The following was posted by Howard County Council Member Liz Walsh on Facebook:

Oh dear what is happening over here. Some of you seem to have been a bit worked up about what two of my Council colleagues and I propose to amend in the County’s FY21 budget. While I admit that what I have seen does read quite sensational, I must report to you that this is likely because so much of what’s being said is not actually true.

Here is my least-favorite example:

No, of course I have not “cut flood mitigation to zero” in old Ellicott City.

You didn’t really believe this when you saw it, did you? All this time, you still don’t know me at all?

Almost all I do is flood mitigation and  and priority forests and green infrastructure and historic and environmental conservation and open space and stream buffers and wetlands and steep slopes and floodplains and you get the picture. And all of you now getting tangled up in all those “Democratic values” of ours and cursing the villainy of my agreeing with the Council’s lone Republican this one time, I invite your attention to every vote on every other bill or amendment I’ve introduced over the entire last year-and-a-half of this Council’s first term. Every single one. And there are lots, Friends. Many, maybe most, failed by a 3-2 majority vote that sure did not include me or that one Republican and every one of them aimed like a laser at good old Democratic values like education and environment, including this time last budget. I’m certain there’s plenty more of those votes to come, and no one around here thinks it’s party drawing those lines.

But back to building a budget in the midst of an economic freefall and flood mitigation in old Ellicott City, specifically:

The County Executive’s proposed capital budget this year consolidated all things “Safe and Sound” into one single item, C0337, excerpted below. Not one dollar we cut from there. Not one. This fiscal year, the County Executive proposed to add another $9.4M in County funds to C0337, and our State representatives went to Annapolis and brought us back another $8.25M. That’s all still in there for old Ellicott City flood mitigation, plus another $1M or so of unspecified “other” grants the County’s apparently also laid claim to. No reason we couldn’t get more. All that plus prior years’ appropriations we never spent means old Ellicott City got and keeps all of around $30M.

In general, I intended two kinds of strategies on how this fiscal year’s capital budget might be amended: One aimed at pausing just for now the biggest, newest commitments—like a $63M dinner theater/Recreation & Parks showcase in downtown Columbia. The other identified the largest stashes of unused funds from prior years’ appropriations—that’s where all those ADA ramps and bike paths and sidewalks come in. The money’s there, it’s been there, DPW’s just not done so much work with it. No reason it couldn’t still now.

Plainly, neither of these strategies was meant to be divisive. Many of us on the Council looked real hard through that 711-page capital budget. It’s not got the plainest speak about what’s actually in there and where, and the Council doesn’t get a whole lot of time with most of it—although by my count we’ve been in budget hearings for 59+ hours total so far. Some of us in that time saw an opportunity to give our County’s finances just a little bit of breathing room while we figure out what’s next, and that’s all that that capital budget amendment aims to do.

Sure my two Council colleagues and I could have made a mistake in how we did the math, but I haven’t seen it yet, not on the capital amendment. If you have, though, show me and I promise: I’ll investigate and I’ll do my best to fix it, if that’s what’s needed. No name-calling at all necessary.❤️

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I have had moments where I have disagreed with this council member (of course…I have moments where I disagree with all council members) but she hit the nail on the head at the beginning of this statement on Facebook. This statement may be one the most true of statements I have read in a while:

And all of you now getting tangled up in all those “Democratic values” of ours and cursing the villainy of my agreeing with the Council’s lone Republican this one time, I invite your attention to every vote on every other bill or amendment I’ve introduced over the entire last year-and-a-half of this Council’s first term. Every single one. And there are lots, Friends. Many, maybe most, failed by a 3-2 majority vote that sure did not include me or that one Republican and every one of them aimed like a laser at good old Democratic values like education and environment, including this time last budget.

The Council Work Session at 1:00pm today should be an interesting one. I will have it on in the background as I am working this afternoon…just to listen and learn.

Scott E

1 COMMENT

  1. Why is my County Council Rep, Deb Jung, aligning herself with conservatives when she represents a majority liberal district? Even Serendipity Sigaty wouldn’t do that! Jung needs to be Primaried in her next election. District 4 needs an AOC. Before the pandemic, the Councilwoman from District 4, occasionally attended the Columbia Athletic Club. The people I observed her speaking with were always White and usually women. Why is Jung getting a pass?

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