The Post Investigates: Did the council budget hearings reveal Johnny O dealing from a stacked deck?
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 6th May 2019
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Johnny-o double dealing
(Original Photo Credit: bizjournals.com | Modified by The Baltimore Post)

Part I of the Post investigation into the recent County Council budget hearings.

In regards to the Baltimore County Council budget hearing that took place on April 30, we are reminded of the chorus from the Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

In our humble opinion, the only people that spoke on behalf of the county executive’s budget increase were the “special-interest” groups that will benefit the most from the proposed salary increases. Even with that in mind, many of the minions that stepped forward to praise Johnny O’s budget proposal did so without the real knowledge of what was taking place.

Take, for example, Dr. Amy Menzer, the executive director of the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation. The DRC’s role in Eastside politics is not without controversy as this article explains.

The DRC’s main office is located in the heart of the Dundalk Historical District on Center Place. That particular part of Dundalk has long been a gathering spot for drug addicts and homeless people who consistently conjugate around the area.

Dr. Menzer has been a constant minion for the previous Kamenetz administration, and her continued support for Johnny O is rooted in the millions of taxpayer dollars the DRC receives through Baltimore County grants. This issue became such a sensitive subject that the Baltimore Post was admonished by Johnny O (then a delegate)  for bringing up the issue that his wife, Melissa, had previously served on the DRC Board of Directors.

Speaking of the late Kevin Kamenetz administration, as a councilman, his vote played a key role in the Yorkway development in which the infamous PUD process played a key role.

The DRC also supported the sale of the Northpoint Government Center which ultimately led to the moving of the police precinct. The new location of the police station now referred to as the Dundalk Precinct came to fruition when the state of Maryland stepped in and stopped the sale of the NPGC. Subsequently, the county was forced to close the Eastwood Elementary School and convert it into a police facility at a cost of $20 million.

 

 

Dr. Menzer and TPA’s former CEO, Michael Moore. (Photo credit: TPA)

Even though the DRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, there have been some troubling aspects concerning its board. One of the DRC’s current board members is Aaron Tomarchio, who happens to be the VP of Corporate Affairs for Tradepoint Atlantic

Without the infusion of taxpayer dollars, the DRC would cease to function. One would have to question whether Dr. Menzer’s approximate $80,000 – $90,000 salary is tied to her support of Johnny O’s proposed tax increase.

When it comes to connecting the political dots, there are plenty of breadcrumbs to follow. Take, for example, the DRC’s support of the infamous Yorkway Development in Dundalk, which was orchestrated by two former Baltimore County Executives–Dutch Ruppersberger and Jim Smith.

That issue brings into play some very familiar names that the Post believes still play an active role behind the scenes pertaining to Baltimore County politics.

Aside from Dutch and Jim, along with then-Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. and John Vontran, the Yorkway townhome development had the backing of the DRC, which supported the project from the get-go.

Given that knowledge, it might not come as a surprise to many that Dr. Menzer and her husband were two of the earliest homebuyers in the Yorkway development.

In subsequent articles, the Post will look at the following issues that we believe have led to this potential budget crisis in Baltimore County:

  • The teachers union backing the tax increase
  • The council’s pay-to-play issues and the influence of developers
  • How Johnny O attempts to control the narrative through his lack of transparency
  • The potential mismanagement of Baltimore County’s pension fund

Folks, there will be no need for “tinfoil hats,” as the Post will provide ample evidence obtained through our investigation.

Stay tuned…