Merchant Group: Almond Should Recuse herself on Solo Cup

The Garrison Forest Reisterstown Road Merchants' Coalition calls on councilwoman to explain her relationship with developer, release documents or not vote on Solo Cup rezoning Tuesday.

A merchants' association is calling on Councilwoman Vicki Almond to explain her relationship with the developer of the proposed Foundry Row project before Tuesday or recuse herself from voting on rezoning the Solo Cup property in Owings Mills.

The Garrison Forest—Reisterstown Road Corridor Merchants' Coalition released the statement Sunday through Otis Rolley, an adviser to the group and former candidate for Baltimore mayor.

In the statement, Rolley cited concerns about Almond's relationship with developer Greenberg Gibbons and former County Executive Jim Smith, who represents the 400,000 mixed use project proposed for Owings Mills.

The group has previously opposed the Foundry Row project.

Rolley repeated allegations made last week by Shirely Supik and the Say No to Solo Coalition that Almond and her staff attended a retail convention this spring registered as employees of Greenberg Gibbons.

“If the allegations are false, we cannot imagine why Councilwoman Almond did not immediately stand up and say so, and immediately release the requested documents," said Rolley in the merchants' statement. "In our experience, that is the typical response we have seen from politicians who have done nothing wrong. Given the uncertainty, the only appropriate action from Councilwoman Almond on Tuesday is for her to publicly recuse herself from the vote.”

Supik, in an interview last week, backing up her claims but declined to release it. Instead, she said the proof of her allegations would be found in the response to a filed for emails, text messages, calendars and other documents.

The group has also regarding the source of its own funding.

Almond, whose district includes the Solo Cup site, is expected to vote on the new zoning for the property as part of the council's Comprehensive Zoning Map Process that concludes Tuesday night.

“Several members of the County Council who have indicated they are likely to support the Solo Cup rezoning request say that their primary reason for doing so is because Councilwoman Almond supports the request," said Rolley in the statement. "They say that they respect her right – as the Councilwoman who represents the area – to make zoning decisions, as a matter of so-called Councilmanic Courtesy. If Councilwoman Almond’s support for the project is ethically tainted, then that taint would spillover to the support of any members of the County Council who vote with her under the notion councilmanic Courtesy.”

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Jill Dudley Cohen August 28, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Vicki Almond is a very smart woman and informed representative. To accuse her of being a crooked politician makes me angry. Vicki has always put community first and her own needs second. She works constantly and this mud-slinging is absurd. I have no ties to politics or these projects.
KW August 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Interesting. Ms. Almond should recuse herself because someone made unsubstantiated allegations against her? I am glad you were not elected Mayor, Mr. Rolley. Ms. Almond is working within the guidelines set forth for these types of requests. It is irresponsible for Mr. Rolley to insinuate that Ms. Almond has behaved unethically because she is working within those guidelines. Presumably, the guidelines are in place for a reason. Really now, this request was made only one week ago. I don't think it is reasonable to expect Ms. Almond to focus on this request to the exclusion of other business.
Brenda Soskin August 28, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Ms. Almond represents this community and her vote is my vote. To deny this based upon unsubstantiated claims is to deny me my vote.
moe green August 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM
pay no attention the man behind the curtain. in this case jim smith.
Charles Kane August 28, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Based on your logic, then, all County Council people should recuse themselves from all zoning matters, because they all get support from real estate developers. Where is your outrage that Ken Oliver, who got plenty of support from Howard Brown and his partners, introduced legislation that would give Brown almost a free hand to develop his Metro Centre without having to meet the development guidelines and regulations that all other developers would have to meet (including improving the traffic problems less than 1/2 mile away at the intersection of Painters Mill Rd and Reisterstown Rd. Shouldn't Mr. Oliver have recused himself from that piece of legislation? While we're at it, why does Howard Brown get to build 6 million square feet without doing any improvements to the closest State Highway Intersection (Reisterstown Road)? Certainly his project of 6 MILLION square feet will generate more traffic than the Foundry Row's 400,000. Where is Ms. Supik's outrage at that? It only makes it more obvious that the objection is based on competition, and not real concern for the community.


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