The Baltimore Post is taking a close look at some recent developments within the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation. Some of those developments are found in a passage from a recent press release announcing the DRC’s upcoming 2018 Milestone Awards ceremony:
The “Renaissance Cornerstone Award” will be presented to Tradepoint Atlantic in recognition of their work to rebrand the Sparrows Point Peninsula, plan for a more vibrant future, bring jobs for Dundalk’s next generation, and communicate with the community on their progress in a regular and meaningful way.
In order to paint a clear picture of what is taking place regarding the DRC, let’s examine some of the goals and objectives of this nonprofit corporation.
It is important to carefully read the following paragraph from the DRC’s press release. Then we will present a clear picture of perception versus reality:
The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation (DRC), a non-profit community development corporation, was founded in 2001 to mobilize stakeholders to invest in greater Dundalk’s neighborhoods, economy and quality of life. The Renaissance Milestone Awards were established to recognize the contributions of the many people and institutions that help make this revitalization possible.
There are couple of a words mentioned that go to the heart of this column. For example, the perception of DRC’s goals to improve the neighborhoods, economy, and quality of life.
In direct contrast to that issue is the following report, which indicates that Dundalk is believed to be the 10th worst city in the state of Maryland, followed by Middle River as the ninth worst city.
Now we come to the point where we separate reality versus perception. Let’s take a look at two issues that are very important to this column: money and politics.
The political influence on, and infusion into, the DRC is tremendous. Take, for example, the press release announcing that the “Renaissance Cornerstone Award” will go to Tradepoint Atlantic. We find it rather disturbing that a member of DRC’s Board, Mr. Aaron Tomarchio, is also Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Tradepoint Atlantic.
The political cronyism goes even deeper, as one of the major sponsors of the DRC is none other than the Baltimore County Government.
With that in mind, one has to ask where the DRC gets the means towards fulfilling the goals stated above.
Here is the way the system works. The DRC writes a grant, which then goes to the pols in Annapolis. The grant is approved by the pols and then funneled back to the politicians in Baltimore County. Finally, through resolutions (such as the one listed below), the grant money winds up in the coffers of the DRC.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the recent funding the DRC has received, and how it’s being allocated.
This quote from an article written by Marge Neal in The East County Times, dated November 9, 2017, reveals some interesting figures:
DRC received $150,000 for operating support; $250,000 for the Vibrant Neighborhoods 2.0 Revolving Loan Fund; $200,000 for home purchase incentive forgivable loans; $100,000 for commercial improvement grants; and $100,000 in Main Street business incubator gap funding.
You may notice the $200,000 grant for home purchase forgivable loans. But where does what’s left of the middle class of this district apply for a forgivable loan?
The money flow does not stop there, and once again there are political connections. Take a look at the below document regarding Baltimore County Council Resolution 43–17 and you will see another $410,000 pumped into the DRC’s coffers.
Before closing, we have one final question to ask the leadership of the DRC:
How can the DRC justify supporting Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA) with an award that ultimately could negatively impact the very district the DRC claims to support?
Understand that the ultimate goal of TPA, which is a private enterprise being supported by taxpayer funds, could potentially harm the Chesapeake Bay and the air we breathe, as well as burden the middle class taxpayers by providing more insufficient living wage jobs.
In conclusion, if you can read this report and say DRC is providing a positive impact on the community by supporting two of the richest businessmen in the country– Jim Davis and Steve Biscotti, owners of the Allegis group –then The Baltimore Post will raise the white flag of surrender.
Speaking of politics, we would like to refer you to this quote from a Brew article that defines the whole issue. The gentleman referred to in the quote is Johnny Olszewski, Jr. who is running for Baltimore County Executive, yet he refused to be interviewed by Baltimore Post:
“If Redwood is the buyer, I believe that this signals great potential and promise for the entire Sparrows Point peninsula,” Olszewski said. “Not only does Redwood have a significant capital base that would be necessary to cultivate a clean property and pro-growth environment at the site, but they also are a local company headquarters right here in Maryland.”
Rebuttals are welcome.
As we say time and again, folks: “You read; you decide.”
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