The last Columbia Association president was ousted in the spring in what passes in this comfortable community for a revolt: Hundreds of people spoke out in public forums, penned letters to the editor and more or less chased Deborah O. McCarty out of town.
Seven months later, Columbians are greeting the search for McCarty's successor with a collective yawn.
The eight finalists for the job are in town for interviews this weekend, and the Columbia Council appears to be on track to hire someone by the middle of next month to head the homeowners association, which many in the unincorporated town think of as their local government.
But in an informal survey of residents conducted across Columbia, these were typical comments about the search:
"It's the first I heard of it," said Bill Middlebrook, 27, a chef who lives in Hickory Ridge.
"It's not a big concern," said Nick Kyritsopoulos, 50, who owns Kings Contrivance Formal Wear and has lived in the community for 12 years.
"I haven't the foggiest," said Akil Benjamin, 26, a medical student who has lived in Columbia since he was 10.
The next president will oversee the homeowners association at a critical time in its 33-year history - as Columbia approaches build-out, faces decline and crime in some older neighborhoods and tries to bounce back from the turmoil stirred up under McCarty, who resigned under pressure in May after 20 months.
Yet residents are hardly on the edge of their seats waiting to find out who takes the helm. Twenty-one of 36 residents interviewed during the past two weeks said they were either unaware of or uninterested in the search for a new Columbia Association president.
The association provides recreational services and maintains strict housing standards for the town of 87,000. It also levies an assessment similar to a property tax.
Even some of the most avid consumers of association services - from walking paths to swimming pools - don't seem interested in who heads the organization. Among them is Nancy Goodman, 74, who moved here two years ago from Schenectady, N.Y., to be near her two young grandchildren. She quickly became enthralled by the planned community's recreational amenities.
"I never worked out before I moved here, and you should see where I'm at," says Goodman, a cancer survivor who goes to Columbia Gym four or five times a week. "All summer we go to the concerts. They have magicians and stuff. And the gym - this is just awesome."
While Goodman couldn't be a bigger fan of Columbia, she doesn't give a hoot about the next president, who will oversee the community's recreational facilities and $50 million annual budget.
"I don't even care," she said.
Iris Stevens is another resident who loves Columbia but cares little about goings-on at association headquarters.
Thirty years ago, Stevens moved from a predominantly black Baltimore neighborhood to Columbia. She sent her children to the community's integrated schools and watched with pride as they went on to college and good jobs.
But with her children grown, she no longer visits the community's recreational facilities and doesn't care who heads the association.
"I have no opinion about that at all," said Stevens, a reading teacher at West Baltimore Middle School. "I feel almost like I do about the [U.S.] presidency: I don't believe the quality of my life is going to be affected at this point of my life."
The council is trying to involve the public in the process. A residents committee will interview the top two or three candidates Jan. 6 and 7. Also that weekend, the candidates will appear at public forums, where residents can ask them questions and rate their performance on comment cards.
Whether residents will want to get involved is another matter. Some Columbia leaders sound a little nostalgic about the public interest whipped up at the end of the McCarty era.
In a letter in his village newsletter last month, Councilman Kirk Halpin of Kings Contrivance lamented that the council couldn't find the 12 volunteers it needed to serve on four committees.
"Do the hundreds of residents that turned out for public forums ... and the hundreds of residents that wrote letters to the editors lie in slumber?" he wrote. "Or have things returned to `normal' and no one feels the need to participate?"
But even in this time of relative calm in Columbia, some residents are paying close attention to the association's presidential search and have definite ideas about what sort of person should get the job.
Randy McGinnis of Oakland Mills, a University of Maryland science professor who has lived in Columbia seven years, thinks the next president should be a high-profile leader like developer James W. Rouse, who envisioned the town as a place where people of all races and income levels would live side by side.
"We need sort of an inspirational leader," he said. "Administrators ... are a dime a dozen. The community is special, and that's what we need to have kept alive."