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Prince George’s officials: Gansler remarks ‘out of touch’ and ‘irresponsible’

UPDATED (11:37  a.m.)—More than two dozen elected officials from Prince George’s County are criticizing Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for remarks made at the opening of a campaign office last week.

“The Attorney General’s statements about Prince George’s County threaten to damage our County’s progress,” according to an emailed statement signed by 27 local, state and federal elected officials who represent Prince Georges County. “It’s important for leaders like us to send a clear message that Prince George’s County, OUR County, will not be used as a punching bag to further Doug Gansler’s — or any other politician’s — political career and self interest. We ask you to join us by adding your name to this letter to send a clear message to Mr. Gansler that Prince George’s County should be celebrated by our leaders, not denigrated.”

Doug Gansler

In this April 24, 2013 file photo, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler speaks in an interview at The Daily Record in Baltimore, Md. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Gansler, D-Montgomery and a candidate for governor, criticized Lt. Gov. Antony G. Brown, D-Prince George’s, and said the county has not seen the progress in economic development or education that it deserves.

“When I was growing up, you couldn’t shop in a mall in Prince George’s or go to a restaurant with a table cloth in Prince George’s.  You had to come to Montgomery or Anne Arundel County.  And it’s not that different now,” Gansler said, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Gansler also said “There’s still education redlining going on in Prince George’s County,” and said there were people interested in “keeping Prince George’s County down.”

In the open letter to Prince George’s County residents, the elected officials said Gansler’s remarks were crossed a line.

“It’s bad enough to tear down your opponent in an election, but it crosses a clear line to tear down Prince George’s County,” according to the letter.

Here’s the letter in full:

Dear Fellow Prince Georgian:

I am sure you read Saturday’s Washington Post article that highlighted just some of the reckless remarks that Attorney General Doug Gansler made about our County this weekend while opening a campaign office in Forestville. It’s bad enough to tear down your opponent in an election, but it crosses a clear line to tear down Prince George’s County.

“When I was growing up, you couldn’t shop in a mall in Prince George’s or go to a restaurant with a table cloth in Prince George’s.  You had to come to Montgomery or Anne Arundel County.  And it’s not that different now.” – Doug Gansler, 02/08/14

His words are demeaning and nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing that has ever prevented Mr. Gansler from shopping or eating in our County is the out of touch stereotypes that he’s now perpetuating to try to win an election. From the Hyattsville Arts District, to the Woodmore Town Center, to National Harbor, there are plenty of places to have a great meal and do some shopping in Prince George’s County. It’s too bad Doug Gansler can’t see fit to recognize the progress we’ve made together.

“There’s still education redlining going on in Prince George’s County.” – Doug Gansler 02/08/14

Our students, parents, teachers and principals have earned the right to expect better from Attorney General Gansler. They are not “redliners.” While we all know there is more work to be done in our school system, there is no debating that the County’s schools are making real progress and we are proud of that fact. Test scores are on the rise, enrollment is up, and there are more options for parents and students. Mr. Gansler’s reckless statement disrespects our shared commitment to improving our schools and belittles the hard work of students and educators across the County.  With Lt. Governor Brown’s leadership, this year the state invested $1.1B into our schools and $35M in school construction here in Prince George’s. We’ve replaced or renovated 48 schools in the last seven years and remain committed to closing the achievement gap.

 “Everyone who’s got a powerful interest in this status quo staying what it is, and keeping Prince George’s County down, is going to be against us, but we’re not going to let that happen.” – Doug Gansler 02/08/14

This kind of language is irresponsible and calls into question the Attorney General’s judgment. Last summer, Mr. Gansler made the offensive claim that Anthony Brown, a Harvard educated, Iraq War veteran with 16 years of government service was running on his race alone. Now he’s at it again, putting his own political ambition and gain ahead of the people of our County by making another blatant effort to divide us. What’s “keeping Prince George’s County down” is outdated stereotypes and divisive politics that undercut our ability to have honest, productive conversations about making our County better.

The Attorney General’s statements about Prince George’s County threaten to damage our County’s progress.  It’s important for leaders like us to send a clear message that Prince George’s County, OUR County, will not be used as a punching bag to further Doug Gansler’s — or any other politician’s — political career and self interest. We ask you to join us by adding your name to this letter to send a clear message to Mr. Gansler that Prince George’s County should be celebrated by our leaders, not denigrated.

Sincerely,

1.   Congresswoman Donna Edwards

2.   Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk

3.   Councilman Derrick Leon Davis

4.   State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks

5.   Senator Joanne Benson

6.   Council Member Trina Brown, Bladensburg

7.   Senator Ulysses Currie

8.   Delegate Dereck E. Davis

9.   Council Chairman Mel Franklin

10. Delegate Barbara Frush

11. Council Member Beverly Hall, Bladensburg

12. Delegate Marvin Holmes

13. Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard

14.  Councilwoman Mary Lehman

15.  Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.

16.  Mayor Craig Moe, Laurel

17.  Councilman Eric Olson

18.  Senator Doug Peters

19.  Delegate Jim Proctor

20.  Delegate Darren Swain

21.  Councilwoman Ingrid Turner

22.  Delegate Veronica Turner

23.  Delegate Kris Valderrama

24.  Delegate Michael Vaughn

25.  Delegate Alonzo Washington

26.  June White Dillard, Esq., Former Prince George’s NAACP President

27.  The Honorable Floyd E. Wilson Jr.

28. Congressman Steny Hoyer

One comment

  1. Well, the A.G.’s remarks concerning Prince George’s County are correct. There are only two Macy’s in the entire county ( Marlow Heights/ Bowie), and as far as I know there are no TJ Maxx stores.No high end department stores desire to open a location here. I would not say that Prince George’s County has upscale restaurants either after living here for twelve years. Yes, there are a lot of mom and pop places, greasy spoon spots, but no where that has top notch service or even a nice romantic secluded ambiance to it. Granted, we now have the outlets down near the National Harbor, but come on, that sole outdoor mall/town center cannot be expected to serve a county as large as Prince George’s. I’m an African American attorney residing in P.G. and I am so embarased when I have to endure derogatory remarks made by fellow white attorneys who reside in Northern Virginia, Montgomery/ Anne Arundel and Howard counties. No one is interested in Prince George’s; no one knows anything about the county. They are warned prior to relocating to the Washington metropolitan area to steer clear of P.G. The only thing any of them would be remotely interested in visiting is the Harbor. Yes, some progress has been made, but we cannot continue to ignore what is plain – the County continues to suffer from stereotypes and discrimination by whites from the more affluent surrounding areas and a growing divide between African American haves and have nots. A few years ago a superintendent of PG schools was criticized for pushing an agenda of encouraging students to spend more time on homework. Parents here hit the roof and citizens of this county wonder why it is probably the worst scholastically performing county in the State of Maryland outside of Baltimore city. The truth hurts sometimes…

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