In late-January, President Barack Obama, with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley in tow, popped into a Glenarden, MD Costco to discuss raising the Federal Minimum Wage.
O’Malley, a rumored 2016 presidential hopeful, even lead the chant, "Its time to raise the wage! It’s time to raise the wage! It’s time to raise the wage!”
The next day, O’Malley’s appointed Chair of Maryland’s Sustainable Growth Commission, Jon Laria, was throwing a fit because Baltimore City residents have concerns over a large, controversial Walmart project, 25th St. Station, he has been working hard to bring into North Baltimore.
This project has received a controversial waiver for environmental regulations passed in 2007, even though the development was not announced until 2009 and now,in 2014, ground hasn’t even been broken yet.
The Baltimore Brew reports:
The postponement didn’t go over well with attorney Jon M. Laria, who represents the development team.
“More obstruction! Way to go!” he said afterwards, putting on his coat to leave. “Write that down!”
The residents meanwhile, were angry about the characterization, arguing that the developers brought the procedural impediments on themselves by not being more open to neighborhood concerns about traffic, noise impacts and the needs of pedestrians.
The hearing was for a swath of new waivers for the 25th Street Station development, all of which were passed.
The question here is whether or not O’Malley, by appointing someone to the Sustainable Growth Commission who works hard to bring Walmarts to Baltimore, who helps such Walmarts skate regulations everyone else is expected to adhere to, is exercising sound, presidential-quality judgment.
In O’Malley’s own words, “… [the] Sustainable Growth Commission will help leverage Maryland’s position as a national leader in environmental initiatives, while helping Maryland create a sustainable approach to development throughout our State, and building a more sustainable environment for future generations of Marylanders.”
Are environmental waivers for Walmart in Baltimore city really positioning Maryland as a “national leader in environmental development?” Is bringing more Walmarts into Baltimore city an example of “a sustainable approach to development?”
Below is a letter to Baltimore Sun reporter Lorraine Mirabella from Baltimore resident and Bmore Local member, Patrick Smith, asking these very same questions.
Shouldn’t we all be asking these questions? Why aren’t we?
Hi, Ms. Mirabella. You likely saw this Baltimore Brew story about the 25th Street/WalMart meetings.
You can call WalMart a lot of things. But you can’t call them “sustainable.”
So why is a group of developers — represented by Governor O’Malley’s sustainability chair — allowed to steamroll the wishes of a neighborhood by forcing a WalMart onto a Remington neighborhood that has fought against it?
The development company’s lead attorney - Jon M. Laria - was appointed chair of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Sustainable Growth Commission a few years back. Does WalMart count as “sustainable growth?” Certainly there’s no need here to even attempt to document all that’s wrong with WalMart and the chilling effect they have on everything they touch - from their employees to the environment to local economies.
There are no fewer than 18 WalMarts within 21 miles of downtown Baltimore. Adding one more WalMart to the metro area by wedging it into a dense, urban area with an already crumbling infrastructure and traffic-choked streets is the opposite of “sustainable,” no matter who the developer’s attorney is.
It’s time to pull the plug on the Remington WalMart. If there’s anyone involved with the BMore Local movement you’d like to talk with about WalMart or the 25th Street Station goings-on, I’m happy to offer help.
thanks for reading.
- Patrick Smith