Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Apologize and correct your errors, have some fun with people who challenge you and your opinions . . .

In my last post, I clarified the truth about who precisely Mr. Oxenham was replacing on the Housing Commission – as originally proposed and as finally approved.  I continue to stand 100% behind my statements of fact as fact [1].  However, at the end of my post I launched into theory as to WHY the Kittleman administration made the change.  Through the device of rhetorical questions, I put forth two theories.

My primary theory was that the administration had decided (better late than never) that racial diversity actually is important for the Housing Commission and so re-arranged nominations to reflect that.  My second theory was that the Kittleman administration maybe in fact wanted to work with the Democratically controlled council and show actual bipartisianship and so this was an agreement between them.

As it turns out, the manifestations of the lack of diversity were quick enough to clarify that no, the Administration’s change in plans was not based on a realization of the importance of diversity nor a commitment to bipartisanship, but rather it was simply a practical response to changing circumstances.  The other nominee, Brad Myers, got another opportunity that upon reflection was the opportunity he preferred [2].  My theories actually gave the Administration the benefit of the doubt.  I stand corrected. 

Now let us break down each of the three comments.  They’re pretty long so I won’t paste them whole in this post but you should definitely read them here.  All three seem to employ the tried and true strategy of manufactured outrage, strawmen, and anything ranging from true passive aggressive to outright aggressive slights.

Ox was up first and the most straight forward and reasonable of the three.  He starts by dismissing my theories as “conspiracy” theories.  It is clearly the word conspiracy that is wildly out of place here.  I did put forth theories, though hardly conspiracy–based, and by most objective standards, were either of my theories to be true it would have put the Executive in a FAR better light than what Ox claims to be the true reasoning.

Ox then tells me where I “went wrong”.  This one I will quote directly “instead of using to resources to find out what happened you chose to make an accusations about me being rich without any knowledge of my income or tax bracket. Then tried to make bogus racial claims to stir up trouble.” [3]  I want to take specific exception to the very concept that what I did was “make a bogus racial claim.”  That’s preposterous.  I pointed out that a white man was nominated to replace an African American woman who still had a term to serve.  For the record, with the change by the Administration she is now in limbo and it will be interesting to see what the Administration does in either reappointing her or NOW proposing again to replace her.

Ox ends with a little diatribe on the state of blogging and strangely, along with his friends after him, accuses me of lighting fires while clearly holding matches. 

Next up was Brad Myers the nominee who withdrew.  For those of you playing the HoCo politics drinking game, bottoms up because Brad uses our favorite pejorative while leveling accusations at someone else, “What ever happened to Choose Civility?”  Brad spends most of his time explaining his decision to withdraw, all of which is fine and good.  I will reiterate that my statements of fact were 100% accurate at the time I wrote them and that I put forth theories as to the reason for the change.  Both Brad’s and Ox’s claims that my theories over politicize the situation are off base.  Brad goes further saying that it is “disgusting and should not be tolerated by the citizens of Howard County.”  While I was desperately hoping he would end with a Hitler reference, I guess I will settle for this metaphoric dive to the pitch like an Italian soccer star.

Honestly, David Yungmann’s is my favorite.  My theory is that since he is neither a new appointee nor the name on every Kittleman campaign piece, he felt less inclined to code his language.  Of course my theories have been proven wrong so what do I know?  He starts out of the gate by declaring that publishing something factually inaccurate is misinformation and fiction.  I agree with that of course, but again, what I published was 100% accurate at the time it was published. 

He next dreams up a response from me to Ox with two statements of interest to me.  First, that “…it doesn’t matter that he was at some point weeks earlier slated to replace her.”  This statement is WILDLY off base because it most definitely does matter.  I am putting forth that I believe racial diversity on the Housing Commission is extremely important AND that Ms. Mitchell has, as far as anyone I know of every political persuasion is saying, served quite admirably. [4]

He follows that up with another reference to my calling Ox rich and declares that means I, as a progressive, think that disqualifies Ox.  Classic conservative assumption.  I explained in footnote 3 how I came to that conclusion, it was not meant as a pejorative any more than calling him white or a man was [5].  All three were used simply as a point that we have rich white men who are represented in abundance in Howard County (of all political parties and persuasions).

After a kind of long diatribe attacking me for what he perceives as an attack on Ox which is kind of silly and not worth the time to dispute he makes the following accusation: 

“This blog is so obviously being run by someone in the inner circle of the anti-Kittleman camp and will be used to spread negative information, whether accurate or fiction, about Allan and everything he does.”

Here is where I am terribly torn.  On the one hand Mr. Yungmann clearly does not know or understand the Democratic Party in general or more specifically the Howard County Democratic Party.  The idea that they are organized enough to create an anti-Kittleman camp with or without an inner circle or that a campaign is being waged three years early is . . . hilarious [6].  On the other hand, evidence is showing that this idea is making the Kittleman Administration chase its tail a bit so . . . sure, I am part of the inner circle of the anti-Kittleman camp.  I’ve been put in charge of the secret handshake.


[1] More on this in a moment as I will address the statements of all three commenters to the post.

[2] Leadership does seem like a perfectly great opportunity, and I certainly see how he would only have time for one or the other.

[3] Although this may be a rabbit hole from which we never return, I will address my characterization of Ox as “rich”.  It is true that I don’t have any knowledge of Ox’s income or tax bracket.  I do know his home address (which he gave at the public hearing) and what he paid for the house (which is public record available on the State Department of Assessment and Taxation website).  “Rich” is both subjective and relative, and it is a term that makes many of us of higher economic status rather uncomfortable for some reason.  I seem to have struck a nerve here – that was not my intent, but I’m not apologizing either.  For a long time, I have believed it doesn’t serve anyone for us liberal do-gooders to ignore how the system works to our personal benefit.  I think the same applies to conservative do-gooders too.  

[4] I do not know Ms. Mitchell.  I have never met her.  I do not know what her political persuasions are.  My understanding from those who have worked with her, including folks INSIDE the Kittleman administration, is that she is a great resource on the Housing Commission.

[5] I am fairly certain from his conservative lens he thinks that I meant all three as a negative.

[6] It is certainly possible that such a thing exists and is happening though it would literally shock me.  Contrary to what these commenters or anyone else may think, I personally have not been involved in ANY inner circle meetings (or outer circle meetings for that matter) and have had no contact with County elected officials any more than the average County resident.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ox, You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

In this case the word is “fact”.

So there I was staring at the Casey Foundation report that I mention here, trying to put together a cogent post while clearly having summer brain.  Then, almost at that exact moment I get a comment posted from “Ox” the online moniker for Chris Oxenham, newest appointee to the Housing Commission.  Here is the comment in its entirety:

“This post was just brought to my attention and it should be pointed out that misinformation is being spread. While I appreciate your enthusiasm for local issues you have a point marked there that states "a rich white man to the housing commission to replace an African American woman who has dedicated her career to affordable housing" aside from me wondering how you got access to my tax returns to be able to make a comment about me being "rich", it should be pointed out that I did not in fact replace who you said I did. While you may personally dislike me which is fair game and I have no problem taking hits from you about my postings and comments, facts should still triumph over fiction.”

What is simply amazing to me is that Mr. Oxenham could have simply given an update and left it at that but instead choose to outright state that I was providing misinformation and “fiction” in my declaration on who he would be replacing on the Commission.  Of course I cannot know his intent but I suspect that there was a good deal of hubris in making such an accusation towards me when the facts are easily discernible through public information.

So, first of all, he is correct when he states that he “did not in fact replace who you said I did.”  However, my statement that he was nominated to replace her specifically is ALSO correct.  His statement is, at best, an update not a correction.

Mr. Oxenham was originally nominated to replace Ms. Mitchell, but the Administration eventually changed its mind and decided to have him replace the term limited Mr. Riemer.  The Council discusses this briefly when Mr. Oxenham is approved [1].  If you go to the page with the supporting documents on his nomination resolution you will find a memo from Chief Administrative Officer Lonnie Robbins to Council Chair Mary Kay Sigaty dated July 30 [2].  Here is the word for word text of the memo:

“The Administration requests that Council Resolution No. 109-2015 be withdrawn at the Council's next legislative session.
Also, with regard to CR 110-2015, the appointee, Christopher Oxenham, will be replacing Michael Riemer. Mr. Oxenham will not be replacing Regina Mitchell as previously indicated.”

I will not be so bold as to presume it was my blog post which convinced the Administration of the error of its ways.  It was much more likely the result of negotiations with Council members who are, as they should be, taking the responsibility of approving such nominations seriously.  Like I said, Mr. Oxenham’s comment is, at best, simply an update.  His referring to my post as misinformation and fiction over facts is blatant obfuscation.  Pretty quickly and easily proving one of the reasons I was so uneasy with his nomination to the Housing Commission in the first place.  The comment, however, does highlight a whole series of new questions for me.

Mr. Oxenham said, “This post was just brought to my attention”.

Was the attention bringer a member of the Kittleman Administration?

If so, did they also request that Mr. Oxenham obfuscate the history as he so clearly did?

If so why would the administration run from the change or want to pretend this wasn’t a change?   Are they afraid to admit they made a mistake or yielded to pressure?  Are they afraid to admit that they gave into pressure to keep racial diversity on a County Commission?

All just questions, for now without answers.

[1] I believe you can find it at the 12-minute mark.
[2] My post in question was dated July 23

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Last . . . Bite on Nutrition

Barring something unforeseen this is definitely the last I will be talking about the CB-17 and honestly I am going to keep it short because it has ALL been said.  Listening to the session from last week really only one sentence stood out as summing up the entire debate.

Councilman Fox, in a lengthy and relatively rambling defense of his vote not to override the veto, honed in on two key arguments.  The first was that old trope of stealing our freedom.  The second was that the bill, as amended, did nothing.  He tied those two together with the age-old “slippery slope” argument.  I am open to discussion on this but as far as I can tell the “slippery slope” argument is a fallacy 99.78% of the time.

So back to the one magical sentence, it came from Councilwoman Terrasa and it was the first thing she said “I find it hard to understand how a bill that does nothing takes away the freedoms you are talking about.”  The statement was followed by what sounds like fairly robust laughter from the studio audience and some mutterings of protest from Mr. Fox. 

It was a good line but it struck me as a pretty earnest statement as well and it highlighted the logical flaws in the opposition to the bill.  The arguments against the bill appear to be based on what opponents believed the bill was or based on other bills it looked like, not what was actually within this bill.  Truth be told, it is pretty difficult to see through to what the actual objections are to the actual legislation.  If you, Mr. Fox, object to what you believe will inevitably come next as we careen down the slippery slope, the appropriate time to argue is when it comes along.  Support for A does not in any way indicate permissiveness for B.  That’s a tired argument without factual support.[1]  Oh and just for the record, I agree that Diet Monster has no redeeming nutritional value for kids (or adults).  However, that still places it as a better option than those that have been found to be the leading cause of the biggest epidemic facing our children.  How gross Diet Monster looks or tastes or seems is simply not relevant.  Also I just tried Diet Monster and yeah it’s disgusting.  Anyway, all appears to be well that ends well and it will be interesting to see how such legislation is implemented in this environment.

With it being August, I suspect I will stay at a slowed down pace, hopefully still posting at least once a week.  I will shoot for some of those 30,000 feet issues or side projects I have been looking at.

[1] If you argue back with Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler, I’m throwing you out of my corner of the internet.