Corporate Welfare

Making Green Sausage

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The Baltimore Sun's Rona Kobell explains how Maryland's open space preservation program works in practice:

[David] Sutherland's push to secure state funding for the Kudner farm prompted an outcry when it became public over the summer, particularly because of the high price he demanded for a relatively small piece of the farm. But a closer look at the deal reveals problems beyond the price.

It shows how a well-connected deal-maker seized upon a fleeting state interest in building sports complexes to persuade the government to buy his property. He persuaded county commissioners that they could put such a complex on a couple of hundred acres of land that mostly cannot be developed. And when that plan fell apart, state officials went ahead and bought the parcel anyhow.

For the details, go here.

(Full disclosure: Rona's my wife. As long as I'm promoting her work, I should mention that she is now among the contributors to her paper's Bay & Environment blog, where she writes about the Chesapeake Bay. If you're interested in the region you should check out her posts.)

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  1. Whats next, a news story on your kids’ baby pictures?

    jk good post.

  2. What what what? A law passed ostensibly to prevent greedy developers from ruining the neighborhood, is being used as a tool of corruption by greedy speculators? I for one am shocked and outraged.

  3. solid as usual, Jesse!

    thanks for the heads up on Rona’s work!

  4. …Walker’s just a shill for big Rona

  5. heinushut,

    Did you just call Jesse’s wife fat? He oughta beat you with a garden hose.

  6. http://omalleywatch.com/?p=148

    I am glad that The Sun is finally getting around to reporting on this.

  7. Politicians can’t be trusted not to utilize programs like this for political purposes, whether of the ideological or buddy-buddy variety.

    There need to be firewalls created in the enabling bill to shield the decision-making process from political interference, or this is what you get.

  8. Jesse’s “full disclosure” isnt close to the tantalizing effect of Ronald Bailey’s perpetual partial disclosures. It’s like harvey keitel in The Piano vs. good B-movie boobs.

  9. I am glad that The Sun is finally getting around to reporting on this.

    The Sun broke the original story, actually, and this particular article has been in the works for a couple months.

  10. joe,
    If by firewalls you mean walls of burning flame built around legislators’ offices, then I can get on board with that proposal.

  11. If by firewalls you mean walls of burning flame built around legislators’ offices, then I can get on board with that proposal.

    Only if their offices are made of non-treated balsa wood.

    And they’re tied to their chairs.

    And I get to film it…

  12. Mr. Walker,

    I believe TNR has already set the standard for disclosing when staff members are related to each other. That would be by firing the person who discloses the relationship, right before the magazine discloses it.

    Ooops, premature there, your lovely wife does NOT work for reason.

    Carry on and very good work by you both 🙂

  13. Politicians can’t be trusted not to utilize programs like this for political purposes, whether of the ideological or buddy-buddy variety.

    Wichya so far, joe!

    There need to be firewalls created in the enabling bill to shield the decision-making process from political interference, or this is what you get.

    Would those be firewalls enacted by the politicians? Are you perhaps familiar with a certain parable involving a fox and the chicken coop?

    Why not draw the obvious conclusion that, since programs like this will inevitably be used to some degree or other for corrupt purposes, we should do without them except in the most dire emergencies?

  14. Making Green Sausage

    Easy enough.

    Buy sausage. Put in fridge. Come back 2 months later. I do it all the time.

  15. and then he plays “hide the green sausage”

    [runs off]

  16. The Censor could manage such firewalls, if we just can’t roll back government to its Constitutional limits (as Mr. Dean rightfully suggests is the real solution to the problem).

    Hold on, let me get my toga.

  17. Check your state‘s constitution, and you may find that gov’t is well within those limits.

    Anyway, what’s the solution for this agency? The article implies that it would be less corrupt if it went out seeking land instead of responding to offers, but to me that seems even more corrupting.

  18. I just want to know, from the streetcar blog entry if “Reader Jesse” who argued the point on “GM conspiracy” is actually an undisclosed Mr. Walker.
    If so, where is the fair-shake bounce-back to editorial contributions here in the hallowed halls of reason? And further-more, why not just hash that out over dinner?

  19. Politicians can’t be trusted not to utilize programs like this for political purposes, whether of the ideological or buddy-buddy variety.

    There need to be firewalls created in the enabling bill to shield the decision-making process from political interference, or this is what you get.

    Ummm, no, joe, if you were a libertarian you would understand that we need to completely prohibit government from taking taxes from us to convert private property into a greenspace commons, since certain special interest groups in effect become the “owners” of that commons without paying for it. It’s two kinds of theft / coercion, and that generally ends badly.

    If those special interest groups want the greenspace so much, they can spend their own bloody money to acquire the property from the owner, rather than using the government to coerce taxes and then coerce a sale, and then bribe give campaign contributions to politicians to write laws that give them preferential or even exclusive use of this property.

  20. why not just hash that out over dinner?

    Because I’m married to only one of the bloggers there, and she didn’t write that post.

  21. I didn’t even know you were married Mr. Walker. Then again I really don’t know very much about any of the editors here.

  22. OK joe, lets have some full disclosure on your part. Admit it, you are looking for more work as “firewall guy”. Come on now, fess up!

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