Fifth District Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer took no audience questions last night at a long-scheduled “First Year in Review” event at the Pimlico Race Course.
More than 100 people attended the event, many of them Schleifer supporters who had paid between $50 and $2,000 to attend an earlier fundraiser for the councilman at the racetrack pavilion’s Jockey Club.
But others in the audience sought answers about his role in the steering of Pimlico slots money for the purchase of a patrol vehicle for the Shomrim watch group and the pending purchase of a $275,000 ambulance for an affiliated Orthodox Jewish medical service, Hatzalah.
“I came here because there would be an opportunity to ask questions. I’m disappointed that it turned into a meet-and-greet session and nothing more,” said Valerie Dubin, a member of the board of the Glen Neighborhood Improvement Association.
Schleifer spent about 20 minutes lauding his accomplishments as councilman, emphasizing his support for public safety without mentioning his intervention with Mayor Catherine Pugh (who was attending her own fundraiser in Baltimore County last night) for the purchase of the Shomrim patrol car with Pimlico slots money.
There was a noticeable police presence at the meeting.
Police cars were stationed at the entrance of the racetrack pavilion. There were half a dozen officers in the room and hallways, while the district’s two top officers – Commander Major Latonya Lewis and Executive Officer Captain Jason Yerg – stood near the doors of the Jockey Club
Also attending the meeting, but not speaking, were City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and 41st District Delegate Bilal Ali.
Conflict in 5th District
After Schleifer’s brief speech, Maxine Webb, his community liaison, stepped forward to announce that food and drink was being served.
When a man stood up and asked whether the councilman was taking questions, Webb interrupted him.
“Sir, sir, the 5th District team and the representatives are here. Let’s meet, greet and enjoy each other,” she said, as “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself, Again” blared over the loudspeaker, drowning out the man’s response.
As members of the audience got up and, over the loud music, asked each other what had happened, Pamela Weissman darted over to Schleifer.
“No, we’re not,” he said to her question about whether he was going to respond to questions.
“If you want to ask questions, write them on the cards in the back with your name and your number and we will call you,” Weissman said he told her.
The councilman’s quick exit left about half the room content to wander over to the food tables and the other half to fume in small clusters.
“If you want to ask questions, write them on the cards in the back with your name and your number,” Schleifer tells a resident.
“We came here this evening to ask questions about things that have been brought up about the use of the slots money, the patrol vehicle, the Hatzalah ambulance,” said Iris Smith, past president of the Glen Association. “We didn’t come here to hear music and have some refreshments.”
Noting that “there’s a lot of conflict in the 5th District,” alluding to tensions between the African-American districts clustered mostly south of Northern Parkway and the heavily Jewish neighborhoods to the north, Lewis said, “Tonight’s performance by the councilman is not helping matters.”
“Just ridiculous,” was how Helena Hicks, a community activist who lives in Grove Park, characterized the meeting. “Yitzy is not representing us, and there’s a lot of people at City Hall protecting him,” she charged.