Monday, March 8, 2021

"I am listening."


One of my husband's and my favorite blasts from the past is to watch reruns of the sitcom "Fraiser" that aired from 1993 through 2004. The main character, Fraiser Crane, was a psychiatrist turned radio talk show host that greeted each caller with "I am listening." And today, "I am listening," and the silence is frightening. 

Hate crimes and attacks against Asian and Asian Americans have increase in the year following the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the United States. Recently, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, several Asian owned restaurants were the victims of burglary and vandalism.  Racially targeted crimes of this type has wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of  these Asian-American business owners, causing suffering to their families and children. 

 Instances of verbal harassment targeting Asian Americans have occurred from coast to coast. On Thursday evening during the Howard County Racial Equity Task Force public hearing, comments by Aday Salein were racial charged and attacked the Chinese, Korean, and Latino Communities. This behavior dehumanizes our Latino,  Asian, and Asian-American neighbors and friends. Studies have established a correlation between exposure to hate speech and the number of hate crimes committed. There are real life consequences to the rhetoric of hatred that must be addressed by our community leaders-elected officials, religious leaders, and leaders without a title.   

Now more than ever, it is important that we connect with those around us in a safe way, that we embrace our common humanity with compassion, rather than feeling isolated and disconnected, that we begin a discussion about our imperfect selves. Who will be the first amongst us to have the courage to say, "I am listening." 



Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Adoption of the CA FY 2022 Budget `

The Columbia Association (CA) board of Directors has significant power and responsibility for distributing our annual assessment for the benefit of open space, village associations, and community amenities-neighborhood centers, outdoor pools, and playgrounds. It is within this context that the Board should evaluate its budgeting process and set CA on a trajectory of informed decision making by collaborating with Columbia residents and village associations during all phases of the budgeting process. Effectively, the residents, villages, and Board of Directors should communicate its budgeting priorities to the Senior Leadership Team to be compiled into a budget document.

The Board reviewed the FY 2022 Operating and Capital Budget, as presented by the Senior Leadership Team, and after several meetings, the Board only agreed to amend the budget by $8,000.  Budgets are much more than just numbers, and my budget vote against the Senior Leadership Proposal was not about the dollars and cents, it was about public values. 

CA should recommit itself to investing in and revitalizing our shared community facilities-outdoor pools, neighborhood centers, and playgrounds. No longer should these amenities be stripped of the funding necessary to maintain their structural integrity to apply our assessment dollars to finance the losses in the Sports and Fitness Division, estimated to be $11.3 million in FY 2021 and budgeted to be $12.5 million in FY 2022. Losses of this magnitude are not sustainable over the long term and require the attention of the Board of Directors. 

Lastly, the Board of Directors should seek to develop effective strategic partnerships with Howard County, the State of Maryland, and private foundations to improve community programming, better protect our open space, and manage our watershed areas. Further, the Board should establish a transparent and inclusive process to study each of these concerns and foster the vibrant multigenerational community that is Columbia. 

I will be discussing many of these concepts over the next several blog posts to better inform the residents of the financial position of CA.  



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