Time to Fight the Good Fight
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017

August 19, 2015 5:18 pm ET

White Marsh outlet mall is another bad idea coming to fruition

Source: Time to Fight the Good Fight

Photo/Baltimore Sun

There is a widely used term among the pols—“political suicide.” It generally refers to terms so obtuse that, as Dirty Harry would mutter, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question—do I feel lucky?”

Well, Mrs. Bevins and Mr. Quirk, do you feel lucky?

Do you feel lucky enough that your inane reasoning for building the outlet mall in White Marsh, and going against the will of the people, is worth your political careers?

In all of this political circus, I lost the realization of just how much of a mess that area really is at rush hour. So, in the interest of research, I threw myself under the bus—or, in this case, I threw myself behind the bus and the rest of the gridlock. As far as the eye could see, there were lines of cars going nowhere.

Just imagine the catastrophic traffic jam day in and day out if the projections of an additional 4 million people a year come to the 110 outlet stores that will reside where White Marsh Mall and the Avenue sit now.

The whole time I was stuck in gridlock, I kept wondering how in the heck Bevins and Quirk are going to hatch this goose egg and not have the people (voters) mired in the same traffic nightmare that I went through. I was lucky that I only had to endure it for one day. Imagine the nightmare ahead for the drivers trying to navigate that mess every day.

What’s even worse is the response from Mrs. Bevins about her reasoning for this self-inflected debauchery, which also drags Councilman Quirk into the mud with some of his quotes.

It makes one wonder whose money is he watching—the taxpayers or the developer?

In the August 19 edition of the Sun, an article reveals that a citizens group is trying to put this goofball scheme to a referendum so the voters can decide. The committee will need a required 26,000 signatures on a petition before that can happen.

In response, Council Chair Bevins made a statement that the outlet mall will be great for White Marsh. The rest of the Council, as they always do, rubberstamped the bill.

It’s like the Council is on autopilot where a brain is not required—just follow the one to your right or left at the Council chamber.

Mrs. Bevins said that General Growth should “stop fighting” the law and invest in improving the White Marsh Mall instead.

“It’s where I shop,” she said. “In seven years I have been in Oliver Beach, I have seen the Mall decline. “They need to make an investment in their mall so people will want to go the outlets, to The Avenue and to the Mall.”

Councilwoman Bevins should talk to some mall employees. One person I interviewed said that she was attempting to close the store and was approached by six teens. One forced his way behind the gate and demanded to use the restroom. The female employee said the store was closed, but the suspect forced the employee into the restroom and proceeded to relieve himself on her. She screamed and ran for security, and the other teens were reveling in their actions.

By the way, the only action the security team took was to escort the teens out of the mall.

The employee also said that shoplifting has become so bad that management has told employees not to encounter the offenders, as assaults on employees are common. Many employees often quit, just like the one I interviewed.

As I stated before, an outlet mall is not going to solve those types of problems. In fact, it will attract a lower socioeconomic group of people, which will only add to the crime problem.

Imagine all of that spread out over 110 stores.

Both Bevins and Quirk started to sound like a broken record by repeating the words “this is a jobs bill that will add revenue to the county coffers.” They forget about the tax breaks, infrastructure upgrades, fire and police service demands, and traffic jams that will cost everyone involved money.

The following quote was taken from a study by the Transit Center, a civic philanthropy that focuses on traffic congestion of which the Mid-Atlantic is one of the worst.

“We estimate that the parking and transit tax benefits together account for an estimated $8.6 billion total in forgone federal and state income tax and payroll tax revenue each year. The high cost and significant transportation impact of commuter tax benefits demand that the federal government undertake a detailed evaluation of the benefits and initiate reforms to ensure that they support, rather than hinder, achievement of the nation’s transportation policy goals and fiscal priorities.”

I’d love to see a copy of that … or any other study, for that matter, on this issue.

The cat must have the other Council members’ tongues, because they were all mute and appeared slightly out of their league.

The final gesture of content for the voters came when Councilwomen Almond and Bevins placed a flower (or weed) in a glass and placed on the council ledge to show their solidarity in shoving another bill down the voters’ throats. As to that assessment, you know it’s a bad idea when the Sun’s Editorial Board rails against it.

It is time for us to fight the good fight. The battle has just begun, folks. At least the people still have the right to bear pens.

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