Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Clue to the Identity of Mr. X?

If you’ve been following the actions of Baltimore City's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) “Special List” machination the city is using to slap unprecedented, restrictive controls on the interior of The Senator Theatre as it approaches an auction sale, it's becoming pretty obvious that it's an unethical move at best, apparenty intended to inhibit the bidding by anyone who's not a wired up and plugged in city insider. Outside bidders have good reason to be turned off by waiting up to six months for permits to be granted for any interior changes to The Senator beyond routine maintenance.

The buzz around town is that there’s reportedly a powerful prime mover on the CHAP commission who is driving this shady maneuver to manipulate the outcome of the auction. You also might know that The Charles Theatre owner James “Buzz” Cusack sits on the commission and has also stated his intention to bid on The Senator --- a clear conflict of interest. Mr. Cusack recused himself shortly after this blog and the Friends of The Senator Theatre blog highlighted the cozy connection.

So if we are to believe that it's not Cusack pulling the strings of a manipulated, behind-the-scenes ruse through the City Planning Department to drive down the cost of aquiring The Senator, then the question remains, who is the mysterious Mr. X pulling the levers?

The folks who believe that Buzz Cusack should buy The Senator need to know that Buzz Cusack told the Baltimore Business Journal last August that he wants out of the theatre business.

So if Cusack really wants out, why take the leap now to buy The Senator?

Standiford and Cusack took over the Charles in 1994, when it was a single-screen theater. The pair expanded the business in 1999 with $2 million in loans from the city, state and local philanthropic organization the Abell Foundation.

Hmmm…Abell Foundation. Where have we heard that before? Do they have a connection to the CHAP commission?

Oh yeah…Robert "Bob" Embry is the President of the Abell Foundation and also sits on the CHAP commission with Buzz Cusack.

In a 2003 City Paper article about Baltimore development, which interestingly brings up allegations (made by a more daring previous incarnation of the Baltimore Sun) of a “shadow government” operating in concert with developers in this city, Embry is quoted:

Embry himself has labored on many fronts, including education and housing, that are crucial to the city's success, but--as his picture window attests--the central chore of attracting job- and revenue-producing enterprise has never been far from his mind. "If you're running a city," Embry declares, "you want to persuade people to do business in the city."

Call me crazy, but doesn't that grandiose quote sound like Mr. Embry thinks he’s in charge in Baltimore?

Does anyone know if Embry has any close ties with connected real estate developers in Baltimore?

Is there any reason he would have an interest in who owns The Senator Theatre, a key piece of entertainment-oriented real estate sitting smack in the middle of a multi-million dollar redevelopment effort that received over 5 million in city and state grants? Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

Is Embry Mr. X?

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Blogger Allyson said...

I personally know of a time several years ago when Bob Embry was "going around town telling people that Kiefaber just bought an expensive new car so how cuold he really have $$$ problems?" (This statement came from someone close to Embry) NOT TRUE that Kiefaber "just bought a fancy new expensive car." So why would he make a conscious effort to discredit Kiefaber in such a personal and dishonest way??

March 26, 2009


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