Ricard Griffin made a crude move this week to rush through Mayor & Board approval of an incomplete agreement with state agencies over a ‘mitigation plan’ for demolition of the Birely Tannery building and site. Griffin put his signature to a thoroughly misleading Executive Summary for the Mayor & Board workshop today (Feb 7) which falsely claimed that two state agencies had accepted a draft Memorandum of Agreement (MoA).
Griffin’s Mayor & Board agenda item Executive Summary claimed that Maryland Historical Trust, the state’s historic preservation regulator “provided final comments” on January 26. It suggested the first draft of the MoU came from the other state agency, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and then asserted both had had their say. The two state agencies comments had been baked into the MOA, he suggested.
Under a ’NEXT STEPS FOR MOA COMPLETION’ heading Griffin’s misleading Executive Summary listed (1) City to review and approve the Draft MoA (2) MHT/DHCD to Execute MOA following City approval. He was claiming that once the City approved the draft, the two state agencies would simply ‘execute’ it. In Griffin’s odd prose in which there are ungrammatical capitalizations of almost every verb and noun so of course he has “MHT/DHCD to Execute MOA…” This was reinforcing the falsehood that the state agencies were done with substantial input to the MoA.
Earlier both state agencies said the MoA was still very much a work in progress. Sara Luell, director of Communications at DHCD told us they were still “actively negotiating” on the MoA. Beth Cole, administrator project review and compliance at MHT said in an earlier email that the MoA was still under review, deliberation and negotiation and that it was in no way ready for signature.
The two state agencies were not willing to simply “Execute” the draft distributed by Griffin if he got the Mayor & Board to approve it, as his Executive Summary said.
Griffin’s Executive Summary is here:
At the Mayor & Board meeting today Griffin quietly backtracked in his spoken comments saying toward the end of his oral presentation that MHT and DHCD had asked him to say that they still have comments to make which could change the MoA from the draft he had presented.
Griffin proposed that the Mayor & Board approve the MoA at a meeting Feb 15, just a week hence. The Mayor would be given the authority to decide on any further amendments needed to satisfy the state agencies. Only changes deemed by the Mayor ’substantive’ would be referred back to the Mayor & Board for their review. ’Non-substantive changes’ could be made by the Mayor unilaterally.
This went down in flames.
Several aldermen expressed doubts and City Attorney Saundra Nickols intervened to say that any contract approved by the Mayor and Board would have the force of law as approved until amended by the Mayor and Board. The Mayor cannot make his own changes to a Mayor & Board resolution, she was saying.
Griffin retreated saying that perhaps they needed to postpone the formal hearing and decision on the MoA.
It was a rout. Or as Griffin would write, a Rout.