MPPI Stands by its State Center Report

The Maryland Public Policy Institute is standing by it’s critical report on the $1.5 billion State Center boondoggle. After push back from transportation officials in the O’Malley administration, MPPI released a detailed rebuttal demolishing their criticism.

The Maryland Public Policy Institute today released a point-by-point response to a request from Maryland officials to withdraw its recent report by Maryland Public Policy Institute senior fellow Gabriel Michael and Maryland Tax Education Foundation chairman Jeff Hooke on Baltimore City’s massive State Center office complex project.

The heavily-detailed and footnoted response addresses, seriatim, the objections raised in a letter from Michael Gaines, assistant secretary of real estate in the Maryland Department of General Services, and Christopher Patusky, State Center project director in the Maryland Department of Transportation. The letter from Gaines and Patusky, which was addressed to Maryland Public Policy Institute President Christopher Summers, but never sent directly to him, claims “serious misstatements of facts” about the State Center project, and lists several points of contention with the Maryland Public Policy Institute study.

The Gaines-Patusky letter makes eight specific objections to the Michael-Hooke report; the Maryland Public Policy Institute response divides those objections into three groups — two General Criticisms, four Specific Criticisms, and two Other Criticisms. While most of the issues raised in the letter were addressed within the paper itself, today’s response from Maryland Public Policy Institute speaks to Gaines and Patusky’s specific objections, and reasserts Michael and Hooke’s contention that state officials have vastly understated the true public cost of the State Center project.

“After reviewing your objections and their responses,” said Maryland Public Policy Institute’s Summers in a letter accompanying the Institute’s reply, “I can find no reason to withdraw or amend the study in any way.”

Meanwhile, questions abound about the State Center project’s lack of transparency, particularly surrounding the selection of the development team and the procurement process.

“At the end of the day, our report sought to answer some very basic questions about State Center that every Maryland taxpayer has the right to ask,” said Summers. “How much is this project really going to cost? Is it being managed in the most cost-effective way possible? We know from the outset the answer to that question is ‘no.’ Any project, particularly one of this magnitude, that doesn’t begin with a competitive bidding process is, by definition, not cost-effective. At best, it’s slipshod management. At worst, it’s yet another porky, taxpayer-funded boondoggle for which we’re all going to wind up overpaying.”

Contrary to some State Center supporters claims neither Peter Angelos or the Coalition to Save Downtown Baltimore funded the report.
Good for MPPI for standing tall in the face of the political-developer complex.

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