The Baltimore Post received the following statement from Baltimore County Councilman Wade Kach. The statement is published as written.
BALTIMORE COUNTY GOVERNMENT OUT OF CONTROL..
All my elected life, I have worked to bring transparency and accountability to government. While my constituents continue to support my efforts, recently from other quarters, I have received criticism and angry reprimands.
I have been told by some that my steadfast belief in openness and transparency makes me an absolutist. While it was meant as criticism, I took it as a complement. No matter what, I will continue the fight.
With this in mind, I want to address two hot button issues that have been mentioned in various news outlets concerning Baltimore County: the situation surrounding the so called ‘Towson Gateway’ and a serious ethics issue in Baltimore County Public Schools.
Defying Council, County Removes Trees
One needs a compass to follow the twists, turns and contradictions involved in the “Towson Gateway” project.
Prior to my election to the County Council, Baltimore County, in a legal contract with Caves Valley Partners, was required to introduce a PUD (Planned Unit Development), a process to develop property outside zoning requirements. The PUD served to allow for a gas station on the site.
As part of the PUD, passed by the County Council unanimously in December 2016, the trees on the property were to be left standing. Indeed, the PUD language specifically protected the trees on the property. Yet, one year later with no permits, the County removed the trees at a cost of at least $25,000 to the taxpayers.
The decision by Fred Homan, the County Administrator, to take down the trees defied the County Council’s resolution that the trees were not be touched.
When the trees came down, I joined with the Towson community in a rally to support repeal of the PUD.
If you are still following with me, as it stands today, Royal Farms has agreed to not install any gas pumps on the site. At least that’s the latest news.
The question still remains regarding taking the trees down in defiance of the County Council’s resolution. By what right was the Council reversed? And by what right was taxpayer money used to defy the Council resolution? As a former auditor, I can tell you, this ill-advised action cries out for a full audit to get to the bottom of this deplorable behavior by County government.
Ethics – Baltimore County Public School
I was stunned by the behavior of former Superintendent of Baltimore County schools, Dallas Dance when twice he violated his ethical and legal responsibility and the terms of his employment to report all outside earned income on his County Financial Disclosure Form.
Now, the current interim Superintendent Verletta White has acknowledged that she has neglected to report outside income totaling $3000 a year.
Superintendent Dance was already reprimanded for his unethical behavior twice. Once for failure to disclose his work for a Chicago educational institution and again for failure to disclose his income as an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond. Despite this, he went on to receive an outside income from ERDI, which arranges conferences for educational tech companies doing or seeking to do business with county schools. ERDI pays school officials, like Mr. Dance and Mrs. White, to sit on panels and give feedback to the companies.
It can’t have escaped the interim Superintendent that her predicessor was reprimanded twice by the Baltimore County Board of Education for his unethical behavior (It seems to me that the reprimand for the second offense was outrageously lenient). While Ms White reported her ERDI income to the IRS, she never reported it on her County Financial Disclosure Form. Her defense of her actions is at best ridiculous. Any earned income, even if from an entity which does not directly do business with the County school system, must be reported on the County Financial Disclosure Form.
We look to our leaders, especially in the field of education, to serve as examples of law abiding public servants. In order to avoid potential conflicts of interest, their ethics forms require them to report all outside earned income under the penalty of perjury. Soft and repeated reprimands are not the appropriate way to deal with repeated failure to obey the law.
I will continue, as I have done my entire career in elected office, to fight for transparency and accountability in government.