current info

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prince George's County Political Dream

The current political vision for Prince George’s County is myopic. It looks at and responds to local parochial issues that are extremely important to the few involved. The leadership fails to connect these neighborhood concerns to one another and to the greater good of the County. In a normal setting a part of the solution would be a common plan, but because all issues are dissected and parsed to the lowest common, expedient denominator and defined in terms of the specifics of one spot, the political establishment follows no plan; all decisions are ad hoc and of the moment floating on a political sea of inconsistency. The leadership responds to the financial exegesis and the corresponding, political and economic dynamics that result from making decisions on the fly.

The next County Executive needs to go into the neighborhoods of Accokeek and Bladensburg, Suitland and Laurel, Upper Marlboro and North Brentwood, and directly and repeatedly demonstrate the commonality of the challenges. The idea that the rural tier is spoiled and pampered and so needs more concrete, and, that the established communities are tired and too expensive to redevelop economically must be put to rest. Infrastructure capital must be invested in our established communities. We need to build a world class library in Bladensburg; we need to actually follow the new development plan for New Carrollton and be ready to take advantage of the coming purple line; we do not need to have MXT zoning in the rural tier, but should use it and other zoning tools carefully and with full community participation to design enhanced redevelopment that brings meaningful employment to our existing communities and the county. Building new neighborhoods on open agricultural land when our existing neighborhoods needs so much is done because the profits made are greater in the rural tier, not because it is impossible to enhance what we already have.

We should be aiming our government spending at public safety partnerships with NGO’s and non-profits to provide access to quality of life for the children and citizens of established neighborhoods on a per capita basis. This would ensure that the rural tier is not left out but would focus our attention on the communities in need and perhaps ultimately encourage locating new housing or businesses where the infrastructure is. If you want rural life it comes with non urban amenities; if you want the whole enchilada you choose to live in a city. We should be encouraging through government services new homes and businesses to locate in our redeveloped and reinvigorated high traffic, public transportation accessible communities. Why do we think that creating and supporting new environmentally unsustainable neighborhoods far from public transportation is a good idea when we cannot support what we already have?

And the answer that new development provides a much needed cash flow for today’s government is a short term, myopic self serving reply. This development simply puts the burden of addressing infrastructure expectations of the new communities onto the backs of the county in the future as a whole including the established neighborhood that already are challenged in meeting their own basic needs.

Our Prince George’s County vision of the moment uses a market preference model of profit now thereby avoiding the necessity of addressing long term obligations both financially and ecologically. It is the classic recipe of mounting problems left for another time and another generation. We build infrastructure but have no plan for supply the programmatic funds to operate the structure in the future let alone maintain it. Pot holes and extra curricular activities like music in schools are examples of this short sighted thinking: build the road – build an auditorium, no one to fill the holes - no one to play the music.

In the end, citizens lose faith in the system ever addressing their needs because there are no visionaries willing to take the heat and fight the momentum of the moment. People who are fed up and have the means simply leave; those who dream write blogs. Where is the debate and the outrage? Until they come there will be no change; just the same old same old business as usual.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prince George's Political Leaders have only one vision and it isn't green

Prince George’s County’s current political leadership has only one vision for county growth. Lacking any other idea it believes that pavement is the answer to everything. Attacking those who would preserve open space, the elite want to pave their way towards prosperity. While neighboring counties get ready for week long celebration of agriculture and open spaces, ecology and the environment, Prince George’s Plans to remove more acreage from the rural tier. Instead of addressing the needs and challenges of existing communities, the county’s leaders set out to add demand upon the already stressed county infrastructure adding demand to police and fire, health and education. And who will pay for these costs? The very communities that are already under serviced.

In the name of economic development, Prince George’s County commits future infrastructure resources to the rural tier instead of supporting established communities. In doing so, it also grinds up and destroys the fragile ecosystem services that supply clean air and clean water to the county. And who will pay? The established communities that lie forgotten and ignored. Where do we put our money for new libraries, at the same time that we cannot keep old libraries open the entire day? We look to the newer communities needs and forget the old. The county builds the new libraries because now the new communities rightfully point out that they too are under served and need county wide service that provide quality of life amenities and enhancements.

Some leaders in Prince George’s County feel that property owners in the rural tier who oppose development are doing so for self interest. The political class notes that rural tier property owners have their piece of heaven and don’t want to share. However the leadership’s plan would be then to destroy the very thing they think they are arranging to share. Better to obliterate nature than to allow a few to serve as stewards of our diminishing resources is the new way backwards of Prince George’s County. In partnership with this thinking are some owners who feel that the rest of the county owes them sewer road and water improvements; that the established communities should pay to pave under the rural tier makes no sense but the facts on the ground seem to validate this new Prince George’s County vision for yesterday’s tired future: an upscale Target at every corner; a 7-11 for every neighborhood, and plenty of parking so we can drive more cars.

Prince George’s County’s leaders are proudly looking to the past for ideas as they think they claim to move forward. While the rest of the world begins to address ecosystem services, this county thinks that ecological considerations are someone else’s problem. Instead of reinvigorating established neighborhoods we build new neighborhoods and ask the old one’s to support the enhancements in the name of progress. While some counties celebrate open space and quality of life, Prince George’s County’s leadership plans to pave it under, and then go visit county fairs in other jurisdictions complaining that we can’t have these quality attractions here

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Prince George's County candidate platform guaranteed to lose an election

How to lose an election for county executive in Prince George’s County, besides running as a Republican? Let me offer a sure to lose campaign platform. Let me know if you think this (did I miss anything?) is a sure way to lose an election in Prince George’s County.

1. I pledge to work to increase public participation in the process of government. To this end I will work to create new and novel politically engaged local and neighborhood organizations with a voice at every level of policy and decision making.

NEW: I shall work to provide the resources necessary to establish ambulatory health and care services. Prince George’s County shall find a way to provide a medical health care safety net. To this end, as county executive, I will expand and strengthen existing safety-net capacity (exploring both private and public options), invest in new health and medical infrastructure, work to increase assistance in the enrollment of entitled citizens into Medicaid programs, and actively pursue regional partnerships. The county cannot continue to grow at the expense of those with lesser economic means.

2. I am dedicated to the principle of equal access to societal and environmental resources. I will therefore insist on “…the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” I will enable policies that replenishes the earth; favor an energy efficient economy; and enable citizens to live by supporting and protecting the integrity of our ecosystems and its services.

3. I am determined to create a sustainable economic system that can creates decent jobs with a good standard of living for all people and maintains a healthy ecological balance. Meaningful work with dignity will therefore pay a “living wage” which reflects the true value of a person’s work.

4. I will follow the County General plan in all decision making, and desist from the current policy of ad hoc decision unrelated to or in opposition to the General Plan. Upon election I shall immediately call for a review of the plan by all stakeholders and constituencies.

5. I believe that a core mission of government is to provide security for the community. Public safety and public health are fundamental responsibilities of government. Support for public safety employees will be direct, unequivocal and continuous. At the same time, I will call for people to step up take an active role in making our city safer through community partnerships and through new and existing grass root organizations.

6. I believe that we all have a duty to educate our children. Education is a family matter in partnership with government. As with public safety, I will call for people to step up take an active role in making our city safer through community partnerships and through new and existing grass root organizations. I am committed to closing the learning gap of economic inequality. I consider education to have three equal parts: family including faith based organizations, public schools and libraries. Education is not limited to classrooms and therefore I will support access to outdoors events, recreation, sports and cultural programs that not only provide instruction but enhance quality of life.

7. I shall lead by example and by direction your government agencies towards outputs of excellence. I shall give them the tools to do the best job possible from clean roads without potholes to permits without unnecessary delay. I shall go to the tax payers explaining the project and lay out the costs. We shall seek to reduce or cut programs for which taxpayers are no longer willing to pay, remembering that government has an obligation to protect minorities.

8. I shall seek partnerships with business to retain or reengineer existing jobs; we shall work to bring new businesses and new opportunities for employment to the County. I shall call for competitive taxing strategies to encourage businesses identified in the General Olan to operate in Prince George’s County. I will enage by all means available the federal and state agencies to choose Prince George’s County as their next building, offices or program.

9. I will continue to support, enhance and enable community involvement with land use decisions seeking new ways for local citizens to be heard and not ignored.

10. My actions and policies will be motivated by long-term goals. I shall move to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or encouraging the recycling of all waste, while developing a sustainable economic system that does not depend on continual expansion. I shall counterbalance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new and old technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible and fair to present and future generations who live here now or will live with the results of our actions.