October 14, 2013 5:59 pm ET
Agency’s lack of transparency causes concern
As readers of my blogs know, I have been concerned for some time by the operations of the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation (DRC). Simply put, my cause for concern is regarding the DRC’s complete lack of transparency, as well as its close ties with elected and appointed officials.
The latter is particularly worrisome considering the amount of taxpayer funds the DRC receives—those funds run into the millions of dollars, which means that the DRC should be accountable to the citizens of this community, not to mention every taxpayer in this state.
With that known, is it such a terrible thing that I have been leading the charge for increased accountability and transparency for the DRC? These concepts should be paramount to the DRC’s operations.
And yet again, I have uncovered information that once again makes me shake my head in disbelief. However, before I begin my latest findings, I must first address the allegations that I have an agenda against the DRC.
You see, folks, when I write a blog, there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the substance of that article. The impetus for my posts don’t come by way of the “sandman” while I am catching 40 winks. Rather, I receive information on a constant basis—some of it reliable and some of it not so reliable. But once that information comes my way, I go through a series of steps to assure that the information reaches a threshold for truthfulness before I ever decide to write a blog post on the subject matter. This entails verifying all related facts with outside sources. Then, for good measure, I take the extra step of sending an email for verification and the record so that I don’t blindside someone without giving a chance to respond to the issues on which I will be writing.
With that said, let’s look at some of the issues concerning the DRC that have long been simmering in the community.
First, the community has been concerned with the political overtones that could impact the decisions of the DRC. Community members have voiced their displeasure about regulations regarding the IRS and the probations of such involvement. In addition, members of the community have been watching the DRC’s attempt to expand beyond Dundalk in an attempt to bring other community groups under one umbrella controlled, of course, by the DRC.
As always in these situations, I contact Maryland’s Common Cause for its input. The response I received was that some of these issues raise cause for concern of a potential conflict of interest. And, according to Common Cause, the DRC can avoid such issues through one concept—transparency.
Anyone who has read my blogs knows that I am a stickler for transparency. In fact, many of the emails I send for verification go to the heart of that very issue. (To read these emails, go to www.buzzbeeler.com and click “Downloads”—then just select the appropriate file to view.)
You may notice that one such email exchange between Delegate Olszewski and me left a void in my attempt to read the grant verbiage for one such funding action. But that’s another story…
In looking to deal with the current issue—my calling out the DRC—I sent my usual email to DRC Executive Director Amy Menzer. Let me just say that the exchange I had with her also raises cause for concern because she appears to be deflecting –rather than answering—my questions, instead responding with accusations that I am not fair. As you will see, when I asked for specifics, Mrs. Menzer could not provide any.
One of the questions I asked concerned the DRC’s move from its old office. The reason provided (which I confirmed with former DRC members) was that Mrs. Menzer failed to sign a lease on the old office space. Normally, this would not bother me. However, the move took place right after about $50,000 to $60,000 was spent on renovations.
As I stated, I do not blindside people, which is why I sent an email to Mrs. Menzer giving her a chance to respond. This is what I received:
Thank you for your inquiry to the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation. We have consistently addressed your concerns with viable media outlets that report information accurately and without prejudice, in the past. Accordingly, we are choosing not to respond to your questions as you do not report the facts and statements accurately in your blogs. It is apparent that you have ill-founded issues with the DRC and an agenda with your blogging. The fact is that The DRC is operating in compliance with the law and IRS guidelines.”
Not much of a response, so I wrote back asking her to please point out any blog that was not accurate. Also, I take offense to people that accuse me of only reporting negative items. Again, if you look at the PDF files on www.buzzbeeler.com, you will see links to numerous positive blogs that I wrote on many issues involving Baltimore County and other topics, including the DRC.
With that response sent, I waited for another response from Mrs. Menzer. This is all I received:
“Buzz, we have nothing further to say.”
So much for transparency. Does President Obama—or any other Democratic leader—refuse to answer questions from Fox News, or—since I am not going to compare myself to a national news organization—a conservative blogger? The answer is no.
Apparently the DRC holds itself to a different standard. I believe the “I’m not going to answer you because you don’t like me” clause has been put into play here.
(What’s that? There is no such clause? Well I’ll be…)
Before I move on, I just want to say for the record that I have NO agenda against the DRC, or anyone else about which I write a blog post. I simply report the facts and call for vigilance when it is needed.
As the old saying goes, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”
Now, on the subject of the DRC’s attempt of territorial expansion, this quote came from a community leader, John Ayers president of Norwood/Holibard CA who spent three years working with the Development Clinic at the UM Francis King Carey School of Law regarding his organization:
“Unless the DRC have changed their operational by-laws approved at the time of organization inception or set-up and they have not notified the community and the membership they are chartered by the state to serve, it is a – violation of Non for Profit Operational ethics. There are 22 organizations throughout the greater Dundalk who have their boundaries, goals and objectives clearly stated in their by-laws, as not to allow any confusion, misconception on the part of any organizational leadership on their membership.”
May I also remind you of my blog on the rezoning issue of Seagram’s where Mr. Scott Hulpka, (Amy’s husband), sat on the zoning board.
Now, in closing, let me make it clear that at this point there is no clear cut evidence of wrongdoing. However, I felt these matters involving the DRC’s transparency (or lack thereof) were important to discuss because of the millions of dollars of taxpayer funds at stake.