In Letter, Paddack Issues Apology For Most Recent Incident

In Letter, Paddack Issues Apology For Most Recent Incident
Mark Paddack

OCEAN CITY — Embattled Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack was contrite in a letter released Wednesday, discussing an incident earlier this month that has him swirled in a court of social media and colleagues questioning whether he should continue to serve on committees.

Paddack sent a letter to the editor on Wednesday attempting to clarify some of the details of the April 8 incident at a north-end restaurant where he first was involved in a fender-bender in the parking lot and then got into a heated verbal altercation with his teenage son inside the establishment.

The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) responded and determined Paddack had exchanged the appropriate information with the driver of the struck vehicle before going inside the restaurant and it’s important to note no charges were filed nor were any citations issued. As for the verbal altercation with the child inside the restaurant, OCPD officers took the teenage child to police headquarters for his safety and the Department of Social Services was notified about the domestic dispute, according to an official release about the incident.

The Department of Social Services contacted the child’s mother and she later picked up her son at police headquarters, according to the OCPD release. OCPD officers told Paddack at the restaurant to make arrangements for a sober driver to take him home and he left the establishment a short time later, according to the OCPD release at the time.

When the OCPD release about the incident was issued and the news spread quickly, Paddack was swirled up again in controversy on social media, including Facebook, a medium that has not been entirely friendly to the councilman following a separate exchange last year. During a council work session in the days following the incident, some councilmembers called out Paddack for a perceived continued pattern of behavior unbecoming an elected official. Councilman Peter Buas made a motion requesting Mayor Rick Meehan, who was not present at that work session, to remove Paddack from any boards and commissions on which he serves.

It should be noted there is no mechanism in the city charter for removing a councilman short of a felony charge or evidence of embezzling funds. Buas’ motion essentially died for lack of a second and it was decided to review the charter and let the process play out before action, if any, was taken, prior to the next open Mayor and Council meeting, which took place on Monday.

In the lead up to that meeting, Paddack continued to take his lumps on certain social media platforms with many vowing to attend Monday’s meeting to attempt to have the councilman address some of their concerns. On Monday, Paddack was conspicuously absent from his seat at the dais and there were no public comments related to the councilman or the incident.

On Wednesday, Paddack sent a letter to the editor outlining his version of the events and apologizing to the residents and visitors of Ocean City. He said in the letter the initial vehicle collision was minor in nature.

“I want to address a recent family matter in which I was involved,” he wrote. “In a small parking lot at a north Ocean City restaurant, I accidentally bumped into a parked vehicle.  The owner and I exchanged vehicle and personal information as required by law in Maryland.”

Paddack then explained the nature of the verbal altercation with his teenage son inside the establishment.

“My teenage son and I the proceeded to dine in a restaurant, where I had a public verbal disagreement with him,” he said. “There was an exchange of words between my son and me. Have you ever disagreed with your children, especially your teenagers? However, as a public official this should have been discussed privately, and not in a public venue where I interrupted the dining environment of the patrons. My apologies to all diners who were at the restaurant to enjoy their meal and the people with whom they were dining.”

In the letter, Paddack said he was contrite about the incident during the work session days later.

“Thereafter, my brief ordeal was referred to in an official police press release,” he wrote. “To be clear and set the record straight, I apologized publicly during the next council work session for what transpired. The town’s City Solicitor advised city council members this was an unfortunate family matter and that was outside any authority of city charter law. That should have been the end of the story.”

In the letter, Paddack dismissed any perceived public notion about special treatment during the incident for the former OCPD officer.

“To be open and honest, an official inquiry by the police was completed and unbiased,” he said. “They did their jobs, and I commend them for doing so. I would expect nothing less.”

Paddack wrote what is essentially a formal apology to his constituents in the letter.

“To the people of Ocean City, whom I serve, may personal public disagreement, which should have been done in our home, and not at a diner, was unacceptable and I offer my sincere apologies once again,” he said. “I simply ask the citizens of Ocean City, whom I serve, do we believe everything on social media? Do we let those individuals who have unfounded accusations usurp the power of social media when the truth is not what they seek?”

Finally, he reiterated he has not been charged or cited with anything.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “There was no evidence of a crime being committed, or that some rule or regulation was broken. I write this letter to explain what truly happened. I believe I owe you that as your councilman and as an elected official.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.