He Hate Me: Buzz is one of your typical liberal-media agnostics, but we understand how religious discussions can go awry. Buzz once tried to ask the head of a very well-known Catholic girl's school what it would take to get Buzz's daughter admitted. "Is she Catholic?" was the response. Buzz, thinking fast, pulled out a line from Stripes: "No, but she is willing to learn." Needless to say, the conversation ended unpleasantly.

So Buzz isn't surprised that a quarrel has developed in the hotly contested District 13 City Council race between Mitchell Rasansky and Jim Graham after a headmistress at Ursuline Academy was allegedly dissed by one of the candidates.

The acrimony was alluded to in a letter endorsing Graham, a former city parks board member, that was sent to families with children in Catholic day schools. "I like Jim Graham and what he has done and will do for...the Catholic community and our neighborhoods," read the missive from Frank Finn, an attorney and prominent Catholic. "He...knows how to address the school's Mother Superior [Sister Margaret Ann Moser] without being insulting," Finn wrote.

The letter refers to a private meeting in which the candidates spoke with the Ursuline headmistress about the school's effort to build a well-lighted soccer field at the school. Rasansky opposes the high-powered lighting, arguing it would filter into nearby homes. Graham supporters such as Finn suggest Rasansky was disrespectful during the get-together.

Rasansky denies any churlishness toward Moser and recalls a "nice conversation with a lovely lady." Outgoing District 13 city council member Donna Blumer concurs. She says Rasansky was merely "firm and direct" about the issue. Nevertheless, Rasansky, who is Jewish, found Finn's direct appeal to Catholics objectionable. "This is unconscionable, to bring up religion in a race," he says.

He stops short of charging anti-Semitism, but that's where supporters pick up. Blumer, a devout evangelical Christian, claims Finn's letter has an anti-Semitic undertone. "I think that anything that talks about a particular religion when you have a Jewish candidate" appeals to bigotry, she says.

Graham declares the anti-Semitism flap over the Finn missive ridiculous. "Anybody who knows me knows I'm running an inclusive campaign," he says.

--Compiled from staff reports by Eric Celeste


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