park sites. How will the tax be refunded to the renters of the mobile home park sites and not become a windfall to the mobile home park licensees?