Are City ‘Sweetheart’ Land Deals Under Investigation?

Unfree State

Last week, after Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s house was raided and searched by investigators from the state prosecutor’s office, more of Dixon’s former and current insiders were subpoenaed.

Among those was Edward Anthony, a longtime associate of Dixon’s who works in the city Housing Department, according to the Sun. Edwards oversee the disposition of city-owned property.

While Dixon has not been formally charged, in addition to investigating City Hall buying practices while Dixon was president of the City Council and campaign contributions, the prosecutor appears to be scrutinizing recent land deals, although the prosecutor’s office has yet to comment on the investigation.

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The city’s recent land deals are many and difficult to keep track of since the Board of Estimates meets early in the morning and doesn’t post related documents online, so the average citizen can scrutinize them.

There are often many accusations of “sweetheart” deals in Baltimore City. One such accusation was made this week by minority contractors over the sale of four vacant lots on the 3300 block of Walbrook Avenue in Northwest Baltimore for $96,000.

According to the Examiner, the city took a $578,000 lost on this property, which was appraised for $674,347 in 2005. The Orion Group, a Baltimore-based development company, contributed $2,000 to Dixon’s 2007 mayoral campaign and $2,000 to O’Malley’s 1999 mayoral campaign, according to the Examiner.

The Maryland Minority Contractors Association is trying to have the deal overturned. Dixon’s supporters will be hard pressed to characterize this accusation as being racially motivated!

Unfree State
has done a search of recent city land deals in newspaper archives and will be posting the major deals over the next couple of days that the city made to connected developers over the last 12 months.

Stay tuned!

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