Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:00 am
Should it be mandatory that everyone profiting from the Basell purchase (Bill No. 2013-09) be disclosed?
When it comes to taxpayers’ dollars, transparency is always a good policy.
In response to my request for disclosure, Obrecht Properties stated: “Appleton Road Business Trust”, is limited to, and comprised exclusively of, principals and employees of Obrecht Properties, LLC and Blue & Obrecht Realty, LLC, as well as a Baltimore physician/real estate investor. No names were provided.
Purchased in May 2013 for $5 million by Appleton Road Business Trust LLC, County Executive Tari Moore and the Cecil County Public School system is now offering $4.2 million above their purchase price, which includes a one year lease of $800,000 to allow the sellers to avoid a capital gains tax. That’s over 60-percent profit for owning the property for just 90 days.
The LLC paperwork was completed by Lawrence Haislip and it should be noted that while Obrecht Properties has other LLCs, this is the only one in which Mr. Haislip submitted the paperwork. Mr. Haislip is also the attorney who negotiated the Artesian deal for Cecil County, a campaign contributor to Cecil County Council President Robert Hodge and retained by Cecil County for the lawsuit against the Town of North East challenging its out-of-town water rates after Hodge was elected.
I questioned the motivation for the North East lawsuit as well as emphatic claims by Haislip and Hodge that the case would be a slam dunk win for the county. It wasn’t and the county and Town of North East lost close to $1 million. I questioned why Hodge didn’t recuse himself since he had properties that were affected by the North East water rates. I’ve also questioned the $4 million road infrastructure overhaul, the $30 million Seneca Point Wastewater Treatment Plant GE Zenon System, and a capital project to lay sewer infrastructure and all would benefit his properties.
In my opinion, Hodge has been using Cecil County as his own personal piggy bank. Moore was his political consultant, when she then owned Moore Strategies, when he was running for office in 2006. She recently requested a bill to be introduced increasing our long term debt by 50 percent. The $70 million bond (Bill No. 2013-10) would include funding for the Basell and GE Zenon purchases. As expected, council members Hodge, Alan McCarthy and Joyce Bowlsbey have no problem with this bill and will probably support it.
The magnitude of this borrowing is unprecedented, irresponsible and does not represent the platform that Moore, Hodge, McCarthy and Moore-appointed Bowlsbey claimed to support. Fiscal irresponsibility is one thing, but taxpayers have the right to know if back-room deals are being made. Maryland Campaign Finance laws mandate that elected officials file personal financial disclosures for the public’s review. These disclosure statements for each of the council members can be viewed on my website at www.dianabroomell.com.
Demanding transparency keeps everyone honest. Councilwoman Bowlsbey stated she would support disclosing the members of the Appleton Road Business Trust LLC only if 10,000 citizens requested. If they have nothing to hide, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Diana Broomell is the District 4 representative to the Cecil County Council