Grand Prix: Keep the process open

January 11, 2012

It's hard to argue that more transparency isn't called for in planning for another Baltimore Grand Prix ("Officials mum on Grand Prix selection process," Jan. 10). As Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke points out, "We lost a lot of taxpayers' money," and this taxpayer doesn't want to see that happen again.

I have no doubt that the process being followed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is legal, but that does not ensure that it will be either prudent or responsible.

The mayor should, at a minimum, be willing to tell us how decisions are being made. Are we relying on the same individuals who were unable to see the faults of the original Grand Prix business plan to evaluate plans for future events? Are any independent reviews or outside financial consultants (uninvolved in politics) being used to evaluate proposals before we commit our city's scarce resources to another event? For that matter, has anyone at City Hall been held responsible for the failure of the administration to see and forestall the financial disaster we now know the Labor Day event to be?

The oft-cited (and oft-questioned) justification for continuing the Grand Prix is the theoretical $47 million in "economic impact" calculated by a study commissioned by the administration. After considering the lost taxes, unpaid bills, lost trees, lost city services and disruption to our downtown, I suspect many Baltimoreans are asking themselves the same question I ask myself, "Can we afford another $47 million of economic impact?"

Without some transparency in the process, we may never know.

Mac Nachlas, Baltimore

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