Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Early “First 120 Days” Update

A long-time reader passed along two recent “First 100 Days” news articles. One was focused on Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, the other on Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner.  While the former presented a list of hits and misses, the latter tended to be a rather glowing review.  Captain Incremental vs. Action Executive. 

Recognizing that media coverage and reality don’t always align perfectly, and that the pieces were quite different in structure, length, and tone, there were some notable themes that emerged in the Kittleman piece:

Thus far, Kittleman seems to be practicing the politics of articulation.  He recognizes the fundamental resiliency of the Ulman Administration, and the electoral realities of Howard County.  This means tempering conservative instincts with moves with populist appeal (the sugar water order) and/or “good-government” technocratic initiatives (flood mitigation program funding).*

Of course, there have been missteps. 

Kittleman appears to be engaged in a modified waffle when it comes to his communications efforts relating to the storm-water fee…vocal in opposition to it when in Annapolis, more willing to articulate a nuanced wait-and-see-what-can-be-done-about-it stance when in HoCo.  Perhaps it is a question of time, place, and manner but he isn’t exactly elevating his leadership profile on this issue.

And while every CE is, and should be, empowered to bring in their own team, he might have ousted too much institutional memory and experienced talent from the previous Administration too quickly. 

His proposed reorganization of the Human Rights Commission seems to have been handled clumsily, as a rush to act resulted in the failure to obtain input from some key stakeholders.  This, in turn, led to the County Council tabling his bill. Not a shining moment for a new Administration that pledged to emphasize collaboration.

Over the next four years (minus @ 120 days), it will be interesting to see how his right-of-center ideological predilections manifest themselves in terms of policy.   Will he attempt to shift to the center and triangulate between a Democratic-majority Council and his Tea Party friends? Would voters perceive such an approach as Authentic Kittleman or merely calculated political positioning? Will his support of Governor Hogan tarnish his brand?  Where is La Isla Bonita? 

Too many unknowns at this point, but we will all have a much better sense of the answer to the question, “Who is the Real Allan Kittleman?” by 2018.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.    

* In a conciliatory state of mind, this author feels compelled to acknowledge that he supports the two specific actions mentioned in that sentence.  The time is now 4:33 in the a.m. and you are watching “Perspectives” with your host, Lionel Osbourne. 

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