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Stop pay-to-play politics in Baltimore County

Jim Brochin, 52, is a Democrat from Towson who is currently a Maryland state senator.
Jim Brochin, 52, is a Democrat from Towson who is currently a Maryland state senator. ((Baltimore Sun file))

Not long ago, Jonathan Herbst wrote a letter stating that Sen. Jim Brochin's proposal to limit campaign contributions from developers was unconstitutional ("Banning campaign contributions from developers is unconstitutional," June 14). As an attorney, Mr. Herbst ought to know better. In fact, not only is action prohibiting developer campaign contributions in certain time frames legal and constitutional, it has been the law in Prince George's County for 25 years! Even a Google search of Maryland law would have turned up that fact.

During that time, the Prince George's law has withstood numerous court challenges from developers and other paid lobbyist groups. But then, Mr. Herbst does not seem interested in arguing facts. He would rather throw mud at Senator Brochin for having the guts to do what no political leader in Baltimore County will do — clean up the unsavory part of the political contribution process by mirroring a law that already exists in another large Maryland county.

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County Councilwoman Vicki Almond recently eliminated 60 percent of Open Space waiver fees in downtown Towson high rise residential development because a big development attorney wanted it done and would then help her raise campaign funds. It didn't matter that Towson has a critical need for these Open Space fees and that a year prior, neighborhood groups worked extremely hard to have Open Space waiver fees added. That is "pay to play" politics.

The issue that Senator Brochin was attempting to confront in his bill is that some projects are not in the best interest of taxpayers but they are pushed through even with overwhelming public opposition because it is nearly impossible for council members to say "no" once they have received thousands of dollars in immediate campaign contributions to make even a bad project happen. Many times, these projects overburden the sewer and road infrastructure, overcrowd schools or require the county to foot the bill for millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades specifically for that project. The citizen taxpayers have to foot the bill or deal with the resulting problems!

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This is why I support Mr. Brochin in his bid to be our next county executive. We have to stop pay-to-play politics and the reckless over-development of Baltimore County, which negatively impact traffic congestion and open space areas and overcrowd our aging schools. Senator Brochin is the one candidate in the race committed both to protecting our open space and ending the pay-to-play culture that dominates Baltimore County politics.

Mr. Herbst, Ms. Almond and their developer friends won't like this letter, but they have had their way for years. It's time the voices of the ordinary citizen, not just the big developers, were heard in the halls of county government.

Michael P. Ertel, Towson

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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