Once again, the city government is ready to give developers a big tax break. This follows the continuing failure of downtown redevelopment in places like Inner Harbor. Mayor Stephanie Failings-Blake is back at it again.
Baltimore Brew recently reported that the city is trying to bring in development through tax breaks which will supposedly bring more people to the city. They explained that these tax breaks are “a wrinkle on the city’s PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) program – which subsidized the building of Harbor East and other swanky properties – by offering 15 years of property tax breaks to developers.” This tax break was brought on when the newly merged Exelon “picked Harbor Point…for its new regional headquarters [after being] vigorously lobbied…to locate either in the downtown or near the Inner Harbor.” Also this measure could result in zero property taxes for developers and a rebate given to them! This doesn’t support the poor people of the city because the bill doesn’t “specifically provide for low-income housing” but calls for houses basically at “monthly rents affordable to professionals.” The Brew also wrote about this days before. There is one other recent business friendly move: granting a contract of over $2.2 million dollars to Brekford Corporation to put in place new speed cameras. This is interesting because the members on the panel approved such a measure.
Now, I was thinking why this is the case. I looked at the city government for starters. It is already well-known that there is a Democratic party machine in the city itself. When Libertarian, Green and Republican candidates ran in 2011, they were defeated because the turnout of the voters was so low, not because of their ideas necessarily. I decided to look at the Baltimore City Council for starters. This doesn’t mean people like the mayor, who I’ve already wrote about in the past about her corruption by corporate forces (here and here). Here’s all the people on the council and the breakdown of their corporate contributions from there thanks to publicly available information from the Maryland State Board of Elections [note that almost all of them received money from big trade unions]*:
- Mary Pat Clarke [Chair of Education Committee]–> tied to the Democratic Party machine (sort of) and was funded by business interests at the beginning but not so much anymore.
- James B. Kraft [Chair of Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, Vice Chair, Budget and Appropriations committee and Vice Chair, Land Use and Transportation committee]–> received money from PACs of 1st Mariner Bank, Restaurant Association of MD, GREATER BALTIMORE BOARD OF REALTORS, REALTORS PAC [Maryland], Constellation Energy, MARYLAND COCA COLA ENTERPRISES EMPLOYEES and HARBOR ENTERPRISE CENTER LLC., Bollinger Energy Corporation, VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. GOOD GOVERNMENT CLUB, AMERICAN SUGAR REFINING INC., Chesapeake Real Estate Group, LLC., and THE WINNER DISTRIBUTING COMPANY among others.
- Brandon Scott [Vice Chair of Public Safety committee] –> Received money from Frankford Towing, Inc., Colspring Co., Inc., McCray Properties, LLC., and Verizon Good Government Club. A lot of individual contributions
- Bob (Robert) Curran [Chair of Health and Labor committees]–> received money from the Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, First Mariner Bank Political Action Committee, Constellation Energy Group State PAC, Comcast PAC, American Sugar Refining, Burlington Holdings LLC., Berman Towing Inc., Carbond Inc., and Domino Foods Inc., among others
- Bill Henry [Chair of Housing and Community Development committee, Vice Chair, Taxation, Finance and Economic Development committee and Vice Chair of Education committee]–> received money from the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, Association of Maryland Pilots PAC, Comcast PAC, Verizon Communications, Inc. Good Government Club, Maryland Coca-Cola Enterprises Employee Non-Partisan Committee, Constellation Energy State PAC, Property Owners Association of Greater Baltimore PAC, JRRG Corp, CSX Transportation, and a bunch of individual contributions
- Rikki Spector [Vice Chair of Urban Affairs and Aging committee]–> received money from the 1ST MARINER BANK PAC, CONSTELLATION ENERGY GROUP, INC. STATE PAC, GREATER BALTIMORE BOARD OF REALTORS, P&O PORTS BALTIMORE, INC., PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION OF GREATER BALTIMORE PAC, DELTA CHEMICAL CORPORATION, Frankford Towing Inc., and a bunch of individual contributions
- Sharon Middleton [Chair of Chair of Urban Affairs and Aging committee]–> received money from Carefirst Bluecross Blueshield Associates PAC, Association of Maryland Pilots PAC, Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors PAC, 1st Mariner Bank, Property Owners Association of Greater Baltimore PAC, Group Dental Service, Inc., Polaris, Coalition for Port Dredging, Maryland Unified Licensees Beverages Assoc, Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. Good Government Club, Walgreens, and a bunch of individual contributions
- Nick Mosby [Vice Chair of Labor committee] –> received money from Rodwell Development Group LLC., Greater Baltimore Political Action Committee, Bradley’s Enterprise, Inc., Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP, and a bunch of individual contributions
- Helen Holton [Chair of Budget and Appropriations committee and Vice Chair of Health committee]–> received money from Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, The Association of Maryland Pilots PAC, Constellation Energy State PAC, Maryland Bank PAC, Property Owners Association PAC, Betor Corporation, Baltimore License Beverage Association, Inc., Chevy Chase Bank, Miller Capital, LLC., Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Verizon Communications Inc. Good Government Club, Walgreens, Verizon Communications Inc., Carefirst Bluecross Blueshield, Information Control Systems Corporation, among others
- William Pete Welch [Vice Chair of Executive Appointments committee]–> received money from the MD-DE-DC Beverage Association, Cherry Hill Towing, Realtors Political Action Committee (Maryland), and a bunch of individual contributions
- Edward Reisinger [Chair of Chair of Land Use and Transportation committee]–> received money from the Property Owners Association of Greater Baltimore PAC, Maryland Bankpac (State), Maryland Association of Mortgage Brokers PAC, Constellation Energy State PAC, 1st Mariner Bank Political Action Committee, Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors PAC, Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, Verizon Communications Inc. Good Government Club, Delta Chemical Corporation, Royal Farms, Domino Foods, Inc., Curtis Bay Energy, Inc., South Baltimore Business Alliance, STX, Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., Dunkin Donuts, and many more
- William Cole IV [Chair of Recreation and Parks committee, Chair of Executive Appointments committee, Vice Chair of Housing and Community Development committee]–> received money from the Association of Maryland Pilots, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, Verizon Communication Inc. Good Government Club, Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, Constellation Energy State PAC, PNC Bank PAC Maryland, 1st Mariner Bank PAC, Realtors PAC, GGC Investments, Cecil Federal Bank, Delta Chemical Corporation, Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association – Baltimore Council, Belvedere Restaurant Group, LLC and so on [lots of individual contributions]
- Carl Stokes [Chair of Taxation, Finance and Economic Development committee, and Vice Chair of Recreation and Parks committee]–> received money from Verizon Communication Inc, Good Government Club, Realtors Political Action Committee, Maryland Soft Drink Association PAC, CLEAR CHANNEL Outdoor Inc., Bridge Private Lending, LP, VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC., CCA Air Charter, LLC., PGA Rossville, LLC., and others
- Warren Branch [Chair of Public Safety and Health committee]–> received money from Verizon Communications Inc. Good Government MD Pac, Realtors Political Action Committee, Constellation Energy PAC, Lambda Development LLC., Verizon Wireless, American Sugar Refining Inc., Safeway Inc., Clear Channel Outdoor Inc., Maryland Hotel & Lodging Association and many others
- Bernard C. Young [City Council President]–> received money from CONSTELLATION ENERGY STATE PAC, GREATER BALTIMORE BOARD OF REALTORS, ECONOMIC GROWTH PAC, RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION OF MD, 1ST MARINER BANK, MARYLAND COCA COLA ENTERPRISES, EAST HARBOR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, BALTIMORE MARINE CENTER, LLC., MARYLAND HOTEL AND LODGING ASSOCIATION BALTIMORE COUNCIL, AMERICAN MINORITY CONTRACTORS AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATION INC., AMERICAN BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION, BALTIMORE LICENSE BEVERAGE ASSOC., COLDSPRING CO, INC., Safeway Inc, Rite Aid Headquarter Corp., and many many others.
*All campaign contributions are basically bribes in a sense, no matter who they are from.
This list shows that for the most pat, every member of the city council has been bribed by the business interests of city except for Mary Pat Clarke (unless there are some hidden business interests supporting her). How does this affect the people of Maryland? Well for one, it allows there to be powerful slumlords in Baltimore as described by Baltimore Slumlord Watch and distorts the scale for the very wealthy. What is needed is community control, which will be hard but is definitely possible, not “survival by any means necessary.”