Did Maryland’s congressional delegation refuse to address a situation brought forth by multiple requests of area residents?
According to documents, emails and letters obtained by this Examiner, sent to higher authorities in regards to the possible conflicts of interest and corruption being alleged in three different agencies surrounding Baltimore’s Housing Authority; though members of the Maryland congressional delegation were copied on these emails alleging such corruption, neither ever followed up on such requests, the ranking Republican member of the United States Senate’s Judiciary Committee has. Senator Charles E. Grassley, one of the Senate’s most aggressive federal agency watchdogs, has recently requested documents pertaining to Baltimore’s public housing agency, along with the Department of Housing and Community Development and the highly criticized quasi-public agency known as the Baltimore Development Corporation – which is the financial arm of the housing agency and city government.
The letter sent by the Iowa Senator to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the housing authorities from all around the country, while directing millions of dollars to the City of Baltimore for urban renewal and housing programs; requested detailed billing records and legal services, especially pertaining to years of outside legal fees paid ($4-million) while also addressing why the authority has since refused to pay the funds owed ($12-million) in a court-ordered judgment, to former public housing residents who were illegally exposed to lead paint poisoning. In a detailed letter, specifically aimed at answering questions that raised the eyebrows of many both in Baltimore, as well as those Senator’s sitting on the Judiciary’s Oversight Committee; Sen. Grassley asks questions such as ‘Why the housing authority is now “one entity” with the city housing department?’ and ‘Did HUD approve this?’ It also states as to the Department providing detailed information as to how they spent $67 million in federal stimulus funds, as well as providing the names and detailed payments made to the outside law firms contracted to represent the city during many of these lead-paint cases – as a previous Baltimore Sun article stated that $228,000 was paid out to these firms between May and June alone?
“It seems as though someone got caught with their hand(s) in the cookie jar,” said GCOMM Media Co. political analyst Shaun Louis. “I’m astonished that the entire state delegation – made up of eight congressional representatives and two state senators – seem to know about these many in-depth and serious allegations yet chose to ignore such?” Which is what should really be examined, as while the majority of the delegation is Democrats who would not want such an investigation to exist and make their golden girl city administrator to look bad; two of the representatives are Republicans [Congressman Andy Harris (1st) and Roscoe Bartlett (6th)], who would seemingly be pleased to pick up such alleged abuse? “According to the documents sent to us both Hassan, they would seemingly prove that the ENTIRE delegation knew the same exact information provided to Senator Grassley, therefore there is NO excuse as to why these members were not at least willingly to assist the Senator’s efforts, or sign onto the letter submitted to the HUD Secretary,” questioned Louis.
Multiple attempts to contact each representative went unanswered, however according to close sources within the Senator’s office and the national Republican Party, its been said that ‘both the GOP members from Maryland were quiet effective in showing their disdain for such a practice, and were willing to take the back road in supporting Senator Grassley’s office in any way necessary?’ Yet the allegations made should now be examined thoroughly, from not only the Maryland delegation but also the Mayor’s Office, who apparently has put out a strong statement regarding possible wrongdoing being found. Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said the Mayor “very much encourages Senator Grassley to share and disclose any specific allegations of wrongdoing so that they can be fully investigated immediately.”
However, not everybody is so sure about this early tough talk? “It’s ridiculous that now these officials want to act as if this is some sort of surprise; however everyone in this city, especially those in the black community utilizing these HUD dollars, have know for years that [Paul] Graziano is a do-nothing drunk who should never have been allowed to obtain the lead position at both of these agencies, making more money than the Mayor without doing nowhere near the amount of work as our city’s chief executive,” said community leader Bill Friendly, who has previously fought against the housing mess during past administrations, with no resolution forcing him to move to Baltimore County. “This situation was dropped on the doorstep of Mayor Rawlings-Blake, as Graziano is O’Malley’s mess,” stated Friendly. Paul Graziano, the Director of Baltimore’s Housing Authority as well as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, was brought in by former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley; who came to Graziano’s aide years ago when Graziano was arrested for public intoxication and disturbing the peace charges – in which then Mayor O’Malley reportedly went in to the city’s Central Booking and Intake Facility to personally get the Housing Authority director released from incarceration.
This on-going investigation will most certainly make people aware of what has been going on over there in the City’s Housing Department(s), as well as possibly opening the window to the most criticized, and possibly corrupt, quasi-public agency known as the BDC. Below are some other bullet points made in the letter sent by Senator Grassley to HUD in regards to this inquiry:
•Provide documentation outlining steps federal officials took after a critical 2008 audit found numerous housing violations in residential units leased by the Baltimore authority for tenants.
•Provide names and financial reports for the housing authority’s nonprofit affiliates, including lists of officers and employees, their yearly salaries and compensation, and any conflict of interest statements submitted to HUD.
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