October 19, 2016 2:06 pm ET
Community members are not swallowing the misinformation that is being force fed to them
Photo credit/Buzz Beeler: Sam Himmelrich addressing the audience
There are two ways to approach writing just about any news story. The first way is to use the propaganda spoon to feed the information, figuring that the reader has the “right to remain silent” (and the reader usually does) no matter what tripe is being shoved down one’s throat.
The second way, for people like me, is to use my pen as a shovel in order to do a little digging so that the reader gets the full scoop instead of a spoon of Fruit Loops … or worse.
The purveyors of news items can dish information out any way they want to, but those with a nose for news can smell the scent of the proverbial cheap perfume being used to mask the ugly smell of the—would I lie to you?—characters trying for the big score.
With that said, here is what actually went down. Let me roll the credits first, like I always do, before cutting through the red tape.
People typically refer to the mainstream media in a mannerly sort of way. I will plead the 5th on that one.
First we have the Sun’s version of this sordid tale of shenanigans. Here is an interesting quote from the Sun’s article:
“He (Samuel K. Himmelrich Jr.) did not disclose terms of a potential deal with Munshell and said there’s no timeline for making a decision.”
Here is another interesting quote:
Sales and rentals of the homes would be marketed first to veterans, he said. The development would include a 50-unit facility for veterans at risk of becoming homeless — a requirement of the lease agreement with the VA.
Munshell called Himmelrich a “very good fit” as a potential partner.
Now that you’ve read all of that, let me provide some insight.
A couple of thoughts here. One, the “marketed first to veterans” line seems out of place since, according to Himmelrich’s own research, the pricing would block out veterans based on their salaries.
Sam (he gave me permission to call him that) stated the average vet’s salary is $38,000. Based on that number, a vet wouldn’t get a past the front gate, even though Sam thinks $38,000 is a ton of moolah.
How do I know that? This is the living wage calculator for Baltimore County and, based on the cost of the homes Sam wants to build … well, look for yourself.
Now let’s take a look at what the actual facts are regarding a figure that would allow someone to afford a $250,000 townhome, which—according to Mr. Himmelrich—is an estimated price.
Sam’s math is a few nickels shy of a dime on that one.
Then, regarding the quote about a “very good fit” pertaining to Mr. Munshell, I invite you to look at his association with his former partner, Carl Williams.
A “good fit” for what? There a ton of code violations and unpaid fines to the tune of $48,000. By the way, where is the county on this? What say you, Mr. Lionel van Dommelen? You are the director of code enforcement, right?
By the way, if Mr. Himmelrich wants a piece of that FH deal, he would be liable for those fines.
Even developers don’t like to part with $48k before putting a shovel in the ground.
One may ask why the North Point Community Council is getting involved in this when it is not the representative of the Fort Howard community.
The Fort Howard Community Association, Inc. is the real deal here, and the association has the paperwork to prove it.
As far as Mr. Fran Taylor’s group goes, according to the list provided by the IRS, that group is not incorporated, nor is it a 501(c)3 entity.
(Note: I have all copies of the paperwork for review upon request. NPCC was not listed.)
So, my question remains why was Mr. Taylor acting as a representative of the Fort Howard Community?
I found it rather odd that there were numerous emails between Mr. Taylor and Councilman Todd Crandell on this very issue. In addition to the odd part is the weird issue that none of these emails were copied to the FHCA, which actually represents the FH community.
I think these email exchanges may offer some insight on this matter.
(Note to read the emails in question scroll down the page)
When the meeting started, I noticed that the developer and Mr. Taylor were setting up a PowerPoint presentation revealing the new plans. In addition the two supporters who did identify themselves as residents of the FH area were also in the same corner.
Toward the end of the meeting, there were some heated words exchanged between two supporters of the plan and one person who was opposed.
I interceded by suggesting that this was basically a fishing expedition and that the proverbial rubber would hit the road when Mr. Crandell actually writes the PUD.
More on the PUD latter.
That’s where the real fun starts and the true colors are raised.
I told the audience as much, and Mr. Taylor stated that Councilman Crandell wanted to get the community input on this.
I responded in a gentlemanly manner, “Then where the hell is he?”
Mr. Taylor said he was elsewhere. I guess so, since he wasn’t there. That begs the question, if Crandell was so concerned over the community’s reaction then why wasn’t he there?
My next question is, who set up this meeting?
By the way, it was not the FH Community group, which actually represents the area in question.
I smell politics here, folks.
The feelings of the community were so clear that even Pam Wood of the Sun wrote, “Himmelrich presented a concept for about 400 new homes on the property to a skeptical crowd at a meeting of the North Point Peninsula Council on Wednesday night.”
I dare say, judging by the look on Mr. Himmelrich’s face, that this is going to be an uphill battle.
Now here is an interesting quote from a Dundalk Eagle article:
Himmelrich will need to enlist community support before he can submit a plan for a planned unit development to the County Council, which will enable him to increase density above the current one unit per acre, provided he provides a benefit to the community.
That political smell I spoke about reminded me of the Yorkway Development where the DRC was the conduit for the community support for then-Councilman John Olszewski, Sr., along with Congressman Ruppersberger, to garnish $20 million to purchase the old Yorkway Apartments, tear them down (at taxpayer expense), and build the new townhome community, Yorkway.
The question on that one is, where is the taxpayer money return on investment there? Do the math. Someone explain how the taxpayers are ever going to recover the $20 million plus from around 160 or so townhomes?
There is a ton more of stuff to go along with this mess, including the motive and the actual law behind this whole situation, but hopefully this column provides a good start.
As the political stench gets stronger, so will my “aerosol spray” of posts on this matter.
Feel free to hold your nose in the meantime.
I will sign off in the way of the late great Walter Cronkite who said “and that’s the way it is.”
At least for now. Stay tuned for some more political shenanigans.