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OPINION: Ocean City Needs Regime Change

Public Comment at City Council Meeting 2/13/14

A recent headline in an Ocean City news service shocked and outraged me:  the arrogance and total absence of morality in the conduct of our Mayor, his administration and Councilmen. It is their  misuse of public dollars and indifference to public safety.

“OC pays ex-con $13,131 to end K9 Lawsuit.”

The settlement signed 12/20/13 dismissed Mr. Petnick’s complaint against OC and 4 OC Police Officers: Koob, Fearnhead, Vogt and Campo.

The settlement includes no admission of liability on the part of the city or the officers.

To recount this event took place on 2/26/10. The 4 officers were responding to notification by  the ISP that Mr. Petnick had an outstanding warrant and was likely to be found at his Mother’s home on Simpson Ave. Mr. Petnick says he was apprehended, held at gunpoint, handcuffed then dragged onto the alley where the officers released their K9, Deuce.

Mr. Petnick’s suit claimed that his constitutional rights against the use of excessive force were violated. It also claims that the city routinely tolerates such actions.

“Defendant OC’s indifference is demonstrated by a pattern carried out by officers and the failure of Internal Affairs to investigate and sustain legitimate and bona fide instances of (police) assault.”

The lawyer representing Mr. Petnick was Josph C. Grassi of Wildwood. The release signed by Mr. Grassi indicates that he will be paid $10,868.57, an amount nearly equal to his client. All coming from the citizen’s tax dollars. Who was Mr. Grassi serving?

Other recent settlements show a similar pattern:

1) 3 Sanitation Dept. employees received $83,000 apiece (Total $249,000) to settle a racial discrimination suit against the city and a sanitation dept. supervisor, Keith Washington. Once again no admission of guilt or wrongdoing. No accountability.

2) Deputy Fire Chief Mark McCulley was given $222,633.54 to silence his complaint against the OCFD for wrongful suspension in what the city called “misappropriating funds.”    

3) $60,000 tax dollars paid to another victim of  K9 police dog attack. Reason was the same old boilerplate excuse: “to avoid the cost and uncertainty of a trial involving a lawsuit.”

4) $50,000 to Michael Hamilton who alleged that the beach patrol used a “series of discriminatory and retaliatory acts to drive him and other older lifeguards from the beach patrol.” Settlement includes no admission of guilt from any of the defendants. It instructs all parties to not disclose, either directly or indirectly, any information whatsoever relating to the existence or substance of the agreement to any person or entity, including but not limited to members of the media.”

These non-disclosure terms are routine in settlement agreements but NJ Courts have consistently upheld the Public’s Right to Know in case that involve public entities such as Police, Sanitation and Fire Departments.

OC taxpayers will ultimately pay for all these settlements through increased premiums to JIF which insures the city.

The settlement frenzy must be stopped by the citizens especially when Public Safety is at stake.

Is it reasonable to expect and demand a city government that actually serves and protects its citizens not like the empty words painted on Police cars.

Is it possible to have an OC of, by and for all the people and not just the” insiders.”

The only hope for meaningful change is that citizens start paying attention and good, independent people seek elected office. Then on 5/10/14 people vote their interests and not those of the special interests.

Steven Fenichel, MD





vic February 22, 2014 at 11:56 AM
on the other hand, it's OK for you, our local communist, to spout your indoctrination and leftist points of view. I'm best recognized in our community as "vic" and that's why I choose to use this handle. I have opposed your opinion on many an occasion, and you know who I am. I am neither a member of the city government nor the ku klux klan. I'm just a concerned citizen who wants what's best for ocean city and that certainly is not you, as was proven when you attempted to run for city council and were totally rejected by the voters of ocean city.
steve fenichel February 22, 2014 at 05:03 PM
Elvis, Madonna, Jesus and now the world should know this special Vic. I don't. Vic are your fellow travelers equally well known as you? (Mr. B, One-Eyed Willy, Frank). Maybe everyone but me knows them around town but again I don't. Sorry if the KKK reference was painful but remove your hoods and it goes away. Strange how calling people Communists that you disagree with is not in the least troubling to you. Lastly your assertion of not being elected by the voters is my badge of shame which should silence me is very revealing of your character. Do you think your ugly personal attacks are justified by saying: " I'm just a concerned citizen who wants what's best for oc and that certainly is not you....." I am proud of my attempt to educate the voters on the health impact of the coal burning power plant. Now I'm doing my best to warn of the terrible health consequences if it becomes a Fracked gas burning power plant. If the citizens don't have an interest in being informed and voting what's in their interest that is their right. But as long as I care about the well being of my community you can expect me to tug on your hood. Like the canary in the mine shaft watch out when you don't hear its song.
vic February 22, 2014 at 06:43 PM
you claimed in your unsuccessful campaign that the number one issue affecting the voters of ocean city was the pollution coming out of the stacks of the coal burning power plant. yet, when a solution was found to allow the plant to convert to clean burning natural gas, you and your wife contested each other in who would show the greater opposition to the proposed gas line. you will not be satisfied until the power plant is forced to close because it will no longer be economically feasible for it to continue to operate. then cape may county will be left without a source of local energy, neither electrical nor gas and you will feel vindicated as you sit in your power outages. your Taliban mentality, opposing modern sources of energy, is not in the best interest of the citizens of cape may county.
Virgil Harris February 23, 2014 at 03:11 AM
you are all to simple to realize that the people of this town just want great services and paved roads, not $150k on Christmas lights. I am tired of the quiet majority to go unheard so welcome me with open arms!!!! OC=small town small mind
Frank Worrell February 24, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Vic you are 100 percent right.Fenichel is a big Bag of sh.. Always looking for a headline .

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