Angered adversary of delegate candidate places newspaper ad Brown's words after plan tabled upset board's Wolf

September 14, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote and Sheridan Lyons | Brenda J. Buote and Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A political adversary of Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown has placed a lengthy newspaper advertisement on the eve of the primary election, in an apparent attempt to call Brown's patriotism into question.

Hobart D. "Hoby" Wolf Jr., a controversial member of the county Board of Zoning Appeals, said he paid to publish a letter to Brown, who is running for the House of Delegates.

In the ad, which appears todayin The Sun, Wolf challenges Brown "to fully and publicly disclose your military record to truthfully answer if you participated in any anti-war protests in the '60s and '70s and whether or not you have ever been arrested."

Wolf, who was appointed to the board by Commissioner Richard T. Yates last year, said he paid for the ad to "get some steam off."

"I'm not advocating people vote one way or another," Wolf said. "It's not a political ad. I'm just ticked."

Edward Primoff, a development-rights activist in South Carroll, drove Wolf to the newspaper office. Primoff said he did not pay for the ad, but supported its content.

Wolf, 73, said he is upset about comments Brown made after the decision by commissioners Yates and Donald I. Dell to table the county's master plan until after the November election. Four work teams of about 35 people each spent 2,145 hours gathering information and making recommendations for the 125-page plan.

At the time, Brown opposed the postponement and called the vote "a classic case of political cowardice."

"I'm a veteran, and I guess I'm very, very sensitive to anybody that says anything about a veteran who hasn't pulled any service time," said Wolf, who served in the Army from 1943 to 1946. "You don't use that word -- coward. No matter what. [Brown] should have more respect than that for [Yates]."

Yates, 73, is a World War II veteran who was wounded in the Battle of La Haye du Puys after the Normandy invasion -- punctured nine times by shrapnel, including a piece of his own grenade.

Brown initially declined to comment on the ad, but later agreed to do so.

"To me, this is the classical political dirty trick," he said. "You put it in at the last minute, when the other person can't respond."

Brown said he has clashed with Wolf and Primoff several times.

"I publicly opposed Mr. Wolf being put on the Board of Zoning Appeals; I publicly opposed the rezoning of his property to mixed-use development as part of the Freedom mini-plan -- within the past couple of months.

"Mr. Primoff is head of the Carroll County Landowners Association, and he has publicly blasted me over my growth-control efforts from day one."

The ad has drawn criticism from local politicians and several veterans.

"[Brown's] been there for us. This is just ludicrous," said Kenneth W. Ruby of Millers, who identified himself as a double-amputee from the Vietnam War, a past commander of the Disabled American Veterans Old Glory Post No. 22, and former legislative director for the Joint Veterans Committee of Maryland.

"I have known Ben Brown for a long time and he has never made any bones about not serving in the military," Ruby said. "His father served and Ben Brown has supported the veterans in every way." Brown's late father, Julian B. Brown, was a disabled veteran who survived the Bataan Death March in World War II.

Merrill Sumey, a Korean War veteran who is assistant finance officer of American Legion Post No. 223 in Sykesville and chaplain of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9995, said he was outraged when he heard of the ad.

"Even though Ben Brown has never been in the service, he is a more dedicated individual to veterans than I would say 99 percent of our members of the VFW or the Legion."

New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., who has resigned as counsel to the Republican Central Committee, said: "Mudslinging is a disgrace to the party in general and to the election process overall. Mudslingers have no issue to talk about or are not competent to deal with issues.

"This is why the general public is so apathetic about the political process," he added. "No one talks about what he can do or will do: They only sling mud."

Dell and Yates are seeking re-election. Brown is running for the House of Delegates seat now held by Ellen Willis Miller, a Westminster Democrat.

Brown said he regretted his use of the word "cowardice" as soon as he saw it in print.

"I went to Yates afterward," he said, to explain that he did not mean personal courage. "I meant political cold feet."

He said he does not believe Yates or Dell had any part in the ad.

"To me, this is one of those things that if you comment on it, you get sucked into it," he said of the questions about whether he had protested or had a criminal record.

But the answer is no, he said.

"I just trust that people will see it for what it is," Brown said of the ad. "There's a lot at stake in the coming election. You could get commissioners elected who would undo everything we've done with growth control and would go back to unrestricted use."

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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