On Friday, February 17, 2017 Fort Howard Community Association received a phone call from the East County Times as seen in the caller ID photo.
posing three questions related to a demonstration of support for our veterans well-being and the well-being of Fort Howard residents :
- Why were people picketing in front of the Balco Club in Fort Howard, Maryland the previous night, Thursday February 16, 2017.
- Why Fort Howard Community Association members including Mr. Pappas not attend the meeting.
- What was Edgemere community association North Point Peninsula Council member Fran Taylor’s involvement in the Balco Club meeting.
On the following Monday, February 20, 2017 the East County Times was issued the following FHCA written response:
Feb 20 (13 days ago)
Thank you for interest in FHCA affairs.
To follow up on last weeks phone call-
FHCA was demonstrating affirmation of Mr. Crandell’s long held position and campaign promise Fort Howard development will be limited and comparable to the existing community of Fort Howard and it must be Veterans only at all cost.
Secondly, Himmelrich Associates involvement with the EUL is not recognized by the Veterans Administration, therefore FHCA saw no basis or benefit taxing the limited time of our membership with exploratory and focus group meetings of this nature.
Again, thank you for your interest.
The FOIA response referenced above to the East County Times from the Veterans Administration follows:
From: Emery, Kelli
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 1:01 PM
To: ‘Kathleen Labuda’
Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] Contingent Contract with Sam Himmelrich
Please accept this email as your official FOIA response to the FOIA below in which you requested any contract between VA and Sam Himmelrich. No records exist. As for your follow up on your other pending FOIA requests I have sent you an email to clarify what is still pending. I will look to see what info I have received and try to get you a response as soon as possible.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Emery, Kelli <Kelli.Emery@va.gov>
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 3:56 PM
Subject: FOIA request dated 12/31/2016 updated 2/14/17 17-05493-F
To: “Kathleen Labuda (email@example.com)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This email will serve as your official FOIA response to FOIA request dated 12/31/2016 and updated request dated 2/14/17 in which you requested the following:
- Copies of any and all amendments to the EUL dated June 26, 2014 to present (2/14/17)
- Copies of any and all updates or changes made to the existing Programmatic Agreement that was signed on or after April 11, 2013 to present
- Copies of misc. side agreements, memorandums that were issued on or after June 12, 2014 to present (2/14/17)
- Copies of any correspondence, recordings, legal documents, plans, agreements, contracts, maps, studies, statistics, consultations, reports, recommendations, grants, grant guidance, cfda or other records and documentation pertaining to documents 1-3.
We have assigned FOIA Tracking Number 17-05493-F to your request. Please refer to it whenever communicating with VA about your request.
In regard to #’s 1, 2 and 3 above there are no agency records. With regard to #4 a total of 46 pages have been withheld in their entirety under the deliberative process privilege, under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5). The deliberative process privilege protects the decision-making process of government agencies. The deliberative process privilege protects materials that are both pre-decisional and deliberative. The materials that have been withheld under the deliberative process privilege of Exemption 5 are both pre-decisional and deliberative
Your request was processed by the undersigned. You may appeal the determination made in this response to:
General Counsel (025)
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20420
If you should choose to make an appeal, your appeal must be postmarked no later than sixty (60) calendar days after the date of the adverse determination. It must clearly identify the determination being appealed and must include any assigned request number.
The appeal should include:
- The name of the FOIA Officer
- The address of the component
- The date of the component’s determination, if any
- The precise subject matter of the appeal
If you choose to appeal only a portion of the determination, you must specify which part of the determination you are appealing.
The appeal should include a copy of the request and VA’s response, if any. The appeal should be marked “Freedom of Information Act Appeal”.
Office of Asset Enterprise Management (044)
Investment and Enterprise Development Service (044C)
Addressing the third question posed by the East County Times.
The East County Times asked FHCA knowledge of rumors Edgemere’s community group, North Point Peninsula Council, having played part in the Balco Club meeting, focusing particularly on the civic organization’s current president, Mr. Francis Taylor.
Although at the time of the conversation it was agreed by both FHCA and the East County Times the third inquiry was unofficial and “off the record,” some of the subject matter exchanged did appear in the Times editorial published on February 22, 2017.
The board of the Fort Howard Community Associations cannot speak to the East County Times less than honorable behavior but can respond to their interpretations and to add many points omitted in their editorial.
-East County Times was advised by Fort Howard Community Association that it was informed by at least one member of the FHCA that Mr. Taylor had called recruiting him/her to attend the Balco Club meeting;
-That at least one member of FHCA was requested to attend the meeting by some one other than Mr. Taylor and was asked specifically not to inform FHCA officers Mrs. Labuda and Mr. Pappas;
-And that at least one member of FHCA was recruited by Pete Christensen to attend the Balco Club meeting reference above.
-Based on FHCA members being recruited to attended the rumored Balco Club meeting Mr. Fred Hauck, Balco Club President was contacted in Florida by phone approximately 10 day prior to the Balco’s February 16th, 2017 meeting.
-Mr. Hauck denied any knowledge of the meeting adding that “as president of the club you would think I would be told.”
-Upon Mr. Hauck’s denial of the meeting, no further inquiry was made by FHCA as to the legitimacy of the Balco Club meeting rumor.
East County Time Editorial Incongruencies
Although the board of the Fort Howard Community Association takes exception to the tone, the multitude of material omissions, and the general unprofessional quality of the editorial, the fact the East County Times employees reporters of varying professional standards and journalist capabilities has been considered.
-East County Time editorial stated “Developer Sam Himmelrich held a community meeting with Fort Howard residents on Thursday, Feb. 16, to discuss his plan for developing the former veterans hospital property owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”
However, Himmelrich Associates in reality is merely a “potential ,” stakeholder in the project like Cignal Corp. when Cignal Corp. announced their “owner ship,” of the VA property at the following SAVE FORT HOWARD meeting held last July 2016 that generated unnecessary anxiety and apprehension among veterans, veterans family members, and Fort Howard Community residents.
With no credible documentation from Himmelrich Associates and in light of the VA FOIA stating Fort Howard Development is the sole tenant of the VA property, FHCA decided the most responsible course of action was to avoid a replay of the July 2016 SAVE FORT HOWARD meeting , at least until the VA verified any changes in the lease between Fort Howard Development, LLC and themselves.
-East County Time editorial stated “Jacob (Himmelrich) said that since the developer was not the one who called the meeting, they left notification up to its organizers. He said Christensen was in charge of inviting members of the community.”
FHCA received a phone call from Mr. Sam Himmelrich of Himmelrich Associates on February 14th, 2017, just two days before the Balco Club meeting as seen in following picture of the caller ID with “Mt. Washington 410-779-1248,” Himmelrich Associates’ phone number.
FHCA’s was unable to reconcile the East County Times claim “Christensen was in charge of inviting members of the community,” and the fact Mr. Sam Himmelrich was in charge of personally inviting Mr. Pappas just two days prior to the meeting concluding there is the appearance people other than Christensen were in charge the “meeting, “orchestration.
-Was everyone called just two days prior to the Balco Club meeting like Mr. Pappas?
-East County Times editorial stated “Further, Pappas questioned (Edgemere, Sparrows Point Recreation Council past President) Christensen’s motives in organizing the meeting, noting that he had planted the hundreds of trees on the Bauer Farm property for Mark Sapperstein’s Shaw’s Discovery project,” but omitted Christensen’s ties to Sapperstien were not documented or sourced but based on hearsay from the late past Edgemere’s North Point Council President Mr. Wujek, to Mr. Pappas during his tenure as North Point Peninsula’s Vice-President and pro-temp President in 2015.
-East County Times editorial omitted the economic benefit of a $5,000.00 payment made to the North Point Council from Shaws Dsicovery developer Mark Sapperstein during the PUD process of that development. The payment was independently confirmed by both the belated Mr. Wujek and Mr. Sapperstien to Mr. Pappas.
-Further, East County Times editorial omitted Shaws Discovery development is 145 town-home on 200 acres in stark disproportionate contrast to Fort Howard Development, LLC’s proposed 400 single homes and three high rise apartment building on less than 95 acres given the historic district within the campus not to mention the road is not sized for handling the additional traffic load from the purposed “Metropolis.”
-The East County Times editorial omitted Mr. Christensen has served as Edgemere, Sparrows Point Recreation Council’s President. Edgemere, Sparrows Point Recreation Council’s received a $100,000 payment in 2016 from the Davis Family Foundation. Davis Family Foundation is the private philanthropy arm of Redwood Capital Investments whose portfolio includes development Trade Point Atlantic, Erickson Living Management, Thompson Gas, Premier (tractor) Trailer Leasing, Tarpon (cell) Towers, Redwood Rail, and Beltway Capital Management.
These payments from developers to both of these civic organization Edgemere, Sparrows Point Recreation Council and North Point Peninsula Council, suggests their awareness of Himmelrich Associates benefactor potential.
-The October 2016 Dundalk Eagle By the People publication of North Point Peninsula Vice President Tim Stadler embracing and approving Himmelrich Associates plan to build 450 single homes and three high rise apartment buildings speaks to the North Point Peninsula’s position.
Mr. Stadler lives in the community of Edgemere, not Fort Howard.
-The February 20th 2017 above email to East County Times clearly answers to the East County Times inquiry and could have been cut and pasted into the editorial thus avoiding emotive and visceral words and phrases like “Boycott,” “Slogans of Opposition,” “”Outrageous,”” and “He stressed as well that the gathering outside was not so much a protest as an affirmation of their support for Crandell’s expressed position,” the editorial resonates.
East County Times editorial omits and avoids the important concerns and questions of the scale of the proposed project and its intended use as written on the federal register by by VA Secretary Eric Shinsecki on October of 2011--FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR VETERANS, (NOT FOR THE BENEFIT OF PRIVATE DEVELOPERS PROFITS).
The following video released by Dundalk TV of the February 16, 2017 Balco Club meeting features the late World War II founding veteran of SAVE FORT HOWARD memorialized raising Old Glory-
noting Mr. Josh Himmlrich personally states in the video “Scott Pappas was invited,” however East County Times editorial states “Christensen was in charge of inviting members of the community,” keeping in mind Mr. Pappas was telephoned by Mr. Sam Himmelrich, not Balco meeting organizer Christensen.
East County Times omitted current Executive Director of SAVE FORT HOWARD, videoed taped here at Dundalk High School last year, was also present that evening at the Balco Club in the sub freezing weather demonstrating his personal and professional SAVE FORT HOWARD’s support of Mr. Crandell’s campaign promise and Mr. Crandell’s June 5, 2015 affirmation of ” NOT ON MY WATCH,” to veterans and residents at Fort Howard, Maryland.
– East County Times editorial omitted Mr. Donnelly is a founding member of Edgemere’s North Point Council, a current North Point Council Board of Director Member, served on the AES LNG Opposition Team, the Sparrows Point Environmental Consent Decree at Sparrows Point, serving for years as environmental counsel having his Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Maryland.
-And East County Times editorial omitted MR. DONNELLY IS A NORTH POINT PENINSULA COUNCIL BOARD MEMBER and EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SAVE FORT HOWARD.
Mr. Donnelly is totally opposed to anything less than veterans only development at Fort Howard, Maryland as he states in his own words in the above video.
FHCA suggest Mr. Donnelly be nominated as President of the North Point Penisual Council this upcoming 2017 Election in November.
-East County Times editorial marginalized the “canary in the mine,” fact that eleven Fort Howard residents living directly across from the Balco Club were surveyed the evening of the Balco Club meeting and ALL eleven Fort Howard residents stated they were not contacted to attend the Balco Club meeting, were unaware of the meeting and its purpose( just like the President of the Balco Club).
-FHCA has suggested Fort Howard residents familiarize themselves with Breaking the Development Logjam (New Strategies for Building Community Support , an excellent short book published by the Urban land Institute providing tactics, techniques and case studies for developers to overcome community opposition to land development that may shed light on possibly why and how the Balco Club meeting was orchestrated with very little attention if any to the residents of Fort Howard attending.
With hindsight being 20/20, one must ask does it appear Himmelrich Associates honestly, genuinely, and sincerely attempted to engage the Fort Howard Community Association and Save fort Howard in meaningful discussion or was the event a failed and botched attempt to create that appearance with a cast of actors from other communities furthering their own interests?
And after reading the East County Times editorial one must ask themselves: Does the tone of this editorial reflect a newspaper editor and newspaper sensitive and supportive to the commitment of the community of Fort Howard, to the commitment of the veterans of SAVE FORT HOWARD, to the commitment of 7th district Councilman Todd Crandell, the Baltimore County Council, the Baltimore County Executive, and to the commitment of Senator Salling, Delegates Long, Metzgar, Grammer, VA Secretary Shinsecki and Fort Howard Development,LLC assuring Fort Howard Campus VA development is Veterans-centic OR does the East County Times editorial ring of “Sympathy for the (potential) Deviloper?? “
“It’s our community, let’s take care of it.”