I wrote a short article on the Baltimore Sun ( which will be shared on Howard County Times, Columbia Flier).
I am worried about the lack of coherent plan and long term vision for the county. There is a plan to relocate the central library in the 2016 Downtown Columbia TIF plan. Now the County Executive and County Council changed hand, there has not been any discussion (or serious discussion) any more. Recent discussion on the Toby theater, Downtown Culture Center, Affordable housing prompted me to write this article. Columbia will be totally built out soon and we need to process with caution on every land use.
I also shared similar concerns during yesterday’s BOE and County Council meeting. Where do we find school site land for the students from planned 30,000 population for Downtown Columbia?
Any decisions we make today will have a long-term impact for our future. One example is the Turf Vally development where APFO requirement was waived and no school site was reserved. Now we need pay over 6.5 million dollars for an elementary school site (around 10 acres). If they planned/reserved for a school site 20 years, it was probably free.
The reality is that people made those decision some time ago either moved up or retired. We are bearing the consequence now. I believe we can do better.
Eight school board hopefuls are one step closer to having one of the four seats on the Howard County Board of Education, according to unofficial primary election results.
Vicky Cutroneo, Bob Glascock, Robert Wayne Miller, Chao Wu, Jen Mallo, Sabina Taj, Danny Mackey and Anita Pandey were the top eight winners among 13 candidates in Tuesday’s primary.
Cutroeno has 19,991 votes, Glascock has 16,951 votes, Miller has 15,968 votes, Wu has 15,047 votes, Mallo has 13,080 votes, Taj has 12,849 votes, Mackey has 9,685 votes and Pandey has 9,666 votes, with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.
The remaining five candidates are Carleen Pena with 8,020 votes, Saif Rehman with 7,307 votes and Mavourene Robinson with 5,634 votes, Timothy Hodgson Hamilton with 3,579 votes, Christopher Michael Hilfiger with 3,071 votes with 97.6 percent of the votes reported.
How sad the two shadow candidates ( Timothy Hamilton, Christopher Hilfiger) can still get more than 6500 votes.
I got 47 extra votes over 15000. We got a higher voter turnout this year than 2014. In the 2014 BOE primary, the No. 4 candidate received around 12000 votes. 47 is a small number. However 47 votes could flip District 1 County Council race this year. Now incumbent Jon Weinstein led his challenger Liz Walsh by 41 votes. When the absentee and provisional votes come in, we will see how it play out. Every vote counts.
I was interviewed by Baltimore Sun’s reporter Janene Holzberg sometime ago over the phone. As I said before, we would love to connect people and build friendship. I wish this is the first step and we can do more.
The article is out today online: Columbia poised to add China’s Liyang as sister city
As many can see under the candidate introduction, there is the news about $23M deficit from school health fund. I talked about this problem long time ago and it is the exact example why we need transparency and accountability in HCPSS.
No place for a Nazi sign in our community at Columbia, Maryland
By Dr. Chao Wu, Clarksville, MD
November 29, 2016
(I sent this article to Columbia Flier and Baltimore Sun and did not get any response. So I am publishing it here first. It was published on 2016-12-08 issue at Columbia Flier and Howard County Times eventually. I really appreciate them effort by sharing my voice.)
I was shocked to see a swastika painted at my neighborhood playground over the Thanksgiving holiday. Many residents, including myself, take our kids there to play, socialize and enjoy this beautiful neighborhood. None of us expected this type of vandalism, with its links to Nazism, fascism, and racism, to happen in the community.
Our city of Columbia prides itself in honoring diversity and being civic-minded. I understand the 2016 presidential election was very divisive. In many other places, campaign signs were destroyed, houses were vandalized, and contentious words were exchanged. However, a swastika sign in the neighborhood is still a huge shock to the many people who live here.
Since its inception in the 1960’s, Columbia has been a driving force for promoting mutual respect and building community harmony. The two most recent speakers in Columbia Association’s Community Building Speakers Series, Rob Breymaier, Executive Director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, and Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, UMBC President, discussed Columbia’s founding principles of diversity and inclusiveness. This Saturday, December 3, 2016, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bain 50+ Center in Columbia, County Executive Allan Kittleman will hold the first forum in his #OneHoward Initiative, which is designed to promote community dialogue and reinforce the county’s shared goals of diversity and inclusiveness.
Our community is now at a turning point with more changes to come. Following the County Council’s passage of the Downtown-related legislation several weeks ago, Columbia’s population is expected to increase by additional 20,000 residents. We can expect the area to become more diverse than ever – culturally, racially, educationally, and economically.
From my perspective, respecting and celebrating diversity needs to be practiced. What really matters is how we view ourselves and others with respect, how others view themselves and others with respect, and whether we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We need a common sense solution to create a shared future that is inclusive of everyone. This work needs to occur within our family, within our schools, at the workplace, and in our neighborhoods.
We also need a continuous, open and honest discussion on diversity and inclusion such that all groups should be heard with humility. The conversation should happen not only among people who are likely-minded, already vocal and visible in the community, but also from those who are usually left out by the main media. This requires extra effort to reach out. It also requires a heart with true tolerance especially when other opinions may be quite different, even offensive.
Diverse thoughts, mutual understanding, and truth-seeking are the keys to finding such a solution. There should never be a place for a Nazi swastika in our community. We are not afraid by its occurrence, but we need to be vigilant and continue working to achieve a safe and peaceful community.
Asian students make up almost 20 percent of enrollment in Howard County’s public schools. But Jean Xu, a Howard County parent who immigrated from China two decades ago, does not believe that this demographic is appropriately reflected in the county school system’s central office, on the school board, among principals and teachers and in parent-teacher associations.