Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Baltimore Sun Endorsements

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 1, 2006

The article 

We may agree to disagree, but I have something to say about this.  I don’t know if it is a meaningful as the Howard County Times endorsements, but none the less.

First there is a big difference in how the endorsement process is managed by both papers.

The Howard County Times endorsements were derived during an interview with all the candidates in a particular race.  The interview panel was comprised of three members of the editorial board, who are familiar with the County and the race.  The interviews lasted for almost 2 hours in some cases.

The Sun endorsements were derived by interviewing the candidates over the telephone.  The reporter is not from the County and was reviewing a questionnaire over the telephone with the candidates.

Which interview process do you think was more comprehensive?  In my mind the local paper took a great deal of time to come to their conclusions as opposed to The Sun who couldn’t find three people (let alone one) to come to the county and sit with the candidates in a group setting by race and conduct the interviews.

One could argue that The Sun is more efficient but that would be tongue in cheek – at best.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the conclusion of each paper I think the readers need to be aware of the difference in approach.

County executive: The two-man Democratic primary for the top job is little more than a protest of County Councilman Ken Ulman’s role in a rezoning of 38 properties dubbed “Comp Lite” because it was done outside the regular once-a-decade comprehensive rezoning process.*On a broader array of issues, Mr. Ulman is clearly a better choice than retired Social Security employee Harry M. Dunbar for executive. But Mr. Ulman would be foolish to ignore the outrage of citizens who petitioned the rezoning changes to referendum but were thwarted by the courts.*

*I place the emphasis on comp-lite for two reasons.  At least the reporter knows enough about the County to understand this is an issue (I am sure she spoke with Larry Carson for background) and because she calls it out in the Council District 4 race too.  Lets see if it comes up in the General Election endorsement process.

Council District 2: Calvin Ball, an instructor at the Columbia office of the University of Phoenix who was appointed to the East Columbia seat in April, hasn’t yet made much of a mark but deserves to be the Democrats’ nominee for a full term.

In the district’s Republican primary, the standout is Gina Gabrielle Ellrich, a Columbia businesswoman who has good ideas about increasing the stock of affordable housing by revitalizing older neighborhoods.

To Hayduke’s point.  Sach’s got sacked again by his own industry.

Gina’s platform on revitalizing older neighborhoods should resonate through her district.

Council District 4:A heated Democratic contest is being waged for this West Columbia seat, now held by Mr. Ulman, between one of his proteges and a former opponent. Both are talented and knowledgeable, but the best choice for balanced government is school board member Mary Kay Sigaty, who lost to Mr. Ulman four years ago by fewer than 300 votes. A small-business owner who has been active in community discussions about redevelopment of the Columbia town center, Ms. Sigaty is a stern critic of the “Comp Lite” process because it skirted regular rezoning procedures designed to allow for maximum citizen participation.*

Ulman got slapped around again.  Not only didn’t they mention the name of the “protege” I don’t think it was necessary to bring Ken’s name into this race.  Yes, he is supporting Feldmark.  Yes, Feldmark’s wife works for Ken.  The point is Feldmark should be able to stand on his own two feet.  Tom D’Asto will certainly bring up the Ulman/Feldmark relationship repeatedly, if Feldmark makes it through the primary.  I know I will.

Council District 5: Retired county Police Chief Wayne Livesay [campaign finance report] of Sykesville should be the Republicans’ choice for the council seat representing the rural, western half of the county. His deep roots in the county and long public service background would add to the council a valuable dimension that might not otherwise be represented.

Now the article calls out comp-lite and zoning 9 separate times in explaining the endorsements.  NINE times.  The article even warns Ken Ulman to take his role in comp-lite seriously.  When it comes to Wayne Livesay he gets a complete pass.  It is contradictory to the whole premise of the article.  Either comp-lite is an issue or it isn’t.

Look at Livesay’s campaign contributions and you will note it is full of developer money.  If you have heard him speak on comp-lite he supports it.  He supports it!  In addition, he does not support the referendum.  Why is he being held to a different standard.

Based on that criteria alone (which the reporter and not me raised) Jim Adams or Greg Fox should have received that endorsement.

This is not to discount Wayne’s public service background – as mixed as it is.  I just find the endorsement process and conclusions to be disjointed.


3 Responses to “Baltimore Sun Endorsements”

  1. Hayduke said

    Actually, Wissing made the point about Sachs not getting the endorsement from his former employer. I thought about writing it, but he beat me to the punch.

    It’s hard to stay ahead of you two…

  2. Jim Adams said

    Thank you hocomd.

  3. I respect that you have paid as much attention to process in analyzing the endorsements as you have to the end results. Procedure is not fun, not “sexy” but it’s part of what separates the amateurs from the pros.

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