Thursday, November 30, 2006

Post: County Council can remove Abrams

The County Council has the power to remove Steve Abrams from the county Board of Education, according to the Washington Post.

"While prosecutors are still looking into the merits of the men's charges, some watchers have begun to ask questions about what this incident could mean for Abrams's political future in the county. The 63-year-old is a former Rockville City Council member who has two years left on his school board term representing residents in the Rockville-Potomac district." Reporter Lori Aratani asks, "Could his tenure be cut short because of the alleged assault charges?

"Turns out under state education law, it would be left to the County Council -- not the school board -- to determine. Under the law, the County Council could remove a school board member for four reasons: immorality, misconduct, incompetence or willful neglect of duty. There is a process that must be followed to avoid the arbitrary removal of a public official. The person would have to know what the allegations are and have a chance to respond during a hearing."

Monday, November 27, 2006

No word from Weast about supporter's racism

Superintendent Jerry Weast is never shy about talking to the media - except when there's news that makes him look bad.

He's looking mighty bad right now, silent for a week as his main remaining ally on the school board, Stephen Abrams, self-immolates over the reportedly racist abuse of an African-American candidate whom Abrams had persuaded not to run for county council.

We didn't think Weast tolerated racism among his supporters. Apparently he makes exceptions. Let's see how long it takes him to make a statement.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weast contemplates gay sex program for kids

"After years of debate and revision, Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools are poised to approve a gay-inclusive sex education curriculum," the Washington Blade reports.

In a story headlined "Mont. County readies gay-inclusive curriculum," the Blade says, "A committee tasked with reviewing the lessons for eighth and 10th grade students approved it Wednesday. District officials must still review the curriculum, which was praised by pro-gay activists."

"The curriculum — which has gone to district Superintendent Jerry Weast for administrative review — is scheduled for board action Jan. 9.

"District spokesperson Brian Edwards said board members could approve the new curriculum at that meeting."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

School Board's Abrams accused of assault and extortion

School Board member Stepen N. Abrams is accused of "second-degree assault and attempt to extort money through an accusation," the Washington Post reports.

In a complaint filed November 20, Adol T. Owen-Williams alleges that Abrams (pictured) "grabbed his throat and slammed his head against a wall last week in a dispute over campaign debt."

The case is now before state prosecutors.

Abrams had pressured African-American victim to quit campaign

The latest Abrams scandal surrounds the school board member's controversial - and, Maryland GOP sources say, much-resented - pressure to force an African-American candidate for a Montgomery County Council at-large seat to quit the campaign so that he, Abrams, could run in his place.

After Republican voters rejected him in the September primary to become state comptroller, Steve Abrams pressured fellow Republican Adol T. Owen-Williams (pictured) to step aside.

Abrams reportedly agreed to pay Owen-Williams' $5,000 campaign debt in exchange for quitting the race.

Voters rejected Abrams, handing him a humiliating 9 percent of the ballots cast.

When Owen-Williams approached Abrams after a November 13 meeting of the Montgomery County Central Committee, according to the Washington Post, Abrams brushed him off and allegedly assaulted him.

Chicken Steve

Steve Abrams is running away from reporters.

He would not comment to the Washington Post on the allegations, so we can't balance the accusations with his rebuttal.

The Gazette tried to reach Abrams as well, with no luck, telling readers, "Abrams did not return numerous phone calls."

In an attempt to be fair, the Gazette did quote Abrams as having said before the alleged assault, "I . . . don’t have to take a back seat in the respect I have for the law."

We just checked Abrams' website,, but he hasn't updated his "Steve Abrams In the News" section yet. We'll keep an eye out for sightings.

Abrams: 'Listen, boy. . .'

Steve Abrams allegedly set upon Adol Owen-Williams in a stairwell after being asked about keeping his end of a campaign bargain.

"When I first brought it up to him - at first, he was very condescending, telling me . . . , 'Listen son, you don't have to bring that up again,' Owen-Williams tells the Washington Post's Lori Aratani. "I told him, 'Don't call me "son."'"

But Abrams, he says, wouldn't quit.

"He said, 'Listen, boy,' and he charged up the stairs towards me," Owen-Williams continues.

"Owen-Williams said he resented Abrams's use of 'boy' because it has racial connotations," the Post reports.

Abrams 'grabbed me by the neck and pushed my head against the wall'

Further describing school board member Steve Abrams' alleged assault, Adol Owen-Williams tells the Washington Post, "He grabbed me by the neck and pushed my head against the wall. He tried to put his elbow against my neck, and I said three times, 'Don't you ever put your hands on me.'"

Montgomery GOP chief was at scene

Montgomery County Republican Central Committee Chairman Tom Reinheimer didn't see Steve Abrams' alleged assault on Adol Owen-Williams, but he heard the shouting and separated the two.

"I heard Adol yell out: 'Have you lost your mind? Don't you ever put your hands on me!'" Reinheimer tells Lori Aratani of the Washington Post. "I heard Adol shout it one or two times."

Aratani reports, "When he opened the door to the stairwell, he said both men had their hands on each other's shoulders. He separated Abrams, who is about 5-foot-5, from Owen-Williams, who is about 5-foot-10. Reinheimer said Abrams then left the building."

(Abrams might be vertically challenged but his ample girth and considerable body mass compensate for his munchkin stature.)

GOP leader confirms Abrams' racial slur

Montgomery County GOP leader Tom Reinheimer confirms to the Gazette that Steve Abrams used a racial slur against an African-American former candidate for County Council.

The Gazette reports, "Abrams told Reinheimer 'to call off his boy,' Owen-Williams said.

"Reinheimer confirmed that Abrams referred to Owen-Williams as a 'boy' several times.

"'I wasn’t used to hearing that, and I’m not sure why he was referring to Adol as my "boy,"' Reinheimer said."

Owen-Williams is 42 years old.

Owen-Williams might drop complaint if Abrams gets therapy

Reputed assault and extortion victim Adol Owen-Williams says he might drop his complaints against school board member Steve Abrams - if Abrams agrees to get help.

According to the Washington Post, Abrams could worm his way out of the assault case if he agrees "to attend anger management courses."

Report: Abrams won't charge victim in exchange for $5,000

The "Strom Abrams" story gets weirder - Apparently the rotund Rockville Republican said he would not press charges against Adol Owen-Williams (!) if Owen-Williams agreed to forgive him the $5000 campaign debt.

That's what the Gazette is reporting.

"Owen-Williams said that after the confrontation with Abrams, several people told him that if he forgave Abrams the $5,000 debt, Abrams would not press charges against him," the Gazette's C. Benjamin Ford reports.

Abrams is hiding from reporters, so we can't relate his side of the story.

Educational thugs

The alleged assault of Adol Owen-Williams puts Steve Abrams in the same bully category as his skinhead ally, the deposed County Council Education Committee Chairman Michael Subin.

Voters rejected both Abrams and Subin this year. Both have used bully tactics against critics, with Subin even threatening parents of Seven Locks Elementary School children with assault. At a public meeting earlier this year, Subin physically threatened a Seven Locks dad - right in front of the man's second-grade son.

This blog has made a joke of Subin's lack of self-control, linking a satirical "Mike Subin's Anger Management Page" to the MCPS Anger Management website. (The link appears in the column on the right of your screen; some browsers force the column down to the bottom of the page.)

But it's no funny thing to see the men in charge of public education for our kids to use threats and violence against people who disagree with them.

Owen-Williams had been warned that Abrams was a sleaze

Adol Owen-Williams made a mistake when he thought that Steve Abrams would respect a gentlemen's agreement.

He'd also been warned that Abrams is a sleaze.

According to the Gazette, "Owen-Williams also said he and Abrams had a 'handshake agreement' that Abrams would reimburse him for the $5,000 campaign expenses he had accrued during the primary campaign.

"'I trusted his word and didn’t get a written contract,' Owen-Williams said. 'I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was a decent, honorable human being even though I’d been warned he wasn’t.'"

Steve Abrams should resign

The last thing the Montgomery County Public Schools system needs is a bigoted bully who tramples the rights of parents, tries to keelhaul any PTA that gets in his way, and assaults people for whom he no longer has any use.

But that's what it has with School Board member Steve Abrams. Enough is enough. He is a disgrace to his Republican Party and to the school system. He should resign.

The public should demand his resignation every time he shows his face.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Weast 'reinforces culture of discrimination'

Bigotry against the disabled is rife within MCPS, according to a Bethesda mom who has had plenty of personal experience fighting school roadblocks for the education for her handicapped little boy.

"Although our disabled son, Robert, had proved his academic capability by the second grade, our efforts to secure a general education for him were repeatedly blocked. We had to hire an attorney," Jeneva Stone writes in a Washington Post letter-to-the-editor.

She holds Superintendent Weast personally responsible.

"The Montgomery school system ranks last in the state in providing the least restrictive environment for special education," she says.

"Bigoted public remarks by school personnel often go unchecked. Mr. Weast has pitted groups of children against one another in an unethical battle for resources, and he reinforces a culture of discrimination within the school system."

When it comes to disabled kids, 'litigate, don't educate'

When it comes to handicapped kids, Superintendent Weast's policy is "litigate, don't educate."

That's what Jeneva Stone, a Bethesda mother of a handicapped boy, says in a letter published in today's Washington Post. reported last year that the superintendent had put aside $1 million for litigation against parents of handicapped public school children.

Mrs. Stone writes today, "the money it [MCPS] spends on outside counsel to litigate against the disabled would fund 30 special education teachers."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Weast downplays high school's failure to teach English

Montgomery Blair High School flunked the state standardized English test, earning it the unwelcome status of "failing school," but our superintendent is pooh-poohing the problem.

Maryland State Department of Education data, released on October 25, shows that Blair did not meet its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) proficiency level in English.

"Blair will consequently remain in a state-mandated improvement stage for failing schools," the school's student paper, Silver Chips Online, reports.

Weast made light of the issue in an October 25 memo. The failure, he said, was only the "mathematical equivalent of less than one student among the nearly 3,000 students enrolled at the school."

The school tried to rig a recount of the results by getting four of its lowest performing students to take a modified version of the test, but the state disallowed the maneuver.

School Board deems November 'special time'

After taking heat for ignoring Veterans' Day, the lame duck Board of Education hastily passed a resolution November 14 - four days after the holiday had come and gone - to issue a dramatic wartime policy statement.

Here it is, according to the MCPS e-bulletin sent out today:

"The Board recognized the month of November as a special time to remember and acknowledge the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States."

It still won't observe the federal Veterans' Day holiday, but for the School Board, unofficial after-the-fact "special time" is better than nothing. I guess.

And what did you do today for freedom?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bad example to the kids: MCPS does not observe Veterans' Day

Here's how MCPS teaches public school kids how to honor America's veterans.

It ignores them.

MCPS takes off a lot of holidays. It even cancels classes midweek to coincide with religious holidays that the federal government does not observe.

But it won't observe the federal holiday of Veterans' Day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Don't you just love how MCPS yanks families around?

Not all of us have $350,000-a-year jobs like our selfless superintendent in this high-tax county. Many of us Montgomery peasant families rely on two incomes.

Our out-of-touch superintendent and our shiny new school board should know how difficult the public school system makes things for families of public school children with their bizarre academic calendar.

Here's the MCPS track record so far for this month at our humble and otherwise happy Seven Locks Elementary School.

MCPS cut the week in half by having no school on November 1 - a Wednesday. Apparently it was inconvenient for the teachers unions to hold the event on a Monday or Friday or - horrors - have their cadres put in some overtime like the rest of us do.

November 7 - a Tuesday - was a "holiday" because of the general election. Because voters needed to use a small corner of the building - the gym - to cast their votes, the entire school had to be shut down.

November 9 and 10 - Thursday and Friday afternoons - "early release" for the kids. No, it's not a prison furlough program. It's for parent-teacher conferences. Asking MCPS to hold them on a single day, say, Friday, apparently is too much to ask.

To say nothing about having school on a federal holiday. MCPS couldn't simply have class or not have class on Veterans' Day. It had to do both.

Hey, boys and girls, Uncle Weastie is stealing your Christmas vacation

As if the slam-the-parents-and-families school closure schedule isn't bad enough, Superintendent Weast just sent out a notice to parents that MCPS is allowing - get this - four days of "Winter break."

That's right, kids: Doctor Weast and the school board already chewed into your summer vacation by starting school in August. Now they are slashing your Christmas vacation.

The "Mark Your Calendar" section of the latest MCPS Parent Connection newsletter - signed by the superintendent Himself and published in six languages - says the following: "Dec. 26-29 - Winter break."

That's all. Four days. Not counting the federal holiday still known as Christmas.

Actually, Weast is not solely to blame for the grinchy schedule. The school calendar is set, in cooperation with the superintendent, by the Board of Education.

Let's educate our new Board members about having family-friendly school calendars!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voters repudiate Abrams

Supersized school board member Steve Abrams rolled away from the At-Large County Council election with a humiliating 9 percent of the vote.

This after all his unseemly backdoor shenaningans to kick a fellow Republican candidate off the ballot so he could run after going down in flames in the September state comptroller primary.

If the unpopuluar Abrams remains on the board of education, he will be in the minority - and he will have almost no allies left on the County Council.

(Photo: Steve Abrams at the King Banana eating competition in Australia.)

Seven Locks favorites win school board election

School board candidates favored by the Save Seven Locks School coalition won all the contested seats in the November 7 election.

Shirley Brandman, on the SLES Coalition list, won with 63 percent of the vote over Tommy Le.

School board District 1 candidate Judy Docca handily defeated Michael Ibañez by a margin of 70 to 30 percent. Docca was favored by the SLES coalition.

The District 5 race between incumbent Nancy Navarro (pictured) and Philip Kauffman ended decisively with Navarro, a heroine of transparency and accountability in school decisionmaking, won by a margin of 64 to 36 percent.

That's the good news.

On the down side, District 3 incumbent Patricia O'Neill ran unopposed; she is considered an adversary of neighborhood control of schools and a lapdog of controversial Superintendent Jerry Weast.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Abrams says Weast is his political legacy

County Council loser Steve Abrams says Jerry Weast (pictured) is the greatest legacy of his political career.

Even greater than when the portly politician was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Food.

Tony Hill of the local cable show Comcast Candidates on Demand asks Abrams, "At the end of your political career, what do you hope your legacy to be?"

Abrams replies, "We already know what it is, it was hiring Jerry Weast as superintendent of schools, he's terrific and he has done something the nation will be proud of, not just Montgomery County."

To see the statement yourself, click on The quote is at the end of the interview.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Whites only, please: Cronyism trumps diversity

The first part of the headline is a parody, of course.

So is the doctored picture of our superintendent from North Carolina.

We just can't get over the irony that our diversity-obsessed superintendent, who prints school notices in six different languages, appears to prefer an all-white school board that will renew his $350,000+ annual contract rather than, say, a board that reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of our county.