BUT WHAT WAS THE ULTIMATE COST?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 26, 2017) — On August 17, The Post & Email submitted to the Baltimore mayor’s office a request for documents pertaining to the removal of Confederate War memorials from the city’s Wyman Park Dell over a two- or three-day period earlier that week.
Prior to the American Civil War, Maryland was a “slave” state located just below the Mason-Dixon line. Following the protests in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resolved to have Confederate statues in the city removed and perhaps relocated to “Confederate cemeteries.”
Since the events in Charlottesville, many citizens have expressed that Confederate war memorials are symbols of “hate” and racism, while others believe they teach American history.
The first of its kind sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser, a dual statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson riding horses stood in Wyman Park since 1948 until its removal in the early-morning hours of August 16. Three other Confederate monuments were removed in Baltimore the same day.
In an update to its entry for “Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee Monument,” Wikipedia reported, “The statue was removed on August 16, 2017, on the order of Baltimore city council following political pressure, but the base still remains. The present location of the monument is unknown and some city council members called for all confederate monuments to be destroyed.”
Pugh’s predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, had organized a commission to study the issue of taking down Confederate statues. According to the commission’s website, Rawlings-Blake’s request to place an explanatory plaque in front of the Jackson-Lee statue was fulfilled in early December 2016 and states, in part, “This Commission concluded that this monument was part of a movement to perpetuate the beliefs of white supremacy, falsify history, and support segregation and racial intimidation.”
On August 15, the website “Baltimore Brew” reported that the City Council voted to “deconstruct” the monuments and that while agreeing with their recommendation, Pugh said the process would “take time.”
Our public information request reads:
Under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA), I am requesting the following public records:
*All contractors’ invoices for the removal of Confederate War statues in Wyman Park in the City of Baltimore on August 14, 15, and 16, 2017.
*Documentation on where the statues will be maintained, whether temporarily or permanently, or showing that they have been destroyed.
*If the monuments were destroyed, contractors’ invoices arising from said destruction.
In all cases, “contractors” refers to non-governmental companies and/or employees of the City of Baltimore or any other municipalities performing the work.
I am willing to pay up to $25 for the documents, although I believe a fee waiver should be applied, as the information contained therein would be of interest to the public and I operate a media organization. I can accept electronic delivery of the records to save copying and postage expenses.
Thank you very much.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
PO Box 113
Canterbury, CT 06331-0113
On Friday, The Post & Email received a response from Benjamin A. Bor, Special Assistant Solicitor, Litigation; Baltimore City Department of Law. His email reads:
In your August 18, 2017 email to the Baltimore City Mayor’s office, below, you requested “[a]ll contractors’ invoices for the removal of Confederate War statues in Wyman Park in the City of Baltimore on August 14, 15, and 16, 2017,” “[d]ocumentation on where the statues will be maintained, whether temporarily or permanently, or showing that they have been destroyed,” and “[i]f the monuments were destroyed, contractors’ invoices arising from said destruction.” The Maryland Public Information Act (“PIA”), Maryland Code, General Provisions (“GP”), Sections 4-101 et seq. governs your request.
This response is on behalf of the Mayor’s Office. There are no responsive documents at this time because the removal services were an emergency procurement via Section 11(e) of Article VI of the Baltimore City Charter. Additionally, the Mayor’s office does not have any records in its custody and control that are responsive to the balance of your request.
Nothing in this response is intended to indicate that records sought from City agencies exist or to waive any privileges held by the Mayor and City Council. You may contest this response by filing a complaint in Circuit Court pursuant to GP section 4-362.
Office: (410) 396-3012
Fax: (410) 547-1025
An article in The Baltimore Sun dated August 14, 2017 reported that “Mayor Catherine Pugh pledged to Monday take down Confederate-era monuments in Baltimore — and said she has asked contractors for estimates on how much it will cost.”
The Post & Email submitted its public information request prior to seeing the aforementioned article.
On Saturday, we sent an email to Bor stating: