Ron Young

State Sen. Ron Young

ANNAPOLIS — Frederick County state lawmakers plan to meet twice next week to discuss a proposed downtown Frederick hotel, as the legislature’s bill filing deadline nears and tensions are increasing.

A crowd turned out in Annapolis on Friday morning for a meeting and possible vote on whether to pursue a bill to grant $17.8 million in bond funding from the Maryland Stadium Authority to help finance the proposed downtown hotel and convention center project. But a final bill hadn’t been drafted, and lawmakers said they still have questions.

The delegation plans to meet Wednesday to hear from an economist and other experts about financing for the project. A vote could take place next Friday.

About $44 million of the cost of the $82.47 million project will be paid by the hotel’s developer, Plamondon Hospitality Partners. The rest would be a combination of city, county and state funding, according to a memorandum of understanding signed by the city of Frederick.

The plan contemplates $14.8 million in bond funding from the Stadium Authority.

However, the Stadium Authority said the project would be sustainable with up to $17.8 million in financing, and suggested the bill could be crafted to that amount to create financial wiggle room if the project moves forward.

All public financing is projected to be paid back by new tax revenue generated by the project.

Whether to support the stadium bill — the largest chunk of public financing, which supporters say is necessary for the project — has become a debate centering on when public financing promotes a public good and when public financing becomes direct competition to private enterprise.

Randy Cohen, owner of the FSK Holiday Inn and the associated 5400 Holiday Drive LLC, has hired Annapolis powerhouse lobbyist Bruce Bereano to represent his interests in the downtown hotel debate.

Another lobbyist, Greenwill Consulting Group, is promoting the downtown hotel among lawmakers and lists the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce as a client.

Plamondon does not list an official lobbyist, according to the latest State Ethics Commission list of registered lobbyists.

Pointed references to whether donations related to the hotel project can influence a delegation vote have come up in Annapolis this week.

Financial motivations

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, upset other delegation members during a bill hearing for his unrelated Real-Time Transparency Act of 2016 — a campaign finance reform proposal requiring that political committees report contributions of $1,000 or higher within 48 hours during an election year.

“Actually, in a way, I’m sorry I didn’t make this for all four years,” Young said at the hearing. “[Because] we have a situation at home right now where some members are opposing a project, and they all just happened to get very heavy contributions from the people opposing it and they’ve changed their positions.”

Young confirmed Friday he was referring to donations by Randy Cohen, who opposes the downtown project. However, the delegation has not taken any votes on the project.

A search of Maryland and federal campaign finance databases shows that Cohen, Bereano and Cohen’s company gave $9,997 to Republican members of the Frederick County delegation since June. Six donations were at least $1,000.

Young’s comments weren’t well received by others in the delegation.

“Senator Young has no idea how I’m voting because I have no idea how I’m voting,” Del. William Folden, R-District 3B, said Friday.

Others said Young’s remarks violated general decorum and respect in Annapolis.

“It is against the spirit of this body and a disservice to ever challenge somebody’s motivation for a vote,” said Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4. “I have a good personal relationship with Senator Young, but I think on this one, he shouldn’t have said that.”

Hough received $2,000 from Cohen-related donors, and $1,500 from Greenwill, none of which will influence his decision, he said.

Young’s comments came as a blog post by MacRo Commercial Real Estate owner Rocky Mackintosh analyzing campaign donations was circulating. The post questioned if Republican delegation members were being influenced by donations connected to Cohen. In the post, those donations were compared to individual donations by Peter and Jim Plamondon, but not to other entities supporting the downtown hotel project.

However, campaign finance records show that Greenwill and other organizations that support the downtown project have also made donations, including to Young, but in smaller denominations.

Young received $787.50 in donations this past year between the Plamondons, a law firm that works for the company, and Greenwill.

Other donations were received from supporters of the project, including some who wrote letters of support to lawmakers in Annapolis, but who don’t have apparent direct ties to the project.

Delegate Karen Lewis Young, D-District 3A, received $437.50 from Peter and Jim Plamondon and the law firm. She said the attorney who made the donations, David Severn, is a longtime family friend. Donations from the Plamondons went to the Youngs because they purchased tickets to a pre-session breakfast.

Mackintosh said if the campaign donation comparisons in his post were incomplete, it was inadvertent. However, he said he wanted to add his voice to the growing debate because he thinks the project is good for downtown Frederick and the county.

Several delegation members said they didn’t know precisely how much money they’ve received from opponents or proponents of the downtown hotel. All said campaign donations would never influence a vote. Most said they didn’t think their colleagues could be influenced by donations either.

“I’m not going to judge them. I am judging what I think Mr. Cohen was trying to do,” Ron Young said.

Young said donations from Plamondon Hospitality Partners or other groups associated with the downtown project couldn’t sway his vote, because he has supported the downtown hotel project for many years.

Delegate Barrie S. Ciliberti, R-District 4, said he won’t be influenced by a Cohen donation because he also already made up his mind before a check was accepted by a new campaign treasurer.

“My decision was way, way before anyone contributed to me,” Ciliberti said. “There’s no way in the world these people are going to be influenced by a check for a thousand bucks, or whatever it is.”

Delegate David E. Vogt III, R-District 4, has received the most combined money in the past year from groups clearly related to the hotel debate. He easily rattled them off Friday: $1,797 from Randy Cohen, which included an in-kind donation for his congressional campaign kick-off; $500 to his delegate account from the FSK Holiday Inn; and $250 each from Jim and Peter Plamondon.

“I am not bought by anybody. Period,” Vogt said Friday. “Anybody who suggests such is insulting.”

Vogt said he may have received more donations because he’s been most open to hearing from both sides. He and Folden said they are undecided and looking forward to the discussion by the economist on Wednesday.

Folden received $1,700 from Cohen-related donors.

Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, received $1,500 from Cohen and $250 from Greenwill. She said it’s not surprising for a pro-business lawmaker to get money from private businesses.

Delegate Carol Krimm, D-District 3A, didn’t accept any individual contributions during the last reporting cycle of Jan. 15, 2015, to Jan. 13, 2016.

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.

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.

(50) comments

MAVRICKinc7

Isn't this article all about who the best LIARS are? Hasn't it been made abundantly clear this PROJECT has already been decided while leaving the pubic out of any discussions our game players have designed as nothing more than a foregone conclusion. Isn't this Frederick, Maryland, typically surrounded by corruption and has been for decades?

Our commenters can SPECULATE and GUESS all they want, BUT to what end? WE can shake all the trees we want but what's the pay off to the citizen POPULATIONS of the Frederick, Maryland REGION other than more debt?

It's not a long odds bet I'm talking about, but this PROJECT decision was designed and in place BEFORE the public ever caught wind of this latest scam.

The Randall and Plamondon family and corporate Partners and the Maryland State Authorities have known about this project for years. Otherwise, $17.8 million in bonds and public debt were strategized long before this project became news. It's nothing more than STEALTH management of public funds while scripting takes place behind closed doors. We've demonstrated how gullible we are and have been for decades. How many more times do we have to be reminded how naive we really are and have been for years on end?

After all, what's $17.8 millions dollars got to do with anything but more debt headed in the wrong direction with an ESTIMATE and PROJECTION of debt that will most likely GO UP as the project gains momentum, from behind doors the public does not share with its ELECTED officials?

What's so hard about acknowledging WE are nothing more than foregone conclusions? We may talk a lot, and point our fingers in every direction we can only imagine, but where do we gain ground on "business as usual" in Frederick and Frederick County, Maryland?

Hasn't this article done anything more than provided US warning what's coming next, after elected government fills in all the blanks and check off lists of their DUE PROCESS agendas and satisfying what constitutes LAW the general public know nothing about, while being herded like cattle to the next SCRIPTED scheduled "public meeting?"

Anyone out there know anything about the BIG LIE and it's historic presence for the last 200 years? It's really older than that, but isn't this latest scam only the latest REPEAT performamce going on, in our Frederick, Maryland REGION?

matts853

I'm late to this party, just started looking at this last week. So, it seems the conf center qualifies for public funding but not the hotel. But the two are are codependent for success, at least in part. The city profit shares in conf center cash flow, but has no profit sharing in hotel ops or in any residual sale proceeds if/when it is sold. That doesn't seem right to me. The city has only 2 guaranteed revenue streams from ground rent and the conf center cash flow. Real estate tax revenue will increase but is already pledges to pay off the TIF. The rest of the induced economic demand is speculative, and not enough to justify the city's investment. They need to do an investment analysis before proceeding further. And From what I can tell preliminarily, the capitalized value of the ground lease doesn't cover the sale $ of the land the city is paying for.

I fear the city is leaving money on the table. They need to analyze the ROI to the city, seperate from the hotel, because that's not really relevant. Did they negotiate at all with Marriott for them to kick in equity for the privilege of flying their flag in the city. They should, and that should come out of the taxpayers end. Still digging in on the numbers, but I'm skeptical.

I think the city can negotiate nett

kimberlymellon

[thumbup]

jerseygrl42

Macantosh says his one sided portrayal is "inadvertent"...which means he got caught trying to fudge the books.....this whole project is nothing if not a raid on the taxpayers piggy banks to enrich a few families and if it cannot stand on its own two feet it should NOT be built...we have too damned many important issue sot grapple with and pay for to foot the bill for someones' pet project and the fellow from Holiday Inn is spot-on!

DickD

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

jill king

No harm, no foul. The FNP pulled in other numbers, but this is over 30 days old, so we wait another year to find out who is influencing in a non election year.

FrederickFan

I have something very important to say about this article. Reporter Danielle Gaines did her research and wrote a very high quality article. It is very unusual to see the direct link so successfully made between the campaign contribution and the votes it bought, especially on such a timely basis. This is the kind of journalism we rarely see anywhere anymore. Kudos to this reporter and the newspaper for which she works. Keep up the great work.

Its great fun to see you shine a light into the dark corners of political bribery so we can watch the scoundrels like Hough, Vogt, Ciliberti, and Afzali scramble around and lie to us about how it doesn't effect their vote.

My favorite is from David Vogt, "I am not bought by anybody. Period. Anybody who suggests such is insulting." It sounds like Mr. Vogt is insulting the intelligence of the voters, especially those who voted for Mr. Vogt.

Frayou

👍👍. Agree. This is the main reason for all politics being subject to corruption. Until "we the people" take our country back to govern as it was intended.

kimberlymellon

I don't know about you all, but it's beginning to feel like we (the public) are being played from both sides to the middle for the personal gain of the Young's from our public tax dollars (local, state and federal).

From the article, "Delegate Barrie S. Ciliberti, R-District 4, said he won’t be influenced by a Cohen donation because he also already made up his mind before a check was accepted by a new campaign treasurer." Who is Ciliberti's new campaign treasurer? I am reminded that Blaine Young was and may currently be that person.

Also, from an announcement shared by political blogger Ryan Miner: "Former Frederick County Commissioner Blaine R. Young is set to host a fundraiser in support of Delegate David Vogt’s congressional campaign on Wednesday, January 27 at the Holiday Inn in Frederick."

BlueDawn666

Blaine and David have a lot in common is seems, they hold very high Republican family values, now mind you I am talking "Republican Family Values"..which as everyone should know by now that only in Republican land can one philanderer hold a fund raiser for another philanderer and get other "family value Republicans" to donate money to the philanderer.. you know fools and their money are easily parted?
I wonder if Debbie Williams, Ms. Family values herself, will sing at the fundraiser, what do you think everyone?

kimberlymellon

I'll offer that it's not our good neighbor Plamondon who has a bad TIF habit, but rather Marriott Corp. One only has to google Marriott and TIFF to be provided a glimpse of the company's "ask for it and pull the flag if it fails" history.
Or to see the potential for harmful TIF impacts upon financing for our already struggling school system. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-ci-school-funds-20150205-story.html

shiftless88

I'd be happier if all politicians who allow this personally accept financial responsibility to make up any shortfalls

Dwasserba

Where's the support for the existing businessman, Mr. Cohen, who clearly does not agree that a new hotel won't threaten his ongoing investment? Who would know best what the market can bear?

BlueDawn666

First off I am glad that they have admitted that their votes can be bought and are being bought. Follow the Money...and it always leads to the truth

Second I am shocked that Ron is so upset by this, Blaine was the most bought vote in Frederick County EVER...but he was never too concerned by this vote buying when Blaine was being bought. So I say to Ron Suck It Up Buttercup.

DickD

Blaine's father taught Blaine, he is not shocked. Ron is ever bit as bad, just a different political party,

jsklinelga

DickD
Curious if you are sure about this. From past fights I doubt if I would be on Sen. Young's favorite list, but being an old time Fredneck, Ron Young never struck me as a person who could be bought. Incredibly politically savvy, yes. And a person who has pushed hard for his agendas,yes. But bought? i question that unless you know of an instance. Why else would he be not afraid to sponsor this Transparency Act. His closet may be relatively free of skeletons.

BlueDawn666

Ron's closet free of skeletons..WOW. You most certainly have been living with your head in the sand haven't you..can you breath do you need some assistance? Oh wait, you did say relatively free and you are a Republican and we know all about Republicans idea of family values and having a closet "relatively free of skeletons" is okay in your book...sorry by bad, guess you don't need help after all carry on. Now about being an old time Fredneck, what is your idea of old time, how many years are you talking?

jsklinelga

Bluedawn666
I was born in Frederick sixty six years ago. I frequented the same places Ron Young did when i was young i remember him running for Alderman. Then Mayor. The best for Frederick was his interest. i was a very vocal opponent of the Carroll Creek project and the newly formed Historic Preservation Committee. At the core Frederick is a small community. I have never heard anyone form either political persuasion who knew Ron Young intimate he was dishonest. Slightly flamboyant and not a saint but never dishonest. I do not know Blaine and do not care for his personality and politics. But Sen.Young and his son Brad still hold office. if you know of some occurrence I am unaware of I will gladly stand corrected. I have also been a life long Democrat but I am considering changing.

BlueDawn666

Yeah okay well I would guess you could call yourself an old time Fredneck, I will give you that one..BUT I after these comments I am going to go back to saying you are living with your head in the sand...I am surprised that you are democrat considering your religious viewpoints and being so forgiving about Ron's family values and all. The Republican party was made for you jsklinelga..I say go for it..because I really can't see you voting for a woman nor a socialist. I would have to say you are probably crushing on Mark am I right?

elymus43

The Young's just keep coming back with more ideas. Hopefully after the next election will change that??????????????

kimberlymellon

For Ron to state that "donations from Plamondon Hospitality Partners or other groups associated with the downtown project couldn’t sway his vote, because he has supported the downtown hotel project for many years." Is an understatement and one he should be more open with citizens about.
He makes no mention that his delegate's office is space provided by Bert Anderson (stab row-east street rising), perhaps the largest benefactor of the proposed hotel and deck location. Nor does he mention that the years of Blaine's daily sound'off's on WFMD were sponsored by Bert and his Shoppes at Shab row. Nor does Young offer that his son Blaine was provided the towing lot contract for his property. Nor does Young mention that his son Blaine's taxi company has and will continue to benefit from taxi fare direct bill arrangements for delivering a few of Chamber's most prominent contractor's guests from area airports to conferences at Ft. Detrick at an average $100 each way. Not to forget the Young family's land holdings along the creek. At least in this scenario, we know where the funds voicing concerns from the competition who will be harmed most economically are coming from. IMHO. Is this really what the public should be doing? Do we want a solid economy boosted by conference activities all around the city or are we going to discourage and perhaps bankrupt all others by picking one hotel chain to provide millions in publicly backed bonds and tax incentives?

BlueDawn666

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Well Ron is getting up therer in age so maybe he has just forgotten all this stuff??? It's a good thing you reminded him though.

DickD

You think he is senile?

BlueDawn666

I don't know for sure if Ron is senile, he could be...but in this case yeah I think you would call this a case of being blinded by the dollar signs in his eyes, Blaine was also blinded by the dollar signs in his eyes, you know like father like son and all of that...so Ron may be only blind, but he could possibly be going blind and senile at the same time?

FrederickFan

Have you forgotten that while he was Mayor of Frederick City, Ron Young invested $ millions of public money into the Carroll Creek Flood Control and Economic Revitalization Project?

Do you ever go downtown to enjoy our (free) gorgeous Carroll Creek Linear Park and all the businesses, festivals, events, restaurants, weddings, music, arts, etc.? By any measure it is a huge success for everyone.

If Ron Young had waited for "private money," the only thing going on downtown these days would be mud wresting tournaments and occasional boat races/rescues.

KellyAlzan

You're not talkin apples to apples.

The creek was flooding. So new businesses or no new businesses something had to be done about the creek.

In the 70's the schools were not over crowded. We did not attend class in trailers (until the mid 80's).

In the 70's I-270 was not a parking lot.

So at that time, the use of public money was not as controversial.

It's controversial today because we new schools built. We need I-270 replaced (whether it's federal dollars or a state toll road)

DickD

Good information, kim.[thumbup]

klewisyoung

There is too much misinformation on these posts to respond to it all. This one is a special exception. Ron asked me to respond to this one as he cleans up from dinner. 1) Ron rents space from Bert Anderson. In other words, it is paid for from his district office budget. 2) Blaine sold his taxi cab company months ago. In any event, he does not inform Ron of his business dealings nor would he take advice. 3) No Young owns property on the creek or anywhere near it. Obviously, you have a hate thing going on for the Youngs. You are entitled to that. However, your blatant fabrication of information is totally unacceptable and undermines most of what you post anywhere.

MCEDDE21

Thank you, Karen! Ms. Mellon’s conduct is totally unacceptable. It doesn’t surprise me to find that she is lying about all the things you mentioned. I’ve seen it all, before. Indeed, most of what she says amounts to an indecipherable word salad of run-on sentences, irrelevancies, and, worst of all, insinuations of other misconduct without any foundation at all.

What does it mean to say that “Blaine was provided the towing lot contract for his property”? What contract? Who “provided” it? Was Ron involved, somehow? You simply can’t make heads or tails of something like this… but it sounds bad.

What does the fact that Bert Anderson paid for Blaine’s radio spots (two years ago) have to do with anything? Does Mellon really have to add that Anderson owns the “Shoppes at Shab row”?

In another convoluted and run-on sentence, she suggests that ‘Blaine’s taxi company will pick up guests at the airport and take them to Ft. Detrick…. “at an average $100 each way.” So, what? What does this have to do with the hotel project or Ron Young? But, again it sounds bad; especially the "average $100 each way" part.
smh

DickD

This issue is becoming divisive. Democrats do not seem to realize most of us and I do mean Democrats, are opposed to corporate welfare. You can give away our money to the rich Plamondons and Randalls, but we will have new political leaders too.

KellyAlzan

Social media has changed politics. That, and the fact that we can look up campaign contributions online. In the 80's we couldn't do that.

The plamondoons gave Young money. young seems to support state monies subsidizing them.

Ok, mr young, go ahead and support this hotel project. We clearly see how you operate.

And through the use of social media, like your son Balane, WE WILL TAKE YOU DOWN

DickD

It is something I did not want, but you are right.

gary4books

Some see this project as helping all who live in Frederick and more than welfare.

KellyAlzan

I'm all for the project, if it's done entirely with private funds. There are investors that can fund this privately.

But to use state, county, and stadium authority money - over my dead body

DickD

gary, private funds, no problem, taxes and grants, big problem.

gary4books

I have no problems with a good investment.

FrederickFan

I would be one of those.

Everybody in these forums has heard me rail against Blaine Young squandering $160,000,000 of Frederick County tax revenue in exchange for campaign contributions from residential developers. Because he did it in secret, with no public hearings, there were no other governmental partners, and taxpayers got nothing, absolutely nothing for it, if you exclude the terrible degradation of the tax base (residential tax revenue is never enough to cover the costs of serving those residents). In this case, the incremental tax revenue will be more than enough to cover the investment.

I wonder how many of those opposed to Ron Young's support of this project, would have also opposed his public financing of the Carroll Creek Project, when he was mayor of Frederick, which by any measure has been a huge success for Downtown Frederick and all of Frederick County.

public-redux

It used to be that politicians could be bought. And once bought, they stayed bought. But the rules changed somewhere along the way. I quit giving them money once it was clear they could only be rented.

dtwigg

[thumbup]

jsklinelga

Wow! Wow! Wow! Against decorum to suggest a donation would influence a vote??
I have not followed the hotel debate closely but this recent development and even the suggestion of the bill by Sen. Young is sensational. We do not have to question a representative's ethics. Large private and corporate donations help buy legislative seats. Legislators that support their interest. This practice, greatly exacerbated nationally by Citizen's United, has had a significant demoralizing effect on our country. Sen. Young may have exposed the tip of the iceberg. Before this is snuffed out and quieted we should hear volumes of support for Sen. Young
Sen. Young has done a great deal for Frederick over the years but this could be his greatest initiative. KUDOS

gary4books

Few will donate without thinking it may help their cause. The solution is to listen to people and their reasons. Silly reasons are usually paid reasons. Sen. Young had a valid reason, but it may have been too close to home for some.

gary4books

So how many here are paid to write?

KellyAlzan

Bill Folden - the reason why the Plamandoon's want money from the county, state, and stidum authority is because the know competition is coming. The plamandoons DO NOT want YOU to know this:
http://www.shepherdstownchronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/510785/Harpers-Ferry-hotel-could-provide-tourist-boost.html?nav=5127

KellyAlzan

The close-by competition the Plamandoons don't want Marylanders to know about:http://www.shepherdstownchronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/510785/Harpers-Ferry-hotel-could-provide-tourist-boost.html?nav=5127

KellyAlzan

There are investors out there that can build a hotel and conference center WITHOUT public money.

why should any of my tax dollars be used to subsidize the plamonadoons?? Why???

Frederick city has old houses. Big wow. So does Boonsboro, Woodsboro, and sharpsburg. Perhaps a hotel should be built in Woodsboro too?

and law makers - you do realize that Harpers Ferry will soon have a HUGE hotel, banquent, conference center up on the hill overlooking the Potomac?? If you had a choice of a weekend in Harpers Ferry in a hotel with a million dollar view - or a weekend in Frederick with stabbings and shootings, what would you choose??

Who will pay the outstanding debt(s) when the hotel in harpers ferry takes 50% of the Plammandoon's business?????

I urge the lawmakers to vote NO on this proposal.

We need money for schools and we need money for a solution to I-270, regardless if I-270 is federal monies.

VOTE NO

gary4books

I spend every week end in Frederic. Do not sell us short.

KellyAlzan

Young is the same man who supported Nexus Homes, whom went belly up and left people financially broke.

johnqFrederick

[thumbup]

DickD

Young has to go, along with Billy and Kirby!

dtwigg

He did more than support it. He advocated for and vouched for the inexperienced company that developed the project.

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