Last Saturday’s Manassas Journal-Messenger article on the Rack & Roll scandal (see part 1) featured a number of key players in the Colonial Downs referendum dismissing the idea that Dave Ruttenberg’s troubles had anything to do with them or the proposed sattelite wagering facility that was planned in Manassas Park Shopping Center. I always find it amusing when folks say things to a reporter that aren’t consistent with information that I have.
Take for instance Mayor Frank Jones’ statement that he couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this, since he didn’t take office until July, 2004. Frank Jones was in office when the referendum was being pushed, and while in office appears to have been some kind of a business consultant for Colonial Downs at the same time he was telling voters that he was neutral on the referendum. According to Jonathan Slater, son of councilmember Noreen Slater and the local point man for Colonial Downs:
Slater: They never took my mother’s [Noreen Slater] advice, and I don’t think they took the mayor’s advice.
Ruttenberg: What was the mayor’s advice?
Slater: Ah, put more money into the effort. If you want Northern Virginia…
Ruttenberg: How do you know they mayor said that to ‘em?
Slater: I heard him talk to them about, ah, on more than one occasion and you know, talking to Randy [Gilliland], urging them to basically put real effort…
Randy Gilliland was at the time working for Colonial Downs and heading up their referendum effort, and was Jonathan Slater’s direct supervisor. Now he’s Vice Mayor of the city of Hampton, Virginia, where he’s been such an upstanding guy that local residents actually filed a recall petition to have him removed from office in 2005.
Apparently Mayor Frank Jones was doing a little more than just advising Colonial Downs on how to get this referendum passed. Jonathan Slater seems to confirm that he was also doing everything he could to ensure that there’s be a lot of available space for the new Colonial Downs facility:
Ruttenberg: I never met Frank Jones, ever. You’d think that me as a business owner he’d come into the pool hall and introduce himself.
Slater: Well, maybe pool was not his thing, really. He’s a family man, I don’t know.
Ruttenberg: Instead he sent…
Slater: …had the time to go over and, you know, say hi to him?
Ruttenberg: No, but he drove circles … don’t you remember being at the pool hall and watching him and the Chief of Police riding around the pool hall every busy night, like twenty times?
Slater: Yeah. I mean…
Ruttenberg: Why didn’t he stop and get out? What was going on there?
Slater: I don’t know. You know, I mean… You know… I don’t know.
Ruttenberg: You don’t even have an idea, or a hint?
Slater: I have a thought. I have my thoughts.
Ruttenberg: What are your thoughts? C’mon man!
Slater: Well, you know. The police chief and the mayor are riding around together, they know each other, you know, they might even like each other.
Ruttenberg: That’s not your thoughts.
Slater: Well, they might, uh…
Ruttenberg: Why were they driving circles around the pool hall every night between June and November?
Slater: (unintelligible) …they might not want the pool hall to exist.
Ruttenberg: Thanks, man, for giving me that much. And why might they not want the pool hall to exist?
Slater: Well, then, if Colonial Downs wins, then Colonial Downs comes in.
Ruttenberg: Thanks, Jonathan.
(Listen to this clip here.)
This is just a little different than what Frank Jones told the Manassas Journal-Messenger when they felt somewhat under the microscope. I don’t know about you, but I think it might be worth it for voters to start demanding some answers here.
Is Dave Ruttenberg deluded, or did Colonial Downs’ referendum point man say to David Ruttenberg that Frank Jones was secretly working on behalf of Colonial Downs while he was in office, and that Frank Jones and the Chief of Police wanted David Ruttenberg out so they could use his leased space for a betting parlor that was significantly more substantial than what was told to the voters? If you believe Jonathan Slater in these recordings, as I do, you might be wondering what else has been going on with Mayor Frank Jones.
I sure am.
UPDATE: Radley Balko has his own take on this series by the MJM here, and it’s well worth a visit.
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