It has been difficult to contain our outrage over Mayor Cohen’s high-end fundraiser hosted by Crystal Spring Farm developer Alan Hyatt.
Cohen has said he will let city officials do their job when it comes to Crystal Spring. Does he think we are all naive? Most decisions in government, as in private business, are made behind closed doors.
Should we believe Cohen is not trying to please Hyatt behind the scenes, given that Hyatt is going out of his way to host a $1,000 per head fundraiser? Are we also to believe that the mayor is not in any way pressuring his public servants to give the Crystal Spring developers what they want?
While not necessarily illegal, there are many ethical questions this event raises. First, how is it acceptable that such a close relationship between an Annapolis elected official and a major developer exists? Is it moral for a private individual to bankroll an elected official to such a degree? Shouldn’t we have a system that puts constraints on such influence?
Crystal Spring is not in the public’s interest. Hyatt has a huge private stake in Crystal Spring that could very easily create a tempting, perverse incentive for the mayor. His campaign is being financed by this private stakeholder, even as city officials make decisions on Hyatt’s project. Is Cohen immune from such temptation? What assurances do we have that he is?
We don’t want to have to question the mayor’s integrity and potential conflict of interest. But after the mayor gave Hyatt extended air time during the Oct. 14 City Council meeting while limiting other members of the public to three minutes, we feel it is appropriate to raise these questions.