Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bad Behavior By School Board Member

Montgomery County school board member Steve Abrams ran for state comptroller in the primaries and county council in the general election, and lost pretty bad, but he still has his school board seat. Now he's facing charges and not answering his phone after some really bad-sounding behavior made the news. From The Gazette:
What began as a gentlemen’s agreement between two Montgomery County Republican candidates may end up in criminal court.

At the center of the dispute is money, claims of racism and an alleged assault.

Onetime County Council candidate Adol T. Owen-Williams charges that school board member Stephen N. Abrams grabbed him by the throat and slammed his head against a wall on Monday night after a meeting of the county’s GOP central committee in Rockville. GOP spat comes to blows

This does seem rather primitive for leaders of our community, don't you agree?
Owen-Williams, 42, filed a complaint with a Montgomery County District Court commissioner on Wednesday evening; court records show a summons was issued charging Abrams with second-degree assault and attempt to extort money through an accusation, a misdemeanor. There was no indication that Abrams has been served the summons, which can be sought by anyone whose charges are reviewed by a District Court commissioner.

Abrams did not return numerous phone calls Thursday.

It seems that Owens-Williams expected to be reimbursed by Abrams for $5,000 in campaign expenses. Then when O-W asked him about it ...
On Monday, Owen-Williams said, he waited until after the central committee meeting to ask Abrams privately about the money.

"I questioned him when I could expect payment," Owen-Williams said. "He said, ‘Listen, son, you don’t need to bring that topic up to me.’ I said, ‘I’m not your son,’ and he said, ‘Listen, boy.’ Then he charged up the stairs at me and when he got to the top of the stairs, he squeezed his hands around my neck. I yelled at him, ‘Have you lost your mind?’"

Owen-Williams, who is black, said being called a "boy" by Abrams, who is white, was offensive.

Owen-Williams said Abrams shoved him back against a wall and he grabbed Abrams’ arms, forcing him to let go.

"I yelled at him, ‘Don’t you ever put your hands around me again,’" Owen-Williams said.

Wow, this gets ugly.
Reinheimer, who was re-elected chairman of the Montgomery County Central Committee earlier in the evening, said he heard Owen-Williams shouting at Abrams to keep his hands off him. Reinheimer went to the stairway to see what was going on.

"I told them to cut it out," Reinheimer said. "They separated at that."

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.

This just makes me all the gladder about the outcomes of the school board elections this past week.


Blogger andrea said...

Steve Abrams- I know the Republicans were in dire straits when they put him up for County Council. I guess the Post should be really proud of endorsing him instead of Marc Elrich. They called him(Abrams) an iconoclast. I thought they should have called him something that starts with a- and ends with e. Somehow a number of serious Dems got messages right before the election from an Abrams website putting down the Dem candidates. My dem precinct leader and I talked about it-as if we would vote for Abrams if he had addressed issues much less putting down the concerns of the Dem candidates.

November 20, 2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"School Board Member Accused of Assault in Debt Dispute

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 21, 2006; B02

A former Montgomery County Council candidate has filed a complaint alleging that Montgomery school board member Stephen N. Abrams grabbed his throat and slammed his head against a wall last week in a dispute over campaign debt.

The complaint by Adol T. Owen-Williams II, 42, filed Wednesday with a county District Court commissioner, charges Abrams with second-degree assault and attempt to extort money through an accusation, which is a misdemeanor.

But whether the matter will land in court remains to be seen.

Owen-Williams, who met with prosecutors from the Montgomery state's attorney's office yesterday, said he'd be willing to drop his complaint if Abrams agreed to attend anger management courses.

Abrams would not comment on the allegations. Deputy State's Attorney Katherine Winfree also declined to comment.

Owen-Williams said he gave up his place as a Republican candidate on the November ballot under pressure from Abrams, who represents the Rockville-Potomac area on the school board and is a former Rockville City Council member.

Abrams wanted to run for an at-large seat on the council after losing his bid for the Republican nomination for state comptroller in the September primary. But to do so, he needed a candidate to step aside.

In exchange for Owen-Williams giving up his spot, Abrams agreed to take care of the $5,000 in expenses the council candidate had incurred during his primary campaign, Owen-Williams said. Abrams subsequently lost the council race.

On Nov. 13, after the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee met to elect new officers at it headquarters in Rockville, Owen-Williams said yesterday that he followed Abrams, 63, down a stairwell to ask him about the money.

"When I 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 said. "I told him, 'Don't call me "son." ' "

But he said Abrams continued.

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

Owen-Williams said he resented Abrams's use of "boy" because it has racial connotations. Owen-Williams is African American, and Abrams is white.

Tom Reinheimer, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, who was at the meeting, said he did not see the two men tussling but did hear shouting.

"I heard Adol yell out: 'Have you lost your mind? Don't you ever put your hands on me!' " Reinheimer said. "I heard Adol shout it one or two times."

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.

"I wanted there to be a record of his conduct,'' Owen-Williams, a financial adviser from North Potomac, said of filing the complaint.

Now that they have met with Owen-Williams, prosecutors can choose to forward the case to mediation, deny it or prosecute it.

Because Abrams is an elected official, it is likely that county prosecutors would ask another jurisdiction to evaluate the case.

"I think he's watched 'The Godfather' one too many times,'' Owen-Williams said about Abrams. "He thinks he's Don Corleone. But even Don Corleone had a nice side."

Staff writer Ernesto Londoño also contributed to this story."

November 21, 2006 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

November 21, 2006 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pols’ brawl may be settled out of court
Mediator will hear details from two Republicans who charged each other with assault earlier this month
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006
by C. Benjamin Ford
Staff Writer

Two Republican Central Committee members are expected to meet with a mediator Thursday in an attempt to settle a dispute that resulted in both men pressing assault charges against each other.

Adel T. Owen-Williams, 42, of Rockville and school board member Steven N. Abrams, 63, of Rockville volunteered for mediation, which could lead to the criminal charges being dismissed, said Deputy State’s Attorney John McCarthy (D).

‘‘Many complaints of this type are referred to mediation,” McCarthy said. ‘‘This is not unusual and is something we do for these kinds of cases.”

On Nov. 15, Owen-Williams filed criminal charges of second-degree assault and attempt to extort money through a false accusation against Abrams, who unsuccessfully ran for state comptroller and the Montgomery County Council this year.

Owen-Williams accused Abrams of attacking him following a Nov. 13 Republican Central Committee meeting in Rockville after he asked Abrams when he was going to receive the $5,000 Abrams agreed to pay him to drop out of the County Council race so Abrams could run.

On Nov. 21, Abrams filed a countercharge of second-degree assault, accusing Owen-Williams of attacking him.

Abrams did not return calls Tuesday. Owen-Williams said in a brief telephone interview from Pittsburgh, where he was attending a meeting, that he decided mediation was the best way to go after Abrams filed charges against him.

If the mediator reaches an agreement with the two to resolve the case out of court, both sets of charges would be dropped, McCarthy said. Otherwise, the case will proceed through the court system.

Prosecutors often encourage people in neighborhood and workplace disputes to seek mediation because it can result in a just resolution without tying up the courts, McCarthy said.

Often, mediators are able to come up with a written agreement on how the people will act with each other in the future, he said.

It would be good if the dispute could be settled outside of criminal court, Republican Central Committee Chairman Tom Reinheimer said.

‘‘I don’t think we’ll see that kind of excitement again,” he said. ‘‘I hope not.”

Time for Abrams to leave
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006

Public servants should reflect the highest possible standards. That is particularly true for elected members of the Montgomery County Board of Education, who provide such important role models for our children.

How can we as parents explain or condone the behavior of school board member Steve Abrams? The latest incident — his reported physical attack on an African-American candidate for County Council whom he called ‘‘boy,” a racially offensive slur — raises serious questions. It comes against the backdrop of other troubling exchanges and Mr. Abrams’ strong opposition this year to letting the county Inspector General evaluate public schools.

Residents expect our officials to demonstrate respect for every person and to honor institutions established to help ensure accountability for local government. On that basis, it’s time for Mr. Abrams to leave public office.

Sandy Vogelgesang and Geoffrey Wolfe, Bethesda
The writers are have two children in public schools.

November 30, 2006 12:56 PM  

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