As the continues to follow the plight of the RG Steel bankruptcy, little was written about Baltimore County’s $4.5 million investment in the facility.
The Baltimore Business Journal, in an article published May 31, reported the company's creditors and the amount owed to each.
One of the notable creditors listed was Baltimore County which is on the hook for $4.5 million, the largest amount owed by the steel company to a local creditor.
I contacted Ellen Kobler, from the county’s Office of Communications, regarding the status of the money and what it was for. Citing pending litigation, she declined comment.
Being in that position I would have also stood by the "mum is the word" philosophy.
Now here is the interesting part which we lay folk refer to as damage control. Numerous news accounts refer to a host of reasons for the closing of the plant, including the economy and bad management, among others.
In my opinion, the one issue left out of the equation is planning. How so, you may ask? Consider the following quote from a June 4 Baltimore Sun editorial about Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s decision to create the Sparrows Point Partnership, a task force to study the growth potential of the Post of Baltimore:
“Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's announcement last week that he is creating a Sparrows Point Partnership, a 16-member committee of business leaders to advise the county on how best to take advantage of this opportunity, is welcome. In announcing the advisory group, he boasted of the site's many assets — including access to the port and Interstate 695, two commercial rail lines and the largest ship graving dock on the East Coast.”
Is this good planning on the executive's part or, does he have the cart before the horse as written in that same Sun editorial:
“What he did not mention, however, is that another reality of Sparrows Point is that a century of steelmaking has left much of the property badly polluted with toxic materials. It's a problem that was ignored and allowed to worsen for too long.
"So while we applaud the county's efforts, we would humbly recommend that the partnership be expanded to include members with expertise in brownfields and environmental contamination, as well as representatives of the local communities. Their expertise and opinion would no doubt prove valuable in any discussion of the property's future.”
This brings us back to the $4.5 million dollar question. What was the plan in acquiring this debt? My best guess would be to keep the mill running by granting certain tax breaks thus maintaining not only the governor's efforts to keep RG Steel open by seeking a line of additional credit, but also standing by party leadership.
I prefer the word propaganda; it has a little more truth to it.
My question is why didn't the soothsayers do their due diligence when many of workers at the plant knew how this sad and unfortunate story would end?
If this was such a good investment, how much did the governor and the county exexcutive personally lend them? Politicians make easy decisions when it's not their money.
My response is leadership, leadership, leadership! That’s my answer.