October 23, 2013 10:29 pm ET
Short notice of meeting is concerning as some cannot attend
Remember folks, you heard it here first.
Late Tuesday, phone calls went out from Bryan Sheppard of the county’s Office of Community Outreach. He was contacting local community leaders regarding a summit that will be held at the office of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz at 11:00 am on Thursday, October 24. The topic of the summit is the impending sale of the North Point Government Center.
Mr. Sheppard, according to information gathered from several community leaders, was letting everyone know that Mr. Kamenetz wants input from the community on the hot topic issue. After all, the potential sale of Dundalk’s Government Center impacts a good number of people. The Center houses the North Point Precinct and numerous other facilities, including recreational fields, a theater, government offices, and the Alliance, which works to help people with disabilities.
However, there is one big problem with the proposed summit meeting. Quite frankly, the short notice will not allow a number of the invited community leaders to attend due to work schedules and other commitments.
I have two main questions about this:
· Why such short notice to have such an important meeting?
· Does the lack of participation stack the deck against those who oppose the sale?
The community leaders invited to the meeting include: John Ayers, president of the Norwood/Holabird Community Association; Karen Cruz, president of the Eastfield/Stanbrook Civic Association; Dave Patro, president of the North Point Village Community Association; Becky Terjung of the Old Dundalk Community Association; and Linda Gossman of the Gray Mannor/Northshire Community Association. Other invitees include Joe Tusa and Mike Weber from the Dundalk recreation and parks; Debbie Staigerwald from the theater group The Sky’s the Limit; Amy Menzer from the DRC (Dundalk Renaissance Corporation) and her husband Scott Hulpka, president of the GDCC (Greater Dundalk Community Council); and other select community members as well.
However, while we now know the guest list, the list of who will actually be there is speculation at this point.
I have it on good authority that at least 4 to 5 members of that group will not be able to attend. Dave Patro works in a hospital and does not have flexible time off available. He said he received the phone call from Mr. Sheppard at 6:43 pm on Tuesday regarding the meeting. Mr. Patro said he sent an email to Mr. Sheppard requesting more notice for those that work and can’t take off. Mr. Patro said his patients come first, so taking time off from work to attend the meeting is out of the question.
“They (the county) have taken months to work on this issue and now all of a sudden they want those of us who work to take off in a moment’s notice to attend a meeting,” he told me. Mr. Patro was not the only voice of dissent, as others also complained of the last minute notice of this meeting. The other community leaders who won’t be able to attend also pointed out the short notice of the meeting and lamented that the county won’t hear he real feelings of the community in general.
Norwood/Holabird President John Ayers is sure to stir the pot with his input although he stated that the NHCA would not be backed into a corner with its assessment.
My assessment is this: I think this supposedly transparentmeeting is not exactly a glowing example of the county government’s openness. In fact, I think this summit is nothing more than a propaganda tool.
I also think that the sale is a done deal—although I could be wrong about that—and this meeting will serve no other purpose than to gather quotes and sound bites from those that agree with the decision to sell the government center. I believed that the sale was a done deal the day that the Patch ran the story concerning a visit by Mr. Kamenetz and Chief Johnson to the center to assess the condition of the building. That was when this was all set in motion.
Now all we can do is wait and see what we shall hear for ourselves regarding the matter.
Tick, tock … the clock is ticking.