Monday, June 12, 2006

Jewish lawyer slammed Duncan's 'defamatory smear tactics'

A lawyer for an opponent of the Duncan-Abramoff scheme to hand over the Belt public high school to a private school ripped county leaders for falsely alleging that his client was an anti-Semite.

Norman Knopf (pictured), who is Jewish, "wrote in a 1999 letter to the [county] council that 'this resort to defamatory smear tactics is a clear indication the proponents of the [deal] realize the weakness of their position on the merits.'"

The critic, Frank Vrataric, died in 2002. His attorney, David W. Brown, tells the Washington Post that he "never experienced any anti-Semitism in dealing with Frank."

"Brown and his partner Knopf also represented Vrataric in challenging an earlier plan to turn Belt into a private rental facility for senior citizens," the Post reports.

County Council member Steve Silverman indirectly attacked all critics of the public-school-for-Abramoff plan with his now-familiar allegations of bigotry. "I don't want to suggest the entire community opposition was driven by anti-Semitism," Silverman tells the Post, adding that he was "shocked and appalled" by the 1999 letter.