The Baltimore Post is proud to publish a letter that reflects the outrage of the Fort Howard Community Association
We believe the Council should take note of this community outrage over more corporate welfare and vote accordingly
It has always been the goal of The Baltimore Post to represent the voice of the people. We believe we have found one such voice describes the upcoming vote by the Baltimore County Council on the issue to grant Amazon a $2 million loan in order to move to TPA.
The letter contains some very insightful information and should be read by all taxpayers. As a prelude to the letter here is an article that appeared in The Baltimore Sun describing the contents of the proposed loan, or as we prefer to call it – More Corporate Welfare.
Below is a copy of the letter as written by Ford Howard Community Association.
Fort Howard Community Association, Inc.
9202 Howard Avenue, PO Box 156
Fort Howard, Maryland 21052
September 29, 2017
Dear Baltimore County Council:
Kindly be advised hundreds of millions of dollars in local, state, and federal taxpayer dollars has, is, and will be transferred to the benefit of Redwood Capital Investment’s (RCI) portfolio’s asset, Trade Point Atlantic, who is landlord and redeveloper of the Sparrows Point Complex in Sparrows Point, Maryland.
Public support of appropriating taxpayer money for the direct and immediate benefit of RCI is underpinned by the taxpayer expectations of a “return on the investment,” which includes the creation of living wage employment to the residents of the economically depressed communities of southeast Baltimore County.
The economic engine supporting much of the western geography of Baltimore County is the National Headquarters of the Social Security Administrating (SSA) in Woodlawn, (Baltimore County 4th legislative district) with over 800 million dollars of direct salaries paid yearly to those 9500 federal employees, additionally hundreds of millions of federal dollars are appropriated for ongoing contractor maintenance and renovations of the facility.
In addition to the average $70,000 yearly income enjoyed by SSA employees, federal employment at SSA provides federal health and retirement packages, union-like grievance protocols protecting SSA employees from the Maryland at-will employment laws private sector employees must contend.
Salient manifestations of the standard of living 800 million SSA dollars of income supports is the construction of Security Square Mall and the robust Reisterstown Road business corridor.
During Mr. Olszewski’s occupancy of the 7th District Council seat, the 120 million dollars Dundalk/Sollers Point School was constructed by out-of-state contractors. Sadly, with Ironworker Union Local 16 located a half mile walk from the high school construction site, not one members of Ironworker’s Local 16 or the surrounding communities benefited with employment from those 120 million dollars Maryland tax dollars spent. As you know, many active and retired Local 16 members live in the economically depressed 7th District.
Sparrows Point redevelopment was/is reported as the new southeast Baltimore County economic engine generating 21,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. Fellow 7th District community associations officers have commented the benefits of employment at Sparrows Point to their community’s residents over the last three years has been “unremarkable,” and “grossly disproportionate,” compared to the media and political hype barrage of “21,000 construction and 10,000 permanent (living wage) jobs.”
Sadly, management of the Ironworker Union Local 16 and Steamfitter/Plumbers Union Local 486 reported since the commencement of redevelopment at Sparrows Point none, that is NONE, of their union members have been employed (with Maryland taxpayer dollars subsidies) at the site.
Sadly, today the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 24 reported only 70 of its 1800 members have worked at the site since construction commenced at Sparrows Point years ago.
At one time Sparrows Point employed 2000 IBEW Local 24 electricians and steelworker union membership was a condition of employment at Bethlehem Steel Corporation securing direct wages of $24 per hour 33 years ago in 1984.
Notably, our Councilman Crandell’s father as well as my brother worked at Bethlehem Steel Corporation at Sparrows Point back in the day…….
Operating Engineers Local 37 appears to be the only union immune from non-employment at Sparrows Point. The secret of their management’s ability to secure employment for their membership is being sought. It is hoped Operating Engineers Local 37 shares it with their brother labor unions.
Bear in mind unions provide living wage jobs, health and retirement packages, grievance protocols enjoyed by their counterparts working federal jobs at SSA and that many labor union members of Locals 16, 486, 24, and 37 live and vote in the 7th District communities.
Recent special legislative acts in Annapolis provide economic and competitive advantages to RCI purchasing millions of dollars of building materials and conveying equipment, namely a sales tax exemption till 2025. The fiscal notes on this respective legislating alone estimates the windfall to RCI and its contractors at a minimum of 50 million dollars. Sales tax exemption is traditionally extended to non-profit corporations. RCI’s parent company, Allegis Group, had revenues of 9 billion dollars 2016 alone. Allegis (a global labor/staffing service) co-owners are Jim Davis and Steven Bisciotti, who is also reported to own the Baltimore Ravens football franchise.
Like the Dundalk High School construction, the 36 million dollar 300,000-square foot rented FedEx Distribution Center building was constructed (and is owned) by out of state Scannell Properties, Inc., (HQ in Indiana), “a privately owned real estate development and investment company that focuses on build-to-suit and speculative development projects throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
The current 1,300,000 square foot building reportedly constructed for Under Armour, Inc., is also being built by another out of state firm, FCL, Inc., (HQ Chicago, IL).
The Sparrows Point site demolition contractor MCM Management LLC is reportedly based in Michigan.
Ironworkers from Reading, Pennsylvania commute to the Sparrows Point site, reminiscent of the Dundalk/Sollers Point High School’s Local 16 Ironworker days. Are Reading, Pennsylvania ironworkers filing Maryland tax returns, paying Maryland income taxes, and raising the standard of living of the surrounding communities of Sparrows Point? Your providing any economic development statistics from Baltimore County regarding this issue will be most appreciated by all the community residents.
With RCI tax breaks afforded at Maryland taxpayer expense with out-of-state contractors and labor (and the communities they live) reaping the employment benefits of Maryland taxes, it may serve the interests of the taxpayers of Maryland to minimize the leakage with amendments to the current and any new tax break legislative incentives.
As reported in the newspapers, RCI investors and tenants require guarantees. Maryland taxpayers and the southeast region of Baltimore County possibly should receive similar legislated guarantees prescribing community based employment quotas and employment standards like federal SSA employees to invigorate the depressed economic conditions of the 7th District.
As a footnote, the Howard Street railway tunnel enlargement is 450 million infrastructure project underway to accommodate RCI intermodal container rail transportation and millions of cubic yards of Chesapeake Bay dredging is projected for expanded navigation of new panama vessels will also be subsidized by taxpayer’s dollars.
Undoubtedly everyone wishes and supports for the economic and environmental redevelopment success of the partnership between the taxpayers of Maryland and the United States, the communities of the 7th District, Redwood Capital Investments, and the current and future multibillion dollar transnational corporate tenants of the former steel manufacturing complex at Sparrows Point.
And it is truly hoped “the rising tide (at Sparrows Point) raises all the (communities) boats”
Thank you for your ongoing efforts promoting the economic and environmental welfare of the taxpayers of Maryland and the United States, the residents of southeast Baltimore County, and the union workers of the 7th District.
Cc: The Baltimore County Council
Ironworkers Union Local 16
IBEW Local 24
Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 486
In summary, let’s hope taxpayers don’t take a cheap shot like this one featured on Thursday nights NFL game:
Looks like we ruffled some NFL feathers since the video is taken down. I guess the poor ratings are getting to them.