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The Official Blog of National Taxpayers Union

Stunning abuse of power in Virginia

Posted by Andrew Moylan - July 12, 2007

If anybody here is a reader of Radley Balko's excellent blog, The Agitator, then you may be aware of the case of Dave Ruttenberg. The story is incredibly long and complex, but Ruttenberg is the owner of the Rack 'N Roll bar in Manassas Park, Virginia who has spent the last several years fighting off city hall, the police, and numerous other forces to keep his business open. The story involves sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, money, and more than anything else, power.

Background can be found on Radley's blog here or at Black Velvet Bruce Li, a Northern Virginia blogger, here. If Ruttenberg's contentions are indeed true, then this is a mind-bogglingly incredible case of corruption and abuse of power that ought to make people across Virginia and the country very angry.

To make a long story short, Ruttenberg represents the wrench in a very large off-track betting deal and there are a lot of interests that want that wrench removed. Those interests have gone to great lengths to do exactly that, including harassing Rack 'N Roll customers with random interrogations, conducting a routine alcohol inspection with 89 armed officers, denying him a license to sell alcohol (and thus undermining his business), and generally using every instrument of city power to make Ruttenberg's life a living hell.

This brings to mind the famous quote, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away." I can't independently verify that every claim is true, but there's more smoke here than in a Western wildfire.

Check it out. If you believe what Dave Ruttenberg says, then give the Mayor and City Council a piece of your mind. You never know when you might be next in their sights.

Thoughts?   Add Comment -

MP Resident said on Jul 28 2007 at 9:39am
You fail to mention that off track betting has failed on the ballot twice, the last time by a large margin, and, as resident and voter, I don't see it passing if it came up again. There has been some talk about passing a law on the state level to prevent the reintroduction of this as a ballot measure. If he is a wrench, it isn't to OTB because the voters in Manassas Park won't allow it.

MP ex-resident said on Aug 20 2007 at 4:06am
It is important to note that the attack on Ruttenberg's business happened 5 months before OTB ballet vote. Incidently, neither the casino company nor the city made there intentions public (that they needed that location) until the day after the charges were set against Ruttenberg's business. In the end the ballet measure failed, but, those in power believed it would pass and supported it.

MP ex-resident said on Aug 20 2007 at 4:16am
MP Resident, You miss the point entirely. That business was a multi-million dollar real estate spike. You should ask:

Is it possible that a casino company could manipulate our trusted public sevants to set up and destroy an innocent small business in the name of commercial development? If so, how?