This is the first step in reinstating Rule of Law, Equal Protection, and Bill of Rights and get moving on building a strong, local, domestic economy. If a candidate for Baltimore City Council is shouting COMMUNITIES FIRST and not declaring war on corporate fraud and government corruption----THEY ARE NOT GOING TO ATTAIN THESE GOALS. Once that billion dollars taken from Baltimore's economy through fraud and corruption is brought back to city coffers---then we have funding for development IN ALL COMMUNITIES. We are stopping the fraud and corruption at the top of the income ladder sending the funds to build community economies and that job creation will stop the Federal, state, and local graft at the bottom of the income ladder.
Below you see how Clinton/Obama Wall Street neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons perpetuate these corporate frauds-----with the appointment of yet another Maryland official to US Treasury known to be involved in fraud.
'Maryland's shift into alternative investments happened while the securities and investment industries made more than $292,000 worth of campaign contributions to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who appoints some members of the Maryland pension system's board of trustees. Vice News has reported that the Private Equity Growth Capital Group is a financial backer of a 501(c)4 group co-founded by O'Malley. In May, Pensions and Investments magazine reported that the Maryland governor appointed a managing director of an alternative investment firm called The Rock Creek Group to head a state task force on retirement policy. Meanwhile, the chief investment officer of Maryland's pension system was recently appointed to a senior position in the U.S. Treasury Department overseeing public pension policy'.
Who wants all this corporate fraud and corruption to end? Maryland and especially Baltimore taxpayers pay some of the highest taxes in the nation not because of good social services or public works----BUT BECAUSE THE STATE LOSES TENS OF BILLIONS AND BALTIMORE LOSES A BILLION DOLLARS EACH YEAR TO CORPORATE FRAUD AND GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION BY THE WEALTHY.
Baltimore has historically been ground zero for much of these frauds---from Wall Street to Maryland/DC beltway global corporations bringing deals to Baltimore-----from Wall Street Baltimore Development real estate deals to Enterprise Zone and Federal agency fraud. Take that all away and Baltimore has plenty of money for all communities and citizens will have lower taxes.
Below you see the biggest problem for cities across the nation and it is big in Maryland and especially Baltimore. Even though the Maryland Assembly Legislative Services provide data each year that the way these Enterprise Zone policies are implemented create no value or lose money for the taxpayers of Maryland----these pols still dish them out. They are creating such a level of corporate subsidy and corporate tax forgiveness for a decade or more that Baltimore has NO CORPORATE TAX BASE. We are sending tons of state and city revenue to subsidize these projects----we pay for infrastructure and security ----They do this because of what they see as International Economic Zone designation ----meaning the entire Baltimore region will be tax free for global corporations AND THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.
Cut Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Enterprise Zone Tax Giveaways
To reform the Enterprise Zone program to ensure it creates high-quality jobs while also reining in wasteful General Fund spending and limiting the
ability of consultants to profit off taxpayer dollars.
The best independent research finds that California’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) program fails at creating new jobs and economic activity. Despite the damning
evidence, the EZ tax break program has enjoyed unchecked growth of 35 percent annually—costing the state $3.6 billion since it started in 1986.
There are 42 Enterprise Zones in California that are designated for 15-year periods. Several of those Zones have expanded significantly, covering larger
areas of the state. Los Angeles and San Francisco expanded their zones to include downtown financial districts. Stanislaus County expanded three times
to 67,000 acres. Businesses in Enterprise Zones reap substantial
special tax breaks, including:
- Hiring Credits – up to $37,440 or more for each qualified employee hired;
- Up to 100% Net Operating Loss (NOL) carry-forward. NOL may be carried forward 15 years;
- Special tax breaks on sales tax for machinery and machinery parts;
- Banks that lend to Zone businesses get a net interest deduction for those loans; and
- Unused tax credits can be applied to future tax years, stretching out the special tax break other businesses do not get.
EZs have been spared any cuts whatsoever despite copious evidence that they are ineffective and fail to create jobs. The Public Policy Institute of California’s
2009 study found that Enterprise Zones have “no statistically significant effect on either employment levels or employment growth rates.” In 2011, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended eliminating the program because it is “expensive and not shown to be effective.”
EZs have spawned a cottage industry of consultants that make their money by trolling Enterprise Zones for businesses that have not yet claimed their tax handouts. They tell businesses how to claim an EZ tax credit retroactively for employees they hired over the last four years, even if that employee has left the job. Consultants then take a hefty percentage of the tax savings. All funded by
our taxpayer dollars.
To make matters worse, companies do not have to create a single new job to get a tax break in an EZ. EZ credits are given for new hires, not new jobs, so companies are rewarded for high-turnover, low-skill jobs. The structure of the credit incentivizes churn rather than stable employment and the creation of job ladders.
The EZ program creates an additional incentive for low-wage jobs that pay so little workers still rely on public programs like food stamps. Since the EZ credit is only given up to a cap of 150% of the minimum wage, employers do not have to pay a living wage to get the credit. The EZ offers no reward for higher wage jobs.
Since tax breaks are only available within the Zone, communities are pitted against each other to attract roving businesses. The impact can be devastating on communities and a huge boon to unscrupulous employers that shift jobs around the state, while penalizing responsible employers that pay workers a decent wage with benefits.
A clear example of the failure of the EZ program is VWR, a medical supply facility. The Teamsters Union has represented VWR employees in Brisbane for over 50 years. VWR announced in 2011 that they were closing their Brisbane location and
moving to Visalia, located in a Targeted Tax Area, part of the EZ program.
VWR is touting the hundreds of “new” jobs they are bringing to the area where they will be eligible for hiring credits and all the other tax benefits of an
Enterprise Zone. VWR leaves a trail of destruction in their wake. Our tax dollars are subsidizing VWR to destroy good union jobs, ravage the tax base of
Brisbane and set up a non-union, low-wage business in another part of the state.
In 2010, Governor Brown proposed eliminating the EZ program for a budget savings of $924 million over two years. Immediately an army of high-paid
corporate lobbyists and consultants descended on the capital to protect their cash cow. They killed the elimination proposal, resulting in decreased
funding for universities and safety net programs that people rely on in difficult recessionary times.
Reform is urgently needed to stanch the hemorrhaging of millions of public dollars annually into a special tax break. The Enterprise Zone program is a failed tax giveaway that continues to grow in cost and size, while funding for schools, infrastructure and public safety is slashed.
California Labor proposes a number of reforms to the Enterprise Zone program to make it more effective at creating jobs, cutting costs and stopping waste, fraud and abuse.
Specifically, this bill will:
- Eliminate Retroactive Hiring Tax Credits: Require that employers claim hiring tax credits at the time of hire and prohibit amending tax returns to claim tax breaks retroactively.
- Focus the Targeted Employment Area: Ensure that an incentive is created to hire workers living in truly economically distressed areas and update those areas regularly.
- Require Job Creation: Allow hiring credits only for net new jobs, not new hires. Prohibit companies from claiming credits for moving jobs from one part of the state to another.
- Create Good Jobs: Require that employers pay good wages before they can get EZ tax breaks. Reform the credit to reward worker retention.
- Eliminate the Net Interest Deduction for Banks: Big banks should not get taxpayer money for making loans.
- Prohibit Tax Breaks for Temporary Jobs: Prohibit temporary employment agencies from claiming the EZ hiring credit.
~ California Labor Federation (Sponsor)
~ American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
~ California Federation of Teachers
~ California-Nevada Conference of Operating Engineers
~ California Nurses Association
~ California Professional Firefighters
~ California School Employees Association
~ California Teachers Association
~ International Association of Machinists
~ International Brotherhood of Teamsters
~ Service Employees International Union, Local 1000
~ Service Employees International Union State Council
~ State Building and Construction Trades Council of California
~ UNITE HERE!
~ United Auto Workers, Local 2865
~ United Food and Commercial Workers
There has been so much written about the corruption in the Baltimore Board of Estimates bid awarding one would need an office file to hold all the questionable and often illegal awards often supported by an arbitrary set of guidelines that can be interpreted any way the finance department and mayor's lawyers want. The amount of revenue lost to the city from these arbitrary deals is in the billions over a decade or so. IT IS HUGE. Now, some of this comes from pay-to-play and I'm sure there are Baltimore small business owners profiting from these deals---BUT NOT MANY.
What probably worked for Baltimore small business in the pay-to-play days when local businesses were the ones Baltimore City Hall wanted to please have gone this decade to national and global corporations putting most Baltimore small businesses out of business or into the role of an impoverished subcontractor.
Baltimore must reform this bidding process-----it must move back to rebuilding Baltimore Public Works as a public agency that does SOME OUTSOURCING. This is easy to do and can be done in connection with rebuilding communities with citizens running these operations and starting small businesses. Buying public equipment that can think be used by communities in demolition, hauling, rehabbing houses, and creating great green space has all this effort done by people in the communities subsidized with city equipment.
The larger projects downtown-----as in Lexington market-----these buildings are not highrises----most are crumbling department stores a few stories high and CAN BE DONE BY THE CITY WITH LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES AND PUBLIC AND PRIVATE WORKERS.
THE AMOUNT OF COST OVERRUN----THE SOARING ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS-----THE PADDING OF COSTS----all happen all the time in Baltimore Public Works outsourced as well as with Maryland Public Works outsourced and you will see almost nothing written of fraud and corruption in these systems unless a Federal or government watchdog does the auditing.
YOU CAN GOOGLE MARYLAND OR BALTIMORE FRAUD AND ALMOST NO DOCUMENT WILL APPEAR BECAUSE THERE IS NO OVERSIGHT.
Abell Foundation report: City lacks transparency in awarding projects
Oct 27, 2015, 6:55am EDT Updated Oct 27, 2015, 1:00pm EDT
Trying to analyze how Baltimore doles out contracts for its water, sewer and transportation projects turned into a futile attempt by the Abell Foundation to extract public information from City Hall.
The Abell Foundation’s latest report “The Opacity Problem: An Examination of Baltimore City Infrastructure Contracts” wanted to examine all city infrastructure contracts from fiscal 2012. The contracts — ranging from $68,000 to $38.6 million — originated from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Recreation and Parks and the Department of General Services.
A new Abell report says city contracts were too difficult to be analyzed.
The report’s main goal was to ask three main questions:
1. Are projects being underbid?
2. Are city agencies producing bad requests for proposals or RFPs?
3. Is there some sort of political gain to be had by not making this information public?
But Cristie Cole, who researched the report for the Baltimore-based Abell Foundation, said the report wasn’t able to really answer those questions or analyze contract cost overruns. Instead, the report chronicles unsuccessful attempts to access information. “I don’t think they’re trying to hide anything,” she said in an interview on Monday. “I think that the system was not set up to keep careful track of these records. Essentially you need records of records.”
Cole, founder of Firebrand Analytics, also said what is available is difficult for the public to figure out. She pointed to minutes available of Board of Estimates meetings on Comptroller Joan Pratt’s website.
“Good luck to the average citizen in trying to figure out what they mean,” she said.
Asked to comment on the report, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s office issued the following statement:
“The Rawlings-Blake administration has been committed to making more data and reports accessible to residents than ever before, through our Open Baltimore data portal and other efforts. This is a continuous effort, and we will keep trying to improve. I’m sorry that this individual had trouble finding the data that she sought — perhaps she was not looking in the right places, or she did not ask the right questions of the right people.”
Cole’s response to the mayor’s office statement?
“I spoke with 20 people across five city agencies over the course of several months. If, after investing that much effort, I still haven’t been connected to the right people in the right places, I consider that an additional barrier in accessing information.”
In researching the report, Cole said four contractors were awarded half of the 68 contracts it studied. It noted all four of those contractors were major donors to at least one elected member of the city Board of Estimates. The elected members of the board are the mayor, City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Comptroller Joan Pratt.
The four contractors were Allied Contractors Inc. M. Luis Construction Co. Inc., P. Flanigan & Sons Inc. and Machado Construction Co. Inc., Cole said.
The report offered three suggestions on how the city could provide information to the public in the short-term.
- It said the city should put the scheduled completion date on the signs of every construction project across the city. Putting only the anticipated year and season of completion provides a “margin of error of months” on a contract and leaves residents in the dark.
- Create scorecards for every contractor who bids on projects, read on record during bid openings and publish in city Board of Estimate minutes.
- For all extra work orders granted by the Board of Estimates, include the reason for the additional funding or days and the new completion deadline in BOE minutes.
I want to say this-------from Clinton/Bush/ and now Obama global pols have defunded and dismantled oversight and accountability of HUD----have repurposed it -----have found problems in cities like Baltimore but failed to follow up for citizens-----this is an issue of life and death for people----it is an issue of community stability-----of crime and violence AND IT IS NEGLECTED BECAUSE WE HAVE ALLOWED WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS TAKE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
If a city does not place the security and stability of citizens already residence while managing to revitalize city center and downtown we will have a social mess that will affect everyone in Baltimore. Injustice for one DOES become injustice for all. There is no reason Baltimore could not over a few decades have used HUD and all other Federal funding as was required and we need to look closely at fraud and corruption in this Baltimore agency.
RECOVERING AND REDIRECTING HUD FUNDS IN BALTIMORE TO WHERE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO GO CAN FUEL THE START OF UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES.
The Washington Post has a series on problems but we don't need proof----we see the problems. Social Democrats make sure HUD is working as it should----that funds that should be coming are coming to Baltimore----that funds that do come are used to help low-income citizens---WHICH IS THE MISSION OF HUD.
Million-Dollar Wasteland: How HUD has mismanaged America's affordable housing
May 16, 2011
The federal government's largest housing program for the poor has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on stalled or abandoned construction projects and routinely failed to crack down on derelict developers or the local housing agencies that funded them.
Join Post Investigative reporter Debbie Cenziper as she chats Monday, May 16 at 1 p.m. ET, about everything she found in her latest investigative piece.
Mark Reutter does good investigative journalism and is the only one really looking closely at the workings of Baltimore City Hall and Board of Estimates. Is pay-to-play illegal???? It has been as long as I have known -----
All of this fraud and corruption is happening because the Federal government is no longer enforcing Federal laws as with Clinton and Obama embracing the Federalism Act that says this President is going to allow states do what they want----WHICH ITSELF IS NOT LEGAL UNDER RULE OF LAW AND US CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS TO PROTECTION.
These Federal laws can be enforced in Baltimore by a Mayor and City Council wanting to clean up politics. To get rid of the players and to have REAL politicians----social Democrats in Baltimore we need Rule of Law. Pay to play is used for Baltimore citizens wanting jobs----wanting a small business----wanting campaign donors or wanting higher office.
THIS IS WHAT MAKES BALTIMORE A THIRD WORLD CITY
Of course it is the bad people getting ahead while good people are losers.
Why Is Pay-to-Play Wrong Or Illegal In A Capitalist System?
Pay to play is the antithesis of a free market Capitalist system. Pay to play is another word for bribery. The Capitalist system requires that contracts be rewarded to those who can perform adequate work for the lowest price. Not to those you donate the most money to a political campaign.
Pay to play is what runs two bit banana republics not free enterprise. America's might comes from a free and open market where the best and most efficient are rewarded and the weak and wasteful fail. This free market competition is what provides the best product and service for the least amount of money.
It's Not Corruption If Everyone Does It
Cory Booker, Chris Christie Allegedly Received Illegal Pay-To-Play Campaign Cash, How ‘Sopranos’ Is That?
By Alex Ruthrauff -
June 24, 2013 - 3:55pm
As flags across New Jersey fly at half-staff in remembrance of beloved teevee man James Gandolfini, dozens of Garden State politicians are scrambling to explain their connections to an illegal pay-t0-play scheme that wouldn’t have felt out of place in one of the more boring episodes of The Sopranos. Here’s how it worked: the bankrupt and recently-sold Birdsall Services Group would ask employees to write checks of $300 or less to politicians in positions to steer government construction contracts to Birdsall, then Birdsall would reimburse the employees out of company coffers. Sound familiar?
Birdsall got in some legal trouble over this, which is how the Star-Ledger got their hands on Birdsall’s SECRET FILE of who got their SECRET MONEY. Chris Christie’s on there, with a little “S” next to his name, for “secret” (really). Cory Booker’s on there. Jon Corzine’s on there (of course, what a scumbag). Humorously, other groups receiving secret, illegal contributions were “Citizens For Good Government,” a Democratic group, and “Citizens for Responsible Government,” a Republican group. Top THAT, George Orwell!
The amount of $300 was key because, per New Jersey’s thicket of intersecting state and local anti-corruption laws, any donation over $300 needs to be disclosed in some instances, or is flatly illegal for a corporation to give in others. Maybe the law needs another look, because the authorities only found out about Birdsall after their “former marketing director, Philip Angarone Jr., was secretly recorded by his estranged wife explaining how he had received illegal reimbursements from the firm for campaign contributions.” Women, amirite?
Now, if any politician who received “secret” contributions knew Birdsall was reimbursing employees for the gifts, that politician broke the law by accepting the donation. Likewise, if any recipient politician decided to award a contract to Birdsall because of contributions, that’s not cool either. Of course, everyone will deny they’ve ever heard of Birdsall, they have no idea what a government contract even is, they run their campaigns strictly on audacity, truth-telling, and ground-up pixies, and if Birdsall gave them any money it was probably nice and legal, and if not legal, at least it was nice.
Of course, nobody really believes that Birdsall had their employees write a bunch of $300 checks under their own names without making sure the politicians receiving them knew who it was really from, and what it was for. In other words:
Pay-to-play only works with two willing dance partners, said [Craig] Holman, one of the original architects of New Jersey’s law, and Birdsall would not have invested so much money in politicians unless those politicians knew why it was being given. “If it’s anonymous or they don’t know about it, it’s kind of hard to expect a return favor,” Holman said.
But Both Sides Do It, which all but guarantees that New Jersey’s next governor and senator will (allegedly) have taken (allegedly) illegal Birdsall money. It’s not too late to nominate Rush Holt for Senate, New Jersishes! But no, it will be Cory Booker, who is basically already running for president. Just what we need in Washington!
Maryland was 6th in the nation for subprime mortgage fraud and the way Maryland Attorney General Gansler and the Maryland Assembly handled the pennies on the dollar of fraud 'initial' settlement of $1 billion was to make sure none of the settlement went to those victim of fraud. Baltimore was of course hardest hit as these housing fraud were used as a development tool for gentrifying cities like Baltimore. As you see below-----citizens are still losing homes and it is less about court process than the fact that unemployment for Baltimore citizens has never recovered and gotten worse because of bad public policy.
THIS SUBPRIME MORTGAGE FRAUD HAS YET TO BE RESOLVED AND IS ESPECIALLY CRITICAL FOR CITIES LIKE BALTIMORE WITH COMMUNITIES STRUGGLING TO REVITALIZE.
'The report singled out the Baltimore-Towson area as having the highest rate of loans that were 90 days or more past due in the fourth quarter, with a delinquency rate of 3.87 percent. The performance was better than the previous quarter, when the area’s delinquency rate stood at 4.91 percent'.
Md. had highest number of new foreclosures in 4th quarter, as national rate dropped
Maryland had highest number of new foreclosures in 4th quarter. Virginia ranked 33rd on banking group’s “starts” list. Nationally, the rate was down to pre-crisis levels. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)
By Dina ElBoghdady February 20, 2014
The foreclosure-crisis crush is easing in most states, but not Maryland.
Nationally, the rate of new foreclosures initiated in the fourth quarter was at pre-crisis levels, and back in its historical range, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Thursday. But Maryland stood out as having the highest “foreclosure starts” among the states. About 1 percent of all home loans in the state were seriously late and referred to a foreclosure attorney in the fourth quarter.
Virginia ranked 33rd on the list, with a foreclosure start rate below the national average. The contrast is particularly stark given the relative stability of the Washington region’s economy during the recession, Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist, said in an interview.
“These are two states with a relatively similar experience during the downturn but very different outcomes in terms of the foreclosure start rates they’re experiencing now,” Fratantoni said. “Because Maryland has a much slower foreclosure process, the foreclosures have lingered much longer.”
Maryland is a “judicial state,” meaning that every foreclosure must be approved by a court. In Virginia, foreclosures do not require court approval and therefore move more swiftly. Once a foreclosure is initiated, it can take a year or multiple years to complete the process, depending on the state.
Twenty-two states require a court’s oversight for foreclosures. Years after the foreclosure crisis peaked, many of those states continue to feel the impact of troubled loans more acutely, the report concluded. Of the 17 states with a foreclosure inventory above the national average, 15 were judicial states, according to the analysis.
The report singled out the Baltimore-Towson area as having the highest rate of loans that were 90 days or more past due in the fourth quarter, with a delinquency rate of 3.87 percent. The performance was better than the previous quarter, when the area’s delinquency rate stood at 4.91 percent.
In 2010, lenders were forced to halt all foreclosures while they addressed widespread mortgage documentation problems. The freeze remained in place until 2012, when lenders reached a nationwide settlement with state attorneys general over their practices. All the while, a backlog of troubled loans grew in judicial states such as Maryland.
The NAACP’s Maryland State Conference, Casa de Maryland and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland plan to hold a rally Monday at the State House in Annapolis to demand a six-month freeze on foreclosures, one of the organizers said. During the moratorium, “we want a third party to verify the foreclosures in the pipeline, one by one, to see if they’re illegal or not,” said Carmen Johnson, housing chair of the NAACP conference.
While Maryland continues to feel the pain, the overall national picture looks brighter. Foreclosure starts in the fourth quarter were at their lowest level since 2006. The delinquency rate for single-family homes fell to 6.39 percent of all loans outstanding, the lowest level since the first quarter of 2008.
The delinquency numbers include loans that are at least one payment past due but not those that are in the foreclosure process. The rate of mortgages that were 90 days or more past due or were in the process of foreclosure was 5.41 percent, down from the previous quarter and from a year ago.
Mississippi showed the highest rate of seriously delinquent loans in the nation. The vast majority of distressed loans date back to 2007 or earlier and are concentrated in a few judicial states.