Friday, December 01, 2006

Welcome to the Party

This afternoon four members of the Montgomery County Board of Education will be sworn in. They are:
  • Patricia B. O’Neill, who was reelected to the Board for a third term as District 3 representative
  • Nancy Navarro, who was just elected to her first full term. She had been appointed in October 2004 to fill the term of the vacant District 5 seat
  • Shirley Brandman, elected to her first four-year term as an at-large representative
  • Judy Docca, also elected to her first four-year term as a representative of District 1

You can watch the ceremonies at 4PM on the web HERE.

You won't find anybody in the county who agrees with every single decision the board makes, but I have to say this is an excellent group. All of them are solid supporters of comprehensive and inclusive sex education, and that's all we ask for. Two of these four, of course, were already on the board, and two are new.

Valerie Ervin won a seat on the County Council, and so will be leaving the school board. A list has been drawn up of potential appointees for that position, and we'll be watching that plot unfold.

As we move into 2007, a new year and a new cast of characters, we at have a lot to be optimistic about. The citizens of the county have reaffirmed their inherent good-heartedness, and the new school board will be extremely competent.

To the newly-elected ladies of the school board, TTF extends a big grin and a hearty "WELCOME!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some Are Wary of Working With Abrams
Board Officials Cite Fight Case, Temper

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 1, 2006; B06

In 10 years of service to the Montgomery County Board of Education, Stephen N. Abrams has developed a reputation for tough talk and, some say, a short fuse.

Now, amid allegations that he assaulted a fellow Republican at a recent party meeting and addressed the man with a volley of racially disparaging terms, some on the school board say they are uncomfortable working with Abrams.

Four current and future board members -- two new members are to be sworn in today -- say they want an explanation from Abrams, at the least.

Abrams (Rockville-Potomac) has been absent from board meetings since the Nov. 13 incident became public knowledge. He said he has spoken to School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and to the county schools' head of security about the affair.

"Mr. Abrams, I believe, owes the board a statement of sorts, as well as the public," said board member Nancy Navarro (Northeastern County). She is particularly concerned about the prospect that Abrams used racially insensitive language, which, if true, "brings a totally other angle to it. I think he should really think about, what does his continued presence on the board mean?"

Abrams, who was elected in 2004 after two previous four-year terms, has two years left in his term.

Abrams is accused of grappling with Adol T. Owen-Williams II in a stairwell after a meeting of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee. Owen-Williams said Abrams charged up the stairs and grabbed him around the neck when Owen-Williams asked about a $5,000 campaign debt that Abrams had pledged to cover.

According to Owen-Williams and a witness, Abrams repeatedly referred to Owen-Williams as "son" and "boy" during the scuffle. Abrams, 63, is white, and Owen-Williams, 42, is black. Abrams neither confirmed nor denied making the comments.

Owen-Williams filed a complaint against Abrams on Nov. 15. Abrams in a countercharge, portrayed Owen-Williams as the attacker.

The men voluntarily entered mediation yesterday, but the session ended without resolution, both said afterward. County prosecutors must decide whether to prosecute either or both cases.

Valerie Ervin (Silver Spring), who is about to leave the board to join the County Council, agreed that Abrams should make a public statement, as did Shirley Brandman (At Large), who is about to join the board, and Patricia O'Neill (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), one of its senior members. All four stressed that they consider Abrams innocent until proved guilty.

Some on the board say the allegations look bad in light of Abrams's reputation as being temperamental. They recounted incidents as recent as last year in which, they say, Abrams publicly sparred with two County Council members. "He tends to lose his temper," Ervin said. "He's lost his temper with me more than once."

Abrams says he prides himself on a sharp wit and sharp tongue, but he defies critics to find any case of physical violence.

"Anybody who knows me and knows my physical characteristics knows that I settle things verbally. I don't settle things physically," said Abrams, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall.

Owen-Williams, for his part, was the subject of a 2004 restraining order after a woman accused him of stalking and verbal terror. He says the woman sought the order in retaliation after he repeatedly accused her of stalking him.

According to Owen-Williams, he and Abrams came to blows over an unpaid political debt: Abrams ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the County Council in place of Owen-Williams, who said he agreed to give up his spot on the ballot so long as Abrams would take care of expenses he had incurred in the primary.

To corroborate his version, Abrams provided handwritten notes to prosecutors from Scott Dyer, a former Republican County Council candidate, stating that Dyer observed Owen-Williams "with hands (both) up at neck area appearing to strangle Steve." Owen-Williams said Dyer saw only "the last five or 10 seconds" of the incident.

Tom Reinheimer of the GOP Central Committee backs up the allegation that Abrams referred to Owen-Williams as "boy."

Reinheimer said he walked in on the men, and Abrams told him: " 'See what your boy did? That's your boy.' " He thinks Abrams meant to portray Owen-Williams as the chairman's political lackey.

"I think that can be taken in a racial context, but I don't think that's how Abrams meant it," Reinheimer said.

December 02, 2006 7:50 AM  

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