Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Appointment With Destiny?

Are you as puzzled as I am by the news that County Executive Kittleman is replacing Josh Tzuker on the Planning Board? This post by Bill Woodcock of The 53 started me thinking. Why intervene in the workings of the Planning Board to replace someone who still has a year left in his term?

Well, because he can, I guess.

Mr. Kittleman has put forward Susan Garber for this position. She's a long time community activist in Savage, having served as President of the Savage Community Association. Ms. Garber has also served the special needs community through her business AT-LAST, providing adaptive technology to those who need it.

So, why Ms. Garber? Let's take a look.

In December of 2013, Kittleman paid a visit to the Savage Community Association as a part of a listening tour. During his visit the following was discussed:

  1. Open Discussion with Senator Kittleman
  1. Senator Kittleman listened and commented on the community’s concerns.
  2. Topics of discussion are as follows:
  1. Density, population, and "Smart Growth."
  2. Government documents not being accessible and open to the public (transparency).
  3. Seemingly inappropriate relationships between the builders and the county council members or staff, such as the Director of Planning and Zoning Marsha McLaughlin and her friendship with Sang Oh, Bozzuto’s attorney

Well, it does look as though Ms. Garber has an interest in Planning and Zoning. In fact it looks as though that conversation may have been decidedly one-sided, what with accusations of "inappropriate relationships" and so on.

Later, on September 4, 2014, a discussion takes place on the HCCA listserv about political appointments. (Ms.Garber is a member.) Member Mary Pivar says,

We have an unusual political situation this year:

a County Executive more than likely to become a powerfulvoice at State level. Might he desire to "promote" some ofhis most loyal supporters from his County to continue unquestioning support of his values and directives?If that should occur,how would any vacant County Council position be filled? Or any other position ostensibly requiring election?

Would it be a violation of HCCA to provide lists of the Countypositions which are appointments and those which require elections?If so, is there any group doing that service?

Other members on this thread: Paul Verchinski, Russ Swatek, Ann DeLacy, and Susan Garber. So we see members of HCCA planning ahead to identify political appointments which may be coming open in a future administration. Mr. Verchinski even suggests they should be filled by qualified retirees. Certainly they mean to put forward HCCA members. Resourceful.

Seeing Ann De Lacy's name made me think of this letter to the editor written by Ms. Garber about the Howard County teachers, written during the negotiation impasse last summer. Please read it. It is filled with much of the same inflammatory language and outright inaccuracies circulated by Ms. De Lacy, the Superintendent, and others of the same stripe as they sought to discredit HCEA and Paul Lemle and influence public opinion in the press. I find this concerning and very, very odd.

Ms. Garber comes to this position with interest, experience, and some very strong opinions. One might even say preconceived notions. At the very least, she is unconvinced by the need for the Route 1 Homeless Shelter. And don't forget that SCA discussion noted above.

We know she supported Mr. Kittleman in his campaign for County Executive, and served on his transition team. It appears they have known eachother for awhile. That part, in itself, is fine. But when combined with her network of affiliations, which leans heavily on those who make unsubstantiated accusations and are quick to believe conspiracy theories, it makes you realize that this is not a simple appointment.

In another letter to the editor, Ms. Garber criticizes Ken Ulman and his decision to hang banners around the county highlighting Howard County's successes. She concludes by saying,

I would suggest he recall the adage "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."

This is good advice for Mr. Kittleman. Just because he can make this appointment doesn't mean that he should.





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