Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden and Rep. Helen Delich Bentley are strenuously protesting Baltimore City's campaign to move the Health Care Financing Administration downtown from its present site in Woodlawn. Mr. Hayden contends the city is "muddying the waters" by offering a prime two-acre site to a city construction team bidding on the project. He says this amounts to "discrimination against county sites." Mrs. Bentley -- who sits on the subcommittee that overseas government building projects -- has vowed to use her clout to keep the agency in the county.
Is the city wrong in its spirited pursuit of HCFA? We think not. Two years ago, the federal government decided to consolidate its sprawling Woodlawn operation in a single building in downtown Baltimore or in the county. The city, which is finding it increasingly difficult to attract private development dollars, has mounted a full-court press to win the $93 million project. Mr. Hayden and Mrs. Bentley can hardly be faulted for attempting to retain county jobs, but their protests seem a bit shrill. This is hardly the first time the city has offered a competitive development package.
Deals like this one, in fact, helped make the Inner Harbor a reality. Not being prepared to match the Schmoke administration's efforts is understandable, especially in these trying financial times. But crying foul is neither fair nor productive.