This time last year Donna Spicer had written off Tom Quirk as one of the bad guys.
Now, it seems Quirk's stand on a development issue in Catonsville has offered him some measure of redemption in the eyes of Spicer, a Towson activist known for her expertise on development issues.
A year ago, Quirk was a candidate for the 1st Council District and was backed by big money raised by development attorneys connected to County Executive Jim Smith.
Those attorneys were David Gildea, a former law clerk to Smith when the county executive was a Circuit Court judge, and Michael Paul Smith, the former county executive's son. Gildea and Michael Paul Smith raised tens of thousands of dollars for Quirk, Cathy Bevins and Gorden Harden by hosting $1,000-per-person fund-raisers. The events, held in the attorneys' private homes, were unprecedented because of the ticket prices for candidates who had never held office before.
And, of course, most of those donors buying the tickets had development interests in the county. That was a fact that did not go unnoticed by Spicer who also knows the primary power of any council member is the ability to affect zoning—and, therefore, development.
One of those $1,000 donors, according to state campaign finance records, was Coroneos Properties LLC—a company that owns Dimitri's Int'l Restaurant. James Coroneos, an Ellicott City resident, owns the company and the restaurant and also a three-acre property on that was slated for 10 townhouses under the county's Planned Unit Development process.
That is, until Quirk made history by being the first councilman to .
Quirk said he revoked the approval based on the merits. The plan was of poor design and didn't meet environmental standards, the councilman said.
And voting against the interests of a large donor was enough to move the needle on Quirk for Spicer.
"I had him in one category," Spicer said. "He's still not in the good-guy-wears-white-hats category but he's well out of the black hat category. Well out of it."
I'll be on WBAL 1090 Am and WBAL.com Thursday after 7:30 a.m. talking about how the majority of the county's seven council members are a new state law that grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.