What took place at the council work session of December 11, 2018 may be one of the most egregious efforts ever to deceive the taxpayers of Baltimore County I have ever witnessed. To put it bluntly, what I observed was nothing more than a deceptive “dog and pony show.”
The work session was nothing more than a “document dump.” In this case, Tradepoint Atlantic dumped a plethora of information that hid the fact that the private enterprise wants $78 million in taxpayer funds to ingratiate its own bottom line.
The first oddity was that Council Chairman Julian Jones introduced the bill, rather than Councilman Todd Crandell, who actually represents the district in which this nightmare will occur.
The second oddity was that the work session was scheduled for 2 PM during one of the busiest times of the year, most likely in an attempt to keep the public out of the equation. Seriously, at that time of day, most people are working, and children are still in school. That granted TPA an advantage, as they galvanized their supporters into one big cheerleading squad for the Christmas gift they anticipate from the council.
Before I move on with this subject, someone please explain to me why the man who owns the above-pictured yacht needs $78 million of our money for his private business. Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti seems to have plenty of his own money. His cousin, Jim Davis, another wealthy individual, is also involved in this attempt to fleece the taxpayers.
The money TPA is seeking can be used for a host of purposes, such as our school system or public safety needs. Speaking of public safety, part of this deal includes adding a police substation to the TPA property. I guess the next thing TPA executives will want are police officers to act as private security.
To show you how ill-informed the council-members were during this work session, Councilman Todd Crandell asked the county’s puppet master, Mr. Will Anderson, if all of the fees will be paid back to the taxpayers. While Mr. Anderson fumbled over his response, county attorney Mr. Mike Field interrupted and interjected several state statutes that would impact this debacle.
Since Councilman Crandell seemed to be satisfied with the answers from the county’s talking heads, I sent him an email asking for an explanation and as usual, there was no reply. So much for transparency.
If you take the time to watch the video accompanying this article, scroll forward to about the 55 minute mark and listen to the various attempts to fawn and provide accolades for what I call a distortion of the facts. In this particular exchange between Mr. Field and Councilman Crandell, one learns that the money being supplied to TPA is not guaranteed to be paid back, per the county attorney’s doublespeak.
Despite the various adjectives, adverbs, and participles describing how this loan is structured, what was overlooked is that no monies will be returned to the taxpayers in the first 30 years. Folks, a lot of issues can happen that would impact any such repayment of those tax dollars our council-members are so willing to give away.
For example, what if there’s a recession? Or, if business falls off at TPA, they decide to declare bankruptcy? If anyone doubts that reasoning, just look what took place down at the old steel mill with the last several owners. It did not take long for things to go south despite all the hoopla that surrounded the purchasing of the mill by another similar billionaire businessman.
The sad part will be the taxpaying victims left behind, who will be forced to provide even more financial aid with the help of corrupt leadership. We will continuously be forced to fund these run-amok corporate welfare dealings.
With all the problems currently facing Baltimore County, including a $2 billion debt, poverty, crime, crumbling infrastructure, and a host of other issues, I personally do not trust any of the politicians pictured below to make decisions that will benefit this county’s crumbling middle-class.
Newly elected Councilman Izzy Pataka, representing the Pikesville area of Baltimore County, brought along his cheerleaders for a chorus line of how great TPA is going to be for the county and for his district. The truth is that, despite the people from Mr. Patka’s being told how TPA will benefit their plight, they have no idea that TPA will have an impact on anything but TPA.
Several local labor unions also praised the project, but they too failed to realize that the hard sell of the concept to the council was nothing more than a smokescreen. What people don’t realize is that the owners of TPA are nothing more than landlords. They simply rent the space available to anyone who wants to take the risk of building on a toxic site left behind by decades of pollution from Bethlehem Steel.
After praising TPA as the golden panacea for all that ails Baltimore County, one particular labor union rep wanted to know if the bill could include paying a living wage to workers at the site. I am guessing that particular union rep did not read the RKG report that states 97% of all the buildings at TPA will be “warehouses.”
Mr. Aaron Tomarchio, VP of corporate operations at TPA, already provided the Post with the answer to the wage question. TPA has no control over the wages paid by those who rent the property. We learned than none of the companies located at TPA are local. In fact, as reported in our earlier article, several of the top labor unions we contacted had never heard of TPA.
Another potential misleading fact was that Mr. Tomarchio kept referring to the leases signed by Amazon and Under Armour, even though UA has not signed a lease with TPA. UA requested that the Post retract such statements, but I told the UA representative that we will not retract anything until we see a copy of the signed lease.
UA corporate’s silence regarding that request has been deafening.
Another egregious act by the council was that some of the information pertaining to this loan was omitted and not discussed at the work session. Did anyone take the time to do their homework and read the RKG?
During the work session, a woman named Ruth decried the whole process. She was dismayed that the meeting was specifically timed to dissuade anyone from participating, other than the cheerleading squad for TPA. She also took a reporter from The Baltimore Sun to task for the paper’s omission of some very important facts.
The Post will have much more to say on this topic after what I predict will be a $78 million taxpayer bloodbath. More to come on that later.
One final thought before closing. I sent the email below to Mr. Tomarchio and never received a response, despite the fact that he was rather chatty about the great success of TPA during the work session.
Dear Mr. Tomarchio:
At the recent Baltimore County Council work session, the basis of the grants to TPA is based on the number of jobs provided and anticipated tax revenues they will create.
Our question is, can you provide us with a number of jobs currently at TPA? In addition, how many of those jobs are local involving residents from Baltimore County upon the cost of loans/tax credits is predicated?
As per our last email concerning Under Armour, you had replied that the company had already signed a lease with TPA. Can you provide us with a copy of that lease?
We are also aware of a request for community-based athletic fields which could be made available by TPA for the children of local communities.
Will TPA provide necessary acreage in return for financial consideration from the taxpayers of Baltimore County?
Since the inception of the purchase of the property that TPA is currently leasing, can you provide the number of dollars generated to the citizens of Baltimore County in the form of taxes?
Can you also provide us with the total amount of funding TPA is requesting from not only Baltimore County, but the State of Maryland as well?
There seems to be some confusion over that issue.
Thank you for your time in this matter. We anticipate going to print by mid-afternoon on Friday, December 14, 2018.
Note: The below documents were conveniently left out of the work session by the Council.