Friday, March 20, 2015

Style Meets Substance?

So Allan Kittleman has been in office for over a hundred days now, and folks are writing pieces about how he's shaping up as County Executive. Since it hasn't been all that long, we're faced with a limited sampling of what he's actually done, and how he's done it. And for those of us writing opinion pieces, as opposed to journalists, we're also bringing past experiences and preconceived notions into the mix.

My past experiences and preconceived notions prompt me to compare the County Executive I know the most about, Ken Ulman, to the newer model. It's hard to forget Mr. Ulman, after all. He had two terms to work himself into the public consciousness. And he continues to find his way into the news in his new position working with the University of Maryland to make College Park an inviting environment for high tech businesses, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. Gone but not forgotten. Hardly gone, even.

Ah, Ken Ulman. "Not your father's Oldsmobile," I thought, shaking my head. But wait. So does that make Allan Kittleman--your father's Oldsmobile? Not quite a fair assessment, even for a facile one. Let me back this up a bit.

No, Ulman is more of a Smart Car with Prius intentions. (Or is that the other way around?) There's just no Oldsmobile about him. He sprang into action as County Executive with zest, earnestness and cutting-edge ambitions. You want to get behind the wheel of an Ulman? Be prepared to drive on some new roads.

Now, from what I have seen of Kittleman, the term "Not your father's Oldsmobile" is a better fit for him. Though made from a more traditional mold, he has been willing to push boundaries when it has come to things like the Route One Homeless Shelter. He appears to be relatively enlightened when it comes to LGBTQ issues. But, so far, driving a Kittleman looks like it's going to be a smoother ride. He brings a rather settled gravitas to his role.

No one will be surprised to hear that I miss the excitement and inspired thinking of Mr. Ulman. But I have to acknowledge that there are people out there in Howard County who found the past eight years to be an exhausting ride. They elected Mr. Kittleman, after all. I have no doubt they have found the past one hundred days or so to be restful.

We don't really know yet, do we? A handful of actions, or photo ops, or speeches are not enough to produce anything deeper than a few good off-the-cuff opinions. As time goes on we'll see where this ride is taking us.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend this piece by Jason Booms of Spartan Considerations. He's looking at a decision which may be a strong indicator of where we are headed. In the meantime, Happy Spring! And don't forget to brush the snow off your car when you head out today.




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