Lost and Found

Dear Readers and WRITERS!

Your comments, which so many of you (and we) thought were lost in cyberspace, have been found and posted! The technical bugs have been exterminated! Many thanks to Liesl, the Takoma Voice Web Editor, and the host server technicians!

The comments are now not only posted on the appropriate blog entry, most of them are featured below. Enjoy, and post more comments!
If you encounter problems with posting a comment, remember to e-mail directly to gilbert@takoma.com.

If you posted a comment and do not see it here, please repost or write to the gilbert@takoma.com address, asap!

– Gilbert
Jamie Raskin has run one of the most negative campaigns in Maryland history. He has called Senator Ruben a “conservative right winger” a “supporter of Bush’s war” and a “corrupt back room politician”. At the candidates forum, his supporters called Senator Ruben an “old hag”. The Raskin campaign has twice stolen hundreds of lawn signs from Senator Ruben’s neighborhood. When are people going to wake up to what this campaign is all about?

Paul Chrostowski

This IS depressing, Dear Readers! Usually yard sign hooliganism happens in the campaign’s last week – most often in the last few days. This must be an indication of the high emotions the Raskin – Rueben race is generating. Gilbert hates this “Feud-al Phase” and is disgusted that it has started so early. Forget about issues, from now on it will be all about allegations of dirty tactics, outrageous acts, and fighting words that serve only to crank up the ire of already-committed voters. Bleh!

– Gilbert
On the death penalty: Don’t forget that Jamie Raskin was a key campaign operative for Doug Gansler’s two successful runs for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s seat.

Can’t be much more pro-death penalty than Gansler. Couldn’t do more than to assure death penalty is effectuated in MoCo than work hard for a pro-death penalty prosecutor. Ah well, Dear Gilbert, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, ne c’est pas?

PS when I asked who he is supporting for Attorney General, Mr. Raskin declined to answer other than to say he was working for himself to become State Senator. Anybody think he’s helping his old pal Gansler?

– TGagliardo
I’m not voting for the incumbents–haven’t done that in years.

I’m voting for people who’ve been working here, which rules out Klein; sure, he’s been in politics and he’s got a well-financed campaign, but what’s he done here? No grassroots organizing, no local involvement to speak of in smaller matters. All of a sudden some legislative aide with a lot of money jumps in the race?

I’m pulling for Hucker, Mizeur, and a candidate to be named later.
– local watcher man

Local, are you being ironic? Heather Mizeur is a legislative aide for Senator John Kerry, and has a whole lot of money and clout behind her campaign. There are a number of legislative aides, not to mention lobbyists, running for office – so many that your Gilbert mused in an earlier post about it, wondering if this were due to our proximity to the nation’s capitol.

– Gilbert
I am deeply concerned and offended by Gilbert’s analysis of Valerie Ervin and the District 5 County Council race. Gilbert’s portrayal of Ms. Ervin’s commitment to the Purple Line was entirely inaccurate. Ms. Ervin has been a member of the Coalition to Build the Inner Purple Line since its beginning over three years ago. She has also studied the issue as a staffer for the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee.

Gilbert also questioned Ms. Ervin’s loyalty to the citizens of her district, citing her work as a Council staff person. It is entirely unfounded and extremely condescending to imply that Ms. Ervin won’t be able to think for herself and for her community if elected. She’s already proven her ability to represent the public interest as a Board Member and would only be aided by her familiarity with the Council and its procedures if elected.

Valerie Ervin has two decades of local community experience. She knows our district, its issues and its people. Her wide range of endorsements, which include the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Neighbors for a Better Montgomery, and the Sierra Club, are a testament to her ability to represent our diverse community and all of its interests. She knows the issues and has not only the vision, but the political will to actualize change. She is the best choice for District 5.

Avi Edelman
Silver Spring

Avi, I wish it were not the case, but Astroturf Val herself undermined your assertion that she knows our district, its issues and its people. As Your Gilbert reported she appeared at a Takoma Voice candidates forum unprepared to discuss, and apparently ignorant of the TASDI report on double-taxation, probably the single most-discussed issue here in Takoma Park for the last two years. This does not inspire confidence that she knows the part of her district known as Takoma Park, its issues and its people.

And this business of claiming to be an environmentalist while advocating artificial turf for school athletic fields is less than convincing.

– Gilbert
George Levensprawl’s support for modest, no-brainer investments in renewable energy make him the political equivalent of a broken clock — he happens to be right twice a day, but isn’t particularly useful. All the good he may have done on energy issues is offset many times over by his support for the ICC, and on balance, his environmental record is atrociously consistent with his attempts to undermine public health by cutting child passenger safety services in half and by supporting the rescinded original version of the fire/rescue restructuring bill that would have made it impossible for the county to put effective numbers of emergency responders in the field. Valerie Ervin should be considered an accessory to Leventhal’s anti-people policies until and unless she distances herself from her old boss. It’s a great loss to the county that neither

Joy Austin-Lane nor Marc Elrich stuck around to give District 5 voters a progressive option on the ballot.

Mike Livingston
Maybe it’s just on my mind because of the clipboard equipped HRC volunteers that were hiking around my neighborhood yesterday, but I find it interesting that Aaron Klein’s campaign materials prominently proclaim his support of equal rights for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender families. I’m hopeful that it’s only missing from Heather Mizeur’s materials (and web site…) because her support is obvious. The more cynical thoughts in my head worry that she could be avoiding mention of the issue out of fear that her sexual orientation could cost her votes.

I don’t really believe this to be the case, but I do appreciate/prefer a candidate who isn’t intimidated by such discussions.

(also, I’m fully aware that this is a national issue that won’t by won or lost by who we elect in District 20)

– Mark
This doesn’t sound like you Gilbert. Are you two persons in one blogger?


granolapark Industries, Corp.(gIP), employs hundreds of highly skilled and talented writers working in our dozens of divisions and departments. We strive to create a consistent product. Our market research indicates that most consumers detect no inconsistencies in style and content from one post to another and that the percentage of those that do is statistically insignificant. We value your opinions and thank you for your letter.

– Gilbert #645
Bloodsucking landlord, here.

Thanks for the interesting post about Takoma Park’s rent stabilization law. I have mixed emotions. I have a very small building that I operate in Takoma Park with a partner, and I believe that there’s value in making sure there is a place to live for people of all income levels in Takoma Park. I live in Takoma Park as well, and I’m feeling like getting to the less yuppified climes of College Park, myself.

One of my tenants is a beneficiary of Montgomery County rental assistance. I favor these sorts of programs over rent control. My other tenants do not appear to be at all low income — they just know a good deal in a nice place when they see it. They would pay 30 – 40% more to be less than a mile away in Silver Spring (did I mention I am a Realtor, too?) Wouldn’t it be nice to focus the funds going to my other tenants on the one tenant family who needs it — at least by the Montgomery Co. standard? And maybe some of my other tenants do need help. Without going back over their credit reports, I couldn’t tell you.

We pay a mortgage that is approximately $500 less than the rents. Each year thanks to the costs of improvements to the building, and the gas bills, we are about $6000 in arrears. Because of the not-great tax code of the United States, all tax payers usually – usually – almost make it up to us in the end.

I don’t suck blood. I feel a little anemic. My solution is to sell the property as a very large single family dwelling. This is not what rent control was meant to do, diminish the affordable rental housing stock. If there were a more targeted way of assisting lower-income people to provide affordable housing, I’d really like to abolish the rent stabilization law. In the absence of good laws like these, I’m theoretically in favor of rent control. I just can’t afford to keep paying for it!

The other thing I got out of this is that my local councilman said some good stuff to Southern Management. Go Terry! Kathy Porter suggested to come up with better ideas. I really don’t like when Takoma has to come up with local laws because the region, Maryland, or the USAC isn’t doing it’s/our duties. I don’t have any numbers behind this idea, but maybe all Takoma Park landlords could pay into a fund, but otherwise charge market rents for their places. Another advantage to rent control is that the folks who qualify for the lower rents in the targeted programs are sometimes stigmatized, and may have trouble getting a place.

I’ll admit I’m just as confused as the next person. For now, I’m sitting in a more comfortable position than many. But don’t forget, I took a lot of risk and carry a lot of responsibility to provide this housing.

Deirdre McIntyre
”The reason non-profits have to make a bigger profit has to do with the potential profits from the eventual sale of a property being figured into the rent of a for-profit building. Selling the building for profit is something a nonprofit owner can’t do, so they need to have higher rents. That’s what your Gilbert understands, anyway. By the way, low income tenants in these non-profit-owned buildings will not pay the entire rent, they pay a percentage of their incomes and the government picks up the rest”.

Gilbert. I don’t understand your assessment of why non-profits need relief from rent control while for-profit landlords do not. Maybe you could more fully explain your logic. As I understand the economics of rental housing, rents are set by the surrounding rental market, not by the resale value of housing. There are a number of factors, including access to credit, vacancy rates, regulations or incentives, and tax policy, that drive rental prices. Rents can be greater or lesser than the monthly amortized (30-year) value of a given unit (One way to represent the sale value of a unit to the unit cost). Also, residents of nonprofit housing do not always get additional government subsidy.

And by the way, it’s not a secret that I think speed bumps are at the bottom of the traffic calming trick bag. I dislike them because they damage vehicles (Maple Avenue Bumps!); slow emergency response; and are problematic for bikes, assisted mobility vehicles and people with back or other health problems. However, my role is to assist residents as well as set policy.

Colleen Clay

Councilmember Clay,
MY logic? Ack! I thought it was YOUR (the council’s) logic! At the very least it has to be the county’s logic – wasn’t it the county that requested the nonprofit loophole in the rent control law?

– Gilbert
One minor correction. The mortgage income tax deduction works slightly differently for landlords. If you live in your own home you can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your personal income taxes, which is actually a lot of money. But if you rent out the home then your taxes work like any other business. You can deduct your costs against your income. So if you rent out an apartment you can only deduct the mortgage interest, and any other cost, against the rental income. You then have to pay taxes on the rental income to the extent its greater than your costs. So, for most landlords, as opposed to property owners, the tax benefits are pretty slim.

– Jason
Rent Instability

No doubt, it’s a tough issue. But as a homeowner, I would be willing to pay a surcharge or special fee (as we do for storm water) that would go into a fund to help people with their rent and to help them 1) buy a home in TP (good luck w/ the housing prices the way they are) or 2) help tenants take ownership of their buildings.

I’m with Clay — let’s put our money where our mouths are. I assume (no proof here) some landlords are greedy and don’t keep their properties in livable shape, but others — I surmise — are simply businesspeople trying to do the right thing for tenants and make a modest profit. If Takoma Park drags its feet on addressing the landlords’ concerns, tenants will truly be SOL.

May I add an observation about what I see as a bit of a disconnect? Our latest Takoma News talks of New Hampshire Avenue redevelopment in glowing “community” terms. We need redevelopment along this blighted stretch of road, which right now has businesses that do not serve our “affluent” community, the article says.

The city wants to market the Takoma/Long Branch Enterprise Zone to developers. The EZ provides tax breaks for expansion and capital improvements for commercial properties along NH Ave between Eastern and University, on University between NH and Piney Branch, and also on Piney Branch, including Flower Village.

This Enterprise Zone was an important campaign plank for Mayor Porter, but an article in the TP Gazette shortly after the election noted that most business owners who attended an EZ informational meeting were unaware that it even existed, despite its having been designated in 2003.

Here’s where I see a bit of a disconnect. Many in TP are willing to believe the worst about landlords, and want to ensure that rents are affordable, yet the city is saying that we need businesses that will appeal to our “affluent” lifestyles.

Many of the businesses along NH Ave serve the communities across the road in Prince George’s, or the folks in Langley Park. I noticed there’s even a new bank serving Latinos in the strip center just north of Holton. And Aldi? That’s like Trader Joe’s, but cheaper. Many many people who are a lot poorer than homeowners here in TP shop there for their groceries. Are we proposing to get rid of that?

Despite the years of rhetoric about redevelopment along NH, I have yet to hear anyone suggest a realistic proposal for new business. Wal-Mart? (Please, no). Target? There’s one 10 minutes away down 410. Nordstrom’s? Yikes. (They wouldn’t come, anyway)
We do have the new Starbucks (a tiny one) down at the Crossroads. But pity the person who tries to suggest Starbucks move into Old Town Takoma. Oh, the protests that would ensue!

By all means fix the sidewalks, improve the shelters at the bus stops, educate the existing business proprietors about the EZ and the possibility of tax breaks — but please, let’s try to acknowledge the existence of the communities near us that are not as “affluent.”

BTW, I’d love to see some back-and-forth on this subject, w/ specifics.

EZ info
Steve Davies
I find it off-putting that people I’ve talked to tell me that you don’t post their comments when they are pro-Raskin. Hence, I can only conclude that you’ve cherry-picked either seemingly “neutral” or leaning-Ida statements. Shame on you.
– David


Your Gilbert, being a typical warm and fuzzy Takoma Park resident, understands how people got that impression and regrets the misunderstanding. Due to technical problems most comments, including this one, were misdirected and therefore unpublished. With help from Takoma Voice and blog software technicians the problem was diagnosed and your comments were rescued – and are now published. There was no “cherry-picking” or censoring of any kind.

But, David, you posted your comment August 12. Gilbert wonders how you missed the announcements at the top of each blog post since July 28th that there were technical problems with the comments. Could it be that you are not a totally committed reader, that you do not savor Gilbert’s every sentence, word, and punctuation mark?

Where’s the shame NOW, Gilbert asks in a deep, melodramatic voice?

– Gilbert.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

2 Comments on "Lost and Found"

  1. Steve Davies | August 24, 2006 at 2:51 pm |

    2 things on the District 20 race:
    When did Raskin call Ruben a “corrupt back-room politician?” Citations or at least pretty good recollections of all quotes would be helpful, Mr. Chrostowski.
    Also, Gil — Ruben ain’t a sandwich… That is, not Rueben but Ruben. But it does make me think — what would the two candidates’ sandwiches be made of? The Ruben — aged rye filled with… The Raskin–Challah bread, cukes, horseradish?
    food for thought

  2. Dear Readers,
    Gilbert here with a preface, since the author of the following comment makes a number of allegations, some of them about yours truly. We stand by our previous statements about how we deplore this “Feud-al Phase” of the campaign, though we deplore spelling errors – spelling was never Gilbert’s strength.
    Your Gilbert was speaking generally about sign-stealing hooliganism, not specifically about particular allegations. It is not up to Gilbert to research allegations made by commenters. Also, at the end of same paragraph a reference is made to “allegations of dirty tactics.”
    Also, there has been no “cherry-picking” on this blog. A number of comments that had been lost due to technical reasons were recovered and subsequently featured in a post. The responses to those comments appeared in in the comment sections where the respondents posted them. Gilbert has no obligation (and no time) to feature those responses in another post or to move them around to suit the sensitivities of supporters of this or that candidate.
    Gilbert has to say he thinks that the following comment exemplifies exactly what he was talking about – There is nothing about issues here, it is all allegations about dirty deeds. For heaven’s sake, It is as obvious that Sen. Ruben is going to lose the election as it is that she and her supporters are going to make these desperate and bitter allegations. What is the point of addressing them? It would be nice if Raskin supporters would take the high ground here and be gracious in victory.
    – Gilbert
    I’m the original poster who commented that I thought you were cherry-picking comments for your blog. I’ll know say that it seems you’re cherry-picking user comments to promote to the home-page. I’d appreciate if you’d post this FACTUAL rebuttal to some of the hearsay you’ve allowed to spread through your site:
    OK, so I decided to investigate the claim made on a blog hosted by the Takoma Voice that “hundreds” of District 20 Senator Ida Ruben’s lawn signs were stolen from her neighborhood in Hillandale.
    First things first, because you should know the source of this post. I’m a journalist; I edit and publish a newsletter, Endangered Species & Wetlands Report (www.eswr.com) It’s a for-profit operation.
    I’ve lived in Takoma Park, on Poplar Avenue in the Circle Woods neighborhood (explaining the blog’s URL). Hondo Homers is to old Senator Frank Howard, who hit a lot of homers at RFK. Also, because that’s the first thing that came to me.
    I support Jamie Raskin; I even have one of his signs in my front yard. But more than almost anything else, I hate sloppy journalism (I’ve occasionally been a perpetrator myself throughout 20-plus years of it), and politicians’, shall we say, misstatements.
    Our story begins…
    On Aug. 14, Paul Chrostowski, Takoma Park resident and staunch supporter of incumbent Sen. Ida Ruben, posted the paragraph below on “Gil’s” blog. It didn’t appear until sometime after that date, perhaps as much as 10 days after. The Voice had a technical problem and the comments were lost for a while in computer limbo, and then retrieved.
    “Jamie Raskin has run one of the most negative campaigns in Maryland history. He has called Senator Ruben a ‘conservative right winger’ a ‘supporter of Bush’s war’ and a ‘corrupt back room politician.’ At the candidates forum, his supporters called Senator Ruben an ‘old hag.’ The Raskin campaign has twice stolen hundreds of lawn signs from Senator Ruben’s neighborhood. When are people going to wake up to what this campaign is all about?”
    When I saw that, I thought, wow, can all that be true? But no sources were cited for the quotes or the lawn-sign claim. And “Gil” simply accepted the comment at face value, saying (on the main page of the blog, http://www.takoma.com/granola/):
    “This IS depressing, Dear Readers! Usually yard sign hooliganism happens in the campaign’s last week – most often in the last few days. This must be an indication of the high emotions the Raskin – Rueben [she’s still not a sandwich, Gil] race is generating. Gilbert hates this “Feud-al Phase” and is disgusted that it has started so early. Forget about issues, from now on it will be all about allegations of dirty tactics, outrageous acts, and fighting words that serve only to crank up the ire of already-committed voters. Bleh!”
    Oddly, at his special Ruben-Raskin page, “Gil” removed his own comment and added one from “James,” which is a good response and effectively rebuts/refutes the notion that Raskin didn’t say any of those things publicly
    But Raskin’s not even alleged to have said them publicly. As I learned, Chrostowski relies completely on anonymous sources — including — he says — a Ruben operative who “infiltrated” Raskin’s campaign.
    Whatever. In the original posting and still, no sources have been cited for the incendiary charges.
    Hey, “Gil,” can you spare a post?
    I sent a comment in to “Gil” on the 24th or 25th of August, soon after I read the Chrostowski comment on “Granola Park.” I don’t recall exactly when — I used the comment form on the site and have no record of it (it hasn’t been posted). In it, I asked for substantiation of the charges made by Chrostowski.
    Fri., Aug. 25: After I sent the comment, I spoke on the phone with Takoma Voice publisher and editor Eric Bond, urging him to tell/implore “Gil” to vet comments before they’re posted. Later in the day, after noticing that “Gil” had not posted my entreaty, I decided to go ahead and check into the whole mess myself.
    I called Raskin’s campaign headquarters. Luckily, he was right there and willing to talk. His initial reaction was to say he had not uttered the quotes attributed to him, but he wanted to go back and look at the record before completely disavowing them. He couldn’t very well speak to the veracity of the alleged quote from a supporter(s), because, well, he’s not alleged to have said it. (As you’ll see below, however, Chrostowski says the quotes aren’t public record.)
    On the more serious charge of the lawn signs, however — remember, Chrostowski said unequivocally, “The Raskin campaign has twice stolen hundreds of lawn signs from Senator Ruben’s neighborhood” — he responded directly and forcefully:
    “The claim that our campaign has stolen any of Ida Ruben’s signs, much less hundreds, is a baldfaced lie. It is pure fiction and fantasy–I challenge anybody to come up with a shred of evidence for that.
    “This is reflective of the desperation tactics of a losing campaign,” he added.
    I left a voice mail for Senator Ruben; I haven’t heard back from her yet. An email from her campaign (voteruben@aol.com) this morning (Aug. 25) said:
    “Mr. Davies,
    “This is to acknowledge a voice mail left with Senator Ruben at her home phone number.
    “Please direct all future communications to her campaign office at 8719 Colesville Rd. 301 562 2052 or via this email address.
    “Thank you.
    “Philip Olivetti
    Campaign Manager
    8719 Colesville Rd
    Silver Spring 20910”
    (I have sent a follow-up email to the campaign).
    No evidence of Raskin involvement
    During my fact-gathering foray, I have made no secret of the fact that I’m supporting Raskin, which is not uncommon in Takoma Park. But I wanted to find the source of the quotes and see if there was anything to the sign-boosting charge — certainly the most explosive of the allegations, especially since it it alleged to have happened (twice!) in Ruben’s own neighborhood.
    In a voice mail to me, Chrostowski backed down, saying he had “no direct evidence that this is the Raskin campaign doing this.” But, he added, it certainly wasn’t the Ruben campaign, and “it wasn’t public officials trying to clean litter off front yards.”
    But the MoCo Police’s Hillandale station said they have no record of a complaint of yard sign theft from Ruben’s address. (They said they could not check unless they had an address, so I provided Ruben’s and only Ruben’s. I suppose it’s possible that others complained, but neither Chrostowski nor Olivetti has provided any names of aggrieved neighbors.)
    Chrostowski said some residents had sent letters to the Post and the Gazette but they had not been printed. Let’s see them.
    Campaign manager refuses to “engage”
    I talked to Olivetti after getting Chrostowski’s voice mail, but before I had been able to speak with Chrostowski directly. When I asked Olivetti for Chrostowski’s phone number, he said he didn’t have it, even though Chrostowski and his wife were scheduled to co-host a fundraiser for Ruben in Takoma Park the very next day. When I asked about the lawn signs allegation, Olivetti said I should ask the man who made the comments.
    Olivetti didn’t say much in our brief conversation, but his demeanor (even over the phone) called to mind the Martin Short character on Saturday Night Live — the bespectacled guy in the black suit, his cigarette butt getting longer and longer, sweating profusely under the hot lights as he says to the camera, “I didn’t say that. You said that. Why would I say that?”
    Except Olivetti didn’t even go that far — he simply pawned the whole thing off on Chrostowski.
    “You’re not going to get me to comment about something someone else wrote,” he said. “The gentleman doesn’t work from me. I’m got going to get involved.” He added, “He’s not connected with the campaign.”
    Under some rather skeptical questioning, Olivetti sputtered, “This is campaign headquarters and we’re running a political campaign!” And Chrostowski, he said, was not “connected” with it
    For his part, Chrostowski said he is not “associated” with the Ruben campaign. Yet he and his wife, Lorraine Pearsall, co-hosted a get-together/fundraiser on Sat., Aug. 26, in Takoma Park at the home of Susan Gilbert and Ronald Schechter. (See http://www.senatoridaruben.com for the invite: “Please Join Senator Ruben For a Midsummer’s Night Jazz Featuring Marcus Johnson, Jazz Pianist.” Suggested donation is $25-$40.)
    The R.S.V.P. phone number is Ruben headquarters.
    [By the way, Chrostowski, though not “associated” with the campaign, said the lawn signs had been put up “at the great expense of the Ruben campaign.”]
    But here’s the kicker, folks (I buried the lede): When I asked Chrostowski for the source of the sign-stealing allegation, he said it was the Ruben campaign. With no prompting from me, he said it was Phil Olivetti — the same guy who had already tried to wipe his hands of the matter.
    By the time Chrostowski dropped that bombshell at about 6:45 p.m., giving me a sorely needed shot of adrenaline, I had already had my SNL moment with Olivetti, who had refused to answer any questions, which included whether Ruben had ever reported the thefts to police.
    I spoke to the police, waiting on hold for a good five minutes until I was told by an officer — I have her name, but I prefer to keep it out for now — that there had been no phone calls from that address in the last six months. So the police have no record of a complaint from the senator about the theft of lawn signs. If there is one, I wasn’t able to get hold of it.
    I have sent a follow-up email to voteruben@aol.com — It says, “Chrostowski says you [Olivetti] told him about the signs.”
    In the body of the email, I said,” Please, can you comment?
    “Steve Davies”
    Monday morning (Aug. 28) update: No response yet from Olivetti or Ruben.
    Those nasty quotations
    As for the quotes, here’s where they came from, according to Chrostowski:
    Raskin allegedly called Ruben “a supporter of Bush’s war.” Chrostowski said that came from “an internal Raskin meeting” that had been “infiltrated” by one of Ruben’s supporters.
    “Corrupt back room politician” — He supposedly said this after the candidates’ forum in Takoma Park in July.
    “Raskin said that when he was talking to some people right after the official meeting was over,” Chrostowski said.
    Here’s “James’s” take (I was not at the debate, nor did I watch the online recording, but I did talk to people who were there).
    “At the Voice debate, back-room politics were discussed. At one point, Ruben herself talked about getting things done in the back rooms. At no point at the debate did Raskin call Ruben a ‘corrupt, back room politician.’ I challenge you to watch the tape and find him saying that. You won’t.”
    My take: If he did say it afterwards, it may have been said incredulously, as in, why would I want to be known as a corrupt back-room politician? For anyone who hasn’t been watching American politics for oh, the last 100 years, the words “back room” have a negative connotation, and to tout one’s “back room” abilities in Takoma Park is just plain stupid. It went over like a lead balloon and was quickly seized upon by Raskin, who is a smart guy.
    “Conservative right-winger.” — Chrostowski says the source for that quote is a “highly placed Takoma Park official” whom he cannot name. When I mentioned two “high-ranking officials” who have given money to Ruben, he wouldn’t bite. So who knows who it is. If anyone wants to own up to the hearsay, let me know (steve@eswr.com). Or let “Gilbert” know. I’m sure he’ll get the truth out.
    On Sen. Ida Ruben’s long career
    Another aside — I’m not judging or trying to intimidate others who have given to Ruben or support her. She has been around a long time, gathered plenty of accolades, and doesn’t deserve some of the calumny heaped upon her — including by me. I don’t know the woman, but I think that needs to be said.
    On the MoCo Politics blog http://mocopolitics.blogspot.com/, for instance, I mocked her for saying to the Gazette, “I brought home millions and millions of dollars to the county and I have the scars to show it.”
    “Scars? What the hell is she talking about? Did someone beat her up?” I asked.
    On reflection, though, I know what she’s talking about.
    Ida Ruben has been in Annapolis for 32 years, first in the House and then the Senate. For most of those years, especially at the beginning, it can’t have been easy being a woman there. I’m sure Sen. Ruben has put up with more than a lifetime’s worth of stupid sexist comments and more, which stinks. She deserves kudos for sticking it out and dealing with the old guard. It’s only been in recent years that the Montgomery County delegation has attained some semblance of power in the historically male-, Baltimore-, and Eastern-Shore dominated legislature. And I’m sure that along the way, Sen. Ruben had to put up with a lot of garbage.
    But her years of service and well-deserved accolades don’t give her right to spread misinformation about her opponent.
    Back to the quotes…
    “Old hag”: Chrostowski reiterated to me his comment on “Gilbert” that the mean remark was said by a supporter (or supporters), and I don’t doubt it (in fact, I think I know one person who said this, but knowing the source, I understand. It’s someone who doesn’t mince words, and I believe it was used in reference to Ruben’s presentation at the debate. Another TP friend of mine said a more PC way of putting it might have been, “An anachronism.” Certainly that’s way more polite.)
    But as James notes, “Rather than question whether or not this is true, I question the relevance. Supporters say a lot of things. I’ve heard pretty nasty things about Raskin from Ruben supporters (actually far more than the other way around). A candidate needs to rein in supporters, and needs to denounce unsavory behavior, but it is inevitable that some supporter says something stupid. I imagine that your experience, Paul, is anecdotal and not indicative of Raskin supporters, and certainly not indicative of Raskin–just as I draw the same conclusion about what I have heard out of the mouths of Ruben supporters.”
    I have to agree. Politics in America has always been a rough business, and holding Raskin responsible for what his supporters say is a bit much.
    I think that’s finally it. I have a couple more things I can add, but I have a day job that needs my attention.
    You may repost this and comment on it wherever you want, but I’m not allowing any comments here, except in the context of what I post. Unlike Gil, however, I’ll try to at least make mention of the various comments I receive. I’d rather this whole thing would gravitate to another site that is more religiously maintained.
    If you do have something to add, send me an email and I’ll check in later. Right now I have my niece’s wedding to attend. [Monday, and I’m back. Great wedding! Congratulations to my niece and her new husband. They’re great young people, and I wish them every success. Fortunately, they’re not going into politics. They’re both actors. That’s so much less cutthroat.)
    My only personal message is, can we stay away from the unsubstantiated charges and dirty politics? As Paul Chrostowski himself said to me, “I wouldn’t be unhappy if both candidates were to [forswear the use of] this type of rhetoric.” (I couldn’t read all of my notes on that one, but that’s what he was saying.)
    I completely agree, Paul. Except in this case, it doesn’t look like the candidates said anything. Hopefully they will speak to the issues and only the issues from this point forward.
    Steve Davies
    The above was originally posted Aug. 25, and has been edited and scrubbed (for typos) since then
    Here’s “James’ ” response to Paul Chrostowski, reposted from
    I’ve put in italics to distinguish it from what I wrote.
    Your first comment is so hyperbolic that I am left wondering about the veracity of your other statements. I’ve lived in Maryland my whole life, and I have seen some pretty nasty campaigns. In my view, Raskin has not run a particularly negative campaign. He has run an “unseat the incumbent” campaign, which inevitably focuses on the record of the incumbent.
    I think that blogs are really great for getting to information that doesn’t come out readily in the mainstream media.
    On the other hand, Paul’s post makes a number of assertions that cannot be readily fact checked.
    1. “called Ruben a ‘conservative right-winger.'”
    I’d like to see the exact quotation and context. In all of my months following the Raskin campaign, I’ve never heard those words come out of his mouth. When and where? Proof? (And if you find proof, fine. I’m just registering my skepticism of an unsubstantiated charge until then.)
    2. “supporter of Bush’s war”
    This I can buy a bit more–but I don’t see it as negative. It all goes to how you interpret Ruben’s record. She introduced a bill to “support the troops”. You can spin that one way or the other, but I certainly see that as a vote in favor of the war, particularly given the timing and symbolism. I can also see (but not agree with) the other side on this one, the side that says that it was literally just a shot in the arm for the troops and not support for the war.
    So, as far as I’m concerned, Raskin’s comments on this are not negative. He raises a point, a common interpretation of such votes. You can agree with him or not. Ruben can choose to address it or not.
    3. “corrupt back room politician”
    At the Voice debate, back room politics were discussed. At one point, Ruben herself talked about getting things done in the back rooms. At no point at the debate did Raskin call Ruben a “corrupt, back room politician.” I challenge you to watch the tape and find him saying that. You won’t.
    So, when did Raskin say this? You may be extrapolating based upon several things that Raskin has said. But that is not the same thing. When did Raskin utter those words?
    4. “supporters called Senator Ruben an ‘old hag'”
    Rather than question whether or not this is true, I question the relevance. Supporters say a lot of things. I’ve heard pretty nasty things about Raskin from Ruben supporters (actually far more than the other way around). A candidate needs to rein in supporters, and needs to denounce unsavory behavior, but it is inevitable that some supporter says something stupid. I imagine that your experience, Paul, is anecdotal and not indicative of Raskin supporters, and certiainly not indicative of Raskin–just as I draw the same conclusion about what I have heard out of the mouths of Ruben supporters.
    5. “hundreds of yard signs”
    That would require a coordinated effort–vans going through the White Oak neighborhood in the dead of night. Whatever you may think about Raskin, do you really see this constitutional law professor organizing a campaign to suppress speech? Surely this would be a huge scandal if true. Do you really see Raskin taking that risk?
    And most importantly, where’s your evidence?
    As I said before, it blogs provide a good link to POSSIBLE information about issues, but no one is vetting that information. So commenters (and bloggers) can only prove that they are reliable over time–just like a columnist in the newspaper. And readers need to be careful about unsubstantiated information–like these charges.
    Show me the tape.

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