So here in Howard County there is a lot of talk about developer influence on local legislation or local happenings. Some of those discussions are for good reason…now look….if your entity gives significant money to local legislators that will decide your future in this county….or legislators at the state level that will also play a role in your entities future…then local folks are going to talk about your potential influence on local legislation proposed or local things like redistricting with the school system.
Howard Hughes Corporation gives money (sometimes significant money) to local politicians at the local (Howard County Executive or Council level) and State (State Delegates and Senators). They just do. Like it or not…it is a matter of public record. They also support local journalism that supports “their cause” (but that is a blog post for another day).
One of the images making the rounds on social media from back in July of 2019 is the following:
Look…Greg Fitchitt did not send this email directly to the superintendent or the HoCoBOE (that I know of). According to the image…Louise Green (not clue who that is personally) forwarded this email along to the Superintendent and others.
Howard Hughes Corporation is legally allowed to support any candidate, elected official, local employee or issue they like…and I am not trying to stop that fact. But when we talk about developer influence (hashtag money) on local issues…it is really hard to ignore this image making the rounds on social media.
MANY people lost their minds when a reporter in Baltimore who lives in our community (Howard County resident with kids in our school system) sent in a letter while adding her signature showing that she was a reporter in Baltimore in the email. I wonder if those same people will call this out as well? I am betting not….but we will see.
Look…I 100% believe all members of our community should have a voice in school redistricting or any other local issue no matter who they work for today. The fact that you work for an entity should not remove you from a conversation about local happenings if you live here. That being said….you should understand that the entity you work for (either a news agency or a local developer that gives significant funding to elected officials) might be called out when the community sees you weighing in on local issues.
Some in our community have called out various HCPSS MPIA requests…and I agree some of the requests are silly…that being said…some of them reveal this type of information…and that is a good thing. An open and transparent government is a good thing and we should all support that…I hope.
I have no clue if this email (or others from that entity) had any influence on the redistricting process that happened with the HCPSS and the Board of Education. That being said….it looks bad from an entity that gives a lot of money to local politicians in our community.
I have no specific issue with Howard Hughes Corporation…they are doing their thing in our community….they are doing good things in Downtown Columbia and making money while doing it. That is fine. But…I think…we should ask the question was the email sent about redistricting “right” from the President of that entity that was forwarded to the HCPSS Superintendent? Especially after the local reporter got blown up over a similar action.
I look forward to seeing if those OUTRAGED by the email from the reporter are also equally annoyed by this email from the president of an entity that gives money to local legislators. Maybe those folks will not be because it was not sent directly or because they support the statements sent from a member of that entity. We may find out soon I think on social media.
Have thoughts….let me know in the comments.