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Developer's Crime Must Be Viewed in Context

What is the story behind the story regarding Steve Whalen's guilty plea?

The guilty plea of Steve Whalen on 5 counts of campaign finance violations proves he funneled $7500 to Councilperson Quirk and exceeded spending limits.

This should be viewed in context with promises made by the Councilperson during his 2010 campaign, a review of the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s statements of facts, the timeline of events, and his land use decisions affecting Whalen since being elected?

Only then can voters decide whether or not to believe the Councilperson’s claim that he was unaware, and not a willing participant, of the developer’s crime?

During the 2010 campaign, the Councilperson assured many, including his own treasurer, he wouldn’t take money from Steve Whalen. A Quirk supporter wrote the following regarding the Republican candidate’s return of a Whalen donation. “Apparently, now it is politically expedient to return those contributions...The timing is revealing. Call it hypocrisy, call it lying, call it what you will. It is dishonest.” Another wrote, “The Board of Elections site indicates that candidate Quirk received no contributions from Mr. Whalen.”

In late October 2010, I discovered Whalen Properties conducted several polls regarding candidate preference and the Promenade during the primary and general election. Results were shared with Quirk and another candidate preventing the required filing of a gift in kind donation. I

went to the State’s Office of the Special Prosecutor who decided the charges merited investigation. It unearthed, a Quirk campaign volunteer who stated the candidate “wanted to keep his distance,” from the developer. Although the Prosecutor concluded that the polling did happen, the developer had exploited legal loopholes preventing formal charges from being filed. It would appear both men were conducting themselves in ways to prevent the public from knowing the full extent of their relationship. The released Statements of Facts (look under the Prosecutor’s Press Release Page) support this conclusion. It states Whalen and Quirk emailed back and forth regarding Whalen’s ability to raise money for the councilperson.  

On September 19, 2011, the Councilperson submitted the PUD resolution for Whalen Properties’ Southwest Physicians Pavilion. This PUD resolution was submitted approximately three weeks after Whalen funneled money to Quirk. The resolution states the site is a Transit Oriented Development (TOD). According to Smart Growth groups like Reconnecting America TOD’s are defined as mixed use developments that seek to limit the reliance on the automobile by proximity to a mass transit and tied into a tightly knit grid of streets to make it walkable/bikeable. Given that FACT that the site sits on the beltway and is 6 blocks away from a one line only bus stop, it's a fraudulent statement to suggest the project is a TOD. The PUD’s own development plan actually states there is “limited bus service.”

Quirk has also up-zoned, at Mr. Whalen’s request, a parcel of land the developer didn’t own. He has remained silent about the release of MEDCO’s Spring Grove report which outlines a mixed-use development almost identical to Whalen’s proposed Promenade and suggests the sale of about 20 acres to an “undisclosed developer.”  The MEDCO report and is also referenced on page three of the Statement of facts.

After discovering oddities in Quirk’s campaign finance records, I again turned to the State’s Special Prosecutor on February the 21st, 2012. These accusations first became public with the release of Catonsville Promenot’s first video published on YouTube June 26, 2012. The Councilperson has had months to look into the charges and to review the funds delivered to him by Whalen.

If he had, he would have found three $2500 donations from individuals given to him by people who didn’t live in his district, who had no history of political giving, with one working for Whalen Properties. I’m reminded of the aforementioned Quirk supporter whose statement bears repeating, “Apparently, now it’s politically expedient to return those contributions... The timing is revealing. Call it hypocrisy, call it lying, call it what you will. It is dishonest.”

Campaign finance laws attempt to prevent individuals and corporations from manipulating our political system.  The campaign finance reports they provide help informed voters to sift through statements and voting records to determine if politicians are lying or telling the truth. We are now faced with the following question: Are the presented facts purely coincidental or are they evidence of a broken and corrupt system? One thing is plainly evident. We can argue about these laws’ adequacy, but not about their necessity.  

In conclusion, some conservative bloggers have been stating things like, “See we told you, the Democrats are corrupt.” On this, let me be clear. Democrats are the ones who discovered this crime and filed these complaints against Councilperson Quirk and Steve Whalen.

Many Democrats refuse to be cogs in the machine and are disappointed with the status quo involved in local politics. My wife and I are Democrats, in part, because we believe in protecting the vulnerable and disenfranchised. We believe in sticking up for the little guy. That’s exactly what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do. I’m proud to be part of a family who hasn’t been afraid to speak truth to power and whose determination has helped bring some degree of justice to the people of our district. I’d also like to express deep gratitude to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for their integrity and hard work regarding this case. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

OpenEyes January 04, 2013 at 12:24 PM
I am astounded that Mr. Whalen is attempting to pass the buck for his crimes on opponents of his and using that as an excuse as to why he did what he did. If anything, the well thought out objections to Mr. Whalen's projects by respectful community activists provide the "motive" for Mr. Whalen's criminal act and makes them all the worst. What have people said in the past? Here are a sampling of letter's to the editor that have been written: http://tinyurl.com/aoua2ng http://tinyurl.com/aokax4f http://tinyurl.com/bzkba58 http://tinyurl.com/a8ve2nr http://tinyurl.com/ac2hwzo http://tinyurl.com/aq2osur
jack friese January 04, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Paul I strongly supported the GOP ticket in 2010. I met your wife on the campaign trail many times. I heard her speak at several events. She is very impressive. It is too bad Democrats choose Quirk over her.. Even though we are on opposite sides of the isle I appreciate her/your views. Surely your wife and the 2010 GOP team pointed out the well known concerns about Whalen and his buddies and the people still put Kamenetz, deBoy, Malone, Kasemayer, Quirk and other democrats in office. This Wahlen debacle is just the tip of the iceberg and has nothing to do with being a republican or democrat. It has to do with basic morality and doing the right things, no matter if anyone is looking or not. All Maryland taxpayers should thank you for exposing this criminal behavior. It's too bad that Whalen didn't do some jail time and then be excluded from doing business with Maryland jurisdictions for 3 years. That would teach him and his buddies a lesson "about screwing up". He is not sorry that he screwed up, he is sorry that you spilled the beans on him and others and got caught. Really it is pathetic when you see what access a paltry sum of $7,500 buy. The prosecutor did a great job and should be commended. If most people did what Whalen did, they'd be in the slammer, then not be allowed to continue with this sort of behavior because they should not be allowed to do business as usual for at least three years. Kudos to you and your wife Paul.
Sanchez January 04, 2013 at 09:19 PM
Did Mr Dongerra ever file a PIA to Kasemeyer for his discussions with Whalen about securing his 30 acres of State land at the Grove? Whalen wants State property for his Promenade. The State wanted property for a new courthouse in that district. The county could have worked with the state to secure some of the SG property for their courthouse. Guess who sold the land to the county for the new courthouse? Whalen! Whalen profits form the sale of land to the county for a courthouse, then he will profit from the STATE land that could have gone to the county for a new courthouse. Whalen has a WIN WIN and the taxpayers have a LOSE LOSE.
Sanchez January 04, 2013 at 09:22 PM
jack, if it was JUST $7500 you would be correct. Add up the 3+ decades of these "contributions" and the paid for pols know that that cow has plenty of milk left. If Whalen showed no compunction against breaking civil law as he admitted, does anyone believe this is his first foray into corruption and campaign fraud?
Steve January 04, 2013 at 10:11 PM
LOL Does anybody really think BGEhrlich had no knowledge of his Robobcalls on election night?
jack friese January 04, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Sanchez, you hit the nail right on the head. However, you saw how much time, money, effort and digging to get this conviction of Whalen. Paying $58,000 is chump change for this guy. The judge should have thrown his ass in jail and then prohibit him and any of his paper companies from doing business within Maryland for three years. Then put DeBoy, Malone, Kasemeyer, Jim Smith, Kamenetz and Quirk under oath and grill them and see just how clean (ha ha) or dirty they are.If they perjure themselves they should go to jail. The public deserves no less.
OpenEyes January 04, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Sanchez, Although Mr. Dongarra has performed an incredible investigating feat he is just one man. I would suggest that if you have concerns you might want to file your own PIA. Here is the site that can point you in the right direction. http://tinyurl.com/ak3mmrb
OpenEyes January 04, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I agree with you Steve. We must hold all elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, to the same standard. It is unfortunate that Whalen has only received a slap on the wrist and his penalty essentially becomes part of doing business.
Paul Dongarra January 04, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Jack, Thank you for your kind words. I must say that I listened all candidates who ran in 2010 with a very sharp eye to detail at what they were saying. Nothing any Republican candidate said came anywhere near the thoughtful critique offered by my wife regarding land use as an issue in Baltimore County. The difference was that she was alienated from her own party by speaking out against business as usual. It's called integrity. Perhaps if more Republicans stopped asking her about her stance on abortion, illegal immigration, etc etc and considered registering as a democrat to vote for her, we would not be in the state we are in today. I wish that more people did what this writer did when he shared his thoughts to the Times: http://archives.explorebaltimorecounty.com/news/108011/candidates-corner/
Paul January 05, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Dongarra - those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. The group that supported you wants you to be quiet now. Yes - the Whalen thing is the tip of the iceberg. The group that supported Rebecca and Paul makes Whalen look like an angel. There are over a dozen people in Baltimore County that are waiting with loads of documents. Mr. Self Righteous Paul thinks that know one knows how he and his wife have operated. He'll find out different in time. Dongarra is also NOT a Democrat. When his wife got crushed in the primary he openly supported a right wing nut (so right wing matter of fact the entire business community rejected him openly). Quirk is known as one of the most liberal members of the council.
Kelly Blue January 05, 2013 at 06:43 PM
You don't have a clue as to what you're posting. Please take some time and find out the entire story about the courthouse sale. You take a cheap uninformed shot. Why not ask the Chief Judge about why he chose the Whalen property instead of posting ignorant statements.
Kelly Blue January 05, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Lets see Mr. Paul Hategarra stand up to the heat when it starts, like running a catering business from your home Paul? It's a residential neighborhood do you think that's appropriate for your Catonsville neighbors? Hmmmm? Maybe someone needs to check on your zoning to see if that's allowed. And btw how many of your suppliers gave campaign money to your wife in her failed attempt to win an election? If she had won were there any FAVORS to be given to those suppliers such as perhaps exclusive rights to sell you their food supplies? Were there any discounts given to you by your suppliers that in turn you used for her campaign??? Questions need to be answered by you. Lets open the books Mr. Transparency. Put out there on your website for all to see. You see Mrt. Hategarra what goes around comes around.
Kelly Blue January 05, 2013 at 06:59 PM
How many people posting about this live in College Hills or Hidden Bluffs, really bad projects right? Was the Catonsville Professional Center, Rolling Crossroads or how about Charlestown a bad idea. OMG they took an old seminary with rolling fields and woods and turned into the best retirement community in the area that thousands have enjoyed. My oh my these dam developers. Dongarra and their ilk are not FOR Catonsville they're for themselves. Catonsville would be a much better place without them. And to all of the Hategarras out there, don't shop at the Giant at Wilkens that property used to be ball fields. So don't compromise your principles. You need to go to the A&P in downtown C'ville and get your prescriptions filled at Moss Drugs and when you want to see a movie make sure it's only the Alpha Theatre. Mr. Hategarra do you even know anything about Catonsville?
Paul Dongarra January 05, 2013 at 10:41 PM
My home address is my home office. I rent a commercial kitchen in Columbia where I am regularly inspected by the health department. The only time food comes home is when we have left overs that are donated the next day to our area homeless shelter or to share with my neighbors. If that is a problem, I will just have to start throwing it away. I also have a garden and use some of the veggies I grow. Feel free to stop by next summer, I'd be glad to give you some. It's true some of our vendors donated. We are a good clients, easy to work with, and we pay our bills on time. I don't see anything wrong with that, just like there was nothing wrong with the Jolles of Jolles Insurance making a donation to then candidate Quirk. I am sure his financial planning business refers business to them. Gift in kind donations from vendors and/or friends for copy writing, photography, and graphic design were all reported in Rebecca's reports. Perhaps when you bring up vendors and glass houses you should realize that Councilperson's finance records show him taking cash from companies like: Spindler Refuse, Ruppert Sanitation, Hartey's Trash Management, and Parks Refuse, Pollard Towing, two individuals associated with ACS (the Speed Camera Company), and one from the President of the firm that built Hillcrest Elem's addition. Do any of these people do business with the County? Enough of this foolishness, however, I have to vacuum my house...lol!
Kelly Blue January 06, 2013 at 12:01 AM
" The only time food comes home is when we have left overs that are donated the next day to our area homeless shelter or to share with my neighbors... I also have a garden and use some of the veggies I grow." So the great zoning expert has a commercial business and commercial garden (you are selling product grown on your property) in a residential neighborhood, I thought you were the zoning guru. Additionally you are looked at as a kind and generous person for giving away food that other people paid for. You are a wonderful human being. Perhaps it's time for you to review the zoning laws vs ranting against law abiding citizens.
Paul Dongarra January 06, 2013 at 12:27 AM
My wife and I are not anti-development, we are opposed to poorly planned unnecessary development driven by greed that causes our current commercial corridors to erode. If Whalen Properties had proposed to redevelop Wilkins Plaza or Security Square Mall, I would applaud him. There are many great and exciting adaptive use and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects around the state: Union Mill, http://theunionmill.com/about/ The Oella Mill http://www.oellamill.com/,Camden Yards, and what is happening in North Bethesda, http://www.montgomeryplanning.org/community/whiteflint/ . The PUD on Kenwood Ave claims to be a TOD. It is not. Why are we upzoning land and issuing PUD's on land that hasn't been built on when there are many existing brown fields in need of redevelopment? Could it be that developers make more money when these parcels are purchased and then upzoned and/or a PUD issued? Because when this happens, it's almost like spinning straw into gold. Could it be that developers and their attorney's give and/or raise lots of money for our council to continue this alchemy of land use decisions?

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