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Fraser Smith's Essay: October 18, 2012
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October 18, 2012
Comptroller Joan Pratt’s decision to sue Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake over a new phone system procurement raises any number of questions. WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments in his weekly essay.
You wonder who the real plaintiff is in the suit brought last week by Comptroller Pratt against the Rawlings-Blake Administration. Is in Pratt or Peter Angelos, the Orioles majority owner? Angelos is representing the comptroller without fee.
And there’s history here.
The Angelos’ firm’s lawyer says it’s a good government matter. Pratt accuses the mayor of playing fast and loose with various procedural matters of real importance. Competitive bidding requirements may have been ignored. A city lawyer disagrees, but of course this is what lawsuits are all about.
Still, you wonder who’s driving the bus. The comptroller’s differences with the mayor involve acquisition of a new telephone system in City Hall. It has the earmarks of a turf battle. But turf battles can be important. Pratt alleges rule-skirting will cost the taxpayers’ money. Potential savings were lost.
This is part of the rationale for the Angelos involvement. But the mayor and Angelos have had a few moments of extreme difference. The mayor has faced off against the team owner over rehabilitation of the Superblock in downtown Baltimore. They also disagree about the state’s plan to re-build the state office complex in northwest Baltimore.
Angelos finds fault with the development process because there are thousands of square feet of vacant office space downtown. Why not put the state offices downtown? As with city hall’s phone procurement, he alleges procedural failures. He’s filed law suits in both cases.
At one point the mayor wrote an op-ed article for The Sun, suggesting that Angelos was a brake on progress in the city. What is needed, she said, is more doing and less suing.
But now, even as Angelos basks in the success of his baseball team, there is yet another suit.
Commentaries from WYPR’s Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith are a regular Thursday feature on WYPR. You’re invited to respond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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