Gordon Harden started an interview Friday with a question of his own:
"Do you think I am a tax cheat?" Harden asked me.
For the next hour the for the board of the Baltimore County Revenue Authority revisited with me his business-related tax issues. Those court filings were part of his unsuccessful 2010 County Council campaign and have resurfaced as his appointment is being considered.
Those issues have also caused some elected officials to question the appointment and
Harden, a former independent insurance broker, was subject to he said stemmed from essentially 12 cases. There's also the issue of housing code violations related to garages on properties he owned in Baltimore City.
A bad economy, a divorce and his own pride contributed to his problems, he said.
In a sometimes emotional interview, Harden said he made no excuses and blamed no one but himself for his problems. He said he understands why the public might question his appointment.
"I understand people are going to be skeptical," said Harden. "I understand people are going to be pissed, too."
"In a convoluted way, I managed my business," said Harden. "I managed it with the assets I had and I got through it. I don't recommend it though."
Harden paid off the last of the tax issues in 2006 and later sold the business.
"In my mind it's ancient history," said Harden. "It's behind me."
Also in the interview, Harden talked about his love of planning—he was a member of the county Planning Board for 13 years—and how the Revenue Authority could be involved in building more parking garages for mixed-use developments and draw people into downtown Towson.
"The biggest thing is that it's the people's lot and the people in the community did not want it sold," said Harden.
I'll have more on the Harden interview later.