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News

Howard County, Economic Opportunity and Prosperity Task Force, County Council Hearing

Hiruy Hadgu

On Monday, September 18th, 2017, I testified in front of the County Council to support the creation of the Economic Prosperity and Opportunity Task force.

I pointed to two major threats that local economies, including Howard County face - massive job losses due to automation and major infrastructure destruction due to climate change disasters.

I suggested that the task force look into using debt-free college programs as an incentive to steer the future workforce into clean and green technology related jobs.

I also stated that the increase of the minimum wage is long overdue. The increase of the minimum wage could be tied to programs that steer the future workforce into jobs that are value-add, automation proof, and offshore proof.

The county can leverage its great schools, its highly educated residents, and public and private organizations to help solve these challenges.

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Howard County, Columbia Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Repeal, County Council Hearing

Hiruy Hadgu

On Monday, September 18th, 2017, I testified in front of the County Council to support the repeal of the Columbia tax increment financing (TIF - definition).

The TIF authorized the county to issue a $90 million tax increment financing for the construction of a public parking garage, roads, and intersection improvements in Downtown Columbia.

Here is substance of my testimony as well as the video of the testimony.

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School Redistricting has Increased Segregation in Howard County schools

Rick Kohn

Continuing with this campaign's goal of advocating for equity in county policies, here, we focus on high school district segregation by race and income.

Certain school districts have much higher concentrations of low-income students than neighboring school districts. Given the strong correlation between race and income, those districts are also segregated by race and ethnicity.

The resulting distribution of students on Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) for five different redistricting plans are compared.

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Two Howard Counties - How Rapid Growth Can Increase Inequality

Rick Kohn

We need to ensure stronger adequate public facilities ordinance standards (APFO) are adopted and better moderate and low income housing policies are implemented such that the county begins rolling back what the current standards have begun to create - two Howard Counties. One where lower income families live and another where high income families live.

We need to consider the impacts of housing projects on potential economic integration before we approve these projects, and we cannot allow our school districts to be divided by income.

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Comparison of Three Sources of HCPSS FARM Data

Rick Kohn

FARM profiles among the data-set provided by MPIA 2018-004, the AAC Draft report released Aug. 8, 2017, and the FARM number from the HCPSS School System Profile are compared.  The results summarized from the provided MPIA dataset were nearly 5 percentage points lower than those for the 2017 system-wide profile.  Furthermore, the percentage FARM students across the district summarized as a weighted mean from the AAC Draft FARM Report (23.6%) was even higher than the school-system profile.  

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BIG ENDORSEMENT: Run for Something

Hiruy Hadgu

I am happy to share that I have received my first big endorsement from an organization that has been working tirelessly to support progressive candidates across the country.

Run for Something "recruit[s] and support[s] talented, passionate young people who will advocate for progressive values now and for the next 30 years, with the ultimate goal of building a progressive bench."

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Impact of Proposed School Redistricting on Economic Integration

Rick Kohn

The Howard County Public School System Board of Education has proposed school attendance area adjustments (redistricting) to take effect in the 2018-2019 school year.

The school attendance area standards are set by Board Policy 6010. Section IV.3 of the standards addresses the preservation of diversity by different measures of the sending and receiving schools.

One measure is "The socioeconomic composition of the school population as measured by participation in the federal [free and reduced meals] FARMS program."

While the proposed redistricting plan does not increase or decrease the standard deviation in percentage FARM across schools, and only affects a few schools. A granular look suggests that the proposed redistricting will not achieve the stated goal of improving economic integration.

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Low School Impact Fees are a Market Distortion that Line Developer Pockets

Hiruy Hadgu

Over the last few days, I heard the plea of parents' for help in comparing school impact fees across Maryland counties and how Howard County's schools stack up by state standards. My analysis concludes in clear and certain terms that tax payers in Howard County are subsidizing the profits of developers.

Impact fees should be tied to the size of the land available for development, the cost of developing public facilities, and demand. Currently, there is a market distortion that is created because of the low impact fees. This does not necessarily mean that higher impact fees mean higher home prices. The low impact fees are just creating opportunities for the developer to pocket more of the profits that it would have paid to mitigate overcrowding.

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The Laurel Park Station Project Is A Tax Giveaway

Hiruy Hadgu

The stake holders are not being forthcoming and are hoping to evasively get this project approved. The process is not transparent. They want county money to subsidize their development and it is not obvious if all the Council Members realize this. The TIF bill will be in front of the next council. If elected, I will not vote for it under any circumstances. There is a train stop is 2,500 ft away and there is absolutely no need for another one.

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I do not Support CR111-2017 and the TIF

Hiruy Hadgu

The TOD seems more like a Trojan horse to bring in more development than to alleviate transportation problems. It boggles the mind to say “we need a TOD because we want to make transit easier, but to do that, we will add more residential units that will contribute to additional congestion.” Fast-paced development constrains resources and leads to poor quality of life; unless the attendant costs are mitigated. I do not support CR111-2017 and the TIF.

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We Need to Hold off on Approval of Residential Development that Impact Public Infrastructure

Hiruy Hadgu

The size, scope, and pace of the proposals before the County Council in conjunction with the redistricting effort is troubling. The redistricting effort is essentially a consequence of the rapid growth and densification of the county. Nothing about these proposals suggests that we will not revisit the same problems two to three years from now. We need an integrated analysis of all the proposals before we move forward on future residential development that lead to strain our infrastructure. 

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Reaction to the Proposed ZRA 180/CB60-2017

Hiruy Hadgu

As someone who lives in a district surrounded by a large swath of M1/M2 zoned area, the health and safety risk to District 3 residents concerns me and every effort should be made to strengthen existing regulations to protect the health and safety of residents living near existing M1/M2 zoned regions. If the County Executive is confident that no commercial mulching will take place then he should have no problem with the proposals made in ZRA 160.

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I am running for County Council

Hiruy Hadgu

I believe that this is a pivotal moment in human history. What we do now will reverberate for decades to come. The quality of our schools, whether we care for the vulnerable and speak for the powerless, how we treat each other regardless of our differences, how we deal with the issue of climate change, these are all the most challenging issues of our time. 

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CB-30 is the Will of Howard County Residents

Hiruy Hadgu

We know the pernicious effects of money in politics. Well-intentioned candidates are forced to focus on raising money to cover expensive campaigns by spending time with interest groups instead of talking to their constituents.  Even though once a candidate for office gets elected, his or her salary is paid by the constituents, we expect them to come up with thousands of dollars or in cases of federal elections millions on their own to be in a position to serve us. This is a skewed incentive system that we can begin to correct with this bill.

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