November 29, 2013 12:42 pm ET
Council head butting winners (and losers) over land deals
One by one, the members filed in to take their seats. The judge and jury (wait, I’ll get this right) County Council members (third time’s the charm) took their seats in front of the large crowd for the work session. And, despite the cold, there was plenty of heat to go around. The council members were in the hot seat, the crowd was generating a lot of heat, and the issues were a hot topic.
It was enough heat to melt the polar ice caps, I tell you.
Now, rather than beat the proverbial dead horse by rehashing all of the background, I’ll leave all of that information out of this blog. However, I do want to call attention to the winners and losers of this council work session, since it dealt with the selling of government land to developers under the guise of making money for the county when, in fact, it actually loses money for the taxpayers.
First, we will discuss the losers:
1) County Executive Kevin Kamenetz: The collective voice of the audience spoke loud and clear on this one—LACK OF TRANSPARENCY!
2) County Administrator Fred Homan: The pile of beans did not add up, and the cans from which they came were different brands.
3) Councilwoman Cathy Bevins: She should have “pleaded the fifth,” but instead she head butted her way into the foray by telling the audience she knew better in a district she does not represent. Go figure.
4) Councilman John Olszewski, Sr.: He told the end of the story before it has even been written. Nothing is etched in stone in these deals—PUD or no PUD. Remember the PUD to which Mr. Olszewski gave CPR, bringing it back to life despite the fact that it was voted down? Also, he was not very responsive to the community over this issue, as this document will attest to. Where did I hear that before? Oh yes, refer back to number one.
5) Councilmen Huff and Oliver: They said nothing, which was probably a good thing.
6) The DRC’s Amy Menzer: She had one of the biggest blunders of the day when she said the North Point Government Center “is not a park.” That went over like a lead balloon. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot (or both feet), because her husband, Scott Holupka, just announced his bid for the democratic nod for county council. Mrs. Menzer’s statement may have sunk her husband’s political ship before it left the harbor.
And, the final losers on the list…
7) The taxpayers: We are the biggest losers, along with the members of the community whose voices fell on deaf ears. These land deals make absolutely no sense (or cents, or dollars even). The county “powers that be” set in motion an unprecedented government action that has disrupted the lives of many of its citizens.
And now for the list of winners:
1. The citizens that spoke their minds, despite the council cutting each speaker’s time from three minutes to two minutes.
2. State Senator Jim Brochin, who questioned the county’s bean counter (Fred Homan) and his math skills.
3. The people who spoke intelligently and forcefully, raising their voice in one unifying message—delay the vote until the people understand what the heck is going on. Basically, they were saying what’s the rush? The names behind the voices that resounded into one unifying message: Patricia Paul, Ron Schaeffer, Karen Cruz, Debbie Staigerwald, Bob Long, Rich Foot, John Ayers, Russell Donnelly and Joe Tusa.
Dirty Harry once uttered the line; “You gotta ask yourself a question…” The problem (or, in this case, problems) of the county is that those questions don’t get answered.
First, and I know that I’ve mentioned this before, the transparency is not there. The community has been kept in the dark, as has the media. Look, Baltimore County is not Washington, DC. There should be no secrets because of “national security” or anything.
Second, Mrs. Menzer might want to read this information and share it with her husband before his campaign implodes from the get-go. This tidbit clarifies the issue of the Government Center and whether or not it is considered a park.
Third, the county needs to realize that there are several pressing problems over and above the lack of … you know what. Why are there so many problems? Quite simply, the bean pile is not high enough, and they want to take more of our beans away to cook this deal.
I had a brief conversation with Sen. Brochin in the hallway and he summed up this way: “Can you believe the county is going through all of this for Royal Farms $28,000 a year in taxes!”
Finally, the most pressing question I have, to which I willget answers, is “who benefits from this?” Is this another O’Malley/Hilton debacle involving campaign donations?Furthermore, what law firm is involved in representing these developers?
Behind every cooked deal there is a chef. And I will find out who is wearing the puffy white hat.
And you can take that to the kitchen…