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Divide among residents in Brentwood grows deeper


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Published on: Thursday, July 15, 2010

By David Saleh Rauf

Tension among already beefing factions in Brentwood are flaring after one side recently started gathering signatures in an attempt to oust a councilwoman and bring back the town’s former police chief.

A simmering debate largely centered on who should serve as chief of Brentwood’s first police department since 1972 has divided the town council and a portion of the community’s roughly 2,900 residents for months.

The petition campaign is escalating friction between the groups into a showdown that could ultimately shape the future of public safety and the town council in Brentwood for years to come.

“This is a pretty peaceful town,” said Linda Tucker, a 42-year Brentwood resident and supporter of the petitions. “Now, we got people on both sides that wanna fight each other.”

The situation elevated to new heights of animosity in late June after about a dozen residents started going door-to-door collecting signatures in an attempt to reinstate former Police Chief David Risik, who was hired in December, but was terminated on June 23, after the town council declined to renew his contract.

Organizers are hoping to muster enough signatures to force the town council, which was deadlocked at 2-2 on the issue, to bring Risik’s contract back up for discussion now that a fifth member has been elected.

Nina Young, a marine biologist and a Risik supporter, won a special election June 24 to fill a vacant seat on the council. She was sworn in July 9 and already has been cast as the potential swing vote in any future discussions regarding Risik’s contract.

“This will show there is support for the chief, if they choose to put it back on the table,” said Laura Atkinson, who helped organize the petitions. “But the way things have happened in the past, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be reinstated.”

A separate petition making its rounds targets one of the two councilwomen who blocked Risik’s contract extension: Marlene Robinson.

Robinson, who was elected in May 2009, opposed the three-year contract extension the city could have offered Risik. However, Atkinson, who helped gather more than 400 signatures last year in a petition to reinstate the town’s police department after a roughly 40-year absence, said the group targeted Robinson in its impeachment petition for more than her opposition to Risik.

In a letter sent last month to Brentwood Mayor Xavier Montgomery-Wright, Atkinson claims Robinson is guilty of violating numerous town codes, leaving meetings to avoid critical votes and working to prevent the town from paying bills on time.

“We have spoken to her over and over and over about her violations,” Atkinson said. “She has looked us dead in the eyes and said ‘I will do whatever I want to do.’

“She was warned numerous times ‘If you do not stop this, we can take you out of your seat.’ And she continues to ignore (the warnings).”

In an interview with the Prince George’s Sentinel, Robinson called the charges in Atkinson’s letter unfounded. The petition to have her impeached amounts to nothing more than an attempt at “character assassination,” she said.

“No 12 residents can speak for a body of 2,900 people,” Robinson added. “I have a right to stand up for what I think is best for all the residents in the town. Plus, as a councilmember, I don’t have the authority to make policy decisions alone.”

The group organizing the petition will need 346 signatures — 25 percent of the town’s 1,387 registered voters — to be able to present it to the council for an impeachment proceeding, said Atkinson. The council still would have to vote on whether it wants to hold such a proceeding, according to the town’s charter.

If an impeachment resolution is passed, Robinson would have a chance to answer the charges leveled against her in a hearing before the council votes on whether to remove her from office.

“I don’t think they’ll get enough signatures, not unless they have some underhanded stuff going on,” said Brentwood resident Tabatha Tompkins. “This is retaliation. It’s hostile, and that’s not a good look for the town.”

One potential roadblock to acquiring the needed signatures already has galvanized.

Just days after the petition campaign started, a group calling itself “Brentwood Residents For The Truth” emerged and started stuffing fliers in mailboxes around the town. The fliers, which are being distributed in Spanish and are not signed by anyone, discredit the petitions as inaccurate.

Brentwood Residents For The Truth did not return a request for comment.

Atkinson described the push to gather signatures so far as being at a “stand still” because of sweltering heat and volunteers on vacation. However, even if the petition drive fails, she said the group is looking at other ways to remove Robinson.

“We’re pushing for the petition because we need to have that support,” she said. “But if the petition doesn’t make it for whatever reason, there could be a back-up solution.”

Reader Comments - 8 Total

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Posted By: Brentwood Resident On: 7/21/2010

Title: Oblivious

Residents should stand up agains this man. He is not the right person for the job. He isnt disrupting drug activity. Hes going after the working man harassing the residents that arent breaking the law. I ask each of you to look up this officers history through MD Case Search. He previously worked under the administation of New Carrollton PD that is now under investigation for firing four officers who were reporting illegal activity some of the dept emloyees were engaged in.

Posted By: Mary L On: 7/20/2010

Title: The real truth

This whole mess started because a former councilman didn't want to clean up his yards. For years he'd been getting away his hoarding syndrome spilling out of his many empty junked houses. Finally the law stepped and and said clean up and move that junk you call cars. He and his buddy, another guy with bunches of delinquent tax shelters, set out to destroy the Chief and is bringing Brentwood down with him. Now that's the truth.

Posted By: JT. GEORGIA S.P. On: 7/19/2010

Title: OUTRAGED

i HAVE BEEN HERE VISITING FAMILY IN BRENTWOOD FOR ABOUT 3WEEKS NOW. WHAT I HAVE BEEN READING AND HEARING ON TV AND YES I WATCHED THE JULY 13TH COUNCIL MEETING. FROM AN OUTSIDER THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE TOWN THAT HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THEIR ELECTED OFFICALS AND THE MAYOR TO CALL A RESIDENT A LIAR IS JUST VERY UN-PROFESSIONAL. I HAVE HEARD THERE IS A GROUP THAT JUST DOESN'T WANT TO BELIEVE THE TRUTH AND IT HAS HIT A NERVE. THIS PAPER YOU CALL A PAPER{SENTINEL} WHAT I CAN SEE, SEEMS TO BE ENJOYING ALL THIS DIVISION BY PRINTING THIS TRASH.. HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL YOU CONTINUE TO HURT BEFORE SOMEONE BRINGS SOME FORM OF LEGAL ACTION. IF THIS FORMER
POLICE CHIEF IS NOT THE RIGHT PERSON WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM LOOKING
FOR SOMEONE THAT WOULD BE A BETTER CANDIATE. PERSONALLY I THINK IT IS ABOUT TIME THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND YOUR STATE ATTORNEY TO GET INVOLVED. THIS IS NOTHING BUT HIGH SCHOOL POLITICS GIVE ME WHAT I WANT OR YOU WILL PAY THE PRICE. REMEMBER PEOPLE THIS ISN,T HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE YOU ARE TRYING TO DESTROY PEOPLES LIVES.

Posted By: donotBdeceived On: 7/18/2010

Title: RESIDENTS FOR TRUTH

Rather than spread unsubstantiated rumors why not do some research -- It is all public information. Most of the information came from articles from the Sentinel or Gazette. The rest of the informatin came from myfoxdc.com; Washington Post, and other local papers. I believe the Mayor and ALL OF THE COUNCIL MEMBERS are for PUBLIC SAFETY -- they ALL VOTED ON IT. IT IS IN FILLING THE VACANCY WITH RIZIK that has divided the Town of Brentwood. It is a FACT that Rizik has followed Rice from Fairmount to New Carrollton, and BOTH police departments have been under investigation. It is time for an extensive background check to be conducted on Rizik, at a bare minimum, and for transparency, Rizik's resume should be available to Brentwood residents to see if he has the credentials and experience to be a police chief.

Posted By: Keisha On: 7/16/2010

Title: Brentwood for the Truth

Take a good look at who's against the police. You will find they have records for everything from disrupting the peace to distributing drugs to child molestation.

Posted By: Amy On: 7/16/2010

Title: RESIDENTS FOR TRUTH

is none other than Robinson and Harrison running around spreading lies on the town's dime. Robinson should be impeached. She can't manage her money let alone the towns money. She's trying to scare residents into not signing the petition by saying she'll be after anyone who crosses her. I do not think a public official should behave this way. Yes, Marlene Robinson should go. Do a survey on that!

Posted By: donotBdeceived On: 7/15/2010

Title: BRENTWOOD is on a SLIPPERY SLOPE

A reasonable person should ask, "What has Risik, former Acting Police Chief, (who worked under Policy Chief Rice in both Fairmont Heights and New Carollton) done for Xzavier Montgomery-Wright, Nina Young, and Jeffery Clark in the 6-months he held a contract with the Town that has garnered their allegiance to the point of ignoring the devastating impact his reinstatement has had and will have on the Town of Brentwood as a community?" Any forward thinking person would come to the conclusion that the impact of hiring Risik and the damage it has already caused on community relations in the Town of Brentwood would conclude the cost is simply to high for the value he MAY bring. In six short months there are at least 2 lawsuits pending against him. It is clear by this article, no supporting documentation was researched. I suggest that the editor consider reviewing the tape of Tuesday, July 12, where the Mayor called the information contained in the petition circulated by Laura Atkinson "a lie." Finally, it is also important to note that in the Special Election between the two candidate less than 250 residents voted. Clearly, the Town of Brentwood has not spoken.

Posted By: super jesus On: 7/15/2010

Title:

wow thats gay




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