GRANOLAPARK: Hatchet for Dan?

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

Will the Democrats play a dirty trick on Dan Robinson?

We’ll find out, maybe this weekend before the election. That’s when the Democrats brought the hatchet down on Green Party candidate Linda Schade in November, 2002.

Schade was perhaps more of a threat than Robinson is to the county and state’s one-party rule. Enough of a threat that the Democrats, using a political action committee, mailed and placed on car windshields a race-card-playing, fear-mongering flyer, “A warning about the green party.”

“A vote for Green Party candidate Lina Schade may prevent the election of Democratic nominee Gareth Murray who would be the first African American ever elected from Montgomery County to the statehouse.” it said.

“Green party candidate Ralph Nader  . . . handed George Bush the White House,” it said. “Don’t help them do it again,” despite the fact that  there was no danger in the District 20 race – or any other Maryland race – that voting Green would help a Republican get elected.

It might get a Green elected, though, which would mean one less Democrat – and that was too big a threat to the county’s ruling party.

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2002 Linda Shade yard sign.

Democratic fingerprints

The hatchet-wielding author was Randy Boehm, who signed himself as “Founder, Gateway Coalition and Silver Spring Advocate.” No mention of the Democratic Party or the F.Y.I. PAC (Political Action Committee), of which Boehm was treasurer. The F.Y.I. PAC took contributions from Peter Franchot, then incumbent Democratic District 20 delegate, now Maryland Comptroller.

The flyer was printed “Authority: Tom Gentile.” Tom Gentile is currently listed as Friends of Peter Franchot treasurer.

The hatchet was still wet with the blood of Delegate Dana Dembrow, the previous target of FYI PAC and another political action committee contributed to by Franchot and two other District 20 candidates: Sheila Hixon (running for the same seat this election) and State Senator Ida Ruben.

Dembrow offended the party elite. He was an independent thinker with a dramatic personal life. He was a real man-of-the-people rather then one who pretends to be every election cycle. They tried to take him down, but it didn’t go as planned. When they gerrymandered his house out of District 20, he finagled legal residence in the district.

So the weekend before the primary election Boehmn, via the F.Y.I. PAC, trashed Dembrow with an attack mailing. Boehm said he went to Franchot for help in the effort. Franchot put him in touch with people who assisted him.

Dembrow called the flyer “absolute garbage, absolute deceitful lies.” He lost the primary election, ending his 16 years in office.

The Dembrow incident is described in a Sept.18 2002 Gazette article by Greg Simmons.

Harsh

The anti-Schade flyer came as a shock. She’d been getting a lot of praise and warmth from everyone including the Democratic candidates. She had charisma, was a good speaker and was well informed on issues, policy, and substantive “green” initiatives. But, apparently, she was too threatening. So, they blanketed the district with a harsh flyer just before the election – giving the Schade campaign no time to reply. A classic political dirty trick.

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The flyer not only urged “Please vote against Linda Schade,” it said “please do not sign the Green Party petitions on November 5th.”

The petitions to get the Green Party on the ballot were a threat because “There is no better formula for Republican control of the Congress, the White House, and Annapolis than the growth of the Green Party. Their only impact is to cripple the Democratic Party.”

Garreth Murray did indeed become the first African-American to represent Montgomery County in the House of Delegates. But minority status is no guarantee of progressive righteousness. He proved to be socially conservative and so unpopular that when he ran for reelection in 2006 he scored seventh in a field of seven candidates, losing his seat.

Back to the future

Are the Dems getting ready to do the same to Dan? Whether they do or not will be a measure of his campaign’s success. We’ll see. The campaign manager and candidate have parted ways. The parting was amicable says the candidate.

Robinson doesn’t have Linda Schade’s spark or policy initiatives, but he does have two important points in his favor.

As Robinson says on The Voice’s questionnaire, “it is unhealthy to have a single political party in near-total control of our political landscape.”

Usually it’s great to live in a reliably liberal county and state. But sometimes one-party rule gets creepy – as when they try to exclude third parties.

The other point in Robinson’s favor is his interest in municipalities. He’s been talking this up since his days on the Takoma Park city council. He wants to make it easier for Maryland communities to incorporate. He wants to give incorporated cities more power – taking it away from counties.

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Candidate Dan Robinson.

Mayberry vs. Monkey

As we can see when we compare the municipality of Takoma Park to surrounding unincorporated cities-in-name-only such as Silver Spring, Takoma Park is more small “d” democratic.

Silver Spring has no city government, only the county. The closest they have to a ward representative is the District 5 county councilmember. District 5 stretches from Silver Spring to Burtonsville, in an area that could hold about 15 Takoma Parks, or 90 Takoma Park wards.

The contrasting ratio of population/area to representatives is why Takoma Park is likened to “Mayberry,” a fictional, ideal small town, and Montgomery County is called “Monkey County,” a reference to it’s massive, zoo-like bureaucracy.

Takoma Park city representatives are not beholding to big campaign contributors – city campaigns are so small anybody can afford to run. Small wards mean they can be more responsive – and known – to constituents. This makes the entire city government as attentive to constituent requests as a Labrador Retriever is to a thrown stick.

Dan would like other communities to enjoy that kind of constituent service. And if there were more municipalities in Maryland, they would have more power as a group. And maybe we’d finally be able to end double-taxation.

Is Your Gilbert actually endorsing Dan Robinson?

Not yet! We’re holding out for a bribe. A case of vodka would be nice.

– Gilbert

 

 

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About the Author

Gilbert
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.