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Another Rack & Roll Saga Story

By Greg L | 10 January 2007 | Rack & Roll Scandal | 29 Comments

The first referendum on off-track betting in Manassas Park was in 1996. At the time, Colonial Downs thought they might want to locate the facility in the area where Town Center is now planned which prompted the realignment of the intersection of Route 28 and Manassas Drive. One local businessman, Dave Ruttenberg, saw that this location had some serious downsides. The location would require a rezoning, which would prompt a lot of difficult citizen input as it’s closer to the more upscale housing in Manassas Park, wouldn’t be located on a major transportation route, and there would likely be transportation capacity concerns on Manassas Drive. Ruttenberg had a brilliant idea — sell the idea of locating the facility in the mall on Route 28, and all of those problems would be avoided since it’s already properly zoned.

Colonial Downs loved the idea so much they changed their strategy and entered into an agreement with Dave Ruttenberg and some of the other tenants in the mall to have them support the referendum and help work the buildout issues in exchange for five million dollars. I’ve seen this agreement. They even agreed to give Dave Ruttenberg the food & beverage contract for the betting facility. This up-and-coming businessman was really living the American Dream, discovering business opportunities that created value for others, and earning his place among the movers & shakers in the community. Life couldn’t be better.

Suddenly all sorts of administrative problems started showing up for Dave, and one of the first was a renewal of his beverage license. As is usual, the police department provides a report about whether there are problems at a licensed business so decision makers can take into account whether the business is running in an orderly fashion and not causing problems for the neighborhood or for other businesses. The report furnished by the Director of Public Safety to the City Manager contained the normal listings of calls, with a lot labeled “Unfounded”, “Scene Calm”, and “No Information Available” for those where no crime or infraction was discovered. Three incidents in a one year period ended up with an arrest or a citation. So far, so good, and this seems to be a pretty calm place.

Then there’s one that really pops out at the end: “Severe Facial Lacerations”. A violent crime! Holy broken beer bottles, batman! This place is a problem!

Then you read the notes at the bottom:

“The most serious violation involved a fight where a man received severe facial lacerations when he was struck with a beer bottle as he was leaving the business. We do have serious doubts as to whether it happened at the Rack & Roll. Our investigation could not locate any broken glass or blood, we believe it happened in Prince William County at a different pool hall. I am including the incident only to emphasize the need to keep liquids in clear plastic cups. (emphasis added)

So the saga begins with the first salvos in the fight to revoke Dave Ruttenberg’s license to sell beer at Rack & Roll, which it eventually did ten years later.

Why was the Director of Public Safety including an incident that didn’t happen at Rack & Roll in a report to the folks determining whether or not to renew Ruttenberg’s license to sell beer? Oh, yeah, it was about the importance to public safety of “keeping liquids in clear plastic containers” at Rack & Roll, like it’s some sort of grungy college town bar. What a completely transparent and clearly deliberate lie. The motive for the police department to submit such a ridiculously unfair report to the City Council might well have something to do with this pesky young upstart intruding on the establishment’s prerogatives in the city, and definitely suggests that someone senior in the Manassas park Police Department was involved in a conspiracy to destroy a local businessman.

These folks didn’t have serious doubts, they absolutely knew it happened somewhere else because Dave Ruttenberg personally helped the police investigate this incident where the police found plenty of evidence at a different establishment. Dave Ruttenberg remembers the incident like this:

Ok, Here’s the story. It is about 1 am Sunday night/ Mon morning. I am working the shift. Karen Bachen (MPPD) arrives and asks where the stabbing victim is. I tell her I’ve been working all evening and there has been nothing unusual going on. I sense something is up so I suggest she drive to the poolroom on the other side of Manassas. I locked up the club and followed her over there. there was blood on their front door and all over the sidewalk out front. The place was locked up and dark. It was clear to both of us what had occured. I never found out any more about it. What a kick in the head to see it on their police report to the city council.

Here’s an image of the report furnished to the Manassas Park City Council. Tell me this makes any sense.

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  1. Batson D. Belfrey said on 10 Jan 2007 at 10:57 am:
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    What do we have to do, to get the PWC CA to look into this? For that matter, when is the MJM going to get off of their fat, lazy asses and do some real investigative journalism? I’ll bet if Rack & Roll were owned by an illegal alien, the paper would be all over this, screaming about abuse of government power.

    Another thought: where are Charles, James Young, t, and Molluer on this? Oh, that’s right. They only chime in when they think one of their friends is being unfairly targeted by meany blogs. If Rack and Roll were being threatened by a Conservative blog, or a pro-choice openly homosexual democrat, whew, look out.

    Wait! Rack & Roll, OTB, Chapman helps defeat OTB, Charles, James Young, t, Molluer are friends of Chapman. Hmmmmm?

  2. Had to Say said on 10 Jan 2007 at 1:35 pm:
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    This whole situation stinks and it makes you really wonder about our government.

  3. Batson D. Belfrey said on 10 Jan 2007 at 4:12 pm:
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    This wouldn’t happen in Manassas City.

  4. a nonny mouse said on 10 Jan 2007 at 7:48 pm:
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    I suspect it could.

  5. Greg L said on 10 Jan 2007 at 8:05 pm:
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    The PWC CA has already been contacted about this long ago, and chose to look the other way for some reason. I am not entirely sure what his role in this affair has been, but it certainly hasn’t been on the right side of this scandal.

    As for the MJM, look for something this weekend or early next week from Alex Granados. It might be pretty good given all the time he’s been working on it.

    And nonny, no, this would not happen in Manassas City. There is an ‘old establishment’ there, but it’s not one that tries to burn down the town in order to maintain complete dominance. You can earn your way in in the city, something outsiders just aren’t allowed to do in the park.

  6. AWCheney said on 10 Jan 2007 at 8:37 pm:
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    Greg and Nonny, it could happen anywhere that the public remains apathetic to their government, police, and community. But I do agree, I seriously doubt that anything like this could go as far in the City of Manassas…just look at the voting statistics. I have the numbers (too lazy to get them out), but the fact is, the City of Manassas Park is notorious in our area for its extremely low voter turnout whereas the City of Manassas is known for consistently having one of the highest percentage of turnouts in the area. This represents the scrutiny of the citizens and speaks to what can happen if the citizens just simply don’t appear to care. ALL citizens should take heed.

  7. Anonon said on 10 Jan 2007 at 9:42 pm:
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    Alex is a great reporter - extremely professional and thorough. I look forward to his article.

  8. a nonny mouse said on 10 Jan 2007 at 10:58 pm:
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    How about Chief Skinner’s lack of support for 287(G) due to his apparent business deal in GTS?

    I never did hear any more details about that, but it sounds quite interesting.

  9. a nonny mouse said on 10 Jan 2007 at 11:08 pm:
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    As far as voter turnout, I honestly wonder how many of MP’s registered voters actually still live in MP. If it is the case that there a large number of voter registrations that should be purged, it decreases apparent voter turnout (and also increases the potential for fraud).

  10. AWCheney said on 10 Jan 2007 at 11:29 pm:
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    Nonny, Manassas Park not only has extremely low voter turnouts…it also has an extremely low percentage of eligible citizens registered to vote. This translates into the appearance of widespread apathy among the Manassas Park CITIZENRY, much less the voters.

    Insofar as purging the rolls, it is my understanding from various voter registrars, whom I have had occasion to consult in the process of compiling data, they are no longer allowed to purge voter rolls. Voters can only be removed if they officially transfer their registration to another jurisdiction or have committed PROVABLE fraud (extremely difficult to prove, or at least adjudicate). Welcome to Motor Voter.

  11. a nonny mouse said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:16 am:
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    “it also has an extremely low percentage of eligible citizens registered to vote.”

    How exactly is that determined?

    When I registered to vote, nobody ever asked to see my passport (I didn’t have one at the time) nor my birth certificate, which are the only two acceptable proofs of citizenship for someone like me who was born in this country.

    Someone has somehow determined what percentage of MP residents who are not registered to vote are citizens?

    I don’t believe it. Not for a minute. Someone pulled those figures out of the same place that they..nevermind, you get my point.

  12. a nonny mouse said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:18 am:
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    By the way, the State Dept. does not consider voter registration as acceptable proof of citizenship.

  13. Jerri said on 11 Jan 2007 at 12:10 pm:
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    ” They even agreed to give Dave Ruttenberg the food & beverage contract for the betting facility. ”

    Was there someone else with better connections vying for the beverage contract?

    I didn’t realize until this post that moving the betting facility to the shopping center was his idea. Could a “better-connected” opponent of the center be behind this?

    Isn’t there a reader of this blog who is well-connected with the Republican Party in that area? Perhaps she should schedule some Republican meetings of some sort on a regular basis at the Rack & Roll.

  14. Batson D. Belfrey said on 11 Jan 2007 at 12:40 pm:
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    “Isn’t there a reader of this blog who is well-connected with the Republican Party in that area?”

    Manassas Park has a Republican Party? Are you sure? I think it’s an urban legend.

  15. Jerri said on 11 Jan 2007 at 1:21 pm:
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    “Isn’t there a reader of this blog who is well-connected with the Republican Party in that area?”

    “Manassas Park has a Republican Party? Are you sure? I think it’s an urban legend.”

    I just reread some posts at The Agitator. I think that I meant A W Cheney.

  16. Greg L said on 11 Jan 2007 at 1:25 pm:
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    Actually, the story about who actually ended up with that contract is pretty interesting. For now just let me say that instead of going to an ‘outsider’ like Dave Ruttenberg, it ended up with an insider who is now part of the Manassas Park government. More on that once I get a chance to confirm a few things.

    And as far as a Republican party in Manassas Park, there was a semi-secret organization by that name, then it got reconstituted, and now it’s a completely secret organization.

  17. AWCheney said on 11 Jan 2007 at 6:09 pm:
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    “When I registered to vote, nobody ever asked to see my passport (I didn’t have one at the time) nor my birth certificate, which are the only two acceptable proofs of citizenship for someone like me who was born in this country.”

    You were, I expect, asked to present your driver’s license, were you not? A birth certificate is required to acquire a driver’s license. It’s a moot point, however. I know the point that you were trying to make is regarding the large population of non-citizens in Manassas Park. MY numbers took that into consideration, and were based on the last census data, factoring in proportionate growth of those numbers. I assure you, they did not come out of any personal orifice, and they did not come from Manassas Park…they didn’t have them.

    MY point was also, with “Motor Voter,” it is extremely difficult to prevent fraud. Despite the ease of registration, it is STILL extremely low in the Park. You want to dispute that…go run your own numbers.

  18. AWCheney said on 11 Jan 2007 at 6:20 pm:
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    Well Jerri, though this AWCheney has a very long history with Republican politics throughout PWC, VA, and beyond, I do not live in Manassas Park. Actually, I’ve been semi-retired from political activity for some time now and currently belong to no Republican Committee. My concern here is as a citizen of this county, state, and country who has become aware of a grievous wrong and is only trying to do the right thing in whatever way that I am able…and hoping that others will find it in their conscience to do that as well.

  19. Jerri said on 11 Jan 2007 at 6:36 pm:
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    Another thing that bothers me is the report that you link to. That seems to be a “false light invasion of privacy” because of the way the information was manipulated. If it was done with malice, the police may not have had sovereign immunity against such a cause of action.

    When did Dave find out about this and what did he do about it? If the law in your state is favorable on this issue, I would have sent a cease and desist letter and/or filed a Motion for TRO against the police and city council. I would have pushed back right away at every little thing.

    Didn’t Dave have some kind of lawsuit going concerning this?

  20. Golem said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:13 pm:
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    The report referenced above is dated November, 1996. At the time David and his father were concerned but felt that they would gain the trust of Manassas Park officials by demonstrating continued good citizenship through the operation of their business. They did not fully understand then the nature of Manassas Park officialdom and felt it was just better to accept the unwarranted attack and move on. After all, all they were just small business people trying to build a future.

    Subsequently, for reasons that have been under discussion in this blog, “theagitator,” and others, it was painfully demonstrated that Manassas Park officialdom wanted them out and were quite willing to violate their constitutional rights to make that happen. As set forth in the brief submitted to the Va. ABC (see www.theagitator.com), Manassas Park, over a series of years, undertook a continuing course of conduct, designed to defame David Ruttenberg. This included, inter alia, false allegations of drug use and/or sales by Mr. Ruttenberg, engineering drug deals in Rack N Roll (both in 2003 and 2004), a huge swat team raid in June, 2004 (which turned up nothing against Mr. Ruttenberg) and perjury in testimony before the ABC with respect to such fabrication of evidence.

    There is a two year statute of limitations with respect to violation of constitutional rights by state actors. On June 1, 2006, i.e., within 2 years after the 2 June 2004 raid, the Ruttenberg’s filed a $5 million federal suit in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging violations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments. Judges, however, are loath to permit such suits against police authorities. The judge in this case did not consider that the allegations of fabrication of evidence and perjury were sufficient to state a cause of action with respect to the 14 Amendment (deprivation of property w/o due process of law) and granted the defendants qualified immunity with respect to the illegal search and seizure (4th Amendment violation) that the officers undertook on 2 June 2004 in Mr. Ruttenberg’s office. The judge dismissed the case w/o letting it get before a jury.

    The Ruttenberg’s, and their lawyers, believe that the judge in the Eastern District erred in his decision. Tomorrow, Friday January 12, 2007, they will file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Aside from being part of the continuing abusive course of conduct by Manassas Park authorities, the November, 1996 episode is not mentioned in that suit.

    In my opinion, if the Fourth Circuit does not overturn the Eastern District’s dismissal it will be a substantial injustice. Of more importance, however, it will be a blow to the constitutional rights of every American and to the confidence that they deserve to have that they are protected from such offical abuse in the United States of America. For all our sakes we should wish the Ruttenberg’s luck.

  21. AWCheney said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:33 pm:
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    I think that it might be appropriate for me to repeat a comment I made on another thread here, though farther back (”Let’s Go To The Video Tape! (#3):

    AWCheney said on 9 Jan 2007 at 5:33 pm:
    I know that there are numerous attorneys out there following this who had misjudged David Ruttenberg by buying into the defamation campaign that has unjustly sullied his reputation over these many years. Perhaps some of those attorneys, having now seen only a fraction of the evidence which exists decrying that insidious defamation, would search their conscience and consider filing Amicus briefs with the Federal Court in support of an appeal. Believe me, doing the right thing does wonders for your soul.

  22. a nonny mouse said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:55 pm:
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    “You were, I expect, asked to present your driver’s license, were you not? A birth certificate is required to acquire a driver’s license.”

    A birth certificate is just one of several forms of “proof of legal residency” required to obtain a (Virginia) driver’s license, and in any event, I obtained my driver’s license long before these rules went into effect as a result of the 9/11 attacks. A driver’s license is NOT proof of citizenship.

    “MY numbers took that into consideration, and were based on the last census data, factoring in proportionate growth of those numbers.”

    I see. I suspect that the number of non-citizens in Manassas Park is larger than your estimate. I would say the numbers more than quadrupled on my street alone, in the last 6 years (with a corresponding decrease in the number of citizens, since no new housing units were built on my street in that time). I didn’t hear Spanish being spoken on a regular basis when I first moved in here 6 years ago.

    Now I do.

  23. a nonny mouse said on 11 Jan 2007 at 11:57 pm:
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    Incidentally, for as many Hispanics as Manassas Park has, they sure don’t bother to go out and vote, either legally or not.

  24. Anonon said on 12 Jan 2007 at 5:50 am:
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    My white neighbors don’t go out to vote either - in Manassas Park, apathy knows no color.

  25. a nonny mouse said on 12 Jan 2007 at 9:15 am:
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    I don’t know if my neighbors go out to vote, since I can’t hang around at the polling place all day to see if they show up.

  26. a nonny mouse said on 13 Jan 2007 at 5:19 pm:
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    Even if someone goes to vote, if they’re just voting for someone due to the fact that they have an “R” next to their name, that’s apathy.

    I thought we had reached a turning point when three independents got elected for city council–primarily because, I believe, people are getting FED UP with the increasing property taxes (and because the independents had to run as such due to the (semi) secretive Manassas Park Republican Committee).

  27. Anonon said on 13 Jan 2007 at 8:45 pm:
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    Nonny - In some ways we did, but the turnout was still pathetic. I think, though, moving the elections to November may be worse. Voters who have barely educated themselves to the issues nationally, are just going to vote the party slate - your stated concern, which is incredibly valid. Those independents won’t win in that climate - it’s going to be a sea of Rs as MP is predominately Republican.

  28. AWCheney said on 15 Jan 2007 at 11:47 pm:
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    Anonon, a “sea of Rs” is not necessarily the problem…it is WHO the Rs are, and their culpibility. I’m a “R,” as is Greg, and we don’t like this any better than you do. Voting in elections is not an obligation, it is a right. Along with that right is the obligation to maintain it and exercise it as a free people…if you want to remain free.

  29. a nonny mouse said on 17 Jan 2007 at 1:57 pm:
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    What amazes me about MP are the usually 3 or 4 citizens who bother to show up to the city council meetings.

    If it weren’t for them, no citizens would bother to show up to city council meetings.

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