MARYLAND

Jerry Pasternak at center of debate to turn organic farm into soccer fields

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There are new developments about the battle over a plot of public land in Potomac that has served as an organic farm for years.

Montgomery County soccer field hearing.

The county and a nonprofit group want to turn the land into soccer fields, but some residents are outraged about a lobbyist at the center of the fight.

"The process has been done in secret," said Potomac resident Curt Uhre. "It's been without public input, it's been a dictatorial process."

Throughout 2009 and 2010, Montgomery Soccer Inc. paid almost $70,000 to well-connected lobbyist Jerry Pasternak.

But the nonprofit, known as MSI, says its lobbyist filed the documents as a precautionary measure and he didn't actually lobby at all.

"We brought on Mr. Pasternak to help us understand the public/private partnership process, to help us in the drafting of proposals," said Doug Schuessler, Executive Director of Montgomery Soccer Inc.

But residents don't buy it.

"I'm flabbergasted that they would make that type of suggestion," Uhre said. "Documents were filed with the Montgomery County Ethics Commission under oath."

The controversy surround the brickyard property, one of several plots MSI has considered for development. The nonprofit also insists that Pasternak did no work related to the Brickyard proposal.

"The notion that we have any type of undue political influence is completely belied by 11 years of not succeeding on any of the projects that we have proposed," Schuessler said.

Pasternak currently serves as a Vice President at Pepco. He was at the center of a 2006 Washington Post story for reportedly helping a group get a county contract while raising money from the groups supporters for a political campaign.

Pasternak did not respond to requests for comment.

Residents demand MSI release records relating to Pasternak.

"The Washington Post articles obviously raise very serious questions, which is why I think MSI should just release those documents to the public and the press," Uhre said.

MSI says with the County's permission, it will release all of the proposals in which Pasternak had any involvement. It says that will not include anything related to Brickyard because he did not touch that project.

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