Franchot Backs Off, Kearney Still in as Partner in State Center Boondoggle

Jay Hancock has the story on Comptroller Peter Franchot’s letter to Alvin Collins, Secretary of Department of General Services, and Beverley Swaim-Staley, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, withdrawing his support of the $1.5 billion State Center boondoggle.

The Coalition to Save Downtown Baltimore, which is suing the State Center developers, released a response stating they were pleased with Franchot’s decision.

“Times have changed, and in the midst of the greatest recession since the Depression, it makes no sense to squander over $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars on this ill-advised project,” said coalition spokesman Ramsey Flynn. “It’s time to scrap the State Center project as currently proposed.”

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While Franchot backed away, there is another overlooked person still involved with State Center. Steve Kearney, Martin O’Malley’s former communications director, is a partner in State Center development team. From the Daily Record:

“Resilience is a great word,” Patusky said, of Moore’s public- private partnership, which includes Steve Kearney, a former top aide to Gov. Martin O’Malley when he was mayor of Baltimore who is now a “public affairs” specialist in a private firm he co-owns with lobbyist Damian O’Doherty, Michael Furbish, George Tyler and Ferris W. Butler.

Kearney, along with Damian O’Doherty, a chief aide to former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, run Kearney-O’Doherty Public Affairs, the politically connected spin shop behind the astroturf campaign on behalf of a speed camera vendor to add more cameras in Baltimore County, and PEPCO’s public relations push for the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway a proposed power transmission line to from Southern Maryland run across the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore.

Kearney-O’Doherty Public Affairs is the parent of the allegedly centrist news site Center Maryland.

During the 2010 gubernatorial election Kearney-O’Doherty Public Affairs held a series of high dollar fundraisers for Governor O’Malley.

The State Center project website does not list Kearney as a member in the partnership.

The State Center development team has not responded to an email requesting the details of Kearney’s involvement in the State Center partnership, including if it is a client of Kearney-O’Doherty Public Affairs.

The involvement of Kearney, a political insider, in the project further erodes the integrity of State Center proponents, like Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who argue that the projects critics are “wealthy” and “powerful” interests. Interestingly enough, Rawlings-Blake’s chief flack is Ryan O’Doherty, the brother of Kearney’s partner Damian, otherwise known as MD4Bush.

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