Baltimore has a history of fraud and corruption. The citizens are fleeced by the wealthy in the city and by the City Hall staff that know its a free-for-all. So, government has become an anathema. Reverse this situation!!
IT ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE AND WON'T BE IF YOU HAVE OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY! WORK ON THAT!!
WHEN GREENING ISN'T GREENING------SPINNING THE GREENING ISSUE.
When I hear that Baltimore City does not have the resources to monitor it thousands of empty lots but we have Hopkins' East Baltimore and Harbor East with billions of dollars in public money invested-----you see why communities in Baltimore are mad as heck with money flow. The level of disinvestment is amazing. We have no city oversight of anything and the public sector has been gutted to skeleton crews with private non-profits running everything. Those private non-profits are funded by the same people getting all of the development money. So, instead of our city government buying real estate to create parks and green spaces, it holds it with the intent to give it to a developer as soon as one comes by. As citizens living in an area you have no ability to affect these decisions. WE HAVE THE POWER AND MONEY I am told by private non-profits. Indeed, they do. My tax revenue pays for their Master Plan.
The problem is not greening-----the problem is the idea of public land. When parks are seen as assets to be sold or handed in public private partnerships a community does not have a sense of public property. THIS IS THE DAMAGE BEING DONE IN BALTIMORE AS ALL PUBLIC LAND IS NOW PRIMED TO BE HANDED TO PRIVATE DEVELOPERS AT ANY TIME. Our government does not work for the community----it works to hand public land to connected people. Even huge long-established parks are being slated for business parks as residents are told to shut up. Having private non-profits doing what is public sector work----public greening, leads to so much waste of funding and resources that it ultimately hurts the greening efforts.
In Baltimore, because we have few public employees working to maintain existing green areas these private non-profits dole out money to people with good intentions who inevitably abandon green projects and they go to seed. OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER......MONEY GOES INTO PROJECTS WITH NO LONG-TERM MAINTENANCE. What these greening non-profits are doing is replacing public sector workers who would be on the city payroll and paid to maintain these green spaces for the long-term AS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CASE. So, you have a citizen employed by the Parks Department that keeps these green spaces going with or without community volunteers.
IT IS INSANE TO SEND GREEN MONEY TO THESE PROJECTS THAT DO NOT LAST OR ARE BOOTED OUT IN SHORT TIME!
So, we have a broken system of greening on the community level and we have a corrupt system of greening by businesses that use it simply to cheapen the costs of their own projects and we have a LEEDS oversight system by the Federal government that everyone knows is riddled with fraud.
What we are seeing in Baltimore and in MD is the rise of private non-profits that allow corporations not paying taxes to 'donate' money to 'green' projects that are really simply extensions of their own developments. In other words, they are getting tax breaks for their own projects. So, all of these parks that are going along the waterfront right outside of corporate headquarters -----not just part of this corporate development? OF COURSE IT IS FOR GOODNESS SAKE. It is not greening, it is simply landscaping your own corporate complex. Meanwhile, Patterson Park, a real public green space is threatened to become a business development even as residents shout loudly that they bought their homes because of this great big green space.
What we see in Baltimore is the use of 'temporary' greening projects used just to make a community attractive but, because the land is privately owned and not kept public, these spaces are all slated to have great big developments on them once homes are sold around the green space. Neo-liberals are using greening to maximize profits for developers. Is it greening to allow young people to build a community garden that all love and leave them fighting for existence beyond the few years it takes to fill houses with homeowners? Of course not....it is a marketing ploy and this is the basis for most greening in Baltimore.
If corporations simply paid taxes or the State/City Attorney went after corporate fraud and corruption in Baltimore we would have government coffers flush with money to build public parks and maintain them. We do not want public policy and development dictated to citizens by corporations refusing to be good corporate citizens. Let them landscape their own corporate complexes so permanent greening on public land happens in the greater communities!
Corporate conservation takes root in South Baltimore Industrial sites around Middle Branch spruce up, capture runoff
1/10 By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun 5:00 a.m. EST, November 14, 2013
A sprawling paint factory in industrial South Baltimore might be the last place you'd expect to attract hummingbirds.
But Sherwin-Williams might now start drawing nectar-loving birds and more with native wildflowers, American beautyberry and pine trees it's planting at its manufacturing complex on Hollins Ferry Road. The effort is aimed at creating a more pleasant workplace, enhancing the neighborhood and helping clean up the harbor.
Sherwin-Williams is one of a handful of companies — some with checkered environmental records — that have signed on to spruce up their properties, part of a new initiative to enlist businesses, nonprofits and government agencies there in helping to boost the city's anemic tree canopy, attract more wildlife and restore its degraded urban waters.
The Second Harbor project focuses on greening industrial lands in the lower Gwynns Falls, which flows into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River, the less developed, grittier adjunct to the Inner Harbor.
"What we're trying to do is enlist particularly the industrial properties in the Middle Branch ... to look at how they can manage their lands to improve wildlife habitat as well as to address stormwater quality issues," said J. Morgan Grove, a research scientist in the U.S. Forest Service's Baltimore field station.
The effort is a partnership between the Forest Service, Baltimore's Parks & People Foundation and the Wildlife Habitat Council, a national nonprofit based in Silver Spring that encourages corporations to undertake voluntary conservation projects on their properties and in adjoining communities.
The habitat council, which is holding its annual symposium in Baltimore this week, sees the effort as a potential model for environmental restoration in other urban areas.
"Once we start working in Baltimore, we can reiterate this in Denver, Philadelphia and Miami and other areas that have similar conditions," said Jeff Popp, the council's land restoration manager.
Other companies involved include:
•Maryland Chemical Co., which is creating rain gardens at its Childs Street site, and planting trees and other vegetation to attract bees and butterflies.
• Vulcan Materials, a producer of stone, sand and gravel, plans to put floating wetlands in a stormwater pond bordering its Middle Branch compound, to provide wildlife habitat and reduce the flow of sediment into the harbor.
• Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is planting shrubbery and creating a butterfly garden along the Middle Branch at its Spring Gardens complex, where the company once manufactured and stored gas for heating the city's homes and businesses.
•The Baltimore Community Toolbank, a nonprofit "lending library" for tools, plans to install rain gardens around its building on Wicomico Street and a cistern to capture rooftop runoff.
Some of the companies have had toxic legacies in Baltimore.
BGE spent tens of millions of dollars to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater discovered in the 1980s at its Spring Gardens site.
Maryland Chemical had operated at the South Baltimore site where a casino is now under construction. The Maryland Department of the Environment has approved the developer's plan to cover contaminated ground there with new buildings, pavement and clean soil. The state ordered the developer to install a system for venting any vapors from the ground that might enter the casino building.
Sherwin-Williams has paid $600,000 to federal and state regulators in the past two years to settle waste-storage and air-pollution violations at its Baltimore plant.
The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing what might be done to clean up groundwater beneath the plant that was contaminated decades ago with toluene and other petroleum compounds.
Mike Levitsky, the plant's manager, said the company considers those issues behind it and has joined this effort because "it's the right thing to do," not to comply with any regulatory mandates.
"It's a great thing," he said, "not only for the neighborhood but for the employees, to come into a plant that's green." He said he hopes the plant's 118 workers will take breaks outside and use the hiking trail planned along the back of the 23-acre tract.
Raise your hand if you understand that any justice issue given to a profit-making venture will not lead to the results intended!!!! When I asked Maryland environmental groups to stop the fraud of greening money so we can use more money for actual greening----they admit the fraud and refuse to speak out.
WE DON'T NEED GREENING INDUSTRY-----WE NEED PEOPLE EMPOWERED TO CREATE THEIR OWN ENVIRONMENTS WITH THE IDEA THEY WILL STAY THERE AND REAP THE REWARDS!!!
The greening of capitalism?
By Heather RogersIssue #70: Features
Green capitalism’s bottom line is that it promises a growing economy that uses less from the biosphere. We don’t have to have a slow-growth or no-growth economy to save the planet. To prove this point, the authors of Natural Capitalism recount the success story of DuPont, the chemical company. In the late 1990s, DuPont voluntarily adopted the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, which meant they would cut their greenhouse gas emissions to less than half of 1991 levels. This led to a net savings of $6 for every ton of carbon dioxide that DuPont shed. Natural Capitalism uses this example to say, “Look, it works.” Hawken and the Lovinses go on to point out, “America could shed $300 billion a year from its energy bills using existing technology. The Earth’s climate can thus be protected, not at a cost, but at a profit.” This is the strand of thinking that others, including Thomas Friedman, have picked up on. It sounds really good to a lot of powerful people, powerful corporations, and powerful politicians beholden to those corporations.
But when you think it through—it’s not that complicated, I’m not an economist--what does DuPont do with the money they save? They put it right back into making more chemicals. They put it back into growing their business because that’s what you have to do in capitalism. That’s the logic of the market. You have to grow or you lose out to the competition. (So we get more chemicals—wonderful!) Other questions spring from this. If corporations have slightly greener methods of producing whatever it is they make, isn’t that better? It could be, except that these energy savings aren’t retired. Whatever energy Wal-Mart forgoes in its more efficient stores and delivery trucks nevertheless gets used by the company. That energy, and more, is consumed by the next Wal-Mart that’s built and the next.
Now I’m going to talk about how this applies to the research I’ve been doing. For my new book, Green Gone Wrong, I traveled around the world to explore how green capitalism is working on the ground. The book takes a broad look at the basic things we need to live, including food, shelter, and transportation. Today I’m going to cover organic farming and biofuels.
Green capitalism tells us that by serving not just profits, but also people and the planet—known as the “triple bottom line”—we’ll fix the market and thereby remedy the Earth’s ills. We’re told that we can use environmental realities to change how the market works, but what green capitalism seems to foster is a reshaping of environmental crisis to the market’s ends.
To look at organic farming, I went to upstate New York and spent some time on small farms. These growers are doing amazing work cultivating rich biological gene pools, outsmarting bugs and weeds without chemicals, fertilizing the soil using nutrients generated on the farm, not in some factory a thousand miles away. Most people would agree, this kind of small nonconventional farming is environmentally sound; the hitch is that it’s not economically sustainable.
I spent time on a farm that sells greens for $40 a pound—I’m not exaggerating— and a dozen eggs go for $14. The farmer earns about $7 an hour. He couldn’t afford to buy the very produce he grows and sells. A big problem is that his fixed costs are high. The farm is located about sixty-five miles from New York City. The land has become so valuable and his property taxes have gone up so much that he can’t keep up. Local farmers get no special status when their property value is assessed; they’re liable for the same fees as developers who carve the countryside into parcels and install McMansions. Unconventional farmers lack institutional infrastructure and support for their work. Despite the heroic image of the local organic grower selling produce at the farmer’s market, these people struggle hard to do their work, and not all organic farms survive.
In terms of locally grown food being a remedy to environmental troubles, other important questions need to be answered. Can you really feed a city of 8 million people through local farms? There are some romanticized notions of using local farming to overtake agribusiness that need to be interrogated. For now, I’m looking at it from this economic framework.
Then I went to South America to look at globally produced organic foods, particularly those grown in the Global South for export to the United States. This has been happening as smaller organic food companies have been bought up and consolidated by large corporations, including Kraft, General Mills, and Heinz. The big processors need supplies year round and they need a lot of them, so they purchase inputs from outside of the U.S.— Chile, China, and Paraguay, to name a few. I went to Paraguay, to one of the largest organic sugar plantations and mills on the planet. It produces one-third of the organic sugar consumed in the United States, supplying General Mills for Cascadian Farm and its other organic brands, and Silk soymilk sold by Dean Foods.
At this plantation I found that the company is clearing native forests for organic cropland because the organic market is increasing at such a rapid clip and the firm wants to cash in while shoppers are buying. Since margins are higher on organic foods, unconventionally raised goods present a great opportunity to ratchet up profits. Instead of growing the sugarcane in a way that protects biodiversity, the plantation is essentially a large monocrop. It also uses factory farm poultry manure as fertilizer—from the kind of place that administers antibiotics to keep infections from spreading inside tightly packed houses, and arsenic to encourage rapid growth (the birds’ legs can easily snap beneath all the weight). The plantation is fundamentally relying on industrial farming methods to make organics work.
Even more disturbing is that they supplement their supply by buying cane from small campesino farmers. Despite being registered organic and fair trade, the farmers I talked to don’t always get the higher price because if the mill isn’t buying (because it’s gotten enough from other farmers or its own fields) then they can’t sell at the higher premium. Even though they’re registered organic and fair trade, there’s no guarantee that the mill will buy their cane. Nonetheless, the mill gets to stamp its packages with “fair trade” and “organic.” According to the Fair Trade Labeling Organization, of all fair trade production globally, only 20 percent is actually sold as fair trade. The producers are only able to sell 20 percent of what they grow at fair-trade prices. “Trust marks” such as “organic” and “fair trade” create the idea that we’re doing the right thing, but these practices are really complicated on the ground. These farmers can’t afford to pay for fair trade or organic certification so they have to rely on the mill to pay for it—and if they don’t sell to that mill then the campesinos don’t get the higher income. Since the certification doesn’t belong to the farmers, the power dynamics that created an unfair and ecologically taxing system are not remade. If you’re not dealing with the structural workings of the system, you’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
In terms of biofuels, I went to Borneo in the rainforest and, as many of you may have heard, there is a food crisis there and a lot of deforestation going on. Indonesia is the world’s third-largest carbon dioxide emitter largely because of deforestation. A lot of what’s driving the deforestation is the growing of palm oil tree plantations and the palm oil growers are really driving the deforestation with the help of the government. Indonesia doesn’t have factories or a financial market, it has plantations—that’s the motor of their economy. What I found in indigenous villages in the rainforest is that the palm oil companies are coming in and taking advantage of unclear land ownership, as happens the world over. Although communities have lived there for hundreds of years, they have no title deeds so palm oil plantations can move in more easily, clear-cutting and burning the rainforest as they go. It’s bitterly ironic that companies are destroying some of the biggest carbon stores in the name of making the green fuel mostly for Western markets.
And as a lot of us know, corn-based ethanol is a total disaster. We have to ask, why do we have these biofuels? Biofuels made from used cooking grease is a great idea, but when you deploy that in the context of the market you get speculation, food crises, and greater pressure on the environment. One of the Borneo plantations I went to—where we actually caught an illegal chainsaw crew in the act—sells its palm oil to Wilmar, which is partially owned by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). This all links back to the biggest, most powerful corporate interests. Cargill also has substantial plantations in Borneo and is an increasingly influential player in biodiesel. The biofuels system we’re currently building up allows companies such as ADM and Cargill to maintain their political and economic position so they like it.
As these examples, and others in the book, flesh out, the market has a distinct inability to solve environmental crises because it can’t adequately value nature. That doesn’t mean great methods and technologies for balancing out the trauma of the biosphere don’t exist—they do. We don’t see more of the solutions that work, including superefficient architecture and transportation systems, as well as biomimicry and service leasing, because as yet these options aren’t profitable enough. Instead of our greater environmental consciousness transforming the way business is done, what we more often see is the market contorting ecological problems so they fit into some sort of profitable framework. To bring about change we must experience ourselves as political actors and not simply shoppers who are supposed to vote with our wallets.
Below you see what is a great idea for any greening in urban areas------these people want to see greening and community gardens succeed. They work hard and do good things. Yet, they are connected with organizations like Homewood Development Corporation which is an arm of Hopkins Development so, the land they support and protect will not stand against any Hopkins' development plans. It is selective protection.
I work a long developed community garden ----one of the first to get that designation. A few years ago Hopkins development came into that space with plans of their own and my garden didn't have a leg to stand on. I was told the 'community garden' designation no longer means anything. Indeed, locals trying to do just what this organization promotes can go through the Baltimore City Hall program for greening designation and have the city sell the land right from under it with 2 weeks notice. As I said earlier, some greening gardens are on land owned by private individuals that know the land will be developed. So, unless you are a corporation using greening to landscape your real estate, there is no way for most people in the city to know that their gardens will remain public and protected.
GETTING GREENING TAX CREDITS FOR LANDSCAPING DEVELOPMENTS YOU ARE BUILDING NOW OR TO ENHANCE SALES OF PROPERTY AROUND IT IS NOT A PUBLIC ASSET.
Land Security for Green Spaces
There are about 17,000 vacant lots in Baltimore City, of which 6,650 are owned by City government. With so much vacant land, it’s not surprising that residents transform vacant land into community gardens, pocket parks, and much more. Some of these urban oases are on City-owned land, some are on abandoned
property, and some are created with permission from the owner. Understandably, it’s hard for City government to keep track of which “vacant” lots are actually community assets. For example,
while about 750 lots have been adopted by residents, not all of the projects work out. Some projects are meant as temporary uses. And some are on abandoned properties. That’s where Baltimore Green Space comes in. We collect information about Baltimore’s community-managed open spaces.
When we tell the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) about these lots, the land is not offered for sale – at least not without investigation and thought. Why?
Because community-managed open spaces make neighborhoods more attractive to prospective residents. We also like to learn about community-managed open spaces for other reasons: to connect the residents who care for the sites with
services they may need; to inform studies about how community greening is improving Baltimore; and to connect new volunteers with green spaces.
Unfortunately, we don’t know about all the green spaces – and in the past year, there have been some sad cases. For example, about 20 years ago public funds were used to landscape a lot across
from Pimlico Race Track so that it could be a buffer. Now those investments will most likely be lost. This could have been avoided had Baltimore Green Space reported the lot to HCD. A second site has had a happier resolution. A lot from Sunflower
Village, a lovely garden in Poppleton, was included in a sales contract. Fortunately, HCD was able to substitute another parcel, as Poppleton has no lack of other vacant land.
On Tuesday, June 19, 6 to 8 pm, Baltimore Green Space will present a workshop, Land Security for Community Open Spaces.
We will cover the basics of land preservation (for the greatest
Community Space Spotlight:
Govans Urban Forest
The Govans Urban Forest is approximately
one third of an acre in the 5200 block of
York Road. Baltimore City required that it
be preserved when a business was built
on the same parcel of land. Yet while it
had been officially preserved, it received
very little care and had become trashy and
overrun with invasive vines.
In 2012, the York Road Partnership started
to manage the forest, with help from
neighborhood volunteers, the Loyola
University rugby team, and the Friends
School. Volunteers have removed trash
and invasive plants, planted trees where
needed, and created a lovely sign.
800 Wyman Park Drive, Suite 010 • Baltimore MD 21211 • 443-695-7504
WE ARE STARVING EXISTING BUSINESSES AND WATCHING AS CITY COMMUNITIES BECOME BLIGHTED WITH LOST SMALL BUSINESS EMPLOYERS AS THESE INNOVATION CENTERS IN TECHNOLOGY ARE FUNDED. WE NEED BALANCE IN BUSINESS AND GREENING.
Do you know that the Baltimore Board of Estimates working for the Baltimore Development Corporation killed more small business contractors in two decades by handing public work to connected large corporations and that all we have to do is reverse this. Send away the piggyback policies that hand all business to Montgomery County firms winning state bids......send away the awards to global corporations that have only nefarious profiteering on the mind. Send away immigrant firms enriched from stealing workers wages and using abusive workplace laws to maximize profits.....and VOILA-----you have a return to small business in Maryland/Baltimore.
Did you know that Santoni's Grocer closed his doors because his business was going to be used to subsidize downtown corporate tax breaks? Do you know the war on convenience liquor stores is more about handing alcohol sales to national chain stores so won't reduce alcohol sales only who gets them? Do you know that the Enterprise Zones have filled development with national chain restaurants and retail that make all US cities look the same.....all owned by the same few corporations? Does sound like good policy does it? So, why the emphasis on tech small startups especially since they seem to all be swallowed into these global corporations as soon as they prove marketable? Could it be that taxpayer money is being used yet again to pay the cost of global corporate R and D?
That is indeed what is happening. As Wall Street's MarketPlace Money decried startups across the country are simply dying on the vine because there is no money in the economy to spend and/or they simply are taken over by larger firms. Does a model for these startups that look overseas for growth right away because US citizens are impoverished seem a good one especially when it is these same impoverished workers paying the taxes used in these startup projects that bring no jobs? OF COURSE NOT.....THERE IS NOTHING GOOD ABOUT THESE CORPORATE POLICIES BROUGHT BY MARYLAND NEO-LIBERALS!
We need the youth who are being steered to this gimmicks to think long term and see that global markets are dead and any startup depending on domestic economy will not fly until domestic workers are brought back to middle-class. Why not work on getting rid of neo-liberals by running labor and justice candidates in all primaries so small businesses across the board can thrive in Baltimore and Maryland!!!
Locust Point-based retrievRE Launches to Help Small Businesses Find Office Space
In Business, Locust Point, Real Estate / By Kevin Lynch / 11 November 2013
Technology and real estate have been grabbing a lot of business headlines around Baltimore of late. Now, Alex Kopicki and Jeff Jacobson of Locust Point’s Solstice Partners have come up with a new online service, retrievRE, which combines both of these surging industries.
Best known locally as the developers of the upcoming 900 E. Fort Ave. project, it was Kopicki and Jacobson’s experience looking for their own office space that led them to create a website catered toward small businesses in search of office space of their own. ”If you are looking for residential properties, you have websites like Zillow and Truilia,” said Jacobson, co-founder of Solstice Partners. “But for office and retail space, there is no reliable system to gather information. We were looking for space and thought the system was broken, and we are in the real estate business.”
This search process led to the creation and development of retrievRE, which Kopicki and Jacobson launched in October. retrievRE is a completely free website for landlords and brokers to post available office and retail listings and for businesses to post their office needs and search for suitable locations.
The website provides information such as property owner, gross square footage, year built and more for 10,000+ buildings in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Users can then provide listings and supplemental building information to create a comprehensive, crowd-sourced database. Properties in Howard and Anne Arundel County will be added to the database by the second quarter of 2014.
“95% of all commercial lease transactions in the region involve less than 20,000 square feet of space,” said Jacobson in a recent press release. “These relatively small leases can become lost in the shuffle by the larger, more visible requirements. In reality, these smaller spaces generate the highest per square foot rents. This is a powerful tool for landlords and brokers to fill in the gaps.”
“Priorities for business location are more and more about commute times, walkability and nearby amenities,” Jacobson continued. To address this, retrievRE integrates Yelp, Walkscore.com and Transitscore for each building to provide a digital map of nearby restaurants, businesses, transportation systems and shopping.
retrievRE does not get involved with the actual lease negotiations or transactions, but will gain income through pre-negotiated rates with preferred vendors to help with the nuances of leasing new space including design, space planning, construction build-out, moving, furniture, insurance, banking and tele-data systems. retrievRE also hopes to offer premium listings in the future.
Kopicki and Jacobson anticipate expanding into the Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia markets in the near future.