O.C. Councilman under the microscope after weekend altercation

OCEAN CITY, Md. – Ocean City Councilman and former Ocean City Police officer Mark Paddack felt the heat during Tuesday’s work session. Paddack was involved in a traffic incident at Ponzetti’s restaurant Friday. Police say a verbal altercation with his 14-year-old son inside the eatery followed shortly after.

Councilman Controversy

The incident has created quite the stir amongst residents. Wednesday afternoon, one man could be seen standing outside of City Hall, holding a sign that read “We want Paddack out” and “OCPD covering for Paddack”. Just the day before, Council member Peter Buas called for Paddack to step down. “Until we know what the best answer is, I would like to make a motion that we ask the Mayor to remove Councilman Paddack from any boards and commissions,” he said.

Buas’ motion did not receive a second. However, it opened up a conversation about whether Paddack’s run in with the police was a personal or public matter. In a heated exchange, Council President Matt James told Paddack he had created a public disturbance; conduct he deemed unbecoming of a Council member. Paddack replied, “If I was creating a disturbance, President, the police were right there and could have arrested me.”

James responded by saying that police “probably should have” arrested Paddack. “We received an email from a social worker who said that the treatment of your son in Ponzetti’s was the worst experience she had ever seen; the worst instance in 25 years of work as a child advocate,” he said.

“Nasty, spiteful hate”

Paddack says the dozens of complaints Council members received over the weekend were fueled by “nasty, spiteful hate.” He said that the incident was a result of issues not resolved within what he calls his broken family. “By you doing this here and now, you are simply judging me for something you know nothing about,” he said.

Paddack added that issues between he and his son were a private matter, and that police were covering nothing up. “The police are not covering up for Mark Paddack. If Mark Paddack did something wrong, then I deserve to be charged, and given a day in court,” he said. “Yes, there were some words spoken between my son and I, and at that point I asked the supervisor on scene to call the mother to come and get the son.”

Sides To A Story

What actually happened is a different story, depending on who you ask. Ocean City Police say it was only a minor traffic violation, with no signs of alcohol impairment. However, witnesses tell Ocean City Councilmembers that Paddack was belligerent, out of control, and causing a public disturbance. “In the public eye – [James is] right about one thing – we are held to a higher standard, whether we like it or not,” said Councilman John Gehrig.

Paddack’s seat on the council is safe, for now. Monday, Ocean City Council is expected to address the situation before Mayor Rick Meehan. Until then, Gehrig suggests that Paddack take a step out of the public eye. “Whatever happened, happened. Mark, we can either think about it now or on Monday. That’s your call. It’s not like [Paddack] was arrested,” he said.

In The Spotlight, Again

However, this is not the first incident which has caused fellow Council members to raise an eyebrow in Paddack’s direction. In October of 2021, Ocean City Council censured Paddack after he was accused of making racist comments on Facebook. Paddack claims he did not write the comments, and has commissioned an independent investigation into the alleged hack. He adds that he has had the report from the independent investigation for two months, but is not quite ready to release it to the public.

However, that incident on top of the current controversy, has proven to be the final straw for Buas. “There appears to be a pattern brewing of actions that don’t reflect this town,” he said. “They’re really starting to be a distraction to all the good work this town and its staff are doing. I don’t want that to take away from all the good work that’s happening.”

As to whether or not Council members will be able to remove Paddack, is also complicated. The City Solicitor explained that only two offenses would allow a councilmember to be removed: a felony conviction, or embezzlement of town money. Since Paddack did neither of those things, the Solicitor said Council members could move to alter the town charter, in which those provision are found.

Categories: Local News, Maryland