Minutes of the New Harford Democratic Club Wednesday, FEB 5, 2020 at the Aberdeen Holiday Inn Express
I. Call to Order: Acting Chair/Treasurer George Harrison called meeting to order at 7:01pm. He welcomed members and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Agenda provided in hard copy.
II. Minutes: Secretary Barney Michel presented the minutes from the prior meeting, noting that a copy was available on the NHDC website http://www.newhardforddemocraticclub.org (in addition to the e-version sent to all members). Minutes approved without comment. NOTE: Members not getting club emails need to provide correct information to the Treasurer or Secretary.
III. Treasurer's Report: George presented NHDC account balance and noted that annual dues letter is out now, returns coming in.
IV. Education Committee: George for John Barham Our news release states our club position on education is very consistent; we think education has been systematically underfunded [referred members to Dr. Boulson's remarks from February meeting for more detail]. If our system was not systematically underfunded, we would already be at Kirwan level. Meeting with press to explain and discuss this position, e.g.: o Class size, activity fees, teacher losses would NOT be a problem if education properly funded o Harford schools lowest per capita funding in Maryland o Funding does not and has not kept pace with inflation
V. Voter Registration efforts: Art Helton First, KUDOS to Mitt Romney for voting his conscience! Teaming with AA Dems on creating/distributing door hangers for voter registration. Will follow-up to get out the vote. We got ~7,000 new registrations in 2012; 2020 target is 3-4,000 new registrations Route 40 corridor tends to vote at a 10% LOWER RATE than rest of county. o Lost two county council seats on turnout in last election in Rte. 40 districts NOTE: There is no legal requirement for training to register voters.
VI. Guest Speakers: Andre Johnson, County Council Member, District A I will give you some "real talk" tonight. We have an opportunity to turn Harford from Red to Blue, or at least purple R's are doing detailed planning to blanket the county w/funds. o Already raised $1m plus collectively o D's need to make them spend this by promoting good candidates for ALL positions Our Council already taking heat now, especially on education School budget is a growing issue: o I voted "no" on County Executive's budget last year
o Therefore, Dist A won't get any new money for my vote against it o We have wealth and ability to do better o If we peel it back we see funding questions without answers o CE uses "Maintenance of Effort" as more of a ceiling on funding [vs. a floor] to excuse consistently underfunding education. "Maintenance of effort is NOT a ceiling; it's a floor!" o Our current property tax rate is the lower than in 2001; this is why we are chronically short-funding education. Separately, expect your water bills to go up by ~$19/qtr. [or more]. District A News: Joppa - about 30+ acres at Rts. 40 and 152 to be developed. This will open a new part of Rt.40 to commercial development Abingdon Woods - ~300- acres at I-95 and Rt. 7 to be developed as 2-3 million sf of warehouse, retail and dense housing. County voted to add this tract into the designated enterprise zone to permit this. I was sole vote against this action. A vote last night to bring in Coppermine Company [a sports developer] to redevelop ~35+ acres, old Washington Court, in Edgewood as a regional sports park and venue. o $1 sale price if certain conditions met o They have 3 yrs to get up and running o 20 yrs of operations o Does this serve the Edgewood community? NO. Main use will be regional tournaments; no assurances/provision for community participation. No plans for associated local retail This shows me that the county sees area South of I-95 as a "cash cow' only. Still shorting this region of county.
Open Q & A Session: Q. How long do you get to review budget now? A. Got 3 days last year; up to 5 this cycle.
Q. The focus on numbers can be confusing. What do they all mean to our families? Students? What do we take away from this? A. Get message to your leaders about what you citizens want from your gov't and schools. Our budgets do NOT reflect what's needed, only what's available. E, G., Cost of buildings as a function of county policy vs. school system approach; system's input routinely ignored in County budget process. This reflects a lack of an overarching plan for use of funds across the county.
Q. Was there a Needs assessment of study on the Abingdon Woods warehouse project? A. NO. "If you build it, they will come." was operating assumption. Already a lot of vacant WH space in county, which will remain vacant. Development based solely on owners' belief that, as an enterprise zone project; it will pay off for them.
Q. Was there a market study on the $1 deal with Coppermine? A. Not yet. The RFP was issued quickly, without a real business case study
Q. Can we get Coppermine's business case? A. We first have to rezone this tract for them to do the development study.
Q. Havre de Grace and Aberdeen seeking to co-mingle their water supplies. A. County against this deal. A. Also working on Joppa/Edgewood water quality. Got water tested; not good at Parks & Rec facilities but county not addressing issue with appropriate warnings or actions
Q. How does Coppermine fit in w/Carsins Run Sports Park? A. Carsins Run is going into Ag Preservation. Q. Why close a successful facility? A. Ask County Executive.
In closing I offer this quote, "Our children cannot eat at the table of illusion and hypocrisy." I offer my congratulations to Mr. Mfume, he should prevail in the General Election too.
NOTE: Adam Hiob called away to a special meeting of Aberdeen City Council tonight. He will speak next month.
VII. Next meeting Weds, March 4th, 7pm at Aberdeen Holiday Inn Express - BRING A FRIEND! Adjourn: 7:58pm
Respectfully submitted by Secretary Barney Michel
New Harford Democratic Club
3 S. Rogers Street Aberdeen, MD 21001 410-272-7139