A self-described "truth squad" composed of Montgomery County civic leaders contended yesterday that County Executive Sidney Kramer is "grossly misleading the public" about his stand on development in his radio and television advertisements.
The group, including civic leaders from Chevy Chase Village, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring and Shady Grove, said "it is time to set the record straight" on the role Kramer and County Council candidates running with him have played in the development of the county -- a key issue in Kramer's reelection campaign and the focal point of some Kramer advertisements.
"The ironic thing is that over 80 percent of Sid's campaign money comes from developers and is being used to pay for ads that condemn overdevelopment," Michael Gravitz, chairman of one group, the Citizen Referendum on Over-Development, said at a news conference attended by several other civic leaders.
One Kramer television ad has attempted to dilute Kramer's image as a pro-growth advocate by stressing that under the Kramer administration, half of the county has been under a growth moratorium and that Kramer has required builders to pay nearly $85 million for new roads.
Gravitz and other members of the coalition -- including Alvin Rivera, president of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, and Ed Milenky, president of the Allied Civic Group -- charged that the lack of adequate roads and other public facilities has forced the moratorium and that only $10 million has come from special impact fees from developers.
But Kramer campaign manager Lanny Davis, emphasizing the attention to accuracy that was put into the wording of the ads, countered that Kramer is the authority who recommended the moratorium to the County Council, and that aside from paying the impact fees, builders have been required to commit another $75 million for new roads -- thus, the $85 million figure.
"What I've said on radio and TV can be substantiated by the council's own records," Kramer said. "The people who are objecting and saying Sid Kramer is not responsible for the 50 percent moratorium are the same people who are saying that Neal Potter is not responsible for the growth that the County Council has approved -- and he is the person who has certified over 90 percent of the development that has happened in Montgomery County through the past four years."
Although Potter has a background as a civic activist and is receiving support from many civic groups, Gravitz denied that the coalition was composed of Potter supporters.
"Some of us are Potter supporters, some are not," he said. "If Neal Potter was making the same claims, we would have a truth squad to make him stop running these distortions."