Below the Fold

From the Baltimore Brew crew, a behind-the-scenes look at what we do…

The spokesman who wouldn’t speak

“Like to confirm or squelch a rumor?” we asked Ian Brennan, a spokesman for mayors Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Sheila Dixon, by email yesterday.

Amid reporting by The Brew that Brennan is moving to a $92,000-a-year job as the Fire Department’s PIO – and that he is a civilian unlike his predecessor PIOs – the Internet was humming.

Rumors that Brennan is related to Gov. Martin O’Malley surfaced on Facebook and Twitter. So I sent a sample to Brennan via email.

“Why don’t you call him what he really is. O’Malley’s cousin. That’s why he got the job” read the Tweet I sent over to let him know what was being said. I told Brennan it was from @thorrocks5 whose Twitter profile says “Terry Horrocks.” Google his name and Baltimore, and you get “captain at Baltimore City Fire Department.”

So a Rumor is Out There

If it’s false, I thought, I could put a stake in the heart of it by simply asking Brennan and hearing it from him. If it’s true, Brennan could tell me, I could report it and the public could make its own judgment as to whether it’s important. (I told Brennan all I wanted to do was reply on Twitter to thorrocks and say, “No, Brennan says it ain’t so.” End of story.)

If that wasn’t the case – say, if Brennan turns out to be O’Malley’s third cousin twice removed – I doubt the public at large would get too worked up.

Compare that to some of the other cozy connections we’ve been uncovering in The Brew, such as the one we reported today, that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake officiated at the Vegas wedding of City Hall’s two top lobbyists.

(Considering that the Baltimore Afro-American was allowed to publish a picture of them posing together all glammed up – that is, the mayor, the lobbyist in her wedding gown, a state senator, the governor’s appointments secretary and the daughter of the Maryland Secretary of State – nobody’s too worried about appearances around here.)

Anyway, thinking I could clear up this other matter, I put it to Brennan straight up: “So, are you related to the governor? Is it true?”

What Brennan Did Say

After pressing me about asking a question based on one anonymous comment (and hearing back that it was more than one and that the Tweet was not anonymous), he had this answer:

“I can confirm that the Governor is not my cousin.”

Here was my email reply:

“Thanks. My question to you, though, was ‘Are you related to the governor?’ Unless you clarify, your answer leaves open the possibility that you are related in some other way.”

But he was not going to clarify.

So you are saying that unless I submit a blood sample, you will leave the door open to endless baseless internet speculation. . . Are you asking if the Governor and I have a connection, either by blood or by marriage?

We are trying to move the conversation past ‘baseless Internet speculation’ and giving you the opportunity to help with that. Am I asking if the Governor and you ‘have a connection, either by blood or by marriage’? Yes indeed that was what was meant by ‘are you related to the governor?’ So yes that is my question. Your answer?

Today you ask me to prove one negative, tomorrow it will be another.

Back and forth it went, without any answer from the new Fire Department spokesman, until he went email silent late yesterday afternoon.

So is Ian Brennan related to Gov. O’Malley?

I’d bet not. But why, I wonder, won’t he just say so?

The spokesman who wouldn’t speak
  • janjamm

    Please don’t become just a muck-raking rag. There are more useful things to do with your opportunity.

    • Scott

      We need more muck raking rags, or scandals will continue under the main stream media that obviously gives them passes 99% of the time.

  • Scott

    Just another example of Democratic cover ups. Just as in “Clear and Present Danger”, to try and paraphrase “there is no use in trying to defuse a bomb after it has already gone off”. They never learn. Cover ups and silence are worse than the truth. A simple, “yes I am, or no I am not”. His comments already sounds like he is trying to hide something. “Today you ask me to prove one negative,” A simple yes or no would have quashed this real quick.

  • Joseph Adams

    The Baltimore Brew rocks. Keep up the great work! It was very odd that he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the question.

  • Retired BCFD.

    AWESOME…..Kudos to the Brew. Keep up the great work and exposing the local government for what the really are. Scam artists and pick-pockets!!

  • george

    He answered as a true elitist. It’s the new normal for Democrats, especially in Maryland.
    And I thank the Brew for asking. I can’t wait to hear how he’ll answer the tough questions when fire engines are shut down or someone loses their life in a fire.

  • Jack

    Rick Binetti was the Fire PIO, he was not a member of the department. Binetti also worked as a mayoral press guy than moved to the fire department. The move isn’t unusual or unprecedented how does this merit an article?

    • Mark Reutter

      Balto Brew: We asked Mr. Binetti, now a spokesman for the Md. Dept of Public Safety and Correctional Services, to tell us if he was the Fire PIO, a position heretofore known to be held by Chief Kevin Cartwright from 2002 to 2013. We await Rick’s reply.

      • Mark Reutter

        Here is Mr Binetti’s response, received today (6/13):

        “I have been off. Apologies. Title was communications director. I did not work for Kevin and he did not work for me. Kevin is a good man by the way.”

    • James

      Because the fire department obviously can’t afford to create PIO positions to give money away, considering the fact that Baltimore lost two fire companies due to budget cuts last year, a west side truck company is in limbo, and fire deaths are above last year’s end totals according to my local fire station. PIO Cartwright was a paramedic who got fireground information wrong, so I can only laugh when I think of what Brennan will say. At least if they made Stokes a PIO, then they wouldn’t be spending over 100k a year on Brennan.