Councilman’s employment status/history raise concerns
Blogger’s note: As soon as the PDF files can be loaded for reading I will post them.
The saying of the day begins with, “Oh what a tangled web we weave…”
Some recent documents filed by Councilman John Olszewski Sr. have me very concerned today, and they should have everyone else in the county concerned as well. The concern revolves around the Councilman’s employment—just who does he work for, anyway?
My digging into this situation began with Patch’s Bryan Sears article about the councilman’s omission of information on his Financial Disclosure form. Apparently, Mr. Olszewski left off some pertinent information about his employment status (and history) with an area contractor.
When Mr. Sears’ asked the Councilman to explain his omission, he replied with the following quote: “I thought that meant something else,” said Olszewski, who works about 34 hours a week for the contractor. “I’m going to look into that and if I need to file an amended report I will.”
Wait a minute, did he really call this an “oversight?” I’m no expert on holding political office, but isn’t making sure that information is provided in its entirety an integral part of his duties?
Mr. Sears also wrote: Olszewski has abstained from votes in the past two years because of concerns about potential conflicts with his employer.
This was an interesting response—one that raised some interesting questions. For one, two years of abstentions over conflict concerns, but not enough concern to list the employer on a disclosure form?
Second, for whom does the councilman actually work? Follow me on this one for a bit.
In his revised financial disclosure form, Mr. Olszewski listed Mason & Son as his employer on 5/9/13. Issue solved, right?
The situation actually becomes more perplexing, as documented in an article by the Sun’s Alison Knezecich:
“The councilman has worked since 2010 for Mason & Son LLC, a contractor in Sparrows Point, according to the newly filed forms. In 2010, he also worked for D&M Painting & Drywall Inc., which was awarded a $3.1 million contract the following year for the new Dundalk and Sollers Point Technical high schools.”
Here is where it gets rather interesting, as there is an obvious contradiction between the two contractors.
Another telling bit of information from Alison’s article discusses the Councilman approaching County Attorney Mike Field:
“The County Council does not vote on individual contracts for work at county schools, but it approves overall school spending as part of the county’s annual budget. Olszewski said he had asked County Attorney Mike Field whether he needed to recuse himself.
“Field said he does not see the councilman voting on the budget as a conflict of interest because the council doesn’t vote on individual school contracts, and the D&M contract is ‘a minuscule part of the budget.’”
But wait, there’s more as we go deeper down the rabbit hole.
The records are telling a different story—a story that raises some significant questions that, so far, have gone unanswered. (See the PDF files accompanying this blog post for complete reports on both Mason & Son and D&M Painting & Drywall, Inc.)
After reviewing these documents, I have to question the status of the businesses for which Mr. Olszewski claims to have worked.
The records show that Mason & Son’s status is listed as “FORFEITED” and, as to whether it is in good standing, the records list “NO.” On the other hand D&M Painting & Drywall, Inc. is a business in good standing according to the reports. Exactly how does one work for a forfeited company?
Also, the report begs the question of why the councilman would approach the county attorney regarding D&M’s work on the Dundalk High School and the $3.1 million contract if, in fact, he did not work for D&M but rather Mason & Son as he claims. I understand that Mr. Olszewski claims, according to the Sun article, to work as a “jack of all trades,” but I want to know who pays his salary.
Finally, I believe that Mr. Olszewski’s job at the Port of Baltimore goes back prior to his position as a councilman, which would bring into question why he would have to amend that part of his financial report. According to the Sun article, this was also an oversight—one that was years in the making without any action from county officials.
Quite frankly, these errors defy all logic, particularly when it comes to the Councilman’s weak excuse for his omissions. A 15-year veteran of the Council should know how to fill out these disclosure reports. The questions are very specific, and anything less than the truth for the length of time and experience Mr. Olszewski has in county government is beyond belief.
Also, take note of the PDF file that outlines the duties of various members of county government—the people who should have been responsible for investigating these issues. Nothing was done by anyone for all these years. This is perplexing due to the nature of criminal charges that could be levied.
The final attachment to this blog post is a detailed e-mail that I sent each of the officials asking for a reply for their lack of action regarding this matter. Not surprisingly, it appears that everyone in the county is tongue tied about the matter. I suppose they are taking their cues from those in Washington, DC, who subscribe to the “don’t say anything—it will go away” theory.
I, for one, can assure you that the silence will not make this story go away—at least not as long as I have the ability to write about it.
This is far from over. Stay tuned…