Kittleman proposes government accountability program

With fall and election season in full force, every week seems set to bring a new platform or proposal for both of Howard's county executive candidates.

On Monday, Republican candidate Allan Kittleman, a state senator from West Friendship, released a proposal for "HoCoStat," a performance-review system with a goal of holding government accountable.

"As county executive, I will not only make information available and be transparent in my actions, but I will also establish goals in a number of areas that will help government increase responsiveness, improve efficiency and heighten accountability," he said in a release announcing the proposal.

Kittleman described the program as a "user-friendly tool" that would "link data to long-term impacts.

"It won't just measure dollars, but response and process times for various government functions," the release adds.

Kittleman said HoCoStat would be modeled off of similar systems in New York City, Baltimore City and Montgomery County, where the program is called CountyStat.

He said he would collaborate with government employees, the school system and citizen and community groups to tailor the system to Howard County.

In the HoCoStat release, Kittleman also noted that he would also focus on speeding up the implementation process of recent legislation introduced by District 5 Council member Greg Fox and passed by the County Council to make more county government data available and searchable online.

Meanwhile, Kittleman's Democratic opponent, Courtney Watson, plans to roll out an economic development platform Sept. 11 to coincide with a county executive debate sponsored by the Howard County Chamber of Commerce.

District 13 Senate race

In District 13, a Republican contender for state Senate is getting some out-of-state attention.

Jody Venkatesan, an auditor from North Laurel who ran for the same seat in 2010 but lost in the primary, got an endorsement Sept. 4 from former Virginia governor and state senator George Allen, a fellow Republican.

Allen talked up Venkatesan at a fundraiser at the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville. The candidate said he had known Allen for about 4 1/2 years and that the two met in Richmond several years ago and "stayed close."

Venkatesan, who is hoping to pick up a Senate seat held by Jim Robey, a Democrat and former Howard county executive, since 2007, also was selected for the Republican State Leadership Committee's "14 in '14 races to watch" at the end of August.

Venkatesan said he felt he was gaining momentum.

"It's unprecedented, really, what's happened in my campaign," he said, noting support from the local Indian-American community as well as referendum activists Citizens Working to Fix Howard County.

Still, Venkatesan has an uphill battle to victory in November.

Recent finance reports, filed Aug. 26, show he has only about 3 percent of the funds of his opponent, Democratic state delegate Guy Guzzone, who reported $308,283.32 in the bank to Venkatesan's $10,605.90.

Voter registration statistics from the June primary election also show 41,855 registered Democrats in District 13, compared with 19,280 Republicans.

Some 'Kittleman Facts' debunked

Since its launch a few weeks ago, a site funded by Howard Democrats intended to expose county executive candidate Kittleman's "reliably conservative record" has had to remove two of its "facts."

First, the site pulled a supposed Kittleman quote from a 2006 Washington Examiner article, in which the state senator said he would support legislation allowing school teachers to carry concealed weapons. Days later, it was also revealed that a negative rating by the Humane Society attributed to Kittleman was actually a rating for his father, the late Bob Kittleman, who served as state senator until 2004. That rating has also been pulled from the site.

Both stories first broke on the political news site MarylandReporter.com.

Team Howard spokesman Calvin Ball, the chairman of the County Council, said the slate had "exercised due diligence" in researching Kittleman's record but that "unfortunately, some of the sources didn't have the most accurate information."

"As soon as we recognized that as the case, we made the corrections," Ball added.

Kittleman's campaign, however, seized on the incorrect information as evidence of a "misleading, negative and mean-spirited campaign" by Kittleman's opponent, County Council member Courtney Watson, who is also a member of the Team Howard slate.

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