Exclusive Investigation: A Plague of Impropriety
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017
| 651 views

June 21, 2016 11:38 pm ET

Scandal spreads like an infectious disease as more emails reveal collusion in cover-up

Source: Exclusive Investigation: A Plague of Impropriety

Photo: This has now gone past the council and engulfs the county administration

This scandal/cover up involving Baltimore County Government and its process in creating a Commercial Revitalization District has taken on a new dimension as several community groups are taking an active role in getting to the bottom of these backroom/behind-closed-doors deals.

The scandal started with Councilman Crandell’s Resolution which was co-signed by Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond.

An alert community member caught the oversight and it’s now spread to other members of the council and county government as they attempt to cover it up.

First, I need to bring people up to date on the seriousness of this issue, where it stands now, and where it may end up after all the facts are revealed.

In order to do that, it is incumbent that—if you have not followed this story—you click the following link; this will bring you up to date with the foundation of facts I have gathered with the help of community leaders.

http://patch.com/maryland/dundalk/pulling-coverups-over-their-heads

With that said (or read), I have been focusing on this column/blog and what are, for me, the obvious distortions involving not only the law but the facts surrounding the law. Meanwhile, other citizens have been inquiring about an explanation in order to further clarify the procedures that the county is claiming meet the legal requirements of the county, as well as the state.

Remember from the last blog the response of Mr. Peddicord, the council secretary and attorney, who publicly stated that I was wrong in my assessment that Article 26 of the County Code clearly states the procedures by which these Revitalization Districts are established.

I wrote in this column that, before one attempts to cover up the truth, that one should not contradict one’s self by claiming the state law governs the Revitalization District. In referring to said law to rebut my column, one finds that an Internet search regarding the state legislation takes one right back to, you guessed it, the same county law to which I referred.

Bad mistake, but that is only the beginning in this quest for the truth.

Here is an email from one citizen to Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond trying to get clarification from the rumored future county executive candidate:

Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 2:45 PM
To: Jonathan B. Schwartz <
jschwartz@baltimorecountymd.gov>
Subject: Re: Commercial Revitalization District

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

Thank you. I am sorry for being unclear. The only thing I was asking is what newspapers were the public notices to the public hearing were published and what was the results of the public hearing.

If you have that information or can suggest where to get it I will be much obliged.

Thank you again and give Vicki my best.

Now here is the reply from Mr. Schwartz from Ms. Almonds’ office:

From:“Jonathan B. Schwartz” <jschwartz@baltimorecountymd.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 3:36:47 PM
Subject: Re: Commercial Revitalization District

Hello,

Thank you for contacting Councilwoman Almond’s Office in reference to the inaccurate column published in Patch. The statute being quoted in this column (Article 26) is quoted accurately but is not the section of the County Code that applies to Resolution 67-16 which is creating a commercial revitalization. None of the process Mr. Beeler describes applies to any of the Commercial Revitalization Districts in Baltimore County.

Briefly, the law Mr. Beeler quotes is a State law. Article 26 dates back to the late 1970s, deals with the condemnation of commercial properties through Eminent Domain, and has never been used by Baltimore County.

By contrast, the County’s Commercial Revitalization Districts, including Resolution 67-16, are established by Council resolution. Commercially zoned properties within these districts are eligible for a variety of tax credits, loans and grants. The sole reason for the creation and existence of these districts is to enable commercial property owners to avail themselves of these County benefits.

I hope that this helps you to understand that the entire basis of Mr. Beeler’s commentary in this matter is inaccurate.

Below is a link to the text of the Resolution.

http://resources.baltimorecountymd.gov/Documents/CountyCouncil/resolutions%202016/r06716.pdf

If you have any further questions feel free to contact Councilwoman Almond’s office or Councilman Crandall’s Office for assistance.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Schwartz

Senior Council Assistant

Councilwoman Vicki Almond

Baltimore County, 2nd District

410-887-3385

Let’s dissect this response for a moment.

First, the response is typical of the left—attack the messenger and not the message.

Then comes the spin, which is the same spin that Mr. Peddicord used in his response.

Mr. Schwartz claims that the law he is referring to dates back to the 1970s, but has never been used.

Wrong!

How soon we forget Yorkway, where then County Executive and career politician Dutch Ruppersberger tried to use said law to seize the Yorkway Apartment complex, among other pieces of property.

When he lost that battle in the courts, Dutch tried an end-around maneuver through the state and lost, as this link explains:

http://castlecoalition.org/pdf/report/states/maryland.pdf

Read again Mr.Schwartz’s reply to our citizen in an attempt to debunk my blog.

Resolution 67-16, are established by Council resolution. Commercially zoned properties within these districts are eligible for a variety of tax credits, loans and grants.”

The issue I have with Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Peddicord is that, again, they are answering their own question. These Resolutions are indeed established by the council in order to grant tax credits, but in order to do that there has to be a commercial zone created.

Think of it this way. Using their logic, you would inspect a house before it was built in the same way they are giving tax credits to zones that are not yet created until the council introduces the Resolution, votes on it, and then sends it with love to Mr. Kamenetz (who will, of course, sign it).

The only problem is that there are no public hearings on any of these issues, which is required by Article 26 of the County Code.

So now we have the entire council, along with the county executive, involved in either collusion or a conspiracy to break the law, which is clearly established in Article 26 of the county code.

However, it gets worse.

You will love this response, particularly the opening sentence from Mr. Schwartz:

From: “Jonathan B. Schwartz” <jschwartz@baltimorecountymd.gov>
Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 4:01:27 PM
Subject: RE Commercial Revitalization District

Hello,

I tried to call you but your mailbox is full. I think this might be easier to explain in a conversation rather than an email but I will try again.

The Commercial Revitalization District was created by a Resolution of the County Council. Any Council Bill or Resolution is advertised on the County Council web site and in The Jeffersonian newspaper. The Council conducted its public work session on May 31 and the County Council meeting was on June 6.

All of the things that Mr. Beeler discussed in his post and the legislation that he quoted do not apply to this Council Resolution. The County Council met its statutory requirements when conducting its meetings for this resolution.

I hope that my explanation is clear and understandable. If not, feel free to call me.

Jonathan Schwartz

Senior Council Assistant

Councilwoman Vicki Almond

Baltimore County, 2nd District

410-887-3385

Notice the first sentence in Mr. Schwartz’s effort to keep this off the radar screen by discussing the matter by phone instead of email.

At least he used his government email account.

However, his second faux pas is that the law requires the meeting to take place in the councilmanic district where the zone is created.

In the next chapter of this saga, we’ll take a look at how this ties into the Government Center when Councilwoman Almond used the same method in creating that property and corridor as a Commercial Revitalization District.

I was able to dig up the records on that resolution, and it was a carbon copy of the county’s typical way of doing business.

Folks, this gets much more involved, and I promise to feed you more after you digest this. There is plenty of food for thought regarding who should investigate this matter.

It’s like opening a back door that leads to a hallway that leads to another door that leads to an alley … where the gutter is found.

With the 4th of July right around the corner, there are plenty of fireworks left, so grab your lawn chairs and watch the display, courtesy of our county government.

Next up: More emails dig a deeper hole and show collusion.

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