Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to Get Rid of Steve Abrams (Updated)

The Gazette Editorial Board must not read the Gazette. If they did, they would never have endorsed incumbent school board member Steve Abrams’ bid for re-election.

Forget about the fact that Abrams was the sole opponent of a school board resolution calling for increased federal funding of No Child Left Behind requirements and opposition to vouchers for private schools. And forget about the fact that Abrams wrote the state legislature to oppose an assault weapons ban back when he was Chairman of MoCo’s Republican Central Committee. And – we know it is difficult to ask you to forget more – put aside the fact that he has been running non-stop for every office conceivable, from County Executive to County Council to Circuit Court Judge to House of Delegates to Rockville City Council to State Comptroller. (Everybody needs a hobby, although one wonders how he finds the time to do school board work.) Instead, let's discuss the fact that during the last two years, Abrams has been blazing a path of pathology through the Gazette that would make Robin Ficker recoil in outrage.

The latest blow-up occurred after Abrams’ ill-fated 2006 Republican primary run for State Comptroller, a race that saw him win just three of the state’s 24 counties. Unable to bear the thought of government without him in it, Abrams then announced his intention to join the Republican slate for Montgomery County Council. But the party already had a full slate, so Abrams bullied Adol T. Owen-Williams II into dropping out. Abrams’ tactics ultimately failed as he lost by more than 80,000 votes to the Democrats in the general election.

The story could have ended there, but with Steve Abrams, the story never really ends. Owen-Williams thought he had a “gentleman’s agreement” with Abrams for reimbursement of $5,000 in campaign expenses he had incurred before withdrawing. When Owen-Williams asked Abrams for the money after the general election, the “gentleman” erupted in fury. According to African-American Owen-Williams, Abrams called him “boy,” grabbed him by the throat and slammed his head against a wall. The two men filed assault charges against each other which were later dropped by prosecutors.

But once again, the story never ends with Steve Abrams! Abrams told the Gazette that county Republicans “conspired to set him up” for the assault charge because they were tired of dealing with his complaints. (We sympathize.) Abrams then became a Democrat and endorsed Barack Obama, prompting Montgomery County’s Republican Party Chairman to say, “He’s free to go where he wants to go... He had kind of made that threat before. As far as I can tell, no one on the Democrats want him either.”

Upon learning that Abrams had joined the Democratic Party, MCDCC Chairwoman Karen Britto gasped, “I’m speechless.” Well, I’m not going to be speechless and neither should you. There are plenty of sane, intelligent people who care about education in Montgomery County, one of whom is school board challenger Laura Berthiaume. There is no reason to tolerate bad behavior from our school board members that we would never tolerate from our students. It’s time to get rid of Steve Abrams.

Update: At the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum on October 27, Laura Berthiaume said she would not run for any other office during her four-year term and challenged Abrams to make the same commitment. Abrams, who constantly runs for office of every conceivable kind, declined. Folks, that says it all concerning what these two candidates care about.