Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Stupid Is As Stupid Does (UPDATED)

Posted by David Keelan on Friday, November 17, 2006

As Forrest Gump used to say. 

Anyone read the Baltimore Sun this morning?  Hmmm.  I will have more to say about this when I have time to write.

Can anyone tell that Brian Harlin is the “outgoing” chairman of the GOP.  Is anyone reminded of Howard Dean’s quote when he was seeking to be chairman of the DNC?:

“I hate Republicans and everything they stand for,”

Knowing Brian I just see this as a clumsy choice of words in trying to express the frustration of the Howard County GOP.


Can we or should we expect higher taxes at all levels of Government?  I don’t know.  I have an uneasy feeling about it and it remains to be seen.  Brian Harlin, Allan Kittleman, and Warren Miller seem to expect that to be the case and are predicting buyers remorse in four years.

Perhaps the Democratic politicians will exercise some prudence and wait to see how things settle down.  In order to ensure a second term for themselves they may take a similiar tack as Jim Robey and wait.

As to a referendum on Ehrlich – I don’t think so.  In most any other State he would have been relected just on the strength of turning the State budget around – not fired.

As to Ken Ulman “brilliance” – the jury is out.

I know that much disagreement exists as to how much influence the national mood toward the Republican Congress had on the local elections.  I believe that had more to do with the results than anything.  As Jim Walsh pointed out.  How do you explain that Kay Hartleb almost got booted?  Marge Rappaport has consistently been the largest vote getter in the County for years and she even had a tough showing.

The best thing for the Howard County GOP was the removal of the GOP from control of Congress.

For me it comes down to this.  The Democratic Party is firmly in control of Government for all of Howard County (Congress, Governor, General Assembly, County Executive, County Council).  The next election in four years will be a referendum on their stewardship.


19 Responses to “Stupid Is As Stupid Does (UPDATED)”

  1. wordbones said

    Saying that he didn’t realize “”Howard County residents were that stupid” indicates that perhaps he is one of the reasons the party did so poorly. Comments and attitudes like that do not help your cause.

    On the other hand, I guess he just figures that we are also too stupid to read the paper.

  2. Brian’s quote was probably ill-advised, but I found this line from the article explaining why Democrats won to be a little humorous:

    “That’s a quintessential sour grapes response,” said Derek Walker, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party. “The election was a referendum on [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich and [Lt. Gov. Michael S.] Steele’s failed record, which includes raising a lot of taxes.

    Uhhh…isn’t that exactly what Ulman and Robey did to the residents of Howard County?

  3. This is a “present company excluded” moment. Granted, to be quoted in the paper making the “voters are stupid” comment is a spectacularly imprudent move — I agree the evidence is pretty clear that an awful lot of button pushers – i mean voters – don’t have the sense god gave squirrels (present company exculded).
    How many people have you heard quote some outrageous campaign commercial as a basis for their support? How many confess to having no idea about the ballot questions, or the judges, or the BOE, but voted for someone anyway?
    I may not use the same criteria as Brian to worry about the collective intellect of the electorate — but he is not completely wrong.

  4. Ed C said


    #1) On the other hand, I guess he just figures that we are also too stupid to read the paper.

    Do you mean the same paper(s) the endorsed Chris Merdon, Gina Ellrich and Donna Thewes?

  5. wordbones said

    Ed C,

    I have a pretty enlightened view of newspaper endorsements. I once ran for an elected office and was elated to get the endorsement of the local paper.

    I finished third out of three candidates.

  6. hocoterp said

    I don’t think Ho Co voters are dumb, they just aren’t all as smart as some people hope. We think and/or hope that b/c we live in one of the wealthiest counties with one of the best education systems in America, that naturally Ho Co voters will be well versed in the campaign issues and capable of judging what is “disingenous” or “election year rhetoric” (to steal two oft-quoted phrases). We tell ourselves that it’s the people who live elsewhere that fall for cheesy campaign commercials and negative mailers.
    Well, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that we have a little from Column A and a little from Column B. If there is a surprise, and a lot of people seem surprised, it’s that there were fewer informed voters than expected. I was electioneering at a poll where I happened to know one of the voters. We had a short conversation before she went in to vote and she told me she had no idea who she was voting for for almost every office. A poll workers dream in a sense, but it’s a sad example of people being uninformed when they go to vote.

    It raises an interesting question though: are we better off with an uninformed person going into the polls and deciding who to vote for as the names come up on the screen, or are we better if they just stay at home?

  7. Jen said

    Maybe the choice isn’t to have an uninformed voter or a voter that stays home.

    Maybe the choice is to figure out how to better educate the voter.

    Maybe the massive amounts of money raised and spent on slick commercials and mailers create an uninformed populace.

    Maybe we should limit funds and promote televised forums and debates.

    Maybe we should encourage people to vote for the candidates they know and leave the other buttons alone.

    Maybe we should encourage public discourse at Council and zoning hearings so that citizens can hear the thoughts of the elected and judge them on real stuff- instead of on the formulaic speeches they rely on when it’s time to vote.

    We sure do put a lot of money into packaging and marketing… but the product inside the box is often disappointing.

  8. Nanners said

    Well I wish more people watched channel 70 & went to forums and read the paper. If the majority of voters would have done that then they would have voted for Merdon. THe choices were clear, Sigaty and Merdon. I am relatively new to the county and I realized I shouldn’t just vote party lines anymore so I did all of those things. Too bad the majority of Ho Co voters don’t look into things further.

  9. Rebecca J. said

    As Dave says, the Democrats are firmly in control for now in Howard County. Although I was not an Ulman supporter, I am nevertheless pleased to say that Ken has released a detailed vision for Downtown that is closely aligned with those of the Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown ( Mr. Ulman, along with County Council-elects Jen Terrasa, Mary Kay Sigaty, and Courtney Watson, have also signed on as supporters of CCD. This is good news for Howard County.

    Rebecca Johnson
    Member, Democratic Party
    Member, Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown
    writing as an individual


    Ken’s remarks at his Nov. 3 press conference:

    I don’t know how long Ken’s campaign website will be up now that the election is over. In case it comes down, here are his Nov. 3 remarks describing his vision for Downtown Columbia:

    Three years ago, I led the fight to block the Rouse Company’s request for additional density in Downtown Columbia and to Save Merriweather Post Pavilion. Now, I am asking for the opportunity to finish the job by seeing Town Center become the world’s model for green development, sustainability, and positive community planning.

    We know that Jim Rouse wanted a vibrant, wonderful, town center, filled with cultural amenities and people of all backgrounds enjoying them. As County Executive, that is exactly what I will deliver. Columbia’s Town Center will truly become the “garden for growing people” that Rouse envisioned.

    I was proud to initiate the charrette process, the first time the County reached out to citizens to shape the vision for the future of our community.

    There were concerns coming out of the charrette that the County would rush into adopting a new master plan without adequately addressing the details. I shared those concerns and advocated to slow the process down to take the time to look at those details carefully and incorporate more community input. I called for a delay before the Department of Planning and Zoning would submit any plan to the Planning Board and asked the department to continue to work with citizens and continue the public process.

    Over the past year since the end of the charrette, I have been relatively quiet about my own personal vision for downtown Columbia. Other than advocating for an open planning process, I have intentionally refrained from suggesting my own vision, because I felt strongly that the plan for downtown Columbia should reflect the people’s vision, rather than mine or any other elected official’s. The whole point of the charrette process was to create a community-driven plan; I did not want to dictate my plan, so I felt I needed to sit back and let the community drive.

    The community stepped-up to that opportunity with enthusiasm and commitment, bringing thoughtful and creative suggestions to the table as well as critical insight to examine all ideas proposed.

    Over the course of the past year, I believe the voice of the community has been clear; and while all residents certainly do not agree on all points, I think there has been considerable movement toward an emerging consensus on the community’s vision. Unfortunately, however, the Department of Planning and Zoning – despite hosting the forum in which the community has been voicing its vision – has not heard the message, or has simply chosen not to listen.

    I am disappointed in many ways in the direction DPZ has taken this process and the resulting level of distrust among community members. We must change the direction of the process before it reverts to an adversarial process in which the community and DPZ are unable to engage productively.

    As County Executive, I will put this planning process back on track as originally intended, and my administration will work with the community to shape their vision into a plan. I believe there is still much work to do before we reach a final master plan for downtown, but I believe that working together we will create a downtown that preserves Columbia’s character, honors Jim Rouse’s vision, and reflects the values on which this community was founded—values which I share and hold deeply.

    While I continue to believe this process MUST be community driven, I feel it is important to answer the calls from a large section of the community to hear specific plans and visions from elected officials. I will share with you what I see as the core features of the master plan based on my own personal vision and what I have heard from the
     Downtown Columbia will be a model for green development and sustainability. Green development will be mandated—green buildings and green infrastructure, such as porous paving, rain gardens, green roofs, onsite renewable energy, energy conservation, etc.
     I will establish a Conservation Commission to review all development plans – no plan will move forward unless the environment will be better off after the project is completed.
     Columbia was created with the goal of being a diverse community, and Jim Rouse voluntarily integrated affordable housing into his plans to ensure economic diversity. We must ensure that a full range of housing options will be part of any new development, and an affordable housing requirement will be added to New Town Zoning.
     Throughout the development process we will require that amenities such as parks, plazas, public art, pathways and other improvements be delivered at the beginning of the project, rather than at the end.
     Symphony Woods will be converted to Rouse Park in Columbia, as a shining tribute to our founder, James Rouse. I envision a park with creative features such as a “Symphony Playground” where every piece of apparatus is a musical instrument and public art featuring pieces that honor the social values of Columbia and Jim Rouse.
     Public art will be prominent throughout downtown, as a certain percentage of the total budget of any new project will be invested into public art.
     Merriweather Post Pavilion should be converted to an indoor/outdoor venue, open year round and featuring diverse cultural and family programming in addition to the shows we have come to enjoy over the years.
     I believe making downtown pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly must be a top priority in our planning process, and we must decrease dependence on cars by providing convenient and reliable mass transit. The master plan must include transportation that circulates regularly throughout the downtown area as well as a site for a hub for the County’s bus system and plans for future connections to regional transit systems.
     I want to see a downtown that is cutting-edge with innovative ideas in every area from free wi-fi to a new fire station featuring workforce housing for fire fighters and others above the station.
     Downtown Columbia must be developed at a reasonable density. The number 5,500 which is so frequently — and usually inaccurately — cited was a number the County’s consultants recommended as an estimate of the maximum number of units the market could support. When I first heard that number, I thought it was ludicrous, and I still feel that way. The traffic study confirmed what so many of us believed intuitively—that the full scope of possible development suggested by our consultants during the charrette would simply be much too much for our roads to handle. I do not know what the final number of residential units will be, but it will certainly be much closer to the 1,600 units requested three years ago.
     And finally, downtown Columbia must be developed at reasonable heights. The community’s voice has been loud and clear that a 22 story building has no place in our Town Center. As County Executive, I will introduce a height limit for New Town Zoning to prohibit any building over 14 stories.

    Under my administration, the Department of Planning and Zoning will be heading in a new direction. I believe our experience over the past year with the downtown planning process points clearly to the need for a different approach, but that need is not limited to Columbia. Throughout the County, communities must be able to work with DPZ rather than feel they must fight against it.

    I hope you share my vision, and I look forward to working with you as your next County Executive to make that vision a reality.

  10. To Rebeccca J. said

    If I wanted to read Ken Ulman’s website, I’d go to it.

    Don’t tell me you buy into his BS. Don’t expect us to either.

    Lou Ulman bought his son an election. A child of privilege wins again. Meritocracy is dead.

  11. Rebecca is no shill for Ken Ulman. She endorsed Merdon very publicly in the general election and got a lot of flak for it. What she is saying is that Ulman might actually meet the goals and objectives of her organization despite her public support for Merdon.

  12. bsflag2007 said

    People love to say someone “bought an election”. I suppose it is possible, but recent experience tells me otherwise. Janet Siddiqui used something in excess of $20,000 worth of campaign materials – can’t really say she “spent” the money since most of it was technically donated — and came in 6th (close but no cigar) — and Sandie French probably spent no more than a couple thousand dollars, including newspaper ads.

    Seems to me in the race for the money – spending it that is – Ullman and Merdon were on pretty level ground.

    But then, ideas don’t win elections either.


  13. tomberkhouse said

    Well, Ken Ulman is doing EXACTLY what I predicted he would do if elected. He’s blaming the discontent with his ill conceived charette master plan on DPZ and Marsha McLaughlin. It’s even rumored that he’s going to fire her. Typical for Ulman, and most politicians of his ilk – blame everyone and anyone around them for his incompetency and botched ideas. As a Director, Marsha has to take orders from the County Executive and the Councilmembers, so she should not be the scapegoat for Ulman’s foolishness.

    Derek Walker is sadly mistaken if he thinks the election was a referendum on Ehrlich’s and Steele’s records. If it was, then they both would have won. Ehrlich truned around the Maryland economy and the jobless rate is at historic lows. He even passed legislation to help the condition of the Bay. Contrast that with what O’Malley did (or rather did not) accomplish in Baltimore and there’s no valid reason why Ehrlich lost. He simply fell victim to the “let’s hate Bush and punish all republicans” mentality that afflicted voters this year.

    I hope the Democrats keep thinking that they won on the issues – it will be their downfall in 2 years if they do.

  14. Freemarket said

    Tom, why are you perpetuating rumors of firings before Ulman has even taken office? Is that because you are a sore loser or do you have evidence to back that claim up?

    Also, Tom, if you look at facts, the unemployment rate, was lowest under Glendening in 2000, so I am not sure how you figure that Ehrlich cut the unemployment rate to historic lows.

  15. tomberkhouse said

    Not perpetuating rumors. I have it on good sources that he’s contemplating such action. The election result ahs nothing to do with what he’s contemplating now. My comment was based on Ulman’s own words which put blame on DPZ for public discourse with zoning in general, and the charette plan in particular.

    You could be right about the unemployment rate. I was reciting what I thought was reported in the papers before the election. Maybe it was that the unemployment rate was the lowest in a certain number of years. The point is, the economy IS very healthy, due to Ehrlich.

  16. Freemarket said

    Tom, you are spreading rumors by not citing your sources or citing other evidence. I called you out on it once and you replied “I have it on good sources…”. Well who then? Furthermore, you are giving Ehrlich too much credit for the economy. There are a million economic variables that affect the Maryland unemployment rate and the Maryland economy, many of which are decided at the national level (money supply, Fed funds rates, etc.) To suggest that Ehrlich, or any other single individual, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the Maryland economy is foolhardy.

  17. Slick Kenny said

    “The men the American public admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”
    – HL Mencken

    Why did Ulman win? Someone said they voted for Ulman because he worked in the Clinton White House. I didn’t think that was true. She showed me Ken Ulman’s flier which does in fact say that Ulman was a “former staffer for President Clinton”

    Since when is being a campaign worker the same as a former staffer?

    This guy is only 32 and has very little experience. How does he compensate? Apparently by making stuff up.

    I remember when lying on a resume was a career-ending offense.

  18. Yep. Exactly.

  19. Anyone but Ulman said

    When Ulman runs for Governor, the truth about his resume will come out. It is a house of cards.

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