Peter Samuel, a longtime opponent of the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center, has struck again with an allegation that city staff members and elected officials violated Maryland’s Open Meetings Act when they settled the terms of the request for proposals for the project in 2013 and 2014.

Samuel filed a complaint with the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board on Wednesday alleging city officials violated the city’s resolution on Purchasing Policies and Procedures by not meeting publicly before sending out the request in February 2014. He cites the resolution, which states that the mayor and Board of Aldermen must approve all solicitation documents and backup materials for contracts of $50,000 or more. He alleges that the mayor and board at the time had several closed-door meetings with the secretary of the city’s Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee and the economic development director. He added in the complaint that other narrowly focused issues of public policy were involved in the procurement process as well that deserved open discussion and a public vote.

Mayor Michael O’Connor, who was an alderman at the time of the alleged violations, said members of the city’s legal department will review and evaluate the complaint and issue a formal response.

“The law requires us to respond, and we will do that. We will evaluate the facts,” he sad.

As an elected official and member of the board at the time the alleged violations occurred, though, O’Connor offered an additional response.

“I was on the board at the time [Samuel] said there were closed meetings, and I will say I have never had a closed meeting in violation of the Open Meetings Act,” he said. “For me, it’s categorically untrue. ... My position, not as the mayor of Frederick, but as an elected official, is that I resent the implication.”

City officials awarded the RFP to developers Plamondon Hospitality Partners in 2014. The project has evolved since the initial award into a proposed four-story, 180-room hotel, 20,000-square-foot conference center, neighboring retail building and courtyard planned for 200-212 E. Patrick St. along Carroll Creek. The multimillion-dollar project is set to come to fruition with both public and private dollars, with the lion’s share to come from the developers and the remainder coming from the city, Frederick County and state of Maryland.

Coffee with
more aldermen

Joining the likes of the mayor and two fellow aldermen, Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak and Alderman Derek Shackelford are the latest elected officials to schedule time to talk with their constituents over coffee.

A news release issued Friday by Public Relations Coordinator Patti Mullins said the aldermen scheduled “special time” with the public from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Denny’s on West Patrick Street. The session is open to anyone, and the aldermen pledged to answer questions and listen to comments from those who show up.

Aldermen Ben MacShane and Roger Wilson held a similar question and answer session March 24 at Dublin Roasters and the mayor held one March 9. Given the popularity of the mayor’s session, he has since scheduled two more for April 23 and April 27.

Deadline approaching for travel grant applications to visit German sister cities

Frederick County high school students interested in visiting Frederick’s German sister cities this summer have a couple of more weeks to apply for a travel grant.

The Frederick Sister Cities Association is awarding a grant to a qualified student to visit the city’s two German sister cities — Schifferstadt and Moerzheim — in July.

The grant will cover round-trip airfare to Germany and provide contact with host families for five-day stays in each city.

Interested students must be 16 years old by the end of 2018, must be able to communicate in German, and submit an application with a one-page essay by April 15. The students must describe themselves, state their future goals, and explain why they want to travel to Germany, as well as how the trip would benefit them, and what they hope to learn from the trip in the essay.

For more information, to obtain an application, or to make a contribution toward the trip or other association activities, email Steven “Fritz” Buckingham at ssbuckin@gmail.com. For information about the association and Frederick’s sister cities, visit https://fredericksistercitiesassociation.weebly.com.

The Frederick Sister Cities Association is an affiliation of the nonprofit Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. The association supports cultural relations between the United States and Germany.

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

(19) comments

petersamuel

The essence of my complaint is that huge changes emerged from the City Purchasing Office in February 2014 (RFP14J) from the procurement described at the last open public hearing, and that there should have been a public hearing of those changes before they found their way into a Request for Proposals. A Mayor & Board Workshop July 31, 2013 described a competition-friendly procedure of selecting a site first and then in a second stage opening that site up to unlimited developer proposals. Another hearing was promised but it didn’t happen. Instead there were a number of private meetings, one of the Aldermen tells me. The competition-killing changes should have been presented and argued for in an open hearing rather than behind closed doors at some point in the seven and a half months between the public Workshop and the issue of the RFP.

Mallory Panuska calls me “a longtime opponent of the proposed downtown hotel and conference center.” Like most other critics I am a longtime supporter of the City facilitating financially self-supporting hotels, plural, that respect the historic district. I am a longtime opponent of this shady, ill-conceived, and endless City government effort to finagle $30 million of taxpayer money for a favored developer on an unsuitable site, that’s for sure. P Samuel

Dwasserba

MOXIE your name is Samuel

Burgessdr

The city Purchasing requirements that Samuel cites says

“All purchases ... must be made by formal competitive solicitations. The approval of The Board of Aldermen is required.”

It clearly says all PURCHASES, not RFPs.

Samuel is a poor liar, or delusional.

petersamuel

Mr Burgess Let's see if we can have a respectful adult argument. I read the phrase competitive 'competitive solicitations' and see it followed immediately by 'Approval of the Board of Aldermen is required' and understand by that that the solicitations (RFPs) must be approved. A solicitation is part of a purchasing process anyway and why not have a purchase approved before the solicitation? If the intent of the writer of the regulation was that approval be after the solicitation that would be spelled out. It would read: 'Approval of the purchase by the Board of Aldermen is required before a contract is signed.' It doesn't say that.

Burgessdr

It quiet clearly says "All purchases" If the intent of the writer of the regulation was that the RFP itself required by the BOA, that would be spelled out. It would read "Approval of issuance of all RFPs greater than $50,000 by the Board of Alderman is required before the RFP is issued." But instead it say quite clearly ALL PURCHASES, not ALL RFPs.

elymus43

Thank you Mr. Samuel for the LTE. He is doing a great job for the taxpayers. The same thing can not be said for elected officials???

KellyAlzan

Ok, then who from the public was in attendance at said meetings??? There is usually a sign-in sheet.

gary4books

Sooner or later, it IS later.

When Frederick can get money set aside for projects like this hotel, it would be silly to not use it. More customers for local shops will be good reason to go ahead.

KellyAlzan

Or use that money for school safety and use a developer that is self funded. No brained. Probably why you never been self employed?

gary4books

Piffle.

KellyAlzan

Gary - what will be your feelings about this if the city is found to be in violation ?

petersamuel

Mr Brooks I am sure people can think of a thousand better uses of taxpayer $s than the Chamber of Commerce’s ‘upper upscale hotel’ it wants for its high flyers. What about tidying up the historic district’s clutter of overhead cables and ugly wooden poles by undergrounding utilities. Improving sidewalks. More street trees. Some rooms or small apartments for the homeless. Improved mental health services. Making downtown more attractive and having more people live downtown will provide the customers for local shops.

Burgessdr

Replacing cables doesnt generate a bunch of permament jobs and doesnt generate income or real estate taxes. Neither does improving sidewalks, planting trees, rooms for the homeless, improved mental health services. In fact increased tax revenue from new businesses are needed to pay for those things

gary4books

"All dressed up and nowhere to go?" Fixing the city has been a long term objective. The hotel is only part of the process. Of course we have mny things to do, but this money is either used here for a hotel or some place else for a building project. It is no sin to apply for and get special funds. Most places applaud the effort.

jerseygrl42

Samuel knows what he is talking about, this project is BAD for the taxpayers which is why there is much in the shadows including the problems with the land that must be abated and for which we have no cost figures after 4 + years; but we do know the taxpayers are NOT partners ...just payers , with ALL the profits going to two families; wow what a partnership....and shame on the elected officials who are supposed to be looking out for the taxpayers rather than the wealthy influentials ...when is enough , enough?...never, I guess

Crusty Frederick Man 64

So as mayor what is his position other than the law requires us to respond ? Looks like the spin on this has already begun.

matts853

"The multimillion-dollar project is set to come to fruition with both public and private dollars,"

Say it isn't so! Keep after them Peter. This entire deal doesn't pass the sniff test.

LeonardKeepers

i do not see the need for the proposed hotel,if you want to beat city hall you will have to get up early in the morning and have all of your ducks in a row,the politicians will find a way to wiggle out of the situation.

jerseygrl42

especially when other peoples money is on the line

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