August 1, 2016 11:51 am ET
Senator took $6k from Munshell before Fort Howard lease awarded
Source: Mikulski’s Money Grab
I have been writing about the Fort Howard boondoggle since its inception.
I have chronicled what I believe is one of the most corrupt acts from both a government agency—the VA—and local politicians to develop this historic and sacred parcel of land located on the North Point Peninsula.
I have written so many articles on the topic that I’ve lost count. I did find one that spotlights the process in which, at least to me, the corruption is quite evident.
One startling action by the VA, after the spotlight was cast upon the agency, was to remove documents from its website when the heat was applied.
It’s not hard to follow the bouncing ball in this tune of deception that engulfs the who’s who of county and federal politics.
For example, I just uncovered campaign finance reports that reveal that Senator Barbara Mikulski took $6,000 in campaign from the Munshell family in 2010—prior to the EUL (Enhanced Use Lease) being awarded by the VA to Tim Munshell.
Mikulski has been heavily involved in veteran affairs locally as this link reveals.
That certainly piqued my interest, along with a ton of other interesting activities so blatant that even a Pokémon player walking along with his face glued to his Apple device would trip over the clues this mess has left behind.
I tried to find one of the most comprehensive columns I wrote on the subject, and the following packs a solid inside look at some of my points:
Another column that goes directly at the heart of some of the legal issues is found here:
With that information squarely back in your minds, I will try to summarize how this whole FH EUL was basically a fraud from the beginning.
Connecting the dots between the politicians and the developers is easy. Just click on the links and you will see some familiar names appear. They include the following players who took campaign cash from the developers, Tim Munshell and his partner Carl Williams, as well as the new man on the block—the man on a first name basis with Councilman Todd Crandell, Armardo Cignarale.
The ironic part of the latest issue with Mr. Crandell is his office’s claim that there is no connection between the councilman and the developer. Yeah, sure!
For you bean counters, here is the cash box report:
There are some names there you might recognize. I’m sure you’ve heard of Senator Mikulski, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, former Councilman John Olzewski Sr., and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
And all of that leads me to some of the legal problems with the entire mess.
First, the current EUL violates almost every rule set forth by the VA in the application of the lease.
We have NEPA (National Environmental Protection Agency), which has strict guidelines that must be met, including a traffic study and not a “Seniors don’t drive that much” comment from Dutch.
Sorry, congressman, that does not qualify as a “traffic study.”
Then there is the issue of a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) study that was not done.
That is unless you count the one done by the former developer, who actually kept the veterans’ deposits until the law stepped in to investigate:
I know this as a fact because I interviewed Mr. Bradley of the VA who, after repeatedly stating “I can’t respond to that,” did tell me that after a lease is terminated by the VA a new RFP is issued and the developer must start over.
In Munshell’s case, this was not done as the documents (pulled down by the VA) indicate.
I was smart enough to make copies of the documents, which show how FH LLC was attempting to use “outdated” data in an effort to meet the VA guidelines.
I’ll cut to the chase. I believe (based on the documents) that FH LLC did not have the resources nor the money to spend on a new RFP, so the old outdated RFP was simply recycled, which violates the VA guidelines.
That is one of the reasons the VA pulled the documents offline, since they clearly showed (based on dates) that the data was recycled.
What is most troubling is that the VA, under the leadership of Eric Shinseki (who was replaced over some rather scathing issues), seemed to ignore its own guidelines, as the GAO report highlighted.
I think this report did not help either:
I realize this is a lot of information to take in at once, and I don’t have the room to list all of the investigative work done on this EUL. However, if anyone has any questions or wants to see the documents, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or scroll through my blog/column posts on my profile page at http://patch.com/users/buzz-beeler.
You might notice that in some articles the links have disappeared, either by design or they rotted over time; for example, such as when the Dundalk Eagle was sold.
I find it awful strange that Mr. Munshell and his partner Carl Williams were granted a EUL lease by the VA based upon outdated documentation, not to mention their questionable ability to complete their grandiose plans, shortly after making a rather large donation to Senator Mikulski, among others.
Recently after a series of fires that destroyed historical buildings at FH, Munshell was heavily fined for code violations. As far as I’m aware, those fines have not been paid, however if I am wrong I will correct my mistake.
In preparing for this article I interviewed several of Senator Mikulski’s constituents, who stated that their phone calls to Mikulski’s office have been blocked.
On one occasion, I was told that there was no one available to assist my inquiry, as everyone was attending a Casa de Maryland demonstration.
I will close with Councilman Crandell’s own words regarding this sordid tale:
For over a decade, the property has degraded significantly with no action taken. Multiple failures of redevelopment have occurred with seemingly no lessons learned that the VA plan is unworkable, yet there has been no substantive change in strategy, thinking or vision. Our federal elected and appointed officials have remained silent. Those same officials have secured hundreds of millions of dollars over the past ten years for various projects across the state, yet never a dime for Fort Howard.
In my humble opinion, this is why so many of us are as disgusted with the direction of our nation, as the recent polls show.
The numbers are staggering: 85% of the population feels that the country is headed down the wrong path.
Numbers don’t lie, folks, whether the number is 6,000 (dollars) or 85% unhappiness. And that’s a fact.