Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake used the opinion pages of The Sun to censure anyone who disagrees with her position on various developments proposed for Baltimore, including the controversial and costly-to-the-taxpayer redevelopment plan for State Center ("What would Schaefer do?" May 1). With her catchy slogan — "Let's stop suing and start doing" — the mayor seeks to belittle and dismiss legitimate criticism, and, in cloaking her insult as a tribute to the late governor and mayor William Donald Schaefer, she exploits his memory for her own political purposes.
The mayor invites her critics to put aside their differences on various taxpayer-subsidized development proposals. Exactly what differences might she mean?
In the case of the State Center redevelopment, should we put aside the fact that the state of Maryland failed to follow its own procurement requirements and awarded development rights to political cronies of the current administration? Should we ignore the fact that when the first hand-picked development team floundered, the state quickly and quietly reassigned development rights to another team of politically favored developers? Should we ignore the fact that the state has struck a deal that will have taxpayers footing the burden of excessive lease rates and extraordinary lease concessions for the next 75 years? Should we accept without scrutiny the phony promise that the development plans for State Center will return land to the tax rolls, when in reality no net new taxes will be paid for decades to come, if ever? Should we ignore the negative consequences to the city's tax base and the state's bond ratings resulting from the overuse and abuse of developer tax breaks, potentially amounting to more than $300 million alone in the case of State Center? Should we ignore the fact that the state's own Department of Legislative Services criticized the terms of the State Center redevelopment plan?
William Donald Schaefer was a man of integrity, as was the mayor's father, Howard "Pete" Rawlings. Neither, I believe, would have condoned the mayor's admonition to turn a blind eye to a proposed development clouded by such disturbing questions. If we are to be true to William Donald Schaefer's legacy, we must have the courage to demand the answers to which all taxpayers are entitled.
Peter G. Angelos, Baltimore