The Post and Councilman Marks spar over county’s COVID-19 response
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 22nd April 2020
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Baltimore County Councilman David Marks who, represents the 5th councilmanic district. (Photo credit/WY PR)

 

We just seem to be a target for members of the county council these days, folks. Maybe the stay-at-home order is getting to them.

Or maybe our penchant to go beyond the propaganda they typically shovel out to the “lame-stream media” is getting to them.

Either way, strap yourselves in for this one. It’s going to be a little long, but we believe every word is needed to make our point.

In order to gain a proper perspective on this column, which puts the spotlight on a reply we received from Councilman David Marks about Baltimore County’s response to the coronavirus, it is important for our readers to understand the impetus of this whole situation.

The Baltimore Post began receiving complaints from community leaders regarding the council’s attempt to pass Bill 20-20, “Board of Appeals – Rules of Practice and Procedure” That bill would effectively diminish constituent input.

As a result of the community complaints, the Post published the following article:

Baltimore County Council irresponsibly attempts ‘power grab’ during COVID-19 crisis

Following that article, we received a considerable amount of pushback from two council members. That led to us publishing a follow-up column:

Does the entire county council adhere to “Ask and ye shall receive?” We think NOT!

We’d hoped that was the end of it, but it appears that Councilman David Marks wanted the final word. To that end, he sent us the following email:

 

Mr. Beeler,

I have already published my town hall meeting remarks on my Facebook page in advance of any predictably negative piece you might publish.

My constituents know that I work very hard, and will understand if I am not responding to a blogger who demands answers at 10:49 p.m. on a Friday for a Saturday piece – an article which is still misleading.

You posted that four days ago, and it has never been updated.  So much for timeliness.

Have a good day, Mr. Beeler.

Regards,

Councilman David Marks


Does Mr. Marks really think that name calling (i.e., referring to the publisher of a legitimate local news site “a blogger”) excuses the fact that he didn’t respond to our questions?

Also, we didn’t realize that asking a question on a Friday night for a column that was to be published the next day was out of bounds. Would he say the same to WBAL-TV or The Baltimore Sun?

Of course not, but they tend to digest more of the tripe provided by our so-called county leadership.

Also, are we to understand that the “hard working” councilman will only respond to queries that are sent during normal business hours or that have a 96-hour window to receive a response?

We’re just trying to establish a baseline here, folks.

Meanwhile, Councilman Marks also decided to speak out about us on his Facebook page:

“We’ve received word that over the next two days, a blogger will publish an article in which he claims that I said the Tradepoint Atlantic campus was fighting the coronavirus.

In fact, here is what I said. It was during an online town hall meeting on the budget, which is obviously affected by the economy:

“We do have a lot going for us. We also have a very thriving Tradepoint Atlantic program. I talked to an official with them today and he told me their business is still relatively strong. But in the short term, our priorities are clearly making sure that everyone remains safe and healthy and also making some very important decisions to guide us through the budget process over the next year.”

The comment is made around 1:18:10. You can listen here: https://youtu.be/rR0tVbikevc

It’s unfortunate we have to take time from fielding questions from constituents about unemployment and other issues to even address this.

Please listen to the broadcast if you want. We’re reporting, and you can decide.”


Below is a copy of the original email that The Post first sent to Councilman Marks:
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks,

Could you please explain to us why the county’s hotline is limited to a normal business-hour schedule?

In addition, we also called the phone number for the senior hotline for emergency food distribution and that schedule is also on a Monday thru Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

We also found the Public Safety Page to be three days behind.

During this national emergency due to the Coronavirus pandemic, do you feel as an elected official this is a reasonable response?

In addition to the above questions, why would you mention Tradepoint Atlantic in the town hall meeting dealing with the economic situation in Baltimore County?

Thank you for your time in this matter.


Good afternoon, Mr. Beeler –

As I am sure you can imagine, the seven Councilmembers are very busy attempting to help constituents with unemployment and other issues.  The County Executive’s office could also try to answer your questions.

Regarding your first question, Baltimore County’s COVID-19 hotline is available 7 days every week. County residents can also call 211 for additional information.

Regarding your second point, as I am sure you know, the Maryland Access Point is a system administered by the Maryland Department of Aging.  You may want to ask either the state government or your state legislators for more information.

Regarding your third point, the Baltimore County Public Safety News page was updated on April 18th and 20th, and yes, I believe our first responders are doing their best – as many people are – during this pandemic.

Finally, the economic benefits of the Tradepoint Atlantic region have been well-documented in many print and online sources.

Councilman David Marks


Now, since this is our column, we get to have the last word on this matter.

Mr. Marks suggests that we ask Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski to answer some of our questions. Note that in the video of the town hall meeting supplied by Councilman Marks, Johnny O makes numerous references to his pledge of transparency.

Yet, as our columns will show, the county executive doesn’t like to be transparent when we request information:

Articles from The Post archives dealing with Johnny O and transparency

Mr. Marks claims that the economic benefits of Tradepoint Atlantic are well documented. On that matter, the councilman is correct:

The economic benefits of TPA according to the Post archives

During a national emergency like we’re encountering now, the government’s response works best when the information comes from the ground up. Maybe that is why most people tuned out Baltimore County’s Facebook town hall meeting and focused on Gov. Larry Hogan’s press conferences dealing with the coronavirus.

Our governor, for all the criticism we have given him, has handled the COVID-19 crisis well. State resources have been available whenever they are needed, no matter what time of day.

We cannot say the same about county resources.

If there is any doubt, try contacting the Baltimore County coronavirus hotline anytime after normal business hours.

Go ahead and call (410) 887-3816 at, say, 7:00 p.m. You will get a voicemail telling you to leave a message.

To prove our point, we called the state of Maryland coronavirus hotline (211) in the evening after business hours, and it took less in a minute for us to speak to someone on the task force.

Not a voicemail. Not a, “leave a message and (maybe) we’ll get back to you” situation. We spoke to a real live person.

What the council members who put us down fail to realize is that we’re trying to make a very valid point: during a time of crisis, providing your constituents with answers or assistance shouldn’t be done on a 9 to 5 schedule.

It is the responsibility of the media to ensure our elected officials are truly serving their constituents. And if our county officials weren’t so focused on defending themselves, maybe they would listen to the community leaders and change some things for the better.

Instead, the council members and county executive dig in their heels like petulant children and ignore the community leaders, who then call us day and night to complain about being ignored.

Folks, the greatest leaders in history bonded with the people instead of ignoring them. FDR held his fireside chats in the evening to rally the country and defeat a global threat. He helped guide this nation through one of the worst calamities by giving the citizens confidence and hope.

When The Baltimore Post sees that kind of leadership in Baltimore County, we will be the first to sing their praises. Until then, we’re going to continue to report the truth in how inadequately our local government is dealing with a national emergency.

In the meantime, we will sit by the phone/computer and wait for more council members to voice their displeasure with our reporting.

That’s okay though, folks. We can handle the criticism, and their words–no matter how mean spirited–will never stop us from publishing the truth.

 

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