Regarding the Harbor Point scam:
I have been an activist in many cities and media have always come to me for interviews because they know I am articulate and speak the facts. In Baltimore I am avoided like the plague by the media and if interviewed almost never get air time. If you watch Channel 25 for this session of the Finance Department public comment on this Harbor Point issue you will see the lady with a big straw hat hanging on her back....that would be me laying out the reasons this deal was public malfeasance.....and it is. You will not hear from any of Baltimore media the real news, only the points that do not make what is happening illegal.
Here are the points that make the Harbor Point/Exelon deal ridiculous and illegal......
THE BGE/EXELON MERGER REQUIRED EXELON TO KEEP THEIR HEADQUARTERS IN BALTIMORE! It's that simple. No need for deals.
They would be required to occupy existing space or build with their own money so there is no justification for the TIF/tax breaks. City Hall is not bringing or keeping business in the city with these tax breaks.....they are not creating more jobs......IT IS ALL A SCAM. What is more ridiculous then locating a huge business building at water's edge on a huge toxic waste site is the fact they want to build more hotel and restaurant space in an already saturated market down at the Harbor. IT IS LIKE WATCHING A PLAYGROUND BULLY STEAL THE LUNCH MONEY FROM THIS POOR CAPTURED CITY HALL.
This project is so bad for the public that it will make the Hilton look like a Warren Buffet deal. Let's look at what they intend to do with this latest 'Enterprise Zone'.
1) GLOBAL WARMING FOLKS! Scientists predict that the sea level will rise 6-10 inches in just 20 years so no matter how many times the developers tells you they will secure the toxic zone with buffers......THEY ARE LYING. The public will be called by Exelon to build Sea Walls to protect this building in short order just as they told us we would pay a rate increase when we were told there would be no rate increase. There is no way with water levels rising to that degree to secure what will be developed property the toxic waste from leaching. Can you imagine the Federal and State money that will be used to secure this is this madness happens? I also noted the disregard to the mantra of Baltimore as a Sustainable City as placing a huge development on water's edge is the most unsustainable policy possible.
WE ARE LIVING IN UZBEKISTAN HERE IN BALTIMORE!
2) You do not have an Enterprise Zone when all you do is pretend to use the poor as a way to get tax breaks and you know the poor will be pushed aside. We all know that the charter school in this area will not continue to bus in underserved so it is a good thing for the developer to donate millions to this one school that will become affluent! WE NEED THIS DEVELOPER TO GO TO MYANMAR TO DO BUSINESS! This not only flaunts yet again what will be a signed contract for terms of tax breaks meeting hiring and housing for low income/poor, it is doing to our school system the very thing that being 'public' does not allow......large private donations to one school rather than paying taxes that go to the general fund to be distributed to all schools!
YOUR CITY COUNCIL PERSON AND THE MAYOR ARE NOT ONLY DISREGARDING THE PUBLIC, THEY ARE OPENLY COMMITTING PUBLIC MALFEASANCE.
3) JOBS, JOBS, JOBS......say Jack Young who says 'I will not allow this deal to fail because it brings JOBS. You almost want to be ill listening to these corrupt politicians. I asked why is it that I march with labor groups all the time protesting stolen wages, workplace abuses, and disregard to labor laws in all these Enterprise Zones? Why do workers there earn less than minimum wage and all jobs of poverty as with this Harbor Point deal? We know this deal will be no different. I asked why is it with the Casino deal you promised that the city's residents with felony records would be made whole so as to be able to apply for a job by passing laws that expunge these felonies given to people for simple misdemeanors and non-violent crimes......most of which Baltimore's underserved community must deal. Instead, a law was passed that made it OK for people convicted of fraud to work in the casino. NONE OF THE BALTIMORE RESIDENTS NEEDING JOBS MEET THAT DESCRIPTION. So, yet again we are hearing City Hall giving us the JOBS mantra with absolutely nothing in place to allow that to actually happen. SO, WE NOT ONLY HAVE BAD JOBS, OPEN CRIME AGAINST LABOR......WE HAVE NO LAWS TO ALLOW PEOPLE WRONGLY LABELLED AS FELONS TO ESCAPE THAT LABEL SO AS TO WORK. No wonder Jack Young left the room before the public comment! What a scoundrel! I laughed when one man produced the figures that 100,000 jobs have been lost since these TIF programs started. Remember, when national firms like Exelon and Morgan Chase come to town.....they fired the locals and bring their own team. Exelon fired 600 middle-management at BGE and replaced them with out of town people. There is no intent in these deals to hire locally.
4) We heard figures of up to a few hundred million to be lost in just this tax break alone. The small amount of tax that will be paid will be fenced in to the communities that support this deal....Fells Point, Harbor East, and Federal Hill. This is a win win for them as they get all the tax base that is created and they get more new residents that may come with Exelon relocating at Harbor Point. As the minister from Huber Memorial and BUILD organization commented.....none of that does anything for the greater communities of Baltimore and after 2 decades of this failed development we need to change course. We had all kinds of testimony as to why these TIF no longer produce value for the city and in fact hurt the city revenue stream. The fact that we would allow a huge tax break with partial payback over decades...if that even happens rather than having Exelon meet its commitment to stay in Baltimore and pay taxes NOW is just laugh out loud policy. We listen to this over laments by the council of parks that cannot be maintained and schools crumbling since these TIF programs started two decades ago with O' Malley draining all revenue from city coffers. SEE WHY O'MALLEY AND RAWLINGS-BLAKE ARE GOING NATIONAL....TEAM PLAYER THOSE TWO! Don't forget that Exelon inherited over a billion dollars in public money with the merger that needs to come back to public projects like the water system or people's pockets!
5) THE BOND MARKET IS CRASHING! HOW MANY TIMES MUST AN ACADEMIC SHOUT OUT THAT EVEN WARREN BUFFET HAS CALLED ON ALL TO STOP BUYING BONDS BECAUSE THE MARKET IS READY TO IMPLODE! Just think, with all these bonds that the mayor and government have tied the state and city to Wall Street....just the school building bond of a billion, that when the market and economy crashes next year....we will have a duplicate of the subprime loan fraud where all the investors....developers simply buy Credit Default Swaps (CDS) to insure against the losses they know are coming. The top selling CDS today? Insurance against defaulted municipal bonds. Your pol....most of whom are the same that gave us the subprime mortgage fraud and AIG are now setting us up for the next scam....the municipal bond fraud. So there will be one insurer like AIG that sells all of the CDS for municipal bonds that will crash because of the massive defaults that will come when the economy crashes yet again. Your politician knows this......O'Malley and Rawlings-Blake works for this and it is all illegal. It is public malfeasance because they know the public loses are coming!
Yet you hear none of this on media....THE GOOD NEWS....SO MANY PEOPLE ARE ANGRY AND SEE THESE SCAMS THAT WE WILL HAVE A NEW CITY HALL NEXT ELECTIONS....PERHAPS EVEN A RULE OF LAW CITY AND STATE ATTORNEY!
Make no mistake, Carl Stokes is 100% into TIFs so this is probably simply his way of saving face. The interesting thing is that all these deals are so secret and do not surface until a vote by City Hall is to happen and all that comes from the Baltimore Development Corp is rubber-stamped. But this TIF is so illegal that some are running for cover! We don't want Stoke's deal either....we want Exelon to build its own building with no help and not on Harbor Point!
Below we see a definition of racketeering. What we see in Maryland and extensively in Baltimore is a systemic movement of public money to people in power. We are seeing health care fraud, subprime mortgage fraud, pension fraud, contractor fraud, corporate tax break fraud, and I have no doubt greening fraud.....all moving taxpayer money to the 1%. This Harbor Point TIF deal is only the latest!
Traditionally, obtaining or extorting money illegally or carrying on illegal business activities, usually by organized crime . A pattern of illegal activity carried out as part of an enterprise that is owned or controlled by those who are engaged in the illegal activity. The latter definition derives from the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (RICO), a set of laws (18 U.S.C.A. § 1961 et seq. ) specifically designed to punish racketeering by business enterprises.
Racketeering, as it is commonly understood, has always coexisted with business. In the United States, the term racketeer was synonymous with members of organized-crime operations.
Congress passed RICO as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Organized crime in the United States had been increasing ever since the Twenty-First Amendment's prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933. Crime groups and families that had been bootlegging moved on to other moneymaking crimes by controlling legitimate businesses and by using some of them as fronts for criminal activity. Over the years, Congress had enacted several statutes authorizing increased punishment for typical organized-crime activities such as illicit gambling rings, loan sharking, transportation of stolen goods, and extortion. However, it had not passed legislation that specifically punishes the very act of committing organized crime.
Organized crime continued to proliferate in the 1960s. After investigating and debating organized-crime legislation for approximately 20 years, beginning with Senate committee hearings conducted in 1951 by Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, Congress finally passed RICO.
The specific goal of RICO is to punish the use of an enterprise to engage in certain criminal activities. A person who uses an enterprise to engage in a pattern of racketeering may be convicted under the RICO criminal statute (18 U.S.C.A. § 1963). An enterprise is defined as "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity." A pattern is defined as "at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of [RICO's passage] and the last of which occurred within 10 years … after commission of a prior act of racketeering activity."
Racketeering activity under federal law includes a number of criminal offenses, including: bribery; sports bribery; counterfeiting; felony theft from interstate shipment; embezzlement from pension and welfare funds; extortionate credit transactions; fraud relating to identification documents; fraud relating to access devices; transmission of gambling information; mail fraud; wire fraud; financial institution fraud; citizenship or naturalization fraud; obscene matter; obstruction of justice; obstruction of criminal investigation; obstruction of state or local law enforcement; witness tampering; retaliation against witness; interference with commerce, bribery, or extortion; interstate transportation in aid of racketeering; interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia; unlawful welfare fund payments; prohibition of illegal gambling business; money laundering; monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activities; murder for hire; sexual exploitation of children; interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles; interstate transportation of stolen property; sale of stolen goods; trafficking in motor vehicles and parts; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; white slave traffic; restrictions of payments and loans to labor organizations; embezzlement from union funds; bankruptcy fraud; fraud in the sale of securities; felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in narcotic or other dangerous drugs; and any act that is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act.
Not only is all of this absurd, it is all so hidden as to make the process look just as it is....corrupt
WE WILL TAKE THIS TO COURT!!!
Baltimore City Council Chair Threatens Subpoena on Tax Break Deal WBFF - Fox News
On the eve of a public hearing on a tax break for Baltimore City developers, the chair of a city council committee is threatening to use subpoena power to find out more about the deal. The controversial tax break pits one of the cityâ€™s wealthiest developers against City Councilman Carl Stokes â€“ who has been fighting for details about the $1.8 billion development project. "We will continue to demand it and at some point - and that point is very near - we're going to go to subpoena power,â€ Stokes said. The builder is planning to turn Baltimoreâ€™s Harbor Point into a corporate headquarters for energy giant Exelon as well as put up stores, homes and a hotel. However, the developer is threatening to pull the plug on the project unless he gets a $107 million tax break from the city. Stokes is arguing the developers should spread the wealth. One of the tax breaks, known as an enterprise zone credit, is supposed to be used to stimulate development for low income neighborhoods. Stokes wants the developer to share $30 million of the tax break with residents of Perkins Homes; a city housing project the councilman said was used to help Harbor Point qualify for the tax bonus. But Stokes says he still doesnâ€™t know how much private money â€“ if any â€“ would be spent. The developer, city and mayor wonâ€™t share the details. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake accuses Stokes of spreading misinformation about the deal. "I think it's an effort to turn residents who will benefit from the project against it,â€ Rawlings-Blake said. Stokes stands by his facts and insists his concerns are valid. Stokes said he hopes some of his questions will be answered at a public hearing at City Hall on Wednesday.
I want to emphasize that at the public meeting a council person asked if this developer would be buying insurance to cover any seepage of toxic material from this project and the developer said 'NO' and simply said nothing would happen. So, the public will be the ones responsible for any mishap and any harm to people working on this site.
Proposed Harbor Point Tower on Chromium site could make Baltimore an Environmental Crash Test Dummy with real lives at stake
By eyesoreproductions Baltimore Wire Service
Underneath lies stored Chromium 6, a carcinogen that officials say will be contained when builders are allowed to penetrate the cap.
Baltimore may be the first city in the country to knowingly puncture a capped chromium dump in order to build a 23 story tower, making city folks either guinea pigs or participants in a pioneering remediation project, depending on your perspective.
If it works then the nation’s developers will suddenly have a way to build heavy on what was seen as taboo territory, highly toxic brown fields such as the 25 acre Allied Signal Chromium site on the Harbor. But if it fails the city, the Maryland Department of Environment and the EPA would have willingly broken open the cap designed to protect the public from hexavalent chromium or Chromium 6, an officially recognized carcinogen. And that public has gotten increasingly crowded around this site as the city’s waterfront has been built up since the cap was completed in the early 1990s with corporate headquarters, condominiums and a high end shopping district, Inner Harbor East pressing on all sides.
Dubbed Harbor Point, the proposed development comes in at $1 billions for the Exelon Headquarters and has generated much rumbling from City Councilman Carl Stokes after a last minute proposal asks for 108 million in bond advance to draw investors.
Harbor Point sits on a political fault line that could draw diverse interest from civil rights advocates angered that developers are utilizing incentives but giving nothing and environmentalists to whatever is left of the Occupy Movement, but Baltimore’s street politics is a pretty tepid place to be sure.
The project, under the auspices of developer Michael S. Beatty’s Harbor Point Development Group LLC, with 9 acres of green space, is a far cry from the original perceptions of relatively low impact develoment and more than 11 acres of development.
Indeed the bewildering pace of the win-win push behind the proposal ,at least as seen from citizens of the streets , can be summed up by the gushing of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings -Blake official statement in the Baltimore Sun on June 3. ”Like the Inner Harbor revitalization effort of 30 years ago, the Harbor Point project represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to grow Baltimore by attracting new jobs, new residents, new tax revenue, and new public amenities,”
But Baltimore may be breaking ground in more ways than one.
Baltimore’s distinction as a trailblazer or guinea pig, depending on your perspective, has yet to be verified,but that hasn’t gone without trying. For the last several months I have gone to the EPA as a citizen, a resident who lives two blocks asking if there is an example of any development of this size that has been completed on an urban toxic site. They have offered none. In the meantime I’ve searched libraries and the internet for development protocols such as exist for say lead paint removal, detailing how can builders send 27 foot pilings safely into a clay cap and found nothing.
Developers informally presented plans to the Fells Point Homeowners Association
I had a chance to ask representatives of the developers of the proposed new home for the new Exelon Headquarters, The Beatty Group. He said that the pilings will have a point that would reduce any dust. Just how the pillions will be inserted into a toxic site without disturbing the containment system that prevents groundwater contamination that remains to be seen.
EPA officials assured that strict monitors will be in place and although the developers have gotten preliminary approval, the procedure of how the site will be development has yet to get final approval.
But that doesn’t fill me with confidence especially since Baltimore seems to be set up as a test case.
In fact in Jersey City, which was facing a similar chromium site, owned by Honeywell, the same company charged with overseeing the Allied site, the contents of the toxic dump was removed. That is in Jersey, there is no issue of building on or penetrating a cap because the chromium was shipped off to an already established toxic waste site. Of course the removal only occurred after a law suite forced New Jersey’s government to remove the site.
Known as the former Roosevelt Drive-in, the site encompassed 30 acres of chromium and slag. The slag would pop up or heave from the chromium underneath, according to reports in the New York TImes. Concerns were both about air-born contamination as well as groundwater.
Rev.Willard Ashley,pastor of the Abundant Joy Community Church in Jersey City part of the group that successfully sued Honeywell, told the New York Times in 2006,
“I very much believe in economic development, but I want it done in a way that’s safe,” Mr. Ashley says that allowing developers to cap a site, build housing on it which serves as a cap, is asimilar to description put forth by the Baltimore group and Maryland Department of The Environment officials. He said dubbing the development as a working cap is what environmentalists call “pave and wave” and just postpones the problems. He wanted all the hazardous waste removed.
In 2003, a federal court found that the way chromium waste heaved under the slag made capping impossible and ordered the contaminants, a half million tons worth, removed. That didn’t stop Honeywell from appealing the decision, coming up with a containment solution to prevent the slag from heaving. According to the New York Times article, they said ground water was making the chromium bond together pushing up against the surface. In the end the courts were not buying it and ordered Honeywell to remove all the chromium (see link to law suit).
And yet in Baltimore right in the middle of the City’s gold coast, with Harbor East on one side, Fells Point on the other and Inner Harbor to the West and Tide Point and Federal Hill to the South, that’s exactly what we get. We get the very toxic site that the courts in New Jersey found unacceptable.
The question is why did Baltimore which was hammering out a remedial plan with Honeywell in 1989, allow a toxic waste dump to be built on such prime real estate, a peninsula in the Harbor.
A law suite forced Honeywell to remove Chromium to make way for development in Jersey City, but in Baltimore the same company was allowed to cap the waste, a process that was rejected in Jersey Courts.
According to a source who worked in New Jersey government and has knowledge of the Baltimore sites, the government understood that the Maryland Port Authority, which oversaw other chromium sites, could be made liable. The person indicated that the Maryland enforcement was soft but also noted in Jersey, “it took a suit by a citizen group.”
Thus far in Baltimore, the environmental concern is at best on the fringe of public discussion. While many talk about the promise, the jobs, the risk of doing what amounts to be exploratory surgery in the cap of a chromium six is getting scant public airing and no talk of the risks.
This comment below is a different subject but it speaks to the wholesale disregard of the public when it comes to justice. We are watching as our justice system works with corporations to prey on the people and public assets. For people of color and the poor......they are now treated as though they are not even citizens or have no human rights!
Regarding Baltimore Sun's Zurawik's continued revelation that NPR is the only journalistic media source using Trayvon Martin:
Did you hear Marketplace Money and NPR give yet more airtime to Wall Street and the stock market? Things are so bad with systemic crime on Wall Street that even Marketplace sounded ashamed as it announced Morgan Stanley's latest fraud this time of energy consumers. Now, a reputable news media would not give known criminals voice, but 'public media' does....or as they now call themselves Corporate Public Media. Just considering this we know that Zurawik's opinions are of no value.
Let's go again to Trayvon Martin. As I said I spoke with, emailed, and posted on all media outlets the ABC video of the Sanford police station camera shots of Zimmerman coming into the police station with no injuries. All the reporters with whom I spoke acknowledged that a national news agency like ABC and NBC would have vetted this video.....so it is real. Yet, not one of these media including WYPR/NPR has mentioned this travesty of justice. We of course expect a retrial as I sent this to Eric Holder and we no he is big on public justice!
I happened to watch The Good Wife on TV a few years ago when they had an episode that mirrored what has happened in the Trayvon Martin case. A synopsis has The Good Wife becoming involved in what she knew was suppression of evidence in a trial involving a black man that she came to believe was, as Trayvon Martin is, a victim of failed justice by coverup. The difference on the TV version is that she has integrity and fights the powers even as she knows it might cost her career. AHHHHHH, THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF INTEGRITY AND RULE OF LAW! What this episode revealed is what is happening across the US today.....it was based on fact...that we have a legal system with leadership that chooses how law will be applied....not a Rule of Law justice system. The reason for hiding evidence that would have protected this black man......FEAR OF WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE BY BLACKS ACROSS THE NATION AND THAT IS WHY THIS VIDEO THAT SHOWS ZIMMERMAN WAS GUILTY AND THAT THE SANFORD COMMUNITY WAS INVOLVED IN A COVERUP WAS SUPPRESSED.....EVEN NATIONALLY.
Now, Zurawik and WYPR know this....I'm no savant......but what is happening is that people of color....both black and brown are losing all rights as citizens and are being told 'you have no recourse'. AGAIN....THIS IS THIRD WORLD. What I heard at the Trayvon Martin rally here in Baltimore and across the country was this same black community vowing not to go back to Jim Crow and being a non-person....they would rather die early and be free in heaven. IF WE DO NOT WAKE UP....WE WILL HAVE CIVIL WAR AND AS THE SAYING GOES.....NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.
For those middle-class that remain.....and you are a dying breed.....you are only a generation from the same situation. This is not a race issue, it is class and the loss of Rule of Law is affecting all of us. START RUNNING AND VOTING FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE! We appreciate the support of labor unions in this fight for justice for all!
Don't think you have no media choices.....I get plenty of real news from the internet.....just 'friend me'!