Showing posts from June, 2018

To See and Be Seen

So, as Pride month comes to and, I have a few things to say about representation. You may remember that I once wrote about astronaut Sally Ride’s famous quote, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

As I walked around and talked to folks at the recent HoCo Pride Kick-Off event, I began to think about what a loss it is for the community that the enthusiasm for the new HoCo Forward slate swept away the only openly gay candidate, Bob Ford.

Bob ran a positive campaign and turned up in my social media feed often. He took the responsibilities of the Democratic Central Committee seriously. He even went after and received notable endorsements. I enjoyed speaking with him at the (few) political events I’ve attended. He already had a proven record of service locally. I felt sure he would be elected.

He wasn’t. Was it merely the enthusiasm for the new HoCo Forward Slate? Was there possibly any rejection of his willingness to be an openly gay candidate? I don’t know.

But as I wandered around the joyful P…

Hard Copy

My father loved newspapers. If he could have lived his life over again he would have been a “newspaperman” as he called them. He read the local paper every day, plus the Wall Street Journal. When we went on vacation the first thing he would do was to go out and buy a local newspaper. He carefully clipped interesting articles to share and discuss.

My father’s first job during his married years got him into the field of printing and publishing. He later sold computer systems for IBM to printing and publishing operations such as the (now-defunct) Cleveland Press. He ended his career helping to create computer systems for newspapers and magazines for IBM.

He just loved newspapers. He taught me about the importance of white space. He collected those old wooden type trays before it was cool. He cared about fonts and type size and how they looked on a page. Even as he worked on one of the first dot matrix printers, he and his colleagues lamented the inevitable demise of “hard copy” that their …

When School Isn’t Safe: Guest Post

I am sharing the following message this morning, with permission, to boost the signal for an important issue in our community.

It is a mistake to think that we can assure “school safety” by adding a police presence and other policies and procedures aimed at preventing outsiders from coming in to the school to do harm. Here we see, yet again, how the harm comes from within.

What will we do in Howard County to address the rising incidence of intolerance and harassment based on race, religion, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation? Young people mirror what they see at home and what they see in our present-day culture. How do we build strong school communities so that our students feel secure in the expectation that all are worthy of acceptance?

A message from the Jewish Federation of Howard County:

This is the first in what will be a series of periodic updates from me, as the Jewish Federation of Howard County’s newly-appointed Executive Director as of July 1. I am very happy that our Board …

The Human Factor

A few words about yesterday’s election:

Money isn’t everything.

Aside from that, I will leave the analysis to the pros and the armchair pros.

Today’s story comes from my brief time working the polls yesterday. I came to support Vicky Cutroneo in the BOE race. My polling place, Talbott Springs Elementary, was pretty much deserted save for one nice woman with Apple Ballots and campaign materials for BOE Candidate Bob Glascock. So we set up shop together under the shade of an old tree.

I don’t know whether we influenced any voters. But I learned so much from talking to my partner at the polls. She had grown up with Mr. Glascock, or “Bobby”as she called him. They went to childhood birthday parties together. Her admiration for him was sincere. She’s now technically retired but works as a school recess monitor. Her son is a school janitor.

A lot of us who get all excited about local elections are pretty much from the same world. We have college degrees. have professional jobs, read a lot. We deb…

Election Day Musings

There was a bit of pink in the sky this morning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who saw it. Around Howard County there must be plenty of candidates and campaign workers up early to get ready for the day. They’re getting ready for you.

Yes, you. If you haven’t voted in early voting then today is your day. No matter what your party affiliation you have a reason to show up and make your choices today. Independents can vote for Board of Education candidates. So, don’t sit this one out.

Speaking of BOE, I did settle on my four in time for early voting,

Vicky Cutroneo
Bob Glascock
Jen Mallo
Sabina Taj

I hope that all of these folks make it through the primary process and move forward to the General election in November.

Some people truly look forward to this day and the election watching parties that follow. Right now I am weary of the entire primary season and can’t wait for it to be over. This year’s campaign season has brought:

Perplexing endorsements by well-known figures for two questionable, bu…

Back in the Trenches

This morning brings another status report from the War Beween Men and Women:

Study: male D.C. reporters retweet male colleagues three times more than their female colleagues- - Laura McGann, Vox

In a tweet promoting this article, journalist Kainaz Amaria says:

Twitter is a fun place for men; a hellscape for women - via @lkmcgann & @christinamta

A new study reveals why female journalists are so much less influential on Twitter than men.
“A hellscape for women?” you wonder. Surely that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Considering the amount of negative feedback, sexual harassment, and threats of violence that women are subjected  to on Twitter (and other forms of social media) I’d say hellscape is pretty darned accurate. Add to that the heightened pressure that comes when being on Twitter and functioning successfully is a part of your job and people who should be your peers ignore you, talk around you, and give others credit for your work and ideas. 
This has been happening in the workplace fo…

Money, Mouth, and Merriweather

This has surely been the campaign season of unusual endorsements. It has also been a time when we shake our heads and marvel at how many endorsement-giving organizations there are in Howard County. For example, there’s The People’s Voice, the Sierra Club, HCEA, the NAACP, Merriweather Post Pavillion...

Wait, what?

I must admit I was startled to learn yesterday that MPP was an endorsing institution this year. I’m wondering how they selected their candidates. Did they interview them? Have them fill out lengthy questionnaires? Perhaps they held a straw poll? I don’t know. But they clearly have choices.

If you haven’t received word of the Merriweather Post Pavillion endorsements, don’t feel bad, you’re not out of the loop. You’re just not an employee of MPP. You see, their recommendations weren’t meant for the general public, but for a select audience: the people whose paychecks they write.

Here’s the email they sent:

As talked about at the Safety Summit, we are reaching out to the entire MPP …

Picture Postcard

This is the perfect day for me
The perfect moment
A few books, a new magazine,
Paper and pens and markers to color my
Thoughts and dreams.
More than enough paper in my sketch book to
Let my ideas stretch out, venture forth, perhaps
Take flight.

The sun peeks out from behind the clouds
And shows me the outline of my beach umbrella.
I move myself further into the shade.

Everything is right.
The sound of the water and children playing
The warmth of the day
And the fluttering coolness of the breeze
My toes wiggling into the cool sand.

A seasgull.
I had forgotten seagulls.

I’m back from a few days at the beach. Hello, HoCo. Thanks for holding the fort while we were gone. - - jam


Leadership looks forward. It is proactive, not reactive.

After the hateful rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election there were some very wise people who read the signs and saw what was coming. All those hate filled rallies on the campaign trail had everything to do with demonizing brown people at the border. Any border, any brown people.

Locally in Howard County there were many who didn’t take the proposal of CB9 seriously. They accused its proponents of nothing more than petty politics. There was no danger. We were doing just fine the way we were.

I wonder if any of them knew what was coming? ICE agents searching Greyhound buses demanding papers? Children separated from parents without plans for return? Travelers refused entry because of their religion? Maybe some did, and that’s exactly what they wanted.

But I’m guessing that some just didn’t think that could happen. They didn’t connect the dots from the campaign speeches to policy after policy designed to demean, discriminate, and de…

Wrung Out

I am absolutely wrung out from the national crisis that has been dominating our shared consciousness. I feel as though I have nothing left.

Sending you over to HoCoHouseHon today for her refelections on this topic. She challenges us to “Imagine You Are Small.”

Don’t think for one moment that it’s over.  Don’t think it’s not really your business. It’s everyones business.

Oh, and today’s the last day of Early Voting. Please vote.


Since a number of people have reached out to me with this question after the PFLAG BOE Candidate Forum, I thought I should address it publicly here.

Question: Any further discussion of the bathroom issue from Mavourene Robinson?  That's the part I was most interested in/concerned about.

Answer: Yes. It was the first question. All candidates said that trans kids should be able to use the restrooms/locker rooms of their identified gender. But then several qualified their answers. Her qualifications were the most problematic to me.

Ms. Robinson essentially said that we are responsible to all children, so we have to make accommodations for children who are made uncomfortable by this, almost as though their views should influence policy equally with trans kids. I don’t agree.

Imagine if that were a school board argument against integration? What if white kids feel "uncomfortable" sharing a bathroom with black classmates, should we accommodate that?  Or eating lunch with them? Or …

Failure at the Forum

Yesterday I failed. Yes, I failed the PFLAG BOE Candidate Forum because I could not make it to the end. After an hour and forty five minutes of sitting I had the overwhelming urge to make my departure quietly so that I didn’t completely lose it and run from the room screaming.

I don’t sit well. I hadn’t thought much about it until recently, but almost every single job I have had in my professional life has involved moving around or provided frequent breaks with varying activities. As I have become more conscious about this in myself, I have started applying various strategies to get through long stretches of sitting. Therapy putty. Crocheting. Colored pens for doodling. The carefully chosen moment for a bathroom break.

I’m an adult and I get to choose a lot about how my life goes. Imagine students whose days are proscribed for them by a routine that depends on “the delivery of content” in a physically passive setting. All. Day. Long. I realize now that I daydreamed and doodled a lot in …

Sour Grapes

I do not know if this has always been the case, but I am seeing a trend in candidates who, if not receiving a particular endorsement, turn around and kick the endorsing organization. It’s not a good look. If they were so awful, why were you seeking their endorsement in the first place?

It’s also not a very good long-term strategy. First of all, in insulting the organization, you are pretty much insulting the members of the organization, who are probably the voters you are trying to reach. Secondly, what if you ever decided to run again? Do you really want to burn those bridges now?

I agree that some local endorsements by groups have just been weird this time around. (I’m not even going to touch individual endorsements.) But is it better to say, “I am disappointed not to to receive the ABCDQ endorsement,”or to say, “They’re all jerks and that’s why they didn’t endorse me”? This seems to me to be a relatively simple choice.

Now, by all means, if you can prove bias or malfeasance in the end…

Out on the Dance Floor

Party with preschoolers in the morning, recover with ibuprofen in the afternoon. A day well spent.

Something I have noticed since beginning these dance parties at the Chrysalis is the composition of those in attendance. Moms with kids are probably the majority, and there have been a smattering of grandmas, but I have been surprised at the number of dads. The service dog was the icing on the cake.

Why shouldn’t dads be there, you ask. Why, indeed? And yet, when I was little, they wouldn’t have been. Attending and participating in an event targeted for young children wouldn’t have been within their scope of involvement. Things like this probably would have been held during the week for (stay at home) moms and so dads would have been at work.

My own dad admitted years later that he never really knew what to do with his three daughters during their younger years. I got to know him best when I was in college and he was in the last years of his life due to COPD/emphysema. I don’t have any firm…

Debts and Debtors

When you see certain big name endorsements in political races, it makes you wonder if politics is all about owing people. Years of campaign contributions finally pay off. Political favors returned.

Yes, I’m casting a critical eye here, largely because I don’t like these particular endorsements and I think they are tone deaf when it comes to the needs and mood of the community. But what if I had liked the endorsements? Then would I see it differently?

Perhaps I’d be saying, “They’ve been friends for years,” or, “they always had a good working relationship.” Is it all merely in the eye of the beholder?

I asked my friends this question last night on Facebook, “is politics really just all about owing people?” I got a wide variety of answers. I’m happy to report that not everyone is as jaded as I am right now, although, to be honest, some are moreso. One person made a distinction between politicians and public servants.

In order to get elected, must everyone play the politician card? Does anyo…

Social Studies

I took a walk on the wild side and accepted an invitation to attend a press event for the new restaurants in town, Cured and 18th & 21st. Every once in a while I’m invited to press events, but they're often during the day when I’m working. So, when I received an invitation to sample the food and drink at this hot new establishment, I couldn’t resist.

This post is not a review. I’ll be getting that together over the weekend. There’s a lot to process and I want to do it justice. There’s another element of the evening worth considering. I accepted an invitation to an event where I wasn’t sure I would know anyone at all. And then I actually went.

I am, at my core, an intensely shy person. Some people don't believe that, but it's true. My early attempts at going to blog parties were just that. I'd get ready, drive to the event, drive around the location, and drive home. (From “25”, July 18, 2014)

I was pleasantly surprised to bump into blogger Frank Hecker (Civility and Tr…

Part 3, the Aftermath

A few thoughts on yesterday’s post, then I’ll move on.

In reference to my assessment of Danny Mackey:

I am not saying that a person of a particular age is “too young” to hold public office. I am saying that my assessment at present is that Mr. Mackey doesn’t yet have what is needed to be the right person for the BOE at this particular time. That is not at all the same thing.

To the suggestion that my assessment of Robert Glascock is “ageism”:

There’s absolutely no ageism involved here. I was struck by how much he referred to the past in all his answers. Many of the challenges we face are new or enormously heightened since 2008. I’d like to hear him apply his knowledge in a way that acknowledges and addresses that.

In the case of Glascock, Mackey, Miller, and Pena, I’m not saying, “sit down and go home.” I’m saying, “convince me.” I do want a fourth candidate to vote for.

Oh, and I’m firm on my assessment of  Ms. Robinson, thanks.

To the person that complained my post is full of opinion: yes,…

A Recipe for Recovery: BOE Part 2

Onward to some analysis!

Our school system has survived a time of crisis. Now we are moving into a time of recovery. As we prepare to vote for new Board members in the June primary, I’ve concocted a recipe for recovery. Here are the ingredients:

Knowledge of the School System
Respect for others
Flexibility in working with others, and intellectual flexibility/creativity
Understanding of what the job itself entails

Optional, but recommended: a sense of humor

There are also certain issues that matter a lot to me:

Special education
Arts Education
Fair treatment of teachers and support staff
Responsiveness to parents

With all that in mind, these candidates have many/most of these ingredients:

Vicky Cutroneo
Sabina Taj
Jen Mallo

These have some:

Bob Glascock
Danny Mackey
Robert Miller
Carleen Pena

Not the right mix/amount of ingredients:

Anita Pandey
Saif Rehman
Chao Wu

Cutroneo combines experience as a parent and advocate with her PTACHC service and career as a pediatric nurse. She has experience coll…

BOE Forum: Just the Facts

At long last, here are my thoughts on the Howard County League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for the Board of Education. This event took place on June 2nd at Howard Community College. 
First thoughts: It’s a good thing that the primary is coming soon, because all these candidates barely fit at the table! They seemed pretty good-natured about it. Dr. Chao Wu came late due to a family emergency and they somehow fit him in at the end.
Second thought: the mood in this election is very different from that of the last. There is a good deal less anger and, although there are issues of great urgency, the sense of where we are and where we are going felt more like a shared mission than a power struggle. Part of this is because we are all now much more aware of what our challenges are. They are out in the open and up for discussion.
Please do not forget what a huge change that is. And we owe that new transparency to the members elected in the last election, joining with Bess Altwerger and Cindy …