BY JULIE D. GLOBUS
This is the first time I am commenting on Chief Michael Sullivan and his current war with Supervisor Hoehmann. I don’t care much about the intricacies of that war. I find the entire battle expensive, poorly planned, excruciatingly childish, misdirected and damaging for Clarkstown and Rockland. There are important issues in Clarkstown. We seem to be ignoring them.
As a taxpayer, one who worries that Clarkstown is soon to become Ramapo and one of the many whose house values have plummeted in the last several years, I am concerned. In the context of fraud investigation, no story is ever black and white. There are always shades of gray. The same holds true of Hoehmann v. Sullivan. And make no mistake. These comments are not intended to levy accusations.
Last week it was reported (and is still being reported) that there is an investigation into Supervisor Hoehmann. Moreover, Chief Sullivan spoke rather openly about knowledge “from a reliable source” that subpoenas “blanketed the town of Clarkstown.” He has commented on Facebook profiles. He has been very vocal.
Hoehmann then apparently denied those subpoenas, which may or may not have been an honest response. It may have been misrepresenting the truth. We don’t really know. While my understanding (again related to following money) is that the Subpoenas were related to donations made by Michael Garvey to the Reform Party and not subpoenas to Hoehmann directly, there are likely others coming and they will probably all be following some money trail or another. And, I give neither the Chief nor the Supervisor credit for his respective behavior. I suspect they both have skeletons they wish to keep hidden in a closet somewhere.
All of Chief Sullivan’s comments are presumably intended to tarnish the reputation of our Town Supervisor. Why not? One good turn deserves another. Hoehmann suspends Sullivan, perhaps wrongly though most definitely in a cloud of controversy; and Sullivan wants his pound of Hoehmann’s flesh.
Frankly I don’t much care. What I do care about is the stench of this town’s dirty politics. Chief Sullivan is still paid as our police chief. His supporters have not ceased to refer to him as Chief, a sentiment I fully endorse. As Chief he should be refraining from comments, from Facebook chatter, from the childish mudslinging. His office, albeit thorny for him at the moment, demands it.
As taxpayers why are we not asking for our police chiefs, our public servants, our Sherriff, our Town Board, our Supervisor to show a bit more decorum? Would it not be more prudent for official statements to be made officially; and unofficial statements to be made by someone who cannot be mistaken for an official? Chief Sullivan is an official. Can what he says really be unofficial, civilian, or wearing the hat of a candidate for Supervisor? A mistake is simply too easy to make.
The reality is the content of those subpoenas has not been made public. Until it is, we are all left to ponder. In my view, Chief Sullivan is still a paid law enforcement official and should not be commenting. He is, after all, a public servant, owes a fiduciary duty to the town, to the Supervisor, the Town Board and each and every taxpayer who pays his salary. Moreover, there is a code of conduct within the law enforcement community, taught in the police academy and then apparently structured to fit each agency. He cannot stand in the public eye discussing legal investigative matters and be viewed as making an unofficial statement. It is an oxymoron.
The NYS Courts have upheld rulings supporting every manner of conduct including for example hair grooming which “gives weight to the overall need for discipline, esprit de corps, and uniformity” Kelley v. Suffolk County Police Department, 425 U.S. 238 (1975)…. See: https://www.policeone.com/legal/articles/1743985-Codes-of-ethics-and-officer-discipline/
Are we as taxpayers not entitled to some discipline from those entrusted with protecting our safety or are they too busy seeking payback? Shouldn’t the police officers who sit under Chief Sullivan and who risk their lives each and every day to keep our town protected be spared the shadow this dramatic soap opera is casting on the entire police department. I should think Supervisor Hoehmann and the Board would have considered this point also.
The trail of dirty money in Rockland County is nothing new and is very likely incestuous. It is my guess that both Supervisor Hoehmann and Chief Sullivan will be accepting money and donations to finance his respective campaign. I hope those who support each donate generously. I have no doubt that Chief Sullivan will find it hair-splittingly difficult to determine from where the money he receives originated as he stands in moral judgment of Supervisor Hoehman. I wish him luck in his endeavor as I do Supervisor Hoehmann.
Until the last town election I had never checked off anything other than Democrat. If Chief Sullivan wants my vote he might consider resigning as Chief before he continues to comment as civilian. In my view ethics demands that of him. It does not matter that the Supervisor and the Board decided to place him on paid leave. His endorsement of his checks are an endorsement of the office in which he sits and the public which he serves. I wish he would start serving us and not his own agenda. Frankly, I wish the same of George Hoehmann.
In the meantime, we can all hope that those in East Ramapo with significant political clout and voting power are not looking towards our collective division and strategizing the best way forward. This is not anti-Semitic. It is a demographic, financial, educational and political reality.