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Quirk Elected Baltimore County Council Chairman

The Catonsville Democrat said the council will have to deal with another difficult budget but there's "no political will" for a tax increase.

Newly-elected Baltimore County Council Chairman Tom Quirk is looking forward to a more collegial relationship between the council and county executive and no new taxes in the coming year.

"I think 2013 is the year the county executive and the county council work together collaboratively," Quirk, Catonsville Democrat, said, who was elected unanimously by his colleagues.

The relationship between the council and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has undergone considerable strain. Quirk along with then-Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, and Councilman David Marks all opposed a pension bill that would have ended the use of overtime in the calculation for pension benefits for some county employees.

The bill was part of an administration request. After the bill was tabled, the four councilmembers complained that Kamenetz retaliated by slashing budgets earmarked for road projects in their respective districts.

Quirk and Marks also drew the Kamenetz's ire when they questioned a $25 million loan from the county Employee Retirement System that would be used to build a new recycling facility.

Looking forward, Quirk said the council will have to continue to deal with difficult budgets.

"We knew when we were elected that the budget was going to be under significant pressure and that will continue," Quirk said. "For a long time the county got used to property taxes increasing because of the 4 percent Homestead Tax Credit and that's not going to happen. We need to figure out how to pay for the programs everyone wants."

That doesn't mean tax increases are on the horizon, he said.

"I don't see any political will from the county executive or county council to have a property or income tax increase," Quirk said.

One way of paying for those programs might come through the redevelopment of older neighborhoods.

Development will be a touchy issue for the freshman councilman who was linked to Steve Whalen in emails that were part of the state prosecutor's case against the Catonsville developer last week. Whalen pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court last week to five counts of violating state campaign finance laws for funneling $7,500 to Quirk through his personal trainer, an employee and a friend in so-called illegal straw donations.

Quirk cooperated with the prosecutor and was not charged with any wrongdoing but the emails highlighted a relationship between the developer's fundraising efforts for Quirk and the councilman's oversight of projects proposed by Whalen.

Quirk, who is often referred to as the most liberal member of the council, downplayed some concerns that he'll push a political agenda once now that he's chairman.

Last year Quirk sponsored a transgender anti-discrimination bill. Within weeks of being sworn in, Quirk sponsored legislation expanding the speed camera program in the county.

"I'd definitely say I'm a proud progressive but I'm also a very very fiscally careful," Quirk said. "Democrats have an obligation to be fiscally responsible because we believe government can help people. We have to make sure every tax dollar is spent as best as we can."

Chillin January 08, 2013 at 03:01 PM
I read the State Prosecutor's Statement of Facts. Though Councilman Quirk has been absolved of any wrongdoing in the judgement, in reading the correspondences between him and Mr. Whalen it is clear that the Councilman was mixing fundraising with political favors. It had to be clear to Mr. Quirk that Mr. Whalen didn't suddenly raise all this money with an impromptu bull roast and 50/ 50 raffle. He should have asked questions, but rather he pulled the classic Seargent Shultz..."See Nothink, Hear Nothink"... "I don't vont to know Nothink". Be careful Mr. Quirk a very wise Founding Father of ours once said "If you sleep with dogs you will wake up with flees".
Chillin January 08, 2013 at 03:02 PM
The Quirk/ Whalen emails should be extracted from the State Prosecuter's Statement of Facts and printed in every Ethics 101 college book in the first chapter as an example of what is not technically considered illegal, but certainly unethical.
Josephine Hlatki January 08, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I have to disagree with you, Sally. I've seen him in action. He's a hard nosed Democrat and doesn't recognize any kind of conservatism. I came and watched as he bullied the transgender bill through, calling it a human relations bill so we would not realize what he was up to for his LGBT Lobbyists. I actually witnessed him laughing at one woman who testified during the hearings, then turned to the other Democrat Council members and got them laughing with him at her. Really professional. It was disgusting.
Josephine Hlatki January 08, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Kelly, have you ever had to confront Quirk with an issue? I guess you wouldn't. It seems as though you agree with him on everything. He does not cooperate.
Josephine Hlatki January 08, 2013 at 03:39 PM
I'm still waiting to hear that Quirk returned the illegal booty he received from Whalen and friends. While I'm at it, why wasn't Quirk and the cohorts who filtered the money, knowingly to Quirk from Whalen facing charges? Now that Quirk knows the $$$ was illegally filtered to him through Whalen, he is just as guilty for keeping it. I heard David Marks returned the $$$ and would have nothing to do with it. This just shows you the far left government MD has.
Steve January 08, 2013 at 03:44 PM
"This just shows you the far left government MD has." I don't think sketchy campaign contributions are a left/right kind of thing. BGEhrlich kept Jack Abramoff's family's money didn't he?
FIFA January 08, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Do you really believe that only the far left take money from contributors for political favors? What planet do you live on?
Dean Tippett January 08, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Whalen had to pay a fine of over $50.000. Yet Quirk and the other two recipients of tainted donations received no fine or sanction. He should not be allowed to be the chairman . Let's restore some trust in our government.
Kelly Blue January 08, 2013 at 09:30 PM
like JD Stuts and Balutausnord
FIFA January 08, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Dean, are you really that naive? You have to know they are illegal donations. Someone sells you stolen property without your knowledge, have you done anything wrong? Your voting card should be revoked.
Sally G January 09, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Josephine - if you would simply read the SUN or Patch (instead of the Republican talking points) you would know that Quirk returned the checks and worked with the Prosecutor in their investigation of Whalen.
Dean Tippett January 09, 2013 at 06:45 AM
Unable to add a comment right after FIFAs comment. Who is FIFA? It is suspect when you don't use your real name. Are you niave? Do you think Mr. Quirk did not really know what was going on? Three checks for $2,500 just happened to show up and were probably delivered by Mr. Whalen. Did he ask any questions? How did the timing of the donations correspond to the PUD application for the building? More questions remain.
Dean Tippett January 09, 2013 at 06:48 AM
How did you read the Statement of Facts? I tried searching on Google with no luck. Can you post a link or let us know how to find it please.
Chillin January 09, 2013 at 01:17 PM
@Dean Tippett, You can read snippets of these email correspondences between Councilman Quirk and Mr. Whalen in the report at the State Prosecutors website which was provided in and earlier post by a Mr. Paul Dongarra. He apparently urged for this investigation, and good for him for doing so. The website is 'ospmd.org' . Click on 'Press Releases & Official Reports' and then click on the 'Statement of Facts' option near the top of the page surrounding the other documents associated with this case and bearing Whalen's name.
ND Fan January 09, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Please-the article last week in the Sun showed that Tom Quirk has questionable character and poor judgment. Is this truly someone who you want representing you and your families. It's appalling that he is promoted given the coziness of his relationship with a dubious character such as Whalen. No one in Whalen’s position should ever have had that kind of access to Quirk, or any elected official for that matter. Before you label me as a Republican, let me qualify that I am not. I’m a Democrat who voted for and believed in Tom Quirk. I cannot excuse his behavior and the disservice he did to the people who put him in this important position. As an elected official you need to hold yourself to a higher standard. Just because Washington has set the bar really low, doesn’t give him an excuse.
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 01:49 PM
I am FIFA. See my picture? The 'ole "don't use your real name" argument doesn't hold water, let it go. Am I naive? No. You now are having conspiracy theory issues and should see someone about the problem. The prosecutor investigated and could not find anything illegal done by Mr. Quirk. Why don't you apply for a job with the prosecutor's office, maybe you could do better? Dean, the whole system is corrupt! How does that get through to you? Politicians need money to run for office. Politicians ask for money from people who have money. People who have money want something (influence) for it in return. Goes on everyday.
Buck Harmon January 09, 2013 at 02:49 PM
FIFA...silly red face on a ping pong ball....appropriate both ways...) " I am FIFA"...hear me roar...!
Buck Harmon January 09, 2013 at 02:52 PM
I would consider Quirk to be an extremely talented dancer...ethics dancer with the occasional dance of integrity thrown in...a fine financial adviser for sure...
Tony Hammond January 09, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I disagree with ND Fan. As someone who voted for Rebecca Dongarra I've been completely turned off by the sour grapes and negative attention they've brought to Catonsville. They've lost my vote for good. Paul Dongarra seems obsessed with putting up 'personal attack' you tube clips that are silly and a little warped. Me and one of my neighbors were recently talking about how much hate this guy has for Quirk and both think it's not healthy. I went to Quirk's website and was impressed by his 2012 Wrap Up. His legislative accomplishments (which I had no idea about)are impressive and clearly about the environment, promoting walking and biking, sustainable communities and transparency (not an agenda for someone who is in bed with the developers). Do I think Quirk is perfect and didn't make some mistakes? No. Do I think he tries hard to help the community and is a decent person? Yes. People will judge for themselves. Perhaps check out www.councilmantomquirk.com
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Buck, you have disappointed me. I thought you were smarter than that. You don't even know what you are seeing. Get some better glasses. Typo fixed.
ND Fan January 09, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Tony - Any comments Paul Dongarra made related to Tom Quirk had no bearing on my opinion. Really my disgust came from the coziness of the email exchanges between Quirk and Whalen printed in the Sun. Comments from Whalen like "your the boss Tom" really showed me an inappropriate relationship existed between both of them with fairly deep roots. As I stated earlier, it shows poor judgment and character by Tom Quirk to allow someone in Whalen's position that type of access. Shame on him I say.
Tony Hammond January 09, 2013 at 05:13 PM
ND Fan - I guess that is why we have elections. My guess is the Dongarras get beat in any election in the future because they haven't figured out that people reject their negative personal attacks and smear tactics. It's really sad because I thought Rebecca was above this type of thing and am disappointed with her and her husband (does she really think her husband is helping her chances??). ND is entitled to his or her opinion but I think the vast majority of people know that Quirk is a decent person who is doing a good job and trying everyday to help the community. I see this and I'm sure a lot of people do. No one is perfect.
Dean Tippett January 09, 2013 at 05:55 PM
All this reminds me: How many politicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: Just one to hold the lightbulb and wait for the world to revolve around them. Something that could be said about a lot of people, as well. Stay healthy, safe and honest!
Chillin January 09, 2013 at 09:22 PM
@FIFI, I'll take a stab at guessing what your icon photo is. Is the volleyball a close cousin to Tom Hanks companion "Wilson" from castaway. No attacks or innuendo's intended. Just taking the guess at the challenge that reader Buck missed.
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 09:25 PM
You are absolutely the winner. I take no offense at all.Thus the humor in the name FIFA, the international soccer organization (the balls look similar). The photo was copied (oops) from a google search of "wilson". As you see, it is not a ping pong (table tennis to be accurate) ball.
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 09:27 PM
PS - FIFA not FIFI.
Dean Tippett January 09, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Hey FIFA! You know you cab't revoke my right to vote just because I disagree with you and your silly statements. I read the statement of facts ans it sure seems that Mr, Quirk had to know what was going on. If he was suspicious as he should have been then he could have called the "donors" up and ask how it came to be that Mr. Whalen had their three identical checks, He knew what Mr. Whalen was vying for and did submit the PUD soon after those checks.
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Dean, a sad thing about our democracy, regardless of one's literacy, you get a vote. Founders might have had it right?
Chillin January 09, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Hooray for me. I always get the answers correct when they have no prize attached.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT January 10, 2013 at 01:19 AM
The Baltimore County Council elects the person who best represents their morals and ethics as their Chairman. Tom Quirk, with his signature legislation of transgender rights and more speed cameras under his belt and fresh from his main contributor and supporter admitting to fraudulent campaign contributions has been elected Chairman of the Council. Did the County Council watch the "stop snichin" video before they confirmed Mr. Quirk?

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