Salisbury Area Chamber of Cronyism

Crony Capitalismnoun; a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme.

It’s a perfect storm.  After years of attacking elected officials who had the temerity to stand up for taxpayers, the Daily Times got its wish and Salisbury city government has returned to the days of the “Dream Team”.  Real estate developers bought themselves a city council seat.  Salisbury taxpayers now subsidize residential development by giving away EDU’s that were meant for commercial development.  The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce is now the number one shill for taxpayer-subsidized development … under the guise of “working together”, the Chamber is now the lead cheerleader for taking from the city’s residents and doling out rewards to a few select developers.

Small wonder, one of those developers is now president of the Chamber.

After a few TEMPORARY construction jobs are created, it will be interesting to see how many permanent jobs come to Salisbury.  It will be even more interesting to see what the next round of subsidies entail.  Joe Citizen can continue to pay while others cash in.

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Ireton Threatens City Board Members

SALISBURY, MD – Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton has resorted to threats in attempting to get his way from the city’s Housing Board of Adjustments and Appeals (HBAA).  According to the Daily Times’ Jeremy Cox, Ireton threatened the board members after his administration did not get their way regarding the rubble pile on the site of the old Salisbury Mall:

“I just wanted to let the three of you know your terms are up, and we would like to know whether you would like to be reappointed,” he said.

The HBAA, mockingly called the “Slumlords’ Board” by some, is charged with hearing appeals of city enforcement decisions against city property owners.  The members of the quasi-judicial board are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.   However, the board (like other quasi-judicial boards such as the Board of Zoning Appeals) is supposed to be independent.

Ireton’s actions threaten the independence of the board and make any rulings in favor of his administration suspect.  Why would Ireton do such a thing?  Simply, his arrogance knows no bounds.  Like his hero Barack Obama, the rule of law means nothing.  Results are what matter, and that means Ireton’s way or the highway.

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The Downzoning of Wicomico County

SALISBURY, MD – Five years ago Wicomico citizens fought a pitched battle to preserve their property rights.  On one side were farmers, large landowners, real estate developers, and a large group of ordinary citizens who actually believed in personal liberty and property rights.  On the other side was Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt, several members of the Wicomico County Council, the state of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and every enviro-leftist in Wicomico County.  Dubbed the “Big Land Grab”, Pollitt and his political allies attempted to strip farmers and large land owners of their right to develop all or part of their property under current law.  It was by one vote that the attempt was thwarted.

Move forward to today.  What Pollitt and his enviro-left allies couldn’t achieve openly has come to pass under the cloak of inaction.  By refusing to adopt a tier map Pollitt and the Wicomico County Council have effectively downzoned all agricultural land in Wicomico.

Didn’t Wicomico voters elect a strong majority of pro-property rights council members in the last election?  So they said.  The problem is that the de facto Pollitt majority on council seems to believe that by NOT acting, they can provide themselves cover.

The county council could have taken action on their own.  They could have adopted a tier map that minimized the damage done to property rights by Pollitt’s pals in Annapolis.  Instead, the de facto Pollitt majority (ironically lead by a “Republican” farmer, Matt Holloway) has allowed the County Executive to lead them by the nose.  Pollitt wants an invitation-only meeting of “stakeholders” to “discuss” the issue.  Pollitt took his own sweet time in scheduling this sit-down and then postponed so it wouldn’t interfere with his recent junket to Asia.

Who are these “stakeholders”?  County administrator Wayne Strausburg has been slow in releasing the list as requested by stalwart conservative councilman Joe Holloway.  Our understanding is that Pollitt’s enviro-left pals dominate the panel.

In the meantime, Rick Pollitt has achieved by inaction what he couldn’t achieve through legislative action.

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The Dunn / Day Era in Salisbury?

SALISBURY, MD – Is Salisbury returning to the fiscal disaster experienced under the now infamous “Dream Team”?  Only time will tell, but it appears that the huge sums thrown at the Jacob Day campaign by national real estate interests may be starting to pay off certain special interests.

A letter to the editor in this morning’s Daily Times by Chamber of Commerce president (and real estate developer) Brad Gillis outline the benefits already starting to flow to real estate developers … and promises more to come:

Together, the Chamber and the city successfully collaborated and amended the city’s paving policy. This legislation, Resolution 1312, gave greater discretion to the Department of Public Works and its professional engineers, thus creating a quality process and end product for both the developers and the citizens of Salisbury.

We were also successful in amending the city’s policy that required the warranty and maintenance of new infrastructure to be bonded for five years; no other cities researched required a five-year bond.

Without further delay, it’s time to act on another community win: an equivalent dwelling unit incentive zone.

We support the city moving forward with this Incentive Zone, which would create a bank of credits to be used for the development of the downtown area and enterprise zones.

Having this tool will enhance the pro-business climate in our great city without costing the citizens a single dollar. Salisbury’s comprehensive plan calls for high-density growth in our downtown area; this is the time and the place to create such banks.

Approving this incentive zone will send a message to local, regional and national builders and developers: “Downtown Salisbury is primed for both commercial and mixed use developments.”

The “Incentive Zone” of which Gillis speaks is designed to subsidize residential developers, not attract employers.  While Gillis applauds these subsidies (not surprising since he directly benefits), there is no mention of the across the board pay hikes proposed by his ally Mr. Day.  These, and other spending hikes, will ultimately result in tax increases on the citizens and businesses of Salisbury.

Does Mr. Gillis believe that tax hikes will attract business?  Of course not.  These “incentives” are not pro-business; they are simply a little league version of crony capitalism.  As Salisbury goes back to “giving away the store”, who benefits?  The very people who spent tens of thousands of dollars to elect their champion – Jacob Day.

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WMDT Is Latest Media Outlet to Join Ireton Political Hack Fest

It’s usually the Daily Times that earns our wrath when we analyze hack reporting and a lack of journalistic ethics among DelMarVa’s media outlets.  Let’s face it, a decent newspaper in almost all but its reporting of Salisbury city politics just can’t help itself when it comes to attacking certain elected officials.  Since the election of Jim Ireton as Salisbury’s mayor, they have even subscribed to the old adage: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  Their intense hatred of council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen, and Tim Spies has motivated them to form an obvious political alliance with Ireton (whom they despised until his falling out with Campbell, et al) and council member Laura Mitchell.  Unfortunately, another local media organization is attempting to surpass the efforts of the Daily Times when it comes to poor reporting and a lack of ethics.  That organization is WMDT.  There’s also a new bully in town – WMDT General Manager Kathleen McLain.

In response to the council’s refusal to bow down and adopt his latest plan for downtown revitalization, Ireton did what he always does – call a press conference.  Attacking Campbell, Cohen and Spies, Ireton called on the broadcast outlets present to knock go knock on these council members’ doors and “stick a microphone in their faces”.  “Demand answers!” as to why they wouldn’t support his plan.  Only one outlet took up Ireton’s call to ambush elected officials at their homes – McLain’s WMDT.

Guess who was in the audience adding her support?  Ms. McLain.  Guess who was part of the “Revitalization Committee” that added their collective names to Ireton’s plan?  Ms. McLain.  Guess which TV station dispatched a reporter to the home of council president Terry Cohen (frightening her children to the point that her daughter was brought to tears)?  WMDT (of which McLain is the GM).  Guess whose reporter sheepishly admitted that she was ordered to attempt an ambush of Cohen at her home?  McLain (WMDT reporter Jemie Lee).  Guess which outlet presented a one sided view of Ireton’s dog and pony show without even disclosing that McLain was part of the group promoting Ireton’s plan?  WMDT.

Here is the video of Lee’s one sided piece attacking the council majority’s decision:

[Read more…]

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