Saturday, October 29, 2011

Voting is the Best Way to Register Your Opinion

Voting is the Best Way to Register Your Opinion

There’s a lot of negative campaigning going on out there. And its getting pretty unsavory. The latest volley was a particularly disgusting mailing sent out by ”17 Anonymous Taxpayers” against Mike Sarich that for my money (and a lot of theirs, too since evidently they printed and mailed a 4 pager to 10,000 voters) hit a new low. A thought for those who write such stuff: you’re hurting your cause more than the people you oppose. For more on anonymous comments see Rick Wilson’s blog.

However, this isn’t going to be about the low levels our political campaign in Laurel has reached. It’s to remind voters that they have one sure way of making sure their opinions on the candidates and the process make a difference: and that’s voting Nov. 1 (early voting ends October 29).

Voting turnout in our city is notoriously low. In the last special referendum fewer than 1000 voters decided on voting wards, terms and salary issues for a city of 25,000 with something like 10,000 registered voters. That’s 10% deciding for everyone. This year for the first time in a long time, there are 2 polling sites, so folks have no excuse that there isn’t a voting place close by. So be sure to vote. For information on where and when:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Is There Ice Cream In Our Future?

It’s been a while since I blogged – a smashed elbow in July took a lot of my energy and attention – but it is now well on the road to recovery – plus the fall season is well upon us and it’s time to get the conversations going again.

While I wasn’t at the Mayor’s Town Hall meeting some news has filtered my way that may be of interest.

Seems an ice cream store is planning to open on Montgomery Street 2 doors up from the Harrison Beard building. Great news to have an ice cream store – but I have to wonder why it’s not going to Laurel’s Main Street. Main Street would have the traffic, there are plenty of open storefronts and an ice cream parlor would draw a variety folks not just Old Town locals. Once again Main Street seems to be getting the shorter end of the stick – in this case the ice cream stick.

Other hints from the meeting suggested there will be news soon on the Police Station – and let’s hope it’s something that will get rid of what can only be described as a building well past its prime and a site in desperate need of development.

And what’s with the walking path around Laurel Lakes? It’s been closed again forcing walkers to detour up and around the block. Surely pedestrians and the local folks on the street can come to some agreement so the community isn’t blocked from walking around the lake on a path their tax $$s pay for.

Other news: confirmed by talking with the folks at Montgomery Cleaners: they’re moving across the street to the site of the previous appliance store. They seem excited, and I think this means they’ll have an air conditioned building!.

Starting Sept 2. The Laurel Museum will have a very modest exhibit “Laurel Remembers 9/11”. The commemorative book for visitors that was available to people after that tragic event will be on display – and visitors to the 10 year anniversary are encouraged to read some of the comments, and also write their own thoughts ten years after.

That’s all for now: coming soon the upcoming political season in Laurel.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Politcs: Johnson Still Doesn't Get It

Just after posting below I heard that Leslie Johnson has resigned – effective July 31. Tell me, has she no shame to not make her resignation immediate? Today (as I write this) is July 5. She still wants to remain in office, and get paid for 26 more days. PG Council members should strip her of her office immediately, and not let Ms. Johnson control her term in office.

Parades are Political, Recalcitrant Politicos and More.

Just some random political thoughts.

Laurel’s 4th of July Parade was a bi-partisan affair, -- and contrary to Harvard polling, had lots of democrat spectators and participants. Laurel’s City Council, and delegation were on hand, as were some others to note.

David Murray, who is making another run for the school board – good to see young people persevering and going for it.

Ken Ulman who is clearly prepping for a run for the governorship. The HOWARD COUNTY executive was walking and shaking hands at the Laurel (PG COUNTY) parade. Asked if he was running, Ulman was non-committal and made a reference to just making friends. He was walking along with Laurel Mayor Craig Moe (also making a run for a 3rd term in office.) Is Mayor Moe giving an early endorsement?

Kudos to Delegate Mary Lehman (also at the parade) for standing up for taxi drivers in her Washington Post op-ed piece.

Hopefully the groundswell for Leslie Johnson to resign is growing. Lots of comments on the Patch story, and people are hopefully writing their Council members, Johnson and Council Chair Turner. As former Councilmember Tom Dernoga noted in his comments from the Gazette but quoted in the Patch story “If Ms. Johnson wants to move on beyond her ‘mistake’, she must step down immediately,” Dernoga wrote. “No public benefit, only personal benefit, can derive from Ms. Johnson holding on to the council seat. Failure to do so would demonstrate lack of remorse, which the judge should consider at sentencing.”

Is there anyone but Johnson and, inexplicably, Council Chair Turner, not calling for Johnson’s resignation? Do we all need to go to Council meetings and wave signs, or ask at the public comment sections for her to step down?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Let the (Election) Games Begin

Laurel’s elections are four and a half months away (November 1, 2011) but the election season evidently is starting in earnest. And the rumors are flying. First up: Current Mayor Craig A. Moe is running for a third term. At the Board of Trade Annual Meeting a distinguished retired Laurel figure informed out table that he had received a letter from Mayor Moe announcing that he is running for a third term. And I also at the BOT dinner that a well known (unnamed) figure was planning to run against him Is that Mike Sarich? At a meeting I attended later that evening, I was told that former councilman and administration and council nemesis Mike Sarich is also planning a run for mayor.

At this point I’m just reporting what's out on the street. But it suggests it will be an interesting election season to say the least. Like all council members, newly appointed council member, Valerie M.F Nicholas will have to defend her seat, and I believe at least one other current member is not planning to run again. Elections will be by district for the first time in a long long time, and there will be two polling places, finally. Let’s hope all the races are contested, since lively races not only generate discussion of important issues, but may increase the incredibly dismal turnout at Laurel’s local elections. (which we'll discuss another time)

Laurel’s mayoral system is a very strong one – and the mayor determines the City Administrator, appoints all the key staff, determine the makeup of boards from planning to the historic district commission, creates the budget and sets the city’s development priorities. The Mayor and Council are responsible for your local taxes, and the types of businesses that get approved for entry into the city. Who they are, their priorities and vision count. Taking an interest is not only our civic duty, but it should be a critical matter for all of us.

So even though it’s early – mark your calendar for November 1. And let the games begin

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life on the List Serve

I’m a member of the Old Town Laurel List Serve. Not only is it a window into “hot” news in the local area, but it provides a window into what local issues concern one small part of the Laurel community. Traffic safety is big, as are pet and animal related issues and so is information about shops, businesses and other local topics. Wednesday, the emails were flying fast and furious about two very different, but equally passionate topics: A lost dog, and the unexpected, overnight closing of the High's at 5th and Main.

The news that High's had closed was first out of the gate when “Dave” sent our well-informed nNeighbor Rick Wilson an e-mail and query about the closure at 11:52pm Tuesday night and Rick posted it on the list-serve. The local High’s for those who may not be familiar, was/is located at the corner of Main & 5th. While not the most aesthetically pleasing store, the manager was nice, the milk and eggs reasonably priced, and it served as a convenient place for last minute ingredients or health care needs. I suspect that many of the seniors at Selborne House, directly across the street, found it particularly important. I counted 19 e-mails on the list-serve on this topic. Questions flew on the site’s fate, and according to our intrepid former councilwoman, and soon to be moving Gayle Snyder, the High’s is scheduled to be replaced by another convenience store, maybe with a deli. I'll be holding my breath, and regretting having to plan to have milk and eggs in the house, since my easy fix is gone.

The lost dog, who belonged to the daughter of Old Town’s Washington Post/Sun/ delivery person extraordinaire Gail Turney, occupied folks for much of the day. My walk group encountered a searcher around 7:45 and we suggested he get it up on the list serve. It was up by 8:32. I counted at least 16 different messages as folks tried to track down the Daisy – who was a vigorous little pup, going up PG Street, through St. Mary’s, evading Animal control and ending up at Patuxent Place. All documented through folks’ comments on the list-serve.

Coming up a distant third – what’s going to happen to Mangoes and Irene’s if/when the Walgreens is approved.

List-serves are a great tool to find out what’s happening in your own back yard, (like and I’m always puzzled by those who haven’t signed up for their local one. There’s no obligation to respond to anything. Susie, who monitors the site does a great job, like many who’ve taken on this often thankless job. Thanks Susie. And folks, keep those posts coming.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Car Fire Comments and a Don't miss Laurel Video

I don’t like the thought that someone targeted city official Marty Flemion and set fire to his official car (and evidently tried to do the same to his personal vehicle). In front of his house. It’s disturbing, and a little scary to all concerned: family, neighbors, and I’m sure his co-workers. It’s a sad commentary on current society, and part of my lingering regret that Laurel is losing some of that small town feel that’s made it feel more like a community than just an extension of Washington and Baltimore. (see last week’s post). Accessibility is what differentiates big and small towns, and people like that one arsonist threaten not just an individual, but a whole way of life.

I know Marty works hard – and participates in many of the city’s civic activities apart from his official job. A city official shouldn’t feel he or she can’t list their name or address or phone number in the phone book, or that someone might track them down to their home. I hope they catch who ever did this soon.

And speaking of that small town feeling (OK, it’s a rough segue)…if you haven’t looked at this video documentary produced by students at Towson about A.M. Kroop’s on C Street just off Main Street you’ve missed a real treat. That’s what a small town business, – albeit one that’s threatened, too, is all about. Randy is featured in the LHS’ current exhibit, too. We talked with Randy for the exhibit – did you know her father didn’t let her go to the races as a child? And if you haven’t ever visited Kroops…well, you should go.