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

Thursday, May 07, 2009

CHAP Hearing on The Senator on Tuesday, May 12th

The rescheduled controversial CHAP hearing on The Senator Theatre is now scheduled for 2:00 pm on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at Department of Planning, 8th floor Phoebe Stanton Conference Room. That's at 417 E. Fayette Street in Baltimore. I'm sure the CHAP board will be happy to know that I personally canceled a planned trip to California in part so I could attend the meeting.

To briefly recap what I've written here about this, I've learned there is a powerful CHAP commissioner who is driving this process to slap unprecedented red tape on the interior of The Senator building. This government intrusion into private property has already scared away investors in The Senator, and with the timing being so close to a probably auction of the theatre, seems designed to scare away bidders. Note that when the bank auction was canceled and the city postponed the auction of the theatre, the CHAP hearing was postponed right along with it. Apparently the scare factor packs more punch if it's close to the time of the auction. (We don't know when the city's auction will take place, but I'm guessing within a month or so.)

Some of the CHAP commissioners have conflicts of interest in this, since they have either personally expressed interest in possibly acquiring The Senator or are tightly personally connected to people who have. One of the commissioners, Buzz Cusack, the owner of the Charles Theatre, recused himself from the meetings after Tom Harris and I pointed out his conflict of interest. For the record, I will say I don't personally believe Mr. Cusack is the person driving this shady maneuver by city government, but he did have a conflict of interest and was right to recuse himself.

I'm not going to go too much into my current thinking on this issue here. That would spoil the surprise. I hope people who are concerned about the future of The Senator and these shady city government dealings will show up to the hearing.

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