Red flag alert: Is Crandell’s public support of TPA corporate welfare ethical?
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 22nd August 2018
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Photo credit/Tradepoint Atlantic

 

The document below regarding Tradepoint Atlantic may have opened a potential can of worms for Councilman Todd Crandell, particularly if one pays attention to the Maryland State Ethics Commission’s views on such matters.

 

To view the entire document, please click the image below

 

Let’s begin with some of the issues Mr. Crandell raises in his propensity to fund a private enterprise with millions of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

Right from the start, we question why the councilman would choose to post his support for this private entity on TPA’s website.

Councilman Crandell also refers to the public/private financing of TPA through what is known as TIF funding. Take notice of the dollar amount in the Sun article regarding the funding of UA’s Port Covington project.

In direct contrast to Mr. Crandell’s limited knowledge of “corporate welfare,” we present different viewpoints from two well-known institutes that actually study these kinds of corporate cronyism deals.

The first one is from the Cato Institute:

While cities often claim that TIF is “free money” because it represents the taxes collected from developments that might not have taken place without the subsidy, there is plenty of evidence that this is not true. First, several studies have found that the developments subsidized by TIF would have happened anyway in the same urban area, though not necessarily the same location. Second, new developments impose costs on schools, fire departments, and other urban services, so other taxpayers must either pay more to cover those costs or accept a lower level of services as services are spread to developments that are not paying for them.

The second opposing viewpoint is from The Heritage Foundation.

Does anyone really believe that Councilman’s rendition of corporate cronyism is believable after reading the above studies?

We believe some red flags need to be raised regarding the Councilman’s post on the TPA website that pledges support for taxpayer funds going to TPA.

Below are references to the Maryland Law as it applies to ethical conduct:


(2) It is evident that the people’s confidence and trust are eroded when the conduct of the State’s business is subject to improper influence and even the appearance of improper influence.

  1. Benefiting financially from a close economic association with a person (including a lobbyist or a business that has employed a lobbyist) who has a direct interest in an enterprise or interest that would be affected by proposed legislation in a manner different from other like enterprises or interests. Generally, a “close economic interest association”

It is one thing for the councilman to offer his opinion on his own political site. It is quite different when he posts it on the TPA site.

One might wonder if the level of the councilman’s support is directly correlated to the amount of campaign contributions he received from TPA.

Here is an interesting twist, and what we believe is the bottom line for this whole issue.

There is nothing stopping TPA from floating its own bond to pay for the infrastructure needed in the hope that the private enterprise becomes successful. That is a way TPA can get what it needs without taking our hard-earned tax dollars.

How many other businesses out there would be considered for this enormous amount of taxpayer money?  Would The Baltimore Post be eligible for some of that free money? We seriously doubt it.

Then again, we don’t contribute to the councilman’s campaign coffers, as did TPA did. (If you have any doubt about the contribution, see the image below.)

Please click on the image below to view the contributions

 

We believe this is a simple matter of TPA not being willing to risk up to $1 billion of its own funds because the property has been declared a “Superfund cleanup site.” The last time we checked with the Maryland Department of the Environment, officials stated that TPA had spent only $7 million of the $48 million set aside for cleanup efforts.

If that doesn’t raise some red flags, then The Baltimore Post will raise a white flag of surrender.