Tuesday • July 7, 2020
“Save Our Sun” or “Help Special Interests Own & Leverage Our Sun”?
By Steven Keller
Have you heard about the ‘Save Our Sun’ campaign? Local ownership…reinvesting profit….sounds like a noble cause, right? At face value, this sounds fantastic.
However, as the parties involved in this prospective deal become clearer, serious red flags have appeared that call into question the benevolence of this movement and whether there is a much more self-serving “long game” being played here by select parties that may be harmful to both HCPSS as well as Howard County as a whole.
The ‘Save Our Sun’ committee recently announced the selection of a local Howard County land-use attorney to serve as General Counsel for the ‘Save Our Sun’ campaign. This counsel will likely attempt to negotiate a potential deal to buy the Baltimore Sun from Tribune Publishing.
Still seem innocuous? Here are a few more details:
One vocal member of the ‘Save Our Sun’ committee also leads KO Public Affairs (detailed & critiqued in this Baltimore Sun article) & Center Maryland (an online news & social media company with strong ties to local HoCo developers & partisan political entities, among other special interests) and is a lobbyist for one of Howard County’s largest developers, The Howard Hughes Corporation (THHC).
The person hired as General Counsel to negotiate this ‘Save the Sun’ purchase is a land-use attorney with ties to THHC as well as many other housing & zoning initiatives across the county, is a lobbyist to the Howard County government for three separate entities, and was a member of County Executive Calvin Ball’s election transition team.
Another member of the ‘Save Our Sun’ committee is both a founding partner of KO Public Affairs and was also formerly a senior aide to Martin O’Malley
Yet another member of the ‘Save Our Sun’ committee is both a founding partner of KO Public Affairs and was also formerly a senior aide to Martin O’Malley
How might handing local control of the Baltimore Sun to these parties negatively affect HCPSS and Howard County in general?
Here’s some suggested summer reading and starting points for your own independent research:
- Developer Influences on HCPSS School Redistricting & the HCPSS School Overcrowding Crisis
- Sweetheart Land Deals, Political Lobbyists, School Redistricting and BOE Elections
- The Banana Republic of Maryland
- Bootleggers, Baptists, and Howard County’s School Redistricting
With the above in mind, the parallels to this scene from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life become clearer. In this scene, a self-serving, ruthless banker seizes the opportunity of a crisis to “save” local banks & businesses and effectively obtain ownership control of them: