City says can’t find records authorizing hotel procurement RFP14J in Feb 2014 — the Cover-Up of the Big Fix

The cover-up of the hotel Big Fix has gotten worse. The City says it cannot find the key records authorizing issuance on February 19, 2014 of the Request for Proposals for the downtown hotel. Known as RFP14J this solicitation was suspect because the insider-only RFP document that emerged from the City Purchasing Office contrasted so sharply with the open, competition-friendly procedure presented to the Board of Aldermen at the prior public meeting. Continue reading

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8 Talking Points about the new MOU or deal between City and developer Plamondon for Downtown hotel

Eight talking points written for Mayor & Board meetings on the proposed new MOU between the City and hotel developer Plamondon:

1. Plamondon the developer will now fund the conference center as well as the hotel, but the City will build a much larger basement under the hotel complex along with a structural platform or ’podium’. This is a bad trade, because building in the muck of the Creek is risky. The MOU claims it saves money but that’s not credible. Say No to paying for Plamondon’s Podium. It’s not infrastructure, it’s a boondoggle.  Continue reading

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Venue changed to City Hall boardroom for public Workshop of Mayor & Board

At 10am this morning the City changed the venue of the Hotel project Special Workshop of the Mayor & Board from the 140 West Patrick St Municipal Annex conference room to the City Hall boardroom. Patti Mullins told us the earlier posting on the City’s Meetings page was in error. Starts 7pm today May 23. Continue reading

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New MOU raises many questions — submission to Mayor & Board

SUBMISSION TO MAYOR & BOARD OF ALDERMEN

New MOU looks an improvement, but raises many questions — you need to go deeper than the salesman’s spin

Mr Mayor, Aldermen: Attached is a submission urging you to ask difficult questions about this proposed new MOU with a view to taking a whole new look at the downtown hotel project and what has gone wrong. I hope you will conclude that it is time to abandon the project and devote City resources to higher priority, and more worthy purposes. City sponsorship of this one large hotel downtown, promised tens of millions of public dollars, has for more than eight years now casts a dark shadow over the lodging market such that self-financed lodging downtown is impossible. My investigations have made it crystal clear that the procurement was a corrupt fix. The site is a disaster. Project management has been inept Continue reading

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Podcast interview on Frederickland.org

Approached by host Dewey Stewart to do a podcast on the hotel project for his frederickland.org I was happy to talk. His ‘peg’ was the Mayor & Board Workshop on a new MOU for the hotel Wednesday May 23 at 7pm. Dewey asked good questions, I thought.

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State AG’s Compliance Board thinks may have been secret meetings on hotel RFP

The State Attorney-General’s Open Meetings Compliance Board thinks there may well have been secret meetings in 2013 on the downtown hotel procurement, and does not accept the City’s denials. The Board in a May 11 ruling says “We do no know what happened” by way of closed meetings but it thinks it likely that meetings occurred that were structured to evade the requirement that they be public. Continue reading

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City releases new hotel MOU, sets M&B Workshop for May 23

The City has released a revised draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of the downtown hotel and conference center (DHCC) with developer Plamondon, and scheduled a public Workshop of the Mayor & Board of Aldermen (BOA) for May 23. A project capital budget in the document puts the overall cost of the project at $80.4m split between the developer $62.9m, and $17.5m the public sector (City, County and State.) That’s a 78%, 22% percentage split.  Continue reading

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City bails out of state compliance board contest — leaves me with last word

Normally a contest at the state attorney-general’s Open Meetings Compliance Board goes four rounds: (1) Complaint (2) Response by City to Complaint. (3) Complainant’s Comment on City Response (4) The Final Words — from the City.  But on this occasion the City bailed out in the final round, taking only 15 minutes to inform the state Board. Naturally my immediate thought was: Continue reading

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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.  Continue reading

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Gov Hogan’s Facebook page — my comment

Governor Larry Hogan is angry at four legislators he identifies as leading the effort to reduce oversight by accountable officials of school contracting. He posted pictures of the four on his Facebook page (see below) with the comment “Incredible. These legislators voted against their constituents and just handed oversight of billions of taxpayer dollars… to a group of unaccountable, unelected people – including lobbyists.”

One of the four Hogan villains is our own Ron Young! Continue reading

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