Saturday, February 21, 2009


This should be interesting. A group of 13 county residents are suing Ken Ulman, Jim Robey, the Council, Marsha McLauglin, and several other county staffers. The very unusual suit alleges that the county has essentially deprived citizens of their right to vote by using processes that are not subject to voter referendum.

This is despite the fact that there have been very few referendums even with a low threshold for signatures (5,000). Of course, the plaintiffs of this suit would suggest that is because all the controversial decisions are made by processes not subject to referendum. Whether or not that is true will determined by the courts. The plaintiffs are suing for $10 million, arguing that they have been especially aggrieved by bad zoning decisions.

Although I think this suit will get nowhere, without people willing to stand up for what they believe, we'd probably be a slaves to the government already. So three cheers for freedom.

I would actually like to see significantly less government involvement in land use decisions. I am far more frightened by anti-growth special interests than by market driven developers. That line of thinking does not seem to wildly popular in this town.

Update: Suit can be read here (.pdf).


jim adams said...

Sorry F.M. I am confused, you mention less gov. involvement,but
fear of anti-growth.

What is the line of thought you fine less popular. Thanks

Freemarket said...

I mean that it is not popular to favor less government involvement in land use. Too much government involvement allows special interests (both developers and anti-growth activists) to wield too much power. For example, look at how labor unions are involved in the referendum against CB 58 as well as trying to hold up Wegmans. Should our land use decisions be based on whether or not a proposed grocery store is unionized or not?

Anonymous said...

Wildly conflicting positions: "I would actually like to see significantly less government involvement in land use decisions. I am far more frightened by anti-growth special interests..."

Make up your mind. Either you want more individual voter exercizing rights, or you want more gov't/developer coupled decision-making.

jim adams said...

I doubt we will ever have less gov involvement, and we should have a constructive amount of anti-growth.

But maintaining the proper balance is near inpossible, even with transperancy and accountability.

Money is the root of all evil.

Public campaign finacing, will bring us closer to a resoluation, so that is what we should want.

Freemarket said...

Uh, no anon, that is the fallacy of too few alternatives. You obviously see the land use process as voters on one side and gov’t/developers on the other side. That is a na├»ve and highly distorted picture.

Lotsabogeys said...

I wonder if Buddy Mays (local food worker union president) is one of the residents considering the topic and Susan Gray is his lawyer in the Wegmans appeals. If so, he is probably ticked that he didn't win any of the appeals which appear over.

Freemarket said...

I noticed that Philip Rousseau (one of the plaintiffs in this suit) was also involved in a suit against the Planning Board and Wegmans. The case was dismissed, but Susan Gray was his att'y for that one, too.

Lotsabogeys said...

Do you mean a suit separate from the appeals?

Philip Rousseau was just a puppet. He was being used by Buddy Mays because he lives close enough to the Wegmans location to appeal, but all the bills were paid by the food workers union.

There were three appeals. Buddy Mays and two under Philip Rousseau's name. One of Philip Rousseau's appeals was filed too late and it was quickly dismissed at all levels including Circuit Court. The other Philip Rousseau appeal was for the traffic study. It was dismissed by the Howard County Board of Appeals in early January. No appeal is on record on the MD Judiciary Case Search. Since it has been past 30 days I believe it is dead.

I was guessing the Philip Rousseau was one of the people on the suit.

jim adams said...

The filing can be found on the Howard Co. Issues web site, under land development.

Anonymous said...

Who cares who is behind the appeal of the Wegmans or the lawsuit, it is about the content of the lawsuit. I think that this County and lawyers like Talkin have been running hand in hand for too long. I applaud whoever is doing it. If Wegman's application had gone to the County Council for approval (or the rezoning, which is what I think is at the heart of the Wegmans stuff, I believe from reading the suit off of Howard County Issues), I could shop there today. But they didn't and because they didn't, and they hired Richard Talkin to skirt the basis of this lawsuit, they deserve not to be open right now. If a little green man was behind the lawsuit, would it had made a difference to what the lawsuit was about and its content?

PZGURU said...

WOW - that lawsuit is an unusual but very interesting tactic to take.

First, I do want to say that the (non-appointed) EMPLOYEES should not be targeted in the suit. Elected officials and appointed officials (department heads) I think are fair game.

I think there is some validity to the case. Consider this. After the last Comp Rezoning fiasco, with the Comp Lite give-away that included lots of procedural violations, not to mention legal violations (hello Bethel Korean Church - illegal "spot zoning"), a referendum drive was started. The organizers followed all the rules but then a judge tossed it on some stupid technicality.

The organizers filed a lawsuit over 2 years ago that is STILL lingering unresolved!!!! IN fact, I have been watching the case at a distance and am very concerned to find out the judge (Judge Becker)who had been presiding over the case suddenly recused himself a year and a half into the case!!! The new judge who took over the case is Judge Tim McCrone, a good friend of good ol' Kenny Boy Ulman, the current CE and prior councilmember who presided over part of the rezoning fiasco (along with then corruptor in chief Guy Guzzone).

What are the chances that Judge McCrone can be impartial and fair in this trial???? My answer - ZERO!!!

The whole "referendum" process in Howard County is a sham. It gives the citizens the false impression that they have the ability to challenge political shenanigans, when in reality, they will never get past the arbitrary requirements to successfully bring something to a referendum.

I wish them good luck in their efforts to bring TRUE transparency and accountability to Howard County.

Anonymous said...

What reason did Becker give for recusal? Recall that at least one HC judge invested in the Cattail LLC - they're human beings after all, subject to the same failings as anyone.

McCrone is assigned? Good luck with that.

PZGURU said...

ANON - I called Judge Becker's office to find out but his clerk offered "no comment" and I never got a call back from Judge Becker himself.

I am highly suspicious of that turn of events though. I can't imagine why it would happen so far along into the case.

It may have to do with political affiliation or political campaign donations - just a guess though.

This lingering case (why should it take 2-3 years to decide a case????) just highlights the problems with the whole land development system in Howard County.