OC Councilmember absent from meeting, expected controversy discussion stalls
OCEAN CITY, Md. – Monday night, Ocean City Council was expected to tackle controversy brewing around Councilman Mark Paddack. The concern stems from an incident involving Paddack at an Ocean City restaurant, earlier this month.
Paddack reportedly backed into a vehicle in the Ponzetti’s parking lot on April 8th. What was originally a minor fender bender turned into a public and loud verbal altercation between Paddack and his son. Witnesses say it was hard to watch the scene unfold. Some are also questioning how police handled the investigation. However, Ocean City Police say the investigation was by the book, and that officers had no reason to cite Paddack.
Since then, a number of concerned Ocean City citizens have been making it clear they want Paddack to step down. Some of those citizens had plans to speak on the situation during Monday’s meeting. “My main concern is just the stain and the embarrassment that this gentleman has brought upon our city, our tourism, things like that. Honestly, I hope that I don’t have to speak. I hope that the Council will address it, we can move on, and have a great summer,” said Vern Smith.
Expected Discussion Stalls
However, Paddack was absent from Monday’s meeting, and no one approached the podium when it was time for public comment. Council also remained silent on the subject. Smith says he was ultimately hoping for a different outcome. “I think the best outcome is for Mr. Paddack to step down, or for the Council to force him to step down. That, to me, is the end all be all: As long as we can just move past the period of Paddack, and onto the future,” he said.
Ocean City Council President Matt James tells 47ABC that it is possible that no one came forward because Paddack was not there to defend himself or answer questions. James adds that he expects that Paddack will be at the next meeting; the public opinion on the situation might come at that time. The next Ocean City Council regular meeting will be on May 2nd at 6 p.m. James says the public comments likely won’t come before then, because work sessions have much stricter rules around what the public can comment on.
“Council must comply”
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says the Council is aware of the situation, calling it “concerning”. In a statement to 47ABC, Mayor Meehan wrote, “The Ocean City Police Department responded and reported the actions of Councilman Paddack appropriately and within the boundaries of the law. Councilman Paddack did not receive special treatment.”
Paddack has called the reaction to the Ponzetti’s incident a social media frenzy. He adds that the rapid spread of the story is an attempt to slander his career of public service. 47ABC did reach out to Paddack with request for an interview. Paddack declined, instead opting for a statement. He wrote in part, “The official inquiry by law enforcement is on record. Social media allows speech whether it is true or not.” Paddack went to cite the town charter, which allows for the removal of a council member only if they are convicted of a felony or embezzle town money. He said in part, “Council must comply with the law and the outlined reasons for removal.”