Mr Mayor, Aldermen: There are many problems with the Resolution before you to seek a Smart Growth Impact Grant from the State Department of Housing & Community Development’s Smart Growth Impact Fund. The first problem and perhaps the smallest problem is that no such Fund exists. The Department makes no such Smart Growth grants. This Resolution is based on fiction. It is Richard Griffin as marketer, PR guy, spin artist inventing a nice sounding term for you and me.
But the City has received Smart Growth grants before from the State. We’ve been told that in official announcments, press releases and speeches. Right? Wrong. According to the Department of Housing and Community Development: “In FY2014 and FY2016 the City of Frederick was awarded Strategic Demolition Fund grants…” email from Sara Luell, director communications Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development 2016.07.12 16:18
All the PR about Frederick getting smart growth grants from the state has been PR spin. I’ve known Richard for a long time. I like him. I think he’s basically a decent person. But he thinks and talks like a salesman, a political salesman and a dealmaker, who will say all kinds of things to close a sale or to strike a deal, politically.
Here you are being told in effect: this is free grant money, it’s for the asking.
Richard The Political Dealmaker wants you think all he needs is for you to let him ask. Did he tell you the whole story? Did he discuss the 25% local match that is required. The City has to show it is providing $250k to be eligible for the next million from the state.
I suppose it doesn’t matter too much if you authorize Richard to go fill in a form applying for a million dollars from a fund with a name he doesn’t like and doesn’t want to publicize… you’ve authorized him to try get another million bucks for this hotel project. The fiction of it being free smart growth when it is strategic demolition grants in itself is not that important. Is it important that he leaves out the fact that the City has to find a 25% match. Maybe you can shuffle money around after the event?
Your problem is that the fiction-making that we see in the sham terminology of this Resolution for non-existent smart growth grants, this compulsion to spin a fictional narrative has permeated this project from the beginning. It’s a chameleon, it constantly changes its form, its color
A small matter perhaps but staff of the City’s DED never quite get it right. They compulsively ‘spin’ like the proverbial used car salesmen. This resolution refers to applying for Smart Growth Impact Grants from a Smart Growth Impact Fund. There is no such Fund and there are no such grants. These only exist as propaganda terms of the City’s DED. Two previous grants to the City come from a Strategic Demolition Fund which the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development operates for urban revitalization. This fiscal year the Strategic Demolition Fund got $21.5 million from the legislature. $18m is reserved for demolition in Baltimore of vacant and blighted housing. $3.5 million is available state-wide of which the City DED proposes to apply for $1 million.
When this project went out to bid Feb 20 2014 it was the developer’s responsibility to get the land. p20 of the RFP said bluntly: “NOTE: the City will not provide City-owned land for the development project.” There has never been a coherent explanation from Richard Griffin as to why the City needs to own the land for this hotel. It is one of a number of special favors Griffin has done for the Plamondons following their selection and which represent substantial concessions at the expense of taxpayers. The Plamondons do not need to find the $3.6m and instead they get full use of the land for a peppercorn or token annual rental of just 2.4%, about a quarter of the market rental, and a substantial annual concession for the life of the hotel. That’s $85k/year for what would normally be $360k or $275,000/year concession. 2016.07.13