Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Archive for the ‘Watson’ Category

Calvin Ball for Chairman

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, December 4, 2006

The Baltimore Sun says that “Ball seems likely choice as council chairman“.

They are probably right.  However, I think Courtney Watson would make an excellent Chairman too.  If she were to pursue the position I think she could persuade Mary Kay Sigitay to support her bid.  That would leave the tie breaking vote to Greg Fox.

As the lone Republican Greg would find himself in a very enviable position.

My view of the Council is that we have three voting blocks.  Ball and Terresa, Watson and Sigitay, and Fox.  I think with the democrats split along those lines Greg Fox will have more influence than most people originally thought.

Despite the disparaging remarks directed at Greg during the primary – he has the skills to negotiate the halls of County Council.

Updated:I think Calvin Ball will be elected Chairman.  Not much doubt in my mind about that.  I hope he distinguishes himself in the role.  With Guy Guzzone off to the House of Delegates Calvin Ball might actually be able to act as his own person rather than suffer under the undue influence of Mssrs. Guzzone and Ulman. 

Since Mr. Ulman will now be occupying a suite of offices on the 3rd floor Mr. Ball might find it difficult to avoid Mr. Ulman’s patronizing. I can hear it now:

“Now, now Calvin.  After all I am the County Executive and have 4, count them 4, years of Council experience.  Besides Calvin, now I have hired my best friend to make up for my lack of executive and management experience so I will still have plenty of time to direct err help you.  What is that Calvin?  Never mind how much I am paying him.  Remember it costs a lot of money to make me look good and my opponents look bad.  Now just get the bill passed in the new council that authorizes his position.  What Calvin!  Don’t worry how much money it will cost Calvin!  This is a quality of life issue for God’s sake.  No Calvin, not MY quality of life!  Do you want to be Chairman or not?”

If Calvin Ball can not demonstrate his independence and distinguish himself then I don’t think he will be able to pull what Guy Guzzone did – three years as Chairman.  If the other council members (save one) see Calvin Ball continuing to do the bidding of Ken Ulman – he is out after 12 months.  That would be the best outcome for Calvin because it moves him out of the limelight for the next three years, and gives him time to repair his image as a lackey so he can win re-election in 2010.

In the end this could be what some people are counting on.  Let Calvin continue to exercisebad judgement.  ie: continues to propose bad legislation, challenges the recently passed senior tax cut as a surrogate for Ken Ulman, etc. and let him remove himself from relevancy.

The County Council will be sworn in this evening at Centennial High School at 7PM – maybe I will see you there.


Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County, Watson | 13 Comments »

County Council Woman Elect

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, November 9, 2006

I received this from County Council Woman Elect Courtney Watson 


As the precinct results came in last night, we knew we had a fairly close race on our hands. In the end we won 53% of the vote with a margin of 1263 votes. Mr. Salazar graciously called me this evening to concede the race.

Your Help Made The Difference

Many people supported me in this campaign and that support clearly made the difference. Whether you door knocked with me, sign waved, made a financial contribution, wrote a letter to the editor, stuffed envelopes, sent emails, worked one of many shifts at the polls, or talked to friends – your grassroots support made the difference. Thank you!

The Future

Please feel free to contact me about your concerns in the future. I look forward to hearing from you after a short break to spend time with my family.

Thank You Chris Merdon

Public service requires much personal sacrifice. I know you join me in thanking Chris Merdon for his dedication as our Councilman for the past eight years.

Thank you for your continued support.

Courtney Watson


Good show Tony. Best wishes to you and to Courtney.

Posted in County Council, Howard County, Watson | Leave a Comment »

Courtney Watson Ad (Updated)

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, November 2, 2006

Do you find it interesting that Courtney Watson put out an ad in the papers (I saw it in The View) quoting Chris Merdon:

“I’ve worked with Courtney for eight years, and can tell you that she will do a great job on the County Council.”

Why do I ask?  Merdon had to put out a statement that says he never said such a thing and didn’t authorize her to quote him in her advertising.

What do you think?


Merdon Statement

It has come to my attention that Courtney Watson placed an advertisement in The View newspaper stating that I think she would be a great County Council person.  I want to make it absolutely clear that I never said the statement and did not giver her permission to use my name or any quote in the advertisement.

I have a phone call into Courtney asking for an explanation.

Posted in County Council, Watson | 8 Comments »

Comp Lite is Illegal

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, October 9, 2006

according to Courtney Watson.

One council candidate, District 1 Democrat Courtney Watson, said the bill “was not legal” in her view, because it allowed extra parcels to be rezoned at the end of the process.

I am not supporting Courtney in the General Election but this is the first time I can recall that a candidate called comp-lite what it is.  Illegal.  My previous post on the subject is here.

Posted in County Council, Howard County, Watson | Leave a Comment »

Courtney Watson

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, October 4, 2006

  cwatson.jpg image_70.jpgUpdate10-4-06 at 2:30 PM: I really wasn’t trying to, but I seemed to strike a nerve.  A fellow blogger brought this to my attention.  The photo on the right has appeared on Courtney’s web site since I originally posted this on October 2nd.  It is photo number 70 and the newest photo on her site.  It is placed next to photo 35 (two away from Merdon) and between photo 46 and 35.  Here I was thinking no one was paying attention to me.  David Wissing thought it was worth noting.  Now I have a new question.  Why are there not photos of me?  Now, lets see if any show up ;=)

Update 10-4-06 at 7AM: I said it first.

From the Baltimore Sun

Democrat Angela Beltram, a former County Council member who led an unsuccessful effort to petition the omnibus zoning bill called Comp Lite to referendum, and Courtney Watson, a Democrat running for Merdon’s council seat in District 1, both attended Merdon’s news conference. Beltram said she probably would vote for Merdon.

Anyone have any idea why Courtney Watson is seen here (center of photo in purple) at Chris Merdon’t most recent press conference regarding his zoning initiative?  More to the point, why isn’t she going near the Ulman campaign?  Might as well ask, why wasn’t Ken Ulman at the press conference?  Tony Salazar, the GOP candidate for District One, is in the room too but he is out of camera shot – just in case you thought he was at an Ulman press confernence :=)

Jim Robey had nothing but praise for Courtney and said he would support her for any office that she decided to run for.  However, she seems conspicuously absent from the County Democrat’s main event.  Is she sending a message by being here?

Clearly Harry Dunbar was sending a message.  He attended the event and endorsed Chris Merdon for County Executive.  As expected Ken Ulman dismissed Mr. Dunbar’s endorsement as “expected” referencing that Mr. Dunbar supported Chris Merdon’s campaign for a second term on the County Council.   Mr. Ulman does not distinguish a couple of important facts in that 2002 general election, and the 2006 primary race.

  • Mr. Merdon was a well qualified incumbent in 2002
  • Mr. Merdon’s opponent was unable to get an effective campaign started
  • Mr. Merdon was not running a county wide campaign
  • Mr. Dunbar is a registerd Democrat and Mr. Ulman’s opponent in the Democratic primary.

If one takes a look at the photo gallery on her website one might note that their is not one photo of Courtney and Ken Ulman.  In fact their is no photo of Ken Ulman on her site at all.  However, you will find one of Chris Merdon.

I think this speaks volumes regarding Chris’ bi-partisan approach to government that he has apparantly won over Courtney Watson.  Please correct me if I am wrong.

I wonder how the Democratic constituency is going to take this in County Council District One, or is this an indicator of how the Howard County Democratic Party feels things are going for them in 2006.

Posted in County Council, Howard County, Watson | 11 Comments »

Democratic County Council 1 Results

Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Evan brought up a good point with the Ulman v Dunbar race.

Looking at the numbers for the County Council District 1 Democratic Primary I am curious as to why the former Chairman of the Board of Education got such a large under vote.

Granted it wasn’t as poor at Don Dunn in District 5 but District 5 is not a swing district.

Of the 5323 votes cast in this district Courtney Watson only got 3742 votes (70%) in an uncontested primary.  Coupled with the fact that District 1 had the 2nd highest turn out of Democratic voters among the County Council races (uncontested and contested).

These are just the overall numbers, but I wonder if this apparent weakness will prove out when we look at the precinct level results.

Posted in County Council, Democrats, Howard County, Watson | 4 Comments »

School Grading Software IV

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just in case you didn’t see it in the Baltimore Sun yestereday.  John-John Williams IV had this article. 

School Data System in DoubtAcquisition clouds future of troubled information program

I hadn’t realized that Chancery (the software maker) had been bought out.  That does raise some questions.  I will have to do a little checking and find out why Pearson bought Chancery.  Was it for their products or for their customers?  The question is will Pearson keep supporting the software?

This trouble program will indeed be discussed during the board meeting today.  I am sure some citizens will ask questions as well, perhaps the PTA, or a school board candidate, or a parent…

The school system employed a patch called “Grade Transporter”.  It is simply a patch to help get over this rough patch.

To use Grade Transporter once again, system employees have had to develop a new application so that schedules could be produced, according to Glascock, who also estimated that only 60 percent of current employees were familiar with the older program.

I wonder what this cost?

I think this is the first time I saw a School Board member quoted on this issue:

“Initially, when the first reports of problems surfaced, it seemed that staff was getting it under control,” said school board member Courtney Watson. “This latest failure is troubling. We have to look at the vendor for redress. The vendor failed. We need to hold the vendor accountable.”

As I said in my previous post regarding Joshua Kaufman’s statement regarding redress.  Redress is fine if it is a Chancery problem.  However, if it is a matter of poor planning and oversight then I don’t think Chancery is on the hook.  It could be a combination of the two “poor planning and board oversight” and “poor software” – I have seen that before.

I remind my readers that this isn’t some small issue.  This effects kids, staff, and administration.  I haven’t seen the board step up.  Perhaps the relationship with Chancery (the school  system is on their board of of advisors) has obscured the objectivity of the Board of Eduction and the Technology department.

Now being on Chancery’s board of advisors (a customer user group advising the software maker) why didn’t we know about Nashville and DoDEA?  Wow.

Posted in Howard County, Watson | 1 Comment »

I pledge no tax increases…

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I am pleased to learn that Melissa Covolesky signed The Maryland Taxpayers Association pledge to not raise taxes.

I,___________________________________, pledge to the taxpayers of the ________ District of the State of MARYLAND and all the people of this State, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

My question is as follows.  Is it mutually exclusive to sign such a pledge and accept the endorsement of these organizations that supported every single tax increase during the Robey administration?

  • Howard County Police Officers’ Association
  • Howard County Teachers Union (HCEA)

Now being recognized as a supporter of the law enforcement and education is a good thing.  Does one need the endorsement of organizations that equate excellent law enforcement and education with large tax increases that proved not to be necessary in the first place while pledging not to seek tax increases?  How do the unions feel now?

The HCEA weighed in as follows on the most controversial of Jim Robey’s series of tax increases in Howard County, the infamous 30% income tax increase, as follows:

The County Executive’s proposal to fund increases in Board of Education and other County Department budgets would require a significant increase in the County’s personal income tax. Council Republican members Alan Kittleman and Chris Merdon proposed eliminating the tax increase and cutting the Board of Education’s budget by $5 million, which would have endangered* both the ESP Reclassification and negotiated agreements. Support for the Executive’s plan from the Council’s three Democratic members —Chairman Guy Guzzone, David Rakes, and Ken Ulman—ensured the defeat of the Kittleman/Merdon plan and funding for the negotiated agreements and reclassification by the Board of Education.

*Would have endangered?  How?  It was a contract that the County was obligated to observe?  This implied threat to their agreement is a fiction.

County Council Candidate and former School Board Chairman supported a very large Transfer Tax increase.  I think her comments summed up the HCEA’s position very well.

Lack of funds could mean big school changes

The Baltimore Sun – January 30, 2003 Thursday

Howard County’s schoolchildren and their parents can expect major classroom changes if county and state officials don’t find more money for school construction, school board member Courtney Watson says.

County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat, has proposed using an increase in the county’s real estate transfer tax to repay $215 million in bonds that would be sold to fund the construction…

Because the transfer tax is in state law, an increase must be approved separately by the county’s eight delegates and by its three state senators. That means Kittleman and fellow Republican Sen. Sandra B. Schrader can kill the plan.

Robey argues that sales of all homes are fueling the crowding of classrooms. Using a separate fund to borrow against, and then to pay off the debt, would preserve the county’s general funds, he said.

Robey’s plan would increase the cost of buying or selling a house – by $1,250 on a $250,000 house – which has drawn opposition from county real estate agents.

Needless to say the “Expect[ed] major classroom changes” did not occur.  The arguement was simply a scare tactic.

I think that Melissa should explain how these are mutually exclusive.

Posted in General Assembly, Howard County, Watson | 1 Comment »

School Grading Software III

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, August 10, 2006

Updated 8-11-2006. 

Does this story sound familiar?

Parents may treasure their child’s report card more this month out of reverence for the immense labor that has been invested in producing the latest batch, due to be issued Jan. 18.

Overloads and outages of the district’s student information system, Chancery SMS, continued last week, preventing guidance counselors from changing student schedules, correcting transcripts, entering grade information and processing student transfers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Howard County, Watson | 1 Comment »

School Grading Software II

Posted by David Keelan on Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Looks like the problems continue.

Four months after giving the go-ahead to continued use of a problematic student data computer program, the Howard County school system has decided to revert to an older program in order to have 15,000 schedules ready for high school students before classes begin at the end of August.

The problem with SMS has delayed about 15,000 schedules that were supposed to have been mailed to students during the first two weeks of August.

Again, this looks like a case of poor planning and implementation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in County Council, Howard County, Watson | 4 Comments »