It’s an uphill battle. But Libertarian Jon Bombach is determined to take on the crony capitalism he believes is plaguing Baltimore.
“In every neighborhood I lived in — from Seton Hill to Little Italy — people shared the same stories,” he recalls.
“Business owners facing stiff regulations. Basic services not being met.”
But he saw politically connected corporations thriving, getting preferential tax deals and other corporate welfare.
If he is elected city comptroller, the former Baltimore mechanic, who pulled himself by the bootstraps to get advanced university degrees in financial management, is determined to fight it, tooth and nail.
“Four years ago the citizens of Baltimore voted to hold City Hall accountable,” Bombach points out. “To date, City Hall has delayed, made excuses, and failed to deliver on the most basic of services and basic accounting of the city’s finances.”
The answer, in his view, is regular, comprehensive audits that will ensure that voters’ hard-earned dollars are spent in line with their mandates.
Bombach believes Baltimore lacks a modern financial reporting system, which is the root cause of what he calls the city’s “murky finances.”
“As unbelievable as it may sound, our city runs nearly a $2.6 billion budget with no system of checks and balances,” he says.
His Libertarian solution is to post financial reporting online for public scrutiny, and modernize the process by updating, digitizing, and automating the city’s financial management system.
Baltimore’s third-ranked official, the comptroller serves as the city’s fiscal watchdog, conducting audits, managing city real estate, and operating the municipal telephone and mail delivery systems. He also sits on two important panels: the Board of Estimates, which oversees all spending above $25,000, and the Board of Finance, which supervises city debt.
Bombach is highly critical of the Board of Estimates, which he says awards contracts to politically connected individuals and entities. He cites the case, One Harbor East Development, valued at $155 million, which has received from the board a sweetheart deal allowing it to pay $1 per year in lieu of property taxes, for 25 years.
“As your public servant, I promise the Board of Estimates will stop accepting any more deals that sell out our communities,” promises Bombach.
The race is anything but easy for the iconoclastic Libertarian. His opponent, well connected and entrenched Democrat Joan Pratt, has been Baltimore’s comptroller since 1995. With a war chest exceeding $200,000, she is a strong favorite to win the race.
Republicans are sitting out the race, leaving Bombach in a two-way race. He is not intimidated by Pratt’s dominance and he believes his rejection of the city’s “business as usual” will ultimately win him votes in November.
“Jon Bombach is not here to join the party,” he asserts. “He’s here to fix the financial mess Baltimore faces.”
On Aug. 31, What Weekly, a grassroots news portal that promotes the Baltimore Renaissance, ran an in-depth feature story on Bombach and his campaign.
Campaign website: BombachForBaltimore.com