Your May 5 report (“Clock ticking on future funding for downtown hotel”) that Mayor Michael O’Connor has not gotten to sit down with Gov. Larry Hogan to put the case for state funding of the downtown hotel project. The case against state funding has been put to the governor by a number of people. I for one have spoken twice with Gov. Hogan against taxpayer money for the hotel and followed up with written submissions and documentation via staff. This material has been copied to several departmental heads. The Office of Legislative Audits has received a formal complaint about the project, arguing that it deserves investigation of unethical and possible criminal activity associated with the city’s procurement of a developer.

So state officials are well aware of major irregularities in the city procurement. Frederick’s previous mayor, Randy McClement, chose as chairman of the city’s hotel advisory committee Mark Gaver, subsequently revealed as a major con man, convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of $50 million in fraud, and now serving a 17-year term in jail. Convict Gaver set the pattern followed throughout the term of the McClement mayoralty for this city-controlled body, doing city business, operating behind closed doors without public notice or agenda or recorded votes. This was in flagrant violation of the State Open Meetings Act and the city’s own code requirement for competitive procurement. Documented with emails and consultant invoice time sheets are the fact that behind closed doors the city hotel advisory committee (1) dumped the competition-friendly, publicly announced and consultant-recommended two-stage procurement (site to be chosen first, open bidding by developers second) in favor of a single-stage bring-your-site procurement that limited competition to two (2) the single-stage procurement was a suggestion of the winning developer (3) city-funded consultants billed thousands of dollars helping one of the two supposed competitors (the winner) contrary to the terms of their engagement (4) the official RFP was a piece of theater since the winning proposal was received before the RFP was issued, and (5) the scoring of the two proposals was grossly biased.

In short, it was a corrupt fix worthy of the city of Chicago.

State officials have documentation on the fraudulent nature of the purported “competitive procurement” of the site and the developer. Many hundreds of hours of unpaid investigative activity, interviews, public information act requests, advocacy and analysis lay behind the case put to the state to withhold taxpayer support for the project. (See http://frederickhotelboondoggle.us/2019/03/submission-made-to-state-office-of-legislative-audits-and-board-of-public-works/.)

Gov. Hogan told me on the second occasion I spoke to him: “I know about this project. It is not going to get any state funds.” My guess is that he’d tell Mayor O’Connor the same thing.

Peter Samuel

Frederick

(74) comments

MD1756

How about putting a casino in the hotel, then it might make money for the city. And as far as Gary's continued message that we need one downtown because people staying at a jotel 2 or 3 miles away won't come downtown seems illogical on its face because most everyone who came to Frederick as a visitor had to get here by some automotive transportation (I don't all the visitors come from the Frederick airport using taxis). So they got here in cars, but once here they can't drive two miles to a restaurant?

gary4books

Not if they have had too much to drink. Or taste.

gabrielshorn2013

Taxi, Uber, Lyft, or Visitation Academy hotel.

Frayou

Again. Nothing more than a Social Club for the City, County, Business & Political VIP Elites can meet to wine, dine & socialize.

gary4books

If you think so. I rather doubt it. There are better venues.

AnotherFineMess

Hotel chains know their business and know when a good opportunity exists and will move swiftly to capitalize on a moneymaker. The downtown hotel is not a moneymaker!

The Plamadons never made any moves to build here. It was the City of Frederick that wanted the Plamadons to build here and had to make it attractive to do it. Cheap ground rent, 20 year TIF, using parking funds destined for other needed projects (Crurch St. Deck replacement).

Using public money for a ‘public parking deck’ that is actually the hotel foundation and far short of the total parking needed is a joke.

You’ll never be able to park there because the hotel will reserve most of the spaces anyway for valet parking especially for the convention center that isn’t.

Nobody is against the hotel, they’re against using public funds for a really bad idea. The Plamadons are loaded.. they can easily pay for it and it could have been up and running by now. Why didn’t they if it was such a golden egg?

gary4books

It never was a "good deal." At best it helps local businesses and is a courtesy to visitors. A service. And as such should have public funding.

AnotherFineMess

A hotel with 2 restaurants subsidized by the City hardly helps other restaurants. The perceived benefit to other businesses is minimal while the cost to ALL the taxpayers is significant.

For the 20 years the hotel is not contributing to the tax pool because taxes are deferred to pay off the TIF. That means the public will likely have to fill the void, covering for the additional demand on services, fire, police, snow removal that the hotel places on the surrounding community. Those taxes are paid by folks who will never benefit from the hotel directly or indirectly.

If the Plamadons pay for it then great! No argument here.

Burgessdr

Anotherfinemess. By state law, TIF taxes can be no more than half the real estate tax and the bond must be no more than 15 years. Your claim that the hotel will be contributing no taxes for 20 years is pure ignorance.

gabrielshorn2013

Gary, please explain how the hotel will help local businesses. As I have repeatedly said, the only thing we owe the downtown businesses is our patronage if we want their goods or services. Nothing more.

gary4books

I have explained all ha I care to explain. Ask some local shops. Do hey want more foot traffic?

gabrielshorn2013

You haven't provided any evidence other than your unsupported statement that local businesses need our support. If they don't have enough foot traffic to support their business, maybe they chose the wrong location, eh? Still not the taxpayer's problem. They'll get plenty of support from the self-funded Visitation Academy hotel.

KellyAlzan

I don’t understand why you are so fixated on visitors.

Has the city seen a drop in visitors?

The roads are packed full. We don’t have room for our own residents, let alone visitors.

And frederixk city, list what attractions it has. Naval academy? Amish farms? Colonial Williamsburg? WVU football team? NFL football? An ocean and beach?

Thewheelone

Kelly, I am with you regarding public money for a hotel, but have you ever walked around downtown on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? If you have, you would see lots of folks enjoying the ambiance of the area. Beautiful homes, fine restaurants, a variety of shops, immersed in a sense of history. The places you mention are great, but so is Frederick and people from all over really like coming here.

gary4books

Kell has some people she does not want to see.

Burgessdr

Anotherfinemess. "The Plamondons have never made any moves to build here." What a dunce. The Plamondons have built and operated 4 hotels in Frederick, the most recent in 2012, the others in 2002, 1999, and 1996.

jagman

I will ask again, burgessdr: What is your personal gain expected to be if this project gets built with taxpayer money? Obviously there is something in it for you since you so vociferously defend the whole idea.

Everyone else understands perfectly that the problem is using public funds for a private project. Even Gary understands that is a bad idea economically.

But you, there has to be a reason you hang in there to defend the indefensible. What is it?

gary4books

I expect that people that want to promote Frederick and make it better will offer suggestions about how to clean up the process. They might even want to start over with a new project and competition. But those who just want to have Frederick as it was in the 80's will hate anything new and bring up a hodgepodge of problems from bed bugs to drugs to what ever they hate. And I can understand. But they are not part of the solution.

KellyAlzan


Guess you saw my 7:54 am post down below 😂

jerseygrl42

Peter, you said it well and thanks for fighting the good fight on this ugly episode in the city of Frederick...if the project can't stand on its own 2 feet it should NOT be built nor should taxpayer money be put at risk to benefit 2 families

threecents

I believe a downtown hotel/conference center would be a game changer and make a lot of money for all of downtown Frederick. The question for me is whether we really want a game changer, which would include more congestion.

KellyAlzan

Guess you saw my 11:24 am post down below :)

gary4books

The visitors are already here. This will just give them a place to stay. Perhaps not more traffic.

KellyAlzan

Gary, if they’re already here, where are they staying?

gabrielshorn2013

Will the self-funded Visitation Academy hotel project not fit the bill?

KellyAlzan

[thumbup]

Burgessdr

Gabrielshorn. The Visitation Academy is not entirely self-funded. It will be getting about $6 million in tax credits and several million more from construction of townhouses on the property. As usual you are full of guano

gabrielshorn2013

Name calling don? Perfect way to defend your position don...NOT! Apparently you don't understand the difference between up-front financing ( the downtown hotel boondoggle) and tax relief after construction (as you claim for the Visitation Academy). In the former, taxpayer funds are directly used, which are taken from other, more deserving projects. In the latter, taxes are waived for a period of time, from a project that was self funded. The houses are a red herring.

threecents

There will be the only venue for large events in downtown Frederick. It will probably bring in conferences and large parties - more people from out of town to buy stuff in Frederick. Not sure we really want that, but if we build it, they will come.

rnrbug

Do a search for airbnb there are plenty if places in the downtown area available

KellyAlzan

When did the City of Frederick have a shortage of visitors?

KellyAlzan

All we ever hear is how over crowded our roads and intersections are. And how over whelmed our police and emergency people are. But, somehow, wee NEED more visitors, more traffic? LOL

jagman

It is true that this whole project is a boondoggle. The only people that will be "helped" if it proceeds will be the Plamondons and Randalls. Neither need the "help" of the taxpayers.

bicep42

Thank you Peter for your hard work and countless hours spent exposing this corporate welfare debacle.

KellyAlzan

Peter is another Steve McKay! Love them both!

edens30

Peter, didn't you buttonhole the governor at the Westin in Annapolis? Which, as I'm sure you're aware, is a 225 room hotel with publicly-funded parking: http://www.municap.com/case-parkplace-1.htm

DickD

And because Annapolis did it you think Frederick should do it. If we were kids, do you know what your mother would have to say about that?

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup] Dick!

Burgessdr

DickD. Apparently you are unaware that all the parking garages in the city are built and funded by the city.

gabrielshorn2013

As well as hotel foundations don? No foundation (garage), no hotel, and vice-versa.

KellyAlzan

QUOTE"The city has approved the issuance of $25 million of bonds to help finance the structured parking garage. The bonds will be repaid with parking fees, with the expected deficit covered by tax increment revenues. The bonds will be further backed by a special tax on the project. The tax increment financing providing the necessary incentive to make this very valuable redevelopment project possible."

RESPONSE:Who's bonds were they?

KellyAlzan

I'm not seeing where state money was used for the Annapolis parking deck. Eden, apple to grapes comparison much? And it appears all was / is not as rosey as you elude to

https://www.capitalgazette.com/cg2-arc-140418cn-audit-20140418-story.html

Burgessdr

No where did Eden say state money was used to build Annapolis parking garage. He said publicly funded. The bonds were issued by the city and county. Which is publicly funded.

petersamuel

Correct Donald. Matt Eden didn't say that state money was used in Annapolis. And I think it only had city support, no county or state-$s. I raised the issue because boosters of the City of Frederick's downtown hotel insist that there must be state money for their hotel here, as well as city_$s and county-$s. The FNP report of May on which I commented, and the FNP's subsequent editorial were all about the supposed 'need' for state taxpayers dollars for the project. The difficulty getting state subsidy is what is delaying the project, they say. Senator Hough and other skeptics were being lambasted for obstructing State funding. It is relevant therefore to point out that in Annapolis they built that hotel-associated parking garage on West St without state subsidy. Why can't the same be done here in Frederick? I think the answer is that it is yet more misleading propaganda. The money being sought is not really about the parking garage but about building the expensive and risky foundations of a hotel.

gabrielshorn2013

Spot on Mr. Samuel.[thumbup] Don is developing a mean case of Cryptosporidiosis from all that bat guano in his cave.

petersamuel

I think the City of Annapolis backed the parking garage in the West St redevelopment. I haven't seen any references to state money being provided.

petersamuel

It was an MPPI (thinktank) event and yes, Matt, I think you are right it was that hotel with parking underneath. My understanding is that the taxpayer-supported parking there was approved as part of a larger redevelopment of West Street and the parking was to support vehicles associated with condos, offices, small shops, and a hotel. The hotel developer was not selected by the City of Annapolis but did a business deal with his own money to build the hotel. The parking was already committed and no doubt helped induce the hotel developer, but it was an open competitive situation in which any other hotel developer could have come in there and built. This is very different from the corrupt cabal of the Frederick DHAC claiming to conduct a competitive procurement on behalf of the City and steering all the taxpayer largesse to one of their own. If the parking proposed for state funding at the DH was for the benefit of the City-as-a-whole the sixth city garage would not be at the old-FNP site (near an almost empty East All Saints deck) but on North Market St somewhere (say at the Carmack-Jay site) where there is a parking shortage and many small businesses and their customers who would benefit.

DickD

I sincerely hope Peter is right about all he says here.

KellyAlzan

Cool

petersamuel

So do I Dick. I've made serious charges. And I welcome people checking it out. I base everything I charge on communications and records about what happened and how that compares with the fictional theatrics of what we were publicly told was happening. I don't have any grudge against anyone (I rather like Randy McClement, Pete Plamondon and Richard Griffin as people) but I am sad and angry about the mess they have created, and think it would be a disgrace if that mess got State money.

KellyAlzan

Had the city conducted themselves in a fair and ethical manner from the get go, there would have been a ribbon cutting ceremony a month ago.

Need this hotel as bad as you claim? Then start over. Have a fair and ethical procurement process. And give priority to an investor whom has their own funds, for everything, including a parking deck.

I don’t see how people can complain about duk ro’s Buildings, but not blink an eye about a multi story hotel and parking garage.

Also, hotels are notorious hosts for sex and drug trafficking, bed bug infestations, and maritial infidelity.

shiftless88

I have stayed in many, many hotels and have never trafficked drugs, gotten bed bugs nor cheated on my spouse.

KellyAlzan

Amazing

threecents

We should ban hotels.

duffy5x

Marital infidelity? Yeah, don't build the hotel in downtown Fredrick, that'll stop adultery.... That's genius.

KellyAlzan

Thank you Peter for all you have done and all you are doing to see this hotel doesn’t happen (with state funds).

Peter - I’m wondering if the state needs a refresher from you? How long ago did you share all the information with the state? I’m sure the state receives so much stuff, they may have forgotten about all the points you raise. Do you think you need to send them another round?

petersamuel

Kelly: it was March I sent that long piece I reference as a complaint to the Office of Legislative Audits and a submission to the Board of Public Works. It was copied to a bunch of other people at the state level with some connection to state funding, or state approvals. I got an acknowledgment from the OLA and I've asked members of our delegation to the General Assembly to weigh in with OLA saying it deserves investigation by them. I understand some delegates have written to the Governor making use of some of the material I present. I also hear the Governor is solid against releasing any state funds and that he has the support of other members of the Bd of Public Works (who often disagree with him on other matters!) But of course they are politicians and politicians are often fickle... so by all means take my stuff and send it to whoever you think has influence.

gabrielshorn2013

Thank you Mr. Samuel for your diligence in opposing this obviously crooked boondoggle.

DickD

[thumbup]

petersamuel

Appreciate your kind comment, Sir.

gary4books

This is another example of people wanting a perfect process to get something of value. If the hotel project did not need some start-up money, we would have a hotel now. But it is not a sure investment and we do need some support. However, there were some irregular moves in starting and now we have to give up a courtesy to our visitors and help for our local businesses because it was not perfect? I do not get it. We need to do what is right for Frederick.

MD1756

We need to do what is right for the tax payers.

MD1756

And it's not public funding for a hotel that isn't needed (although for some reason you may desire it).

Dwasserba

It's "a courtesy to our visitors and help for our local businesses" apparently. There are businesses outside the target area that are also "local" but how much potential "help" this is to them...ask them. As for visitors...welcome. Come as you are. We seem to have attracted you, just as we are.

gary4books

Well, the new hotel on Byte Drive is viabole with the fourty two million Dollar crossing from Monocacy to Christopher's Crossing. Not the only reason to build the exchange, but it sure helps the hotel. I have no idea about the others, but I suspect they got help. The Adademy hotel tobe build gets tax breaks. And it is a courtesy. Not necessary if we are just out for the profits we can make.

gabrielshorn2013

Gary, if you do your homework you will see that the overpass you keep referring to was planned long ago to alleviate traffic in the area. The hotel on Byte looked at the plans and saw a business opportunity and took it using their money. They were a secondary beneficiary to a project. The downtown hotel is not a secondary beneficiary, but a primary beneficiary. The undersized parking deck is actually the foundation for the hotel that would be built on top of it. No hotel, no deck. Can you see the difference? Taxpayers should not be funding private business ventures. That is the responsibility of the developers and their investors. Build all the hotels you want, but not with taxpayer money.

gary4books

I get lost in this double negative. Say what?

gabrielshorn2013

" If the hotel project did not need some start-up money, we would have a hotel now."

Why is it that every other hotel in Frederick invested their own money in their operation, but this one needs "help" Gary? The new hotel at the former Visitation Academy should be able to take care of all those people that drank too much that you want to stay over as a "courtesy " (it's not, since they are paying). If you wish to invest, write them a check, and leave the state and county citizens out of it.

DickD

Because the other hotels did not need money to over pay for the property owners, the Randalls.

gabrielshorn2013

I also wonder what Mark Gaver's cut of the action was. This deal has more slime than a scared hagfish.

gary4books

I do not wish to invest. I am retired. I want to discuss the subject as a tax payer. And it is a courtesy to provide (for a fee) needed services where they are needed.

threecents

Gary[thumbup][thumbup]

jerseygrl42

"Not a sure investment"...so yeah , lets waste some taxpayer $$$...how absurd

duffy5x

By all means, do share your, no doubt, foolproof way to create more revenue for the county. We will wait...

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