POTUS* Irked by Fake News During Recess

WASHINGTON, April 10. Some of the purported news stories being sent out of Washington by enterprising correspondents during the dull days of the congressional recess are not setting well with the White House. At one time or another [the President] has figured, every member of his cabinet has been duly written up as having resigned or being on the verge of presenting his resignation, only a few of which have panned out. As late as today it was necessary for the White House to deny persistently published stories that Secretary Weeks resignation was in the hands of [the President].

Although the White House has refrained from comment, another story which has brought [a number of] inquiries and which was found to be unfounded, was to the effect that the President had confined his expenditures for Easter to a $65 suit of clothes. As a matter of fact [the President] is well stocked with clothing and it was unnecessary for him to buy anything.

*Well now that you have read what purports to be a current issue, be advised that it is not from 2017. The year was 1925. The President was Calvin Coolidge. Seems that history repeats itself.

Source: Daily Illini, April 11, 1925.  Coolidge Irked by Fake News During Recess

 

A Courthouse Site Committee is Needed to Consider Other Locations for the New Courthouse

 The County Executive has proposed that the new courthouse be located on county-owned property on Bendix Road. The proposal combines the need for a new building, cost, public-private partnership, and location into one discussion. These are four separate issues and must be considered as such by the Council. Having reviewed the reports of consultants received pursuant to a public information act request and presentations to the Council, it is evident that the County has made no attempt to study where a courthouse should be located as perhaps the most important civic building in Howard County.

The “Draft Final Report, February 16, 2015 Capital Project C-0290” only analyzes two sites in additional to the current courthouse location: Martha Bush and Dorsey or Bendix Road. In regard to Dorsey the study states “The Dorsey Building site is a recent addition to the study and has not received the level of investigation of the other two sites.” The only other site considered was the Normandy Shopping Center site as the result of unsolicited proposal to the County. Thus, it is evident that the County failed to give any thought to where the courthouse could best be located to not only serve the legal needs of the County but could also be a catalyst for economic development or as a multi-use destination.

The Dorsey or Bendix location is a poor location for a courthouse. For a County that prides itself on multi-use developments and walkability, the Bendix site is sorely lacking in such vision. Other states have published guidelines regarding the construction of new courthouses. The Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines state:

“The effects of elements such as location, circulation, and security are hard to quantify. Yet the successful integration of these elements into the building will be apparent to, and appreciated by, all users of the facility, while failure to do so will quickly be apparent.”
 The State of Michigan has recognized that the architecture of the courthouse should recognize that the building is both a “temple of justice” and a “legal emporium.”

The Bendix site was picked because it is owned by the County, not because it is a good location. It is not in Ellioctt City. It is not near other government buildings. It is not near the Detention Center.

While the County Executive is concerned with cost, the proposal fails to consider the costs in transportation and security in moving the prisoners to and from the courthouse. No consideration was made to building a courthouse closer to the Detention Center. This is first factor discussed in the Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines:

“It is desirable that it be in proximity to the main business district and any cluster of professional offices, particularly attorneys, and near other government offices with which the court intersects. While it is not essential that the courts be located near the jail, it is often desirable. Those courts that have direct access from the jail to the court experience fewer problems and reduced expense for transportation of prisoners.”

Besides cost, the Virginia Guidelines list the other criteria that usually need to be considered:

  •  Ease of public access
  • Availability of public transportation and parking
  • Proximity to other government buildings and programs
  • Relationship to other services such as restaurants, office supplies, libraries, copy centers and attorney offices
  • Relationship to civic center
  • Impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods
  • Prominence of site
  • Expansion potential
  • Site amenities
  • Physical constraints of the site
  • Site use restrictions

In 2016, in considering 27 sites in 7 municipalities, the York County, Maine Courthouse Site Selection Commission had similar selection criteria including:

  • Accessibility to major roads
  • Proximity to geographic center of County
  • Proximity to population center of the County
  • Clear access to courthouse from public roads and parking
  • Impression of site for courthouse
  • Security risks (The site should be open and free of places for intruders to hide.)

The P3 proposal has failed to consider the benefits of locating the courthouse close to the jail. Sites that should be considered include the undeveloped parcel along Route 175 in Columbia Gateway. Development in Gateway would have the available office space for attorneys and other court support companies and would yield synergies with the County Executive’s recently announced plans for Gateway redevelopment.

Placing the courthouse along Route 1 could be a catalyst for redevelopment of that area. The P3 partners could choose to build additional office buildings. TIF financing might also be appropriate. Building it on the State owned parcels next to the Detention Center would minimize costs of prisoner transport.

The proposal to swap the Bendix site for the HCPPS land bank site on Marriottsville Road is discussed here.

The Michigan Planning and Design Guide state that a courthouse should reflect the separate and constitutionally independent status of the judiciary as a separate and equal branch of government. Furthermore, “the temptation to cheapen the significance of the courthouse by treating the courts as just another “county department” needs to be avoided.” The Michigan Courthouse, A Planning and Design Guide for Trial Court Facilities, page 2-9. It is unclear if the price in the P3 resolution accounts for these designs.

As Robert A. Peck Commissioner of Public Building Service, GSA testified to Congress on the design excellence program for federal courthouses that the designs have “lasting quality and dignity” and that “court facilities that we are building are appropriate to the seriousness of judicial proceedings that take place therein.”  Quoting Justice Steven Breyer, Peck said “‘Both in function and design, these buildings will embody and will reflect principles that tell the public who uses, or sees, them something about themselves, their government, and their nation.'”

These principles were also recently reached by members of the Moore County, North Carolina Courthouse Facilities Advisory Committee. They commented that it was important “how the building will look” and “that people should still know that is a courthouse.” (“Courthouse Committee Begins Work,” thepilot.com, David Sinclair, Managing Editor, Jan. 31, 2017). Similarly, a judge on the York County Site Selection Commission also stated that “a courthouse needs to highly accessible and visible to the community.” Judge Moskowitz, York County Courthouse Site Selection Commission, Meeting Minutes for Nov. 4, 2016.

For a County that prides itself on public input and temporary advisory committees from the Ellicott City recovery to the HCPSS Budget Review, the lack of discussion about the location for the new courthouse is profoundly disappointing. The Spending Affordability Committee stated at the Council’s February monthly meeting that they did not consider location and that this was not their charge. In fact, the chair admitted that he is unaware of who selected the sites consider by the Committee and P3 consultant. In fact, it appears that there was actually little thought of alternative sites by Public Works.

The Virginia Guidelines state:

“Public hearings on site selection, with publication of advance notice of the hearings, is advisable in order to obtain the views of various interest groups and to obviate subsequent opposition on the ground that conflicting interests were not taken into consideration in the site selection process” (page 6-2).

In addition the guidelines state that:

“deliberations should involve considerations for the public, business and professional communities and other government activities. Careful study of the past and projected growth of the locality and its demographics could prove useful in designating the best available site” (page 6-2).

Howard County has failed to follow the Virginia’s suggestions and involve the community in the site selection process. Other communities including Moore County, North Carolina and York County, Maine have recognized the need and established courthouse site committees. Therefore, I urge the County Council to establish a courthouse site review committee to consider the costs and benefits of other appropriate sites for the new courthouse throughout the County.

New Courthouse Alternative: Swap HoCo Bendix Road Site for HCPSS Marriottsville Road Site

The Howard County Executive has submitted a proposal to the Council to construct a new courthouse on the site of the Dorsey Building on Bendix Road. This site is a very poor choice of the location for a civic institution as important as a courthouse. However, the factors that make it a poor location for a courthouse, make it a good location for a middle school.

There are a number of benefits to be achieved by swapping the Bendix Road site owned by Howard County with the Marriottsville Road Land Bank site being held by the HCPSS for a new middle school. The Marriottsville Road could be used to construct the new courthouse. However, because this location is not ideal for a courthouse, the property could be sold to finance the purchase of other properties–perhaps closer to the County Detention Center.

Maryland does not appear to have suggested criteria for selecting a location for a courthouse; however other states and federal agencies do have  elements to be considered in site selection. The Virginia Courthouse Facility Guidelines states:

“A major consideration should be the impact that a move will have on the public and client populations. How accessible is the new location? Is public transportation available? Is there sufficient parking? Another factor to be considered is the affect that a move will have on the movement of in-custody defendants and how transportation costs will be affected.”

The Virginia Guidelines list other criteria that should be considered. Among these are prominence of the site, proximity to other public buildings, and ease of public access.

Prominence of site.  A courthouse on Bendix Road will have no prominence. The building will NOT be visible from Route 108. It is tucked away behind other buildings and treed lots.

It is this lack of prominence that helps make the site well-suited for a middle school.

Proximity of other public buildings. There are no other public buildings currently near the Dorsey Building. The long-term plans for the Bendix Road site other than the courthouse, have not been announced. On the other hand, a middle school does not need any other buildings to function.

Ease of public access. The primary access to the Bendix site is from Route 108. The secondary access is an indirect route past homes in the Columbia Hills Meadowbrook Farms neighborhood. The residents would probably not welcome traffic cutting through the neighborhood from the Meadowbrook Park along 100 to get to the courthouse. Yet, such traffic from their own neighborhood would be welcome to go to a nearby middle school.

At nearly 29 acres, the Bendix site meets the requirements of an 800-900 seat school. Located in the southeast corner of the Northern Region it meets the need expressed in the Feasibility Study to “ultimately relieve crowding in the Northern and Columbia West Regions.” The location along the Route 108 Corridor, is well-suited to serve neighborhoods currently attending Harpers Choice and Wilde Lake Middle Schools. This will free up seats to accommodate the growth in Downtown Columbia.

 
 

northern-region-middle-schools

columbia-west-region-middle-schools

columbia-east-middle-schoolsOn the other hand, the Marriottsville Road land bank site held by the HCPSS in the northeastern end of the Western Region is not adjacent to the confluence of the Northern, Northeast, Columbia West and Columbia East Regions where the major growth is occurring. The Marriottsville Road site also does not meet the requirements of Policy 6000 with its elongated and extreme shape with an approximately 100 foot wide choke point in the middle of the parcel. While the parcel is listed in the Feasibility Study as 41 acres, it is really two parcels of approximately 13 and 28 acres divided by the choke point. The site also has a hilly topography and wetland and drainage issues especially along the Marriottsville Road side.

 
marriottsville-road-land-bank
Marriottsville Road Land Bank – Frontage on Route 40

Swapping the Bendix site is not a new idea. In 2004, County Executive Robey considered a proposal to sell the Dorsey Building to help finance the construction of a new courthouse.  Constructing a middle school on Bendix Road and selling the Marriottsville Road property could be the best verdict for the HCPSS and Howard County and a new courthouse.

#WackLiesMatter

Every day our so-called President and his staff say something totally untrue.

Yesterday, he said that the murder rate is at an all-time high. It is not. It is at a near all-time low.

The White House released a list of 78 so-called terrorist attacks that they alleged did not receive media coverage–most did get wide coverage.. The list included the Pulse Nightclub, the Nice truck attack, and the San Bernardino shooting–a shooting which the so-called President used to justify his original total and complete ban of Muslims entering the United States in 2015. Also on the list are incidents that were not terrorist attacks.

When a government uses alternative facts–lies–as truth there is no possibility to have policies that meet the actual needs. Instead we will have policies to fix non-existent problems. Wack lies give wack policies.

WackLiesMatter

#HocoPolitics

Inner Arbor Money Pit – Part I: The Fleecing of Columbia

The Inner Arbor Trust was set up by the Columbia Association as a separate 501(c)(3) to raise money. Yet, for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2016, the organization raised just $3950 with total income of $2,004,058 – mostly a grant from Howard County. This is just 0.197% of the total.inner-arbor-income-2016

inner-arbor-grants-2016

Source: FY 2016 Audited Financial Statements

Yet, now Columbia Association Board Chair Andy Stack believe that the Inner Arbor needs an annual grant of $75,000 to pay for the upkeep.

This proposal being considered by the CA Board for the FY18 Budget (page 9 of 97)  It is also supported by CA Board Member and IAT Representative Lin Eagan and Board Member Brian Dunn. Dunn suggested at the January 12 Board Meeting that the $75,000 amount was too low and wanted it to be $100,000. All of this money is on top of the millions already given to the Inner Arbor by CA and Howard County. Now the IAT is also asking the State for a $250,000 grant (More about that later).

Andy Stack likens the grant to one provided to the Columbia Festival of the Arts. Stack is wrong in his comparison. The Festival of the Arts is an event program. Many of the events are free to the public and held on CA’s quasi-public open space. Conversely, the Inner Arbor has a physical structure–an income producing property–the Chrysalis.

The IAT has a contract with Merriweather Post Pavilion to use the IAT and pay for the use of the park. Stack’s proposal is flawed in other of ways. If the Columbia Festival of the Arts uses the Chrysalis and pays rent to the IAT, then the IAT will be double dipping from the CA residents–once indirectly from the grant to the Festival of the Arts and second from the direct grant to the Inner Arbor.

Tell the CA Board that the IAT does not need a maintenance subsidy for its new building when CA has a backlog of maintenance and replacement for its own buildings, pools, and open space.

Tell the Columbia Association Board to STOP the fleecing.

Sign White House Petition to Release Tax Returns

WE THE PEOPLE ASK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO TELL US WHAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS DOING ABOUT AN ISSUE:

Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.

Created by A.D. on January 20, 2017

The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

 

 

 

#HoCoPolitics