Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

HoCo Board of Public Works

Posted by David Keelan on Thursday, October 18, 2007

What?  Didn’t know we had one?  I don’t mean the Department of Public Works or the Public Works Board either.

The Maryland State Board of Public Works consists of the Governor, the Comptroller, and the Treasurer. 

In order to protect and enhance the State’s fiscal integrity, the Board of Public Works ensures that significant State expenditures are necessary and appropriate, fiscally responsible, fair, and lawful.

Apparently Howard County has a Board of Public works modeled after that of the State except it consists of one member – Ken Ulman.  Their web site is here

Ken was the “Director of the Board of Public Works” so he knows how things are done.

According to the Howard County Times Mr. Ulman decided, all by his lonesome:

…to buy a floor in a proposed Columbia office building for $4 million…

County Councilman Greg Fox obviously thought that is was odd that the Executive would by pass the County Council on such a large sum of money so he asked the question and received an answer.

…an Oct. 15 opinion … from the county Office of Law states that the purchase must be added to the county’s budget through the approval of the County Council.

Mr. Ulman’s response:

Ulman, a Democrat, said this week that he did not originally believe it necessary to amend the budget to spend the $4 million on the project, but added that he would send such an amendment to the council soon.

Well Mr. Ulman must think he can spend County money anyway he chooses.  Seriously, why would he not want to run this by the County Council or even his own legal advisors?  He served on the County Council – he fully understands the role and responsibilities of the County Council.  Yet…

To boot why would he not want a public hearing on the matter?  It is the law after all.  Wasn’t it Ken who wanted more transparancy in County Government?

Thankfully Mr. Fox forced the point and County Council will now be able to ask, why the County needs this particular piece of yet to be constructed property?

Peter Khalaf, a spokesman with the building’s developer, the Baltimore-based MetroVentures/USA Inc….expects to break ground on the project in October or November and finish it by fall 2008, Khalaf said.

I would like to know why the County can not use currently available office space.   Would it have anything to do with the fact that MetroVentures/USA Inc. contributed $3,000.00 to Ken Ulman’s campaign for County Executive?  Just asking. 

Perhaps this is a question best left for the Howard County Board of Public Works. 

I am sure that their are other developers in the County that Mr. Ulman could have done business with and many of them contributed to his campaign.  However, this just looks bad.  Trying to spend $4M of the County’s money with a large campaign contributor without vetting it through the County Council is simply questionable and a tad arrogant.

When a similiar situation came up – relative to campaign contributions and alleged favors – there were a lot of comments.  Check it out.

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6 Responses to “HoCo Board of Public Works”

  1. observer said

    David, please find out how much square footage he was going to buy with this money and then compare it to other space available on an economic basis. this will show you just how great of a value this deal would have been for the county.
    Does this mean that all of the large sums of money that the county spent developing it’s campus site behind the rite aid on Rogers Ave. will be just flushed down the toilet?

  2. It appears as though the space is 20,000 square feet. I don’t know for sure. At $4M then it comes out to $200 per square foot.

  3. cynthia vaillancourt said

    Even if it is the deal of the century – surely the council should have participation.

    cv

  4. According to The Sun it is only 15,000 square feet of office space and not 20,000 square feet. That would make the price $266.00 per square foot which is above market price.

  5. another deception by ken said

    Ken never fails to amaze. This was a blatant attempt to avoid procurement laws and reward his buddies. He should step down.

    At least he can now honestly say he was in charge of A Board of Public Works.

    He takes credit for everything and blame for nothing. It’s scary!

  6. luteragzfer said

    Mike Mossberg, I know you reading this forum, please contact me, because I can’t find your contact details.

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