Business as usual: CA ignores residents
In a recent Sun article, "CA board votes to oppose Pendergrass bill," it's clear for everyone to see how badly Columbia continues to be governed. Once again, the majority of the members of the Columbia Association Board of Directors have stated that the interests of the corporation are more important than the interests of the people of Columbia.
FOR THE RECORD - Because of a transcription error, a sentence was incorrect in a letter written by Alex Hekimian, president of the Alliance for a Better Columbia that appeared in the Nov. 21 Howard County edition of The Sun. The sentence, in a letter about proposed legislation that would make it easier to change the Columbia Association covenants, should have read: "Last year, the Board had promised Delegate Pendergrass and other State legislators that it would conduct a year-long public involvement process on this important issue."
The Sun regrets the error.
This appalling attitude was especially evident at the Board's meeting on Nov. 11. At that meeting, the Board voted to oppose Del. Shane Pendergrass' proposed bill, which would give residents an opportunity to adjust Columbia's covenants to reflect changing conditions. I spoke on the issue during an earlier Columbia Council meeting, but the Board, without giving the general public any notice, hastily voted on this issue with no opportunity for residents to comment during the Board meeting - a clear violation of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.
Last year, the Board had promised Del. Pendergrass and other State legislators that I would conduct a year-long public involvement process on this important issue. The Board promised to hold public information forums and a special public hearing to solicit community feedback. None of that happened. Instead, the Board introduced the issue and voted on it in just one meeting, devoid of any public process.
CA has broken its promises and acted in bad faith by showing disrespect for the expectations of state legislators and callous disregard for soliciting the opinions of Columbia's residents. Despite our optimism after the results of this year's CA elections, it appears that it's still "business as usual" at CA. The corporation still rules.
We must now turn to our state legislators to help overcome an uncaring and undemocratic CA and to provide Columbia's residents some measure of control over their destiny.
The writer is president of Alliance for a Better Columbia
Losing candidate thanks supporters
Two weeks ago Howard County voters elected Mrs. Diane Mikulis and Ms. Mary Kay Sigaty to represent them on the Howard County Board of Education. I extend my congratulations to both members-elect. After having spent the better part of the past year on the campaign trail with them, I came to appreciate their dedication and knowledge of the issues. The Howard County Public School System should be well served by each of them.
I also want to express my sincere appreciation for the support of those of you who voted for me and to those of you who contributed to my campaign financially and/or through the commitment of your time and advice.
This was my first experience running for public office and while it has given me a better understanding of how to run a successful campaign, it also made me better appreciate the commitment required not only of a candidate for public office but also the commitment made by family, friends and supporters to the candidate.
While I am disappointed in the final result, I come away feeling very positive about the campaign. I am pleased with the way in which I conducted myself and the campaign. I always tried to focus on the positive and looked toward the future. I stressed finding ways to make improvements rather than dwelling on past problems.
I will be forever grateful to my supporters and I look forward to continuing to advocate for the success of all Howard County students.
Redistricting plan hurts Mount Hebron
We have come to the eleventh hour of this year's round of high school redistricting and the raid on Mount Hebron continues. "If it's not nailed down, move it" has guided the redistricting process since June. It seems that taking 705 students from Mount Hebron to fill the new school wasn't enough and now, 90 students from the community of Valley Mede face the real possibility of leaving. According to School Board Chairman Courtney Watson, "We have to get kids in the new school." And while another neighborhood in the heart of Mount Hebron looks like it is as good as gone, Ms. Watson has challenged the Board to find ways to keep the community of Fairways out of the new school altogether.
It seems ironic that the one person most responsible for bringing us the new high school is now the person struggling to populate the school. Marriott's Ridge High School may not be a $50 million dollar mistake, but it's looking like the wrong school at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Part of the problem is that too many kids living in proximity to Marriott's Ridge aren't going there. Exemptions abound and students that live in the shadow of Marriott's Ridge are being allowed to remain at River Hill, having been redistricted several times before. Meanwhile, students that walk to Mount Hebron might go to the new school while Ms. Watson seeks strategies to keep non-walkers at Centennial.