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Duncan Toots His Own Horn

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 10, 2005; Page GZ02

After more than a dozen media interviews and prominent roles at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an opening gala, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) has taken another step to make sure residents know he was the driving force behind the new Music Center at Strathmore.

This week, a link appeared on the front page of Montgomery County's Web site -- www.montgomerycountymd.gov -- that led to an article titled "Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's Role in the Music Center at Strathmore." In a six-paragraph summary of the planning and execution of the building project, Duncan's name is mentioned seven times. As a possible candidate for governor, Duncan has said he plans to campaign in part on his record of promoting the development of Strathmore and other arts venues.

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"Realizing the importance of a world-class music center and its potential to become a cultural centerpiece in the Washington region for decades to come, Duncan began his lobbying efforts with State legislators and Governor Parris Glendening," the second paragraph reads. "In fact, Duncan spent so much of his time in Annapolis lobbying for funding for Strathmore, that he was known as 'Delegate Duncan.' "

At times, the statement seems to underplay the role that several state legislators, including Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery) and former senator Barbara A. Hoffman (D-Baltimore), and some County Council members also had in pushing the $100 million project to completion.

"In April 2001, ground was finally broken for the new music center," the fourth paragraph reads. "Duncan was joined by the Governor, State Delegates and County Council members, and thanked them for their commitment and support of this project."

While political self-promotion is nothing new, the county executive's gubernatorial ambitions have caused some in the county's political circles to quietly question his motives.

When asked whether the statement read a bit too much like a campaign advertisement to be placed on a county Web site, David Weaver, a Duncan spokesman, said: "The bottom line is this: The county executive played an absolutely critical role in turning the dream of a concert hall into a reality. The document that was created only highlights the significant role he played in that effort."

Silverman's Language Barrier

With an increasing number of Spanish-speaking residents in Montgomery, County Council member Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large) may want to consider taking a language class.

As a candidate for county executive, Silverman has said he plans to make an aggressive push to attract Hispanic voters during the 2006 campaign. But at a County Council hearing Monday, Silverman realized that language could become a barrier in that pursuit.

The hearing on ways to protect domestic workers from abuse featured testimony from three workers, all of whom spoke only Spanish, requiring a translator.

Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, frequently spoke to the witnesses in Spanish.

Another committee member, Council President Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring), who is Hispanic, also conversed with the women in Spanish.

Silverman, who is Jewish, quickly conceded he couldn't compete with his Spanish-speaking colleagues.

"I'm at a big disadvantage unless we are switching to Yiddish," he joked.

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