Downtown hotel 1

An artist’s rendering of the downtown hotel and conference center project, as viewed from the northwest corner of Patrick and Carroll streets.

ANNAPOLIS — Discussion of the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center dominated General Assembly debate on the 100-page, $1 billion capital budget bill on Thursday.

An amendment by budget negotiators added a provision that could send $1 million to the city of Frederick this year to help with planning for the project, and pre-authorizes Gov. Larry Hogan to appropriate $7.5 million in bond funding to the project in both 2018 and 2019.

The floor debates, which drew in lawmakers from Allegany to Anne Arundel counties, capped off a week in which lawmakers from the city of Frederick (all Democrats) and Frederick County (all Republicans) traded accusations of public meetings violations and backroom deals.

While a $19.8 million Maryland Stadium Authority bond bill that divided the delegation was never voted on in House and Senate committees, the capital budget appropriation was included Wednesday by a 10-member conference committee working out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Because of legislative rules, reports by conference committees cannot be amended, so the conference center appropriation couldn’t be singled out from dozens of other provisions.

Some Frederick lawmakers urged their colleagues to vote against the committee’s amendment.

“This is quite frankly egregious,” Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4, told that chamber, noting that four members of the delegation didn’t support funding for the project.

Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, defended the appropriation and the project’s support.

He called the downtown hotel and conference center project a “second renaissance” for the city.

Hough garnered some support from Republican colleagues — 10 other votes — during a vote on the committee amendments.

When it came to the larger capital budget bill, however, only Hough and one other lawmaker voted against the package.

In the House, county delegates said they would not vote against the capital budget because of the other worthy projects included in the bill. Delegate William Folden, R-District 3B, said he never doubted the economic development value of a downtown hotel, but opposed the process for funding.

“Citizens have a right to transparency. Interested parties on both sides should have a right to be a part of the process,” he said.

Delegates Karen Lewis Young and Carol Krimm, Democrats who represent District 3A, urged the chamber to support the amendment.

The House did not hold a roll call vote on the conference committee amendments. In a vote on the capital budget, no Frederick County lawmaker opposed the bill.

But Delegate Barrie Ciliberti, R-District 4, didn’t cast a vote either way, and Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, marked herself as “excused,” though she was sitting at her desk.

Afzali’s vote was a violation of House rules, but she intended it to be considered an abstention, she said later.

Afzali also said Thursday that her choice to abstain from a vote earlier this session at a delegation meeting on the Stadium Authority bill is one of her biggest regrets in politics. A 5-3 vote against that bill could have carried more weight when it comes to the deference lawmakers give to county delegations on local issues.

The capital budget appropriation for the conference center faces at least one more hurdle this session.

The Republican governor can veto projects in the capital budget bill. The budget bill was passed early enough that any vetoes could be overridden before the end of session.

Both Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch expressed support for the conference center as an economic development project Thursday.

“Our goal is to try to give cities some pizazz, bringing people back downtown,” Miller said. “A conference center would really be a home run for downtown Frederick.”

Frederick Mayor Randy McClement described the budget amendment as an exciting milestone, in an emailed statement.

“We look forward to working with the other public and private entities involved to finalize the details of this proposed funding and how the funding will affect the project’s timing,” he also wrote.

The proposed hotel would be on the property at 200 and 212 E. Patrick St., which is currently owned by a business entity formed by members of the Randall family. The Randall family also owns the parent company of The Frederick News-Post.

Staff writer Nancy Lavin contributed to this report.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(41) comments

DickD

It all comes back to tax dollars and how desperately they are trying to cover it up, except for Ron and Karen Young who frankly don't seem to care about those of us that voted for him, it is all about the City and what they want. He needs to run for Mayor again and resign as Senator.

jerseygrl42

this very bad deal for the taxpaying citizens, hotel proposal surely gets a lot of ink from this paper....wonder if it would be this popular with the reporters and editor if the land was owned by a disinterested party rather than the family that owns the paper...if the hotel can't stand on its own two feet it should NOT be built, the taxpayers have more pressing issues for the $39.5 million ( including the now you see it now you don't garage ) such as the parking lot once known as I-270 and the trailer parks serving as schools for our children...this boondoggle is disgraceful and just another example of the well connected and wealthy feeding at the public trough

rbtdt5

The hotel can stand on it's own two feet and the tax payers won't be on the hook. Please learn more about this as it's going to be great for downtown.

BlueDawn666

IF so then why do they need corporate welfare..perhaps it's you that needs to learn more..this time Jersey is spot on.

rbtdt5

They don't need corporate welfare. The city will own the land and have nothing to do with the hotel.

bosco

If the city buy$ the land from the Randall$, whose money are they using? Could it be the taxpayer$.

DickD

Yeah, the City will own the land and therefore we have to spend tax money to get it and there will be no taxes from the land. Who do you think you are kidding?

rbtdt5

No taxes but still getting $80k a year leasing the land. Way more than we'd get in taxes if the land was sold. Plus if the hotel hits a certain profit amount (I'll let you look into it) The city gets a cut but if the place were to go belly up, the city is not on the hook for anything.

DickD

rbtdt5 The City may not be on the hook, but all the tax dollars spent will be lost.

rbtdt5

Dick, we'll own the land. They are building the creek and the east side, that value is going to sky rocket.

DickD

rbt, you must be a politician to believe anyone will believe that garbage.

Dwasserba

Such a good writer.

bosco

“Our goal is to try to give cities some pizazz, bringing people back downtown,” Miller said. “A conference center would really be a home run for downtown Frederick.”

Didn't know we had trouble getting people downtown. Where's this guy been? Obviously not downtown Frederick.

gary4books

And that is why I want a hotel. Let them stay a few days and really spend.

Burgessdr

1 million visitors to the City of Frederick each and there are "No Rooms in the Inn" - because there is not a single hotel in Downtown Frederick. That is heck of a lot of demand.

DickD

Can you break that down by how many stay overnight, how many nights, what prices they are willing to pay. If you do, most likely you will find an expensive hotel in downtown Frederick is not going to get the business.

rbtdt5

They have done multiple studies. This hotel will do well. And it's what the local businesses want and need. People btch about 270 but don't want to support the businesses to stay here so people can work local.

DickD

Where can we find copies of this study and find out what it says, who paid for it. No garbage, give us facts.

KellyAlzan

RBT - the studies are unsubstantiated. To this date there is no data to back up those claims

DickD

Personally, I only go into Frederick when I have a need, other than that not at all. How many really stay overnight and how do they know?

gary4books

Windmills.

MMFNP

For once I agree with Hough. There's about a quarter million residents in Frederick county and only slightly more than 25% of that in Frederick city. The most rapid growth IS NOT IN THE CITY. We who live in the county outside continue to increase stress on roads, new neighborhoods spring up faster than the supporting infrastructure can support it and our utilities increase in cost to us EVERY YEAR. How about some due diligence by government revealing what true long term infrastructure maintenance, repair and replacement costs are before frilly hotels rob the countys ability to fund those needs responsibly! You all in local government talk the talk in openness and ethics, how about walking that walk for a change "politicians".

Dwasserba

[thumbup] MM Good point. I was thinking, hey, we're in 3A and think it's an idea before its time we'll pay for. We are way offcenter of where all the emphasis is. Familiar. But at least our situation is stable.

Comment deleted.
BlueDawn666

So did ANY OF THE ABOVE..rely on our tax dollars for them to open their businesses? How much corporate welfare did we the taxpayers provided to the above businesses? WE already support Walmart with our tax dollars, because of their slaves wages...you realize that correct? Walmart in one of the biggest welfare queens there is, so you want us to support more welfare queens with our tax dollars? WHY???

Comment deleted.
BlueDawn666

IF this hotel is just about the jobs it will bring...it doesn't need corporate welfare to create jobs..maybe to support the jobs once created..but not to bring jobs. If the Plamondon's can turn Roy Rogers around and make it a successful Franchise, they can do the same thing with the hotel and it will still bring jobs. Jobs we the taxpayers may have to support anyway, cause there is no guarantee what their wages will be...is there? So what you are saying is that you want us taxpayers payers to support this deal on the front and the back end..how in the world does that make sense to you Donald, anyone ?

rbtdt5

Your conspiracy theories remind me of this guy every time I read one of your posts.

https://www.google.com/search?q=ancient+aliens&espv=2&biw=1247&bih=1265&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQzYiY7O3LAhXIbiYKHf4YCTEQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=V_4falkRiFWY0M%3A

BlueDawn666

rbtdt5..this isn't conspiracy theory..do you understand what a conspiracy theory is, they are not based on facts..are you saying that the Plamondon's didn't turn the franchise around and that they need corporate welfare to make this hotel a success? You do understand that we taxpayers support many companies with our tax dollars right? That is not a conspiracy theory but fact
http://www.jwj.org/how-u-s-taxpayers-subsidize-the-nations-wealthiest-family
Where Is The Outrage Over Corporate Welfare?
http://www.forbes.com/sites/taxanalysts/2014/03/14/where-is-the-outrage-over-corporate-welfare/#520855c76881

You need to attack my argument not me personally..for your posts to carry any sway.

rbtdt5

"You need to attack my argument not me personally..for your posts to carry any sway."
I was attacking your conspiracy theory's, not you.
I have read your post Blue. There is no "swaying" you. You believe what you believe and anyone who doesn't believe just that is just not as smart as you, or a racist or a gun nut or a homophobe or whatever other label you create for those that don't agree with you.

petersamuel

This boondoggle should be an easy veto for Gov Hogan. The Youngs and Del Krimm failed to persuade the Frederick County delegation that the Downtown Hotel project was a fit project for state funding. And they failed again despite written and spoken testimony and extensive debate to persuade either the House Appropriations Committee or the Senate Finance Committee that it is a worthy project. Having failed three times they do an end run with backroom deals to slip it into an omnibus reconciliation bill. Pathetic.

gary4books

We must wait and see how this sorts out. I welcome a downtown hotel and hope to see more business activity for the other shops in the area.

petersamuel

Gary: This city hotel project started in 2009 and after seven years there are still no plans submitted for permitting. How long do you want to wait? City sponsorship of a hotel is a sure recipe for waste, delays, and political shennigans. We'd have a much better chance of getting a hotel or hotels downtown if the City would butt out of hotel sponsorship and stick to its job of providing police, parks, trash service etc.

BlueDawn666

Another BIG RED FLAG..that something is up. How many red flags do we need before we pull our heads out of the sand, that something Is so wrong with the deal, why are we so willing to give our tax dollars to already rich, when there are so many other things that we need? WE do not need a hotel...

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup]

gary4books

I am patient.

ReadPhred

I agree completely Gary. This will bring in money and provide a continuing boost to the region. I understand some peoples concerns but lessening the draw to outside resources is a short sighted strategy. I personally know of three events over the last 11 years that the organization I work for that went to Baltimore and would have come to Frederick had there been an appropriate facility. Sorry to the Holiday Inn but its out of the center city area and not very walk-able. People attending conventions and meetings like to have easily walk-able destinations for dining and socializing.

gary4books

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

KellyAlzan

The Republican governor can veto projects in the capital budget bill. The budget bill was passed early enough that any vetoes could be overridden before the end of session.

KellyAlzan

this means hurry up and write to the governor demanding he veto this. Overnight mail the letters. FAST

BlueDawn666

It will be funny if he overrides the project and you can bet Hough and a few others are bending his ear right now, reminding him of how the hotel proponents raised money for his rival. The proponents were sneaky and underhanded slipping the project into the omnibus reconciliation bill, so the conference center appropriation couldn’t be singled out from dozens of other provisions. It was an all or nothing vote..

“Citizens have a right to transparency. Interested parties on both sides should have a right to be a part of the process,”....well yeah we should since it is our tax dollars that are being spent to give welfare to the already rich.

This is truly disgusting......

BlueDawn666

If the Plamondon$ pull out of this deal then what..no hotel right? What if we have been looking at this wrong, what if we attack this from another direction? Make sure everything and everyone is on the up and up? Something is not right with this whole thing..Something smells off. Their desperation to get this hotel funding approved reeks..need to really follow the money.

This is what Lennie said no to, BioPort...and this is what happened
BioPort vaccine for anthrax loses key FDA approval
http://www.fredericknewspost.com/archives/bioport-vaccine-for-anthrax-loses-key-fda-approval/article_762b99c5-0eb6-5eab-8c9b-a27da2c543d7.html


" If BioPort was standing in line to receive $13 million, they had a duty of candor to disclose this litigation," said Frederick County Commissioners President John L. Thompson Jr.

Mr. Thompson said he wants the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) to suspend its efforts on behalf of BioPort until it can be determined whether there was any misrepresentation of BioPort's status during negotiations.

Aris Melissaratos, DBED's secretary, said the department is aware of the issues but believed they had been addressed. "The incentives we offered are secured by the building and any future grants we might offer the company will be tied to employment."

Mr. Thompson said that it wouldn't be the first time that state or county has lost money on such projects because the ventures were so risky that typical private financing couldn't be secured and had to come from government sources.

Ms. Root said that the issues have been addressed. "Our product is not a product the FDA has ever had a concern with, about its safety or efficacy."

A week after the FDA pulled Biothrax's approval, the FDA issued a notice that it wanted to reapprove Biothrax as a category 1 vaccine. Category 1 vaccines are considered safe, effective and not misbranded. If no major issues are brought forward, the public comment period closes near the end of March and the FDA can issue final approval of the drug.

DickD

Yes, a veto could be overriden, but there will be many other things to do too, before closing the session and I can't imagine this having a high priority.

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