Monday, June 12, 2006

Duncan calls school critics 'anti-semitic'

County Executive Doug Duncan says opponents of his deal to hand over public school property to crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff's private school are a bunch of hate-filled anti-Semites.

The allegation fits a pattern of smearing critics of Duncan's controversial school land-use policies as being motivated by bigotry and hate.

County Council Steve Silverman and school board member Steve Abrams have denounced Seven Locks Elementary School backers as racists.

In the latest case, Duncan defends his 1999 deal to lease the Col. Joseph A. Belt Junior High School in Wheaton to a Jewish school, called a yeshiva, a month after Abramoff-related clients in Guam and Saipan poured $20,000 into Duncan's campaign. Duncan gave the private school an option to buy the MCPS property.

Duncan says in the June 9 Washington Post that he did the deal to fight the neighborhood blight of a vacant school and to fight "the objections of anti-Semitic neighbors."

"The deal's leading opponents say they were motivated by a desire to keep the school in public hands, not by anti-Semitism, and angrily dismissed Duncan's charge this week," the Post reports. "Some of the opponents - as well as a lawyer who represented them, Norman Knopf - are Jewish."