The Baltimore Sun: Standing Up for Petulance

The Baltimore Sun editorial board put forth a doozy of an editorial today attacking Governor Larry Hogan for the crime of doing his job.

The Sun has the audacity to say that Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot are holding Baltimore County “hostage” through their work on the Board of Public Works:

By withholding $2.3 million in Program Open Space funding from the state, Governor Hogan and his reliable co-conspirator whenever the board goes rogue, Comptroller Peter Franchot, have not only hurt those who stand to benefit most from the project — primarily recreational riders, including one group, the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation, that planned to use it to help veterans deal with post traumatic stress and depression — but also Maryland’s $1.5 billion horse industry for which Baltimore County is generally regarded as the unofficial capital.

Why the fuss? Despite some red herrings offered by the usual Kamenetz opponents like state Sen. Johnny Salling, who issued a statement ridiculing the project as a “fancy horse center,” it’s clear that the decision had nothing to do with the merits of the project. Rather, it was taken hostage in an attempt to thwart the county’s executive’s plans to sell the North Point Government Center, a run-down former high school, in Dundalk.

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Mind you that the Horse Arena and the North Point Government Center have nothing to do with each other. Kamenetz was trying to sell the North Point Government Center without authorization from the state. Governor Hogan didn’t make that decision, Kamenetz did. And Kamenetz wound up with the Maryland Judicial System reminding him that he couldn’t sell the Government Center without proper authorization from state.

Let’s get back to the Sun editorial board, which really doubles-down on this “hostage” meme:

Enough is enough. Baltimore County residents don’t deserve two more years of petty dictates from a board that’s supposed to be overseeing state government contracts, not dispensing political paybacks. If members of the Board of Public Works object to an equestrian center or a North Point recreation complex, let the projects be debated with public input and then voted up or down. Denying average, ordinary Marylanders like the veterans served by Saratoga WarHorse access to worthwhile public facilities over a political spat crosses a line.

The mental jujitsu that one has to go through in order to write this is stunning and shows that the authors don’t wish to deal with the actual facts of the situation nor the merits of the individual projects.

The Board of Public Works is not just “a board that’s supposed to be overseeing state government contracts.” It’s a board that deals with spending taxpayer dollars across the state of Maryland. The Board of Public Works has a responsibility to the taxpayers of this state, including the ones in Baltimore County, of spending our state tax dollar wisely and ensuring that public money doesn’t go to finance boondoggles; something that was done with great frequency when Martin O’Malley was Governor and sitting on the Board of Public Works, with nary a peep from the Sun editorial board.

The Board of Public Works holding back on funding an unnecessary project isn’t holding anybody “hostage”; it means the Board of Public Works is doing their job.

What’s even more stunning is that idea that denying Open Source funding for a Horse Arena is “Denying average, ordinary Marylanders” “access to worthwhile public facilities.” I will leave the merits of a Horse Arena to others, but the idea that “average, ordinary Marylanders” are spending their time engaging in a sport that requires a high cost of entry is disingenuous at best. Kamenetz and The Sun try their best to wrap their cause around the Saratoga WarHorse Foundation, an organization that has a worthwhile cause in helping our veterans through therapeutic riding. But even then Kamenetz and the Sun are shamefully using our veterans as political pawns, as a reason that taxpayer dollars should be used to fund a luxury venue that will primarily be used by the affluent. That Kamenetz and the Sun would engage in such political tactics is disgusting and beyond contempt.

But get beyond that and you see a flawed and broken theory. If we should be funding all organizations that mean to do well and to make the world a better place, that means that the Sun should have no problem with the expansion of the school voucher program. After all, opposing school vouchers would be denying K-12 students access to worthwhile public facilities over a political spat, which I’m told crosses a line.

Even if you take that away, the Sun has a wildly inappropriate interpretation of how taxpayer funds in Baltimore County should be used. The Sun editorial board seems to believe that Baltimore County should prioritize building horse arenas over ensuring that public school kids can go to air conditioned schools and over ending a massive bug infestation in Eastern Baltimore County. And they are doing it all primarily to attack Governor Hogan and to stand up for the petulant Kevin Kamenetz, who’s more interested in horsing around trying to become Governor than he is doing his current job effectively and responsibly. That says a whole heck of a lot about the Sun and the editorial board’s priorities. The fact that the Sun is standing up for the wealthy few who want this arena built and standing opposed to the working and middle-class Baltimore County residents who are demanding accountability explains a lot about why they cannot understand the Hogan phenomenon and why their readership continues to sag and decline year after year.

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