Comment on State Comptroller Franchot’s Facebook page — pithy statement of the case against the boondoggle

State Comptroller Peter Franchot recently denounced the General Assembly leadership over their move to end scrutiny of state-funded local school contracting by the Board of Public Works (Board.) He fears it opens the way to increased cronyist racketeering in the awarding of contacts for school construction. Franchot along with the Governor and State Treasurer comprise the Board, which under the state Constitution has ultimate responsibility for “ensuring that significant State expenditures are necessary and appropriate, fiscally responsible, fair, and lawful.” We took the opportunity to post to Franchot a pithy version of the case for the Board to block any state funds for the Frederick hotel boondoggle. 

“Right on, Mr Franchot! We see exactly this (corruption) at the local level in Frederick City where a downtown hotel boondoggle has been dishonestly promoted by a backrooms Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee (HAC) misusing City staff and City and State taxpayer money to benefit one hotel developer at the expense of competitors plus taxpayers. Although staffed by the City, its members appointed by the Mayor, given City selected consultants and charged with doing a City procurement the HAC met behind closed doors — because its activities could never have withstood scrutiny. The HAC quietly dumped the consultant’s proposed two-stage competition-friendly procurement — site first then all-in for a developer. Instead they adopted rules that limited competition to two developers. The winner had actually been a member of the HAC. With obvious inside knowledge he got his proposal in before the RFP was even issued. The ‘scoring’ of the two proposals was predictably a farce. They’ve ended up with a bad site and a wasteful project. The backroom cronyist machinations of the City of Frederick over the downtown hotel have become a discouragement to honest, viable investments here.”

BACKGROUND: Franchot says: “This fight is one between open and transparent government, and one where the ‘real work’ gets done in the the lounges and backrooms of Annapolis.

“It’s about having a system where citizens are encouraged to show up, have their say and be heard, as opposed to one that is controlled by a handful of bosses and donors. One where politicians who would put their name on a government building never forget the taxpayers who paid for it in the first place.” end Franchot quote

Current Senate leader Mike Miller has been the chief facilitator, along with Senator Ron Young of backroom state funding for the boondoggle hotel project in downtown Frederick. Knowing that the project won’t withstand scrutiny in the regular appropriations process where there are public hearings and the opportunity for supporters and opponents to state their case, Young and Miller have in two consecutive years bypassed the regular parliamentary process and added hotel funds in last minute additions to the budget.

If as seems likely the Board of Public Works withholds funds for the boondoggle hotel, then next year they’ll probably move to exempt the project from Board scrutiny. If senators Miller and Young continue to get their way, that is.

Peter Franchot’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/peterfranchot/posts/1450322238405157

On the Board of Public Works:

http://bpw.maryland.gov/Pages/about-bpw.aspx

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