Oscar Wilde once remarked: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”. If that aphorism holds true then we wonder if either Mr. Gromack, the Supervisor of Clarkstown, and his challenger in November for that office, Councilman George Hoehmann, are in ‘seventh heaven’ given the recent rumblings about Hoehmann’s degrees and Gromack’s campaign finances.
According to a post on Hoehmann’s Facebook page the first shot has apparently been fired in the 2015 smear campaign that has been widely expected by those who have followed the political careers of Town Supervisor Alexander Gromack and his associates. Unfortunately if Mr. Gromack or one of his political advisers fired this first volley, his musketball ‘whimper’ seems to have fallen short of the mark while his alleged victim has fired back with a ‘big bang’ cannonball.
Will one have to go to ‘confession’ while the other goes to ‘jail’?
Here is what we think has caused the first skirmish in Clarkstown’s approaching ‘Season of Political Warfare’. On Sunday, July 19, 2015, The New York Post lit some damp powder with a story suggesting that Councilman George Hoehmann as a former priest should “go to confession”. According to a twelve line, seven sentence long ‘whimper’, the Post declared that “George Hoehmann, 50, who was a Catholic man of the cloth before giving up the priesthood, seems to have padded his résumé.”
According to the Post, but really according to their Clarkstown ‘musketeer’ sources, the Post picking up on “two different online résumé sites” concluded that Hoehmann had declared “he received a master’s degree from the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame.” The Post used sentence number 7 of its twelve line article to whine that it had run out of further powder and could not fire a second shot as “Hoehmann did not return repeated calls for comment.”
During subsequent internet rumblings the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, rushed forward with a ‘like’ to one of the initial reports of the New York Post article as presented on a local Facebook page hoping perhaps to urge her Democratic troops to find some dry powder and fire a second volley of blue smoke. Meanwhile Hoehmann jammed a powder charge into a cannon, tapped it home and loaded a cannonball. He posted a statement on Facebook that alleged Supervisor Gromack’s musketeers had supplied the Post’s reporters with a damp squid in a desperate effort to get out in front of the news that Gromack is allegedly under investigation by the New York State Board of Elections for campaign finance violations.
Rockland Voice reviewed a copy of Hoehmann’s resume and it does not contain any claims of a degree from Mendoza College of Business or the University of Notre Dame. It does, however, mention Hoehmann as a “candidate” for the program, which is factual and accurate as we will explain below. We also checked Mr. Hoehmann’s official campaign website and found no mention of either school in the section where Mr. Hoehmann lists his educational and work experience. Hoehmann lists Cathedral College, St. Joseph’s Seminary and The University of St. Thomas of Rome as institutions from which he has received his four degrees.
We had questions as to how mis-information of this nature came in to the picture in the first place. Hoehmann entered and won an essay contest in December of 2008 that was sponsored by the ‘New York Not for Profit Press’ and the University of Notre Dame in which the winning prize was a Fellowship and partial scholarship to attend the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame in their Not-For-Profit Administration Program. Hoehmann joined the Town Council in Clarkstown just months after winning the Fellowship and requested to defer his enrollment in the program, as it required a five-week residency for several summers at Notre Dame’s South Bend, Indiana campus. Despite deferring his enrollment, Hoehmann was still an accepted “candidate” for the program and would be eligible to attend the program for which he was awarded a Fellowship at a later date.
Hoehmann requested a second deferment on the Fellowship to Notre Dame due to the constraints of his position at the Rockland Center for Independent Living Center. Several social media outlets purportedly have Hoehmann’s resume on line, none of which list him as having a Master’s Degree in Not For Profit Administration from Notre Dame.
The New York Post story also stated that Councilman Hoehmann ignored several requests for comments on the allegations. Mr. Hoehmann states that his campaign staff spoke with the Post’s reporter and this was not mentioned in the article. Melissa Klein, one of the authors of the New Your Post article about Hoehmann, also ran a ‘hatchet’ article targeting County Executive Day’s involvement in the sale of security equipment to a county agency in December of 2013 which proved to be farcical.
Now that we have dealt with the ‘whimper’ from the New York Post, Rockland Voice will turn to a ‘big bang’ story apparently about to break in Rockland. You see after speaking with Rockland Voice Hoehmann wrote on his Facebook page:
“Alex Gromack, in a pathetic attempt to smear my name, fed misleading information regarding my resume to the news media. Even though my campaign DID reach out to the reporter, they sadly chose to run with the erroneous information over the truth. It is unfortunate that Gromack chooses to run a dirty campaign instead of talking about the issues. This is an obvious attempt to cover up the real news story that he is under investigation with the NYS Board of Elections for campaign finance violations.
Indeed, many in Clarkstown have long wondered how and why Mr. Gromack has built a war chest of nearly $1 million and has already spent $230,000 to date this year to maintain a $171,000 job for which he has essentially run unopposed since taking office. Rockland Voice has also raised questions about Supervisor Gromack’s apparent manipulations to get funds from the Rockland County Sewer District #1 to put up a police shed in Clarkstown and asked how a project to revitalize the New City downtown area was allowed to escalate under the management of his friend, Ed Lettre, from an estimated $15 millions to nearly $30 millions.
Given that Hoehmann’s cannonball is now in flight perhaps the only confession that the voters will hear anytime soon will land before the altar of the New York State Board of Elections?
Stay Tuned Everyone! The whimpering over Hoehmann’s social media resume will blow over but an investigation of Gromack’s alleged campaign finance violations may blow up.
[This article was researched and written by Jeff Gillies and Michael Hull]