The Columbia Council Circus HOWARD COUNTY

December 16, 1992

Members of the Columbia Council deserve recognition for the entertainment they've been providing as they've labored these many months over whether the city should construct a new golf course. Chock full of so much theatrical buffoonery, the council's deliberations remind us of a B-grade circus. We all wonder with what pratfall or house-afire burlesque the show will finally end.

Having all but promised a decision last week, a weak-kneed council once again put off a final determination on the golf course, a project that has been in the works in some form or fashion for close to a decade. One is tempted to dismiss these shenanigans as absurd and inconsequential in the larger scheme. It is, after all, only a golf course being debated.

But the price tag of the project -- $5.5 million for an 18-hole TTC course, $3.8 million for nine holes -- renders it more significant than the treatment it has gotten so far. The fact is, the cost of building and operating a course, and the potential profits or losses, will be borne by residents of Columbia.

But the image coming from the council is of a body that is ineffectual and paralyzed. And no wonder.

Operating in the haze of pseudo-government, the council has no leadership culled from the city at large and no clear definition of itself as a corporate board of directors or a political entity.

Removed from any clear constituency, it floats aimlessly -- flotsam and jetsam on a sea of ineptitude. Witness the great stack of reports that have been put in front of the council offering dramatically different views on the golf course's potential profitability, its effects on the environment and its demand in the community.

The most outrageous of all these documents was one produced by the husband of Gail Bailey, a member of the council who opposes the course. Needless to say that report deserved to be deposited hastily in the nearest waste can.

Some party has the answer to all of this. Unfortunately, the Columbia Council is too busy running side shows to come to grips with this matter.

Time will tell whether this group starts taking itself seriously or continues this brand of horrible slapstick that serves to diminish Columbia's form of governance itself.

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