The Manassas Journal-Messenger took a stab at reporting what happened at Tuesday’s meeting of the Manassas park Planning Commission, and pretty much missed the story and a lot of the facts. The article looks like it was written after extensively interviewing Manassas Park City Attorney Dean Crowhurst, and getting only a soundbite or two from David Ruttenberg, the operator of Rack n’ Roll billiards. While the internet is ablaze with talk about Dean Crowhurst outing one of the members of the Planning Commission in a child pornography scandal, the MJM doesn’t mention it at all. That’s the real story here, but you’re not going to learn about it reading the MJM.
It’s telling here that the MJM didn’t even intend to talk to David Ruttenberg about this, and Ruttenberg had to call the reporter to have a last-minute chance to provide his side of the story. They certainly did talk to Dean Crowhurst, however, and even passed on his take on this without any attempt to validate the information provided. As a result, this article is a train wreck of misstatements and falsehoods about what has happened, and a huge disservice to the public. The reporter here, Kipp Hanley, is someone who I’ve dealt with before, and found to be objective and reasonable, and I’m really surprised by this article. This isn’t what I’m used to seeing from Hanley at all.
There’s the characterization of the two, that’s right, two warm sample bottles of beer provided by a distributor seized in the raid as “unauthorized alcohol on the premises”. The “illegal drug use” the article mentions was entirely the result of police officers engaging their officers and paid informants in drug buys at Rack n’ Roll in a pretty brazen attempt to portray his business as a drug den when it wasn’t. Best of all, the “public nudity” they mention was the result of the actions of the then Vice-Mayor of the City, who seems to have operated at the direction of the City to obtain false evidence of lewd behavior at Rack n’ Roll.
This one is a whopper:
This May, Judge Leroy F. Millette found the city council “properly and fairly denied” the new permit but remanded the matter to the council to review the original permit to determine whether all conditions therein have been satisfied since Feb. 4, 1997.
Actually, the judge found that Rack n’ Roll had a property interest in the Conditional Use Permit that had been originally granted, and while the Governing Board had denied a renewal Conditional Use Permit, there was no need to have a renewal Conditional Use Permit in the first place since the original one was still legally in effect. The Governing Board had improperly expired the original permit, and in this case Ruttenberg had won. That the city had properly and fairly denied an unnecessary and extraneous permit is pretty immaterial. The article makes it appear that Ruttenberg had lost, something that a little bit of fact checking would have easily determined to not be the case at all.
As soon as I get a chance, I’m going to have to post some of this meeting up on YouTube. Citizens need to see for themselves the farce that happened here.
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