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Referendum Resuscitation – A warm story on a cold day in Annapolis

Today, I saw the possibility of life being breathed back into referenda for the State of Maryland. I was very honored to have sat at the table with Senator Bates and County Executive Kittleman testifying in support of election law reform. This bill could give life to the defunct referendum process in Howard County. Yes, “defunct” (no longer functioning) is the right word. 15 months ago, the Howard County Board of Elections (BOE) stated that the summary language for the zoning referendum I chaired was not “fair and accurate”. This effectively killed referenda in Howard County. Why? With our zoning referendum, the BOE pre-certified the summary saying it was for the courts to decide (not

The Once and Future OBRC? (Operating Budget Review Committee)

The Howard County Superintendent’s proposed operating budget for FY 2016 is $780.8M. As the operating budget increases; however, the opportunity for citizen input decreases. Feb 3 was the lone public hearing on this budget where citizens could provide up to three minutes of oral testimony. Three minutes for $780,800,000 hardly seems sufficient. But it wasn’t always this way. In previous years, the Howard County Board of Education used an Operating Budget Review Committee (OBRC) to comb through the Superintendent’s proposed operating budget. The OBRC was made up of Board appointed citizens who had an interest in the budget, and agreed to delve into details, review information, ask questi

To Blog or Not To Blog?

Welcome to our Blog, “The People's Voice ... Heard.” Thank you for visiting and taking time to read it. For my first post, I wanted to cover the basics; namely, Why a blog? Why the name? Why the giraffe? I will end with some guidance on subscribing. The purpose of The People's Voice (TPV) is to provide an information hub – a one-stop shop, so to speak – to publicize local government activities. Although we (TPV Board) include our insight and views where appropriate on the site, doing this work brings many issues to our attention, and we wanted a vehicle to delve deeper into topics of interest. This blog gives us the opportunity to share our perspectives on current local happenings. As for th

The HCPSS Capital Budget Falls Short of Projected Needs

HCPSS has come out with its proposed 2016 capital budget and ten-year capital improvement program. Why should we care, especially those without children in HCPSS anymore, about the school system’s capital plan? The answer is simple – money. The proposed ten-year plan spends billions of your tax dollars, many on very necessary school maintenance and construction. The question is whether certain expenditures are being spent wisely. If you examine projected residential growth, especially in the eastern part of Howard County, keeping up with school construction needs is more important than ever. We face an ever-worsening overcrowding crisis. Without a plan to increase physical school capac