The Silence Is Deafening
Posted by David Keelan on Saturday, November 4, 2006
Democrat, member of Harper’s Choice Village Board, and Community Activist Rebecca Johnson has issued a Letter to the Editor regarding Ken Ulman’s press conference yesterday. It is doubtful that the letter will be published at this late date so here it is for you to read.
Five days before the election – after a year of silence – Mr. Ulman has unveiled a plan for Columbia’s Downtown. We need to evaluate very carefully the chances of follow-through on this plan.
Mr. Ulman claims that he kept quiet in the many months following the Charrette because he wanted to the ultimate plan to “reflect the people’s vision, rather than mine or any other elected official’s.”
The record shows that Mr. Ulman’s silence served the opposite purpose. His silence allowed the County to put a faulty plan on the fast track for approval this past summer – approval that would of course have *closed off* community input. It was community outcry – not Mr. Ulman – that caused this plan to be brought back to the community table. Mr. Ulman’s silence would
have permitted power shovels to be digging holes even as I write.
Mr. Ulman has a documented history of saying things and then changing his mind. He is clever enough to spin his changes as “improvements.” What prevents Mr. Ulman from deciding after the election that his plan needs “improvement”?
Do we think we can hold his feet to the fire? Experience has repeatedly shown that after the votes have been cast, it can be tough to get a seat at Mr. Ulman’s table. *Now* is when voters have our most powerful leverage on elected officials.
Mr. Ulman’s opponent, Chris Merdon, has consistently stood up, against the tide, for a responsible Downtown planning process. Further, it will be much easier to hold Mr. Merdon’s feet to the fire. This is a majority Democratic county. While Mr. Ulman knows that a certain number of Democrats will vote for him by default, Mr. Merdon knows that he will always need to listen carefully to the entire community in order to maintain his base of support.
The choice we make this Tuesday make will significantly influence our ability to have a positive impact on the future of Downtown Columbia.