Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Watch the Ripples Change Their Size"

Knowledge, of course, emanates from a source and can spread much as a pond ripple.  Such was the case at Patuxent Valley Middle School on Tuesday night, when three guest speakers spoke out on the topics of law enforcement safety, fire/EMT safety, and cyber/internet safety. 

Addressing a small but engaged audience, this event was part of the 2015 Parent Empowerment Academy series that is put on at the Middle School.  This particular program was co-sponsored by a local community service organization, the Continental Societies (Southeast Howard/Laurel Chapter).

The gathering, held in the school's media center, included parents, the speakers/subject matter experts, the Continentals, school staff (most notably BSAP Liaison Marcus Nicks), and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary (MD-13).  

Those fortunate enough to attend were able to participate in timely discussions.  The school's resource officer, Officer Laurita Cofield, did an excellent job fielding questions regarding law enforcement interaction strategies, stressing the importance of mutually respectful dialogue between citizens and police officers.

Mr. Brian Proctor, MFF/NREMT - Public Relations Specialist from the Office of the Fire Marshall, Howard County Fire and Rescue, delivered an insightful presentation that included several valuable fire safety tips.  Remember - it's always good to have a pan lid handy to put out small kitchen fires.  The cabinet above the stove caught fire? That is more of a conflagration and unless you have a fire extinguisher IN HAND, it is best to leave. Quickly.

Finally, let's call him "Mr. Smith," from a Department that rhymes with Bomeland Decurity, spent a few minutes discussing privacy and Internet usage.  It was a more technical presentation on such matters as encryption but it included some common-sense reminders regarding not giving out identifying information online and that everything put online remains online, for all intents and purposes, forever.  And yes, that includes social media.  Also, Mr. Smith's children were in attendance and they put on an impromptu karate demonstration at the end of his talk.  

Overall, it was an informative program for parents and students alike.  Having the three distinct fields represented in one event was a smart concept. It would be a good idea for such a program to be replicated at other schools in Howard County, and beyond.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Yet Again, Not Again

The spirit-crushing reality is that the events in Baltimore can happen in America anywhere, at anytime. It may not be a case of eternal recurrence, but it is undoubtedly an extremely persistent one.

Recognizing that reporting on historic and structural matters (racism, poverty, alienation, the ongoing existence of at least two de facto “separate and unequal” criminal justice systems) is less visually engaging than watching folks running out of a CVS…it is unfortunate – yet also unsurprising and depressing – that some traditional media reporting resembles reality television.

Meanwhile, there are stories emerging…primarily via social media…that are offering a more complete picture of events as well as the facts and motivations behind the positive and negative actions taken today.  Baltimore residents are talking about local leaders, private citizens as well as public figures, who are urging restraint, respect and reflection…these are the words and deeds of responsible men and women.  Quiet heroism in the midst of adversity.  These are true patriots.

This author was too young to recall the so-called Detroit Riot of 1967.  Yet the circumstances that led to that event, and the destruction left behind in the aftermath, endured long after the police raided that blind pig on 12th Street.  Twenty-five years later, the Los Angeles unrest witnessed over 50 deaths and 2,000 injuries.  Different places and times, similar causes.

It is unknown, as of this writing, if the civil disturbances in Baltimore will approach the scale and horror of Detroit ’67 or LA ’92.  Personally, I doubt if events will spiral to those depths.

We can hope for not just the restoration of order, but the enactment of a just peace.

What is known is that many of the underlying factors present at those places in those times linger within our society.  They may manifest themselves differently, but the blights remain.

Hopefully, wisdom and honesty will prevail…and we can find solutions to address these societal challenges that expose our hypocrisies and threaten our social compact.  We, as a people, can be better. 

Stay tuned, as more will follow.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Oakland Thrills

With the Oakland Mills village election fast approaching, it important to revisit (briefly) the role of the Village Board.

In the view of this author, if one wishes to advocate on behalf of their neighbors, via service on the volunteer board of directors of a community association, it is best if one is – in word and deed – neighborly.

I have seen several village boards in action, and it strikes me that the Board members who demonstrate a certain generosity of spirit as well a dedication to their entire village are the ones who are best equipped to fulfill the service mission of their community association. 

With that in mind, I believe that returning Bill Woodcock and Marcia White to the Oakland Mills Village Board would represent a move in the right direction.  Both are experienced community activists, are highly knowledgeable about local issues, and care deeply about Oakland Mills. 

I don’t know Daniel Kirk-Davidoff personally, but I’ve heard positive feedback from trusted sources on his qualifications.  His candidate statement includes some thoughtful solutions (which is tough to do in a couple of hundred words or less).   Finally, Fred Eiland's background as a Community Organizer, and former Board Member, provides respectable credentials for another term on the Board.  

I encourage all of my OM readers to mark their ballots for White, Woodcock, Kirk-Davidoff and Eiland in the April 25 election.  More information about the election can be found here:

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MoCo – PG Shenanigans

I received the following telegram from a “Ma Kish” in Maple Lawn: “I see all of this automobile traffic on U.S. 29. So what is happening south of Exit 13?”

Excellent question Ms. Kish. 

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed Congressman Chris Van Hollen for the U.S. Senate today. 

The Official Wisdom is that this is a “bad day for Donna Edwards.”  In terms of expectations, I am not particularly surprised by the endorsement.  Moreover, I don’t know if Mr. Baker’s backing carries with it that many votes.   Favorability transfer is a tricky thing to operationalize.  Moreover, Baker’s support for a 15% property tax hike is tapping into his reservoir of goodwill.

Beyond that, Heather Mizeur announced this afternoon that she would take a pass on the Senate race.  This opens up some space on the non-establishment left, which should be good news for Congresswoman Edwards. 

Beyond beyond that, this field remains – and feels – unsettled.  I am re-reading Peter Goodman and Tony Fuller’s “The Quest for the Presidency 1984” and I am concerned that Team Van Hollen is running a latter-day version of the Mondale campaign:  putting organization and D.C. experience at the heart of the campaign’s raison d’etre rather than articulating a broader vision for America in general and Maryland specifically.  

Stay tuned, as more will follow.