Mark Paddack and John Gehrig

Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack remained mum on a matter revolving around racist comments that were posted to his Facebook page on Sept. 11 during the city council meeting on Monday. Councilman John Gehrig as well as Robert Hammond addressed Paddack and asked if there was any update to the investigation into what the councilman called a hack, but he said he had no comment.

Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack refused to comment on an investigation into racist comments that appeared on social media last month, despite being addressed by a member of the public who was directly affected by the statements.

A controversial post that was captured in a screenshot, was sent from Paddack’s Facebook account at 12:59 a.m. on Sept. 11 in response to a picture posted on Katie Priestley Hammond’s story.

The post referencing the picture said, “Tell the dude to turn his hat back where the white designed the hat to be worn. Where I come from that is punk. Immature POS.”

Priestley Hammond’s husband, Bobby Hammond, condemned the message on social media after sharing it, saying, “Apparently I’m a POS for not wearing my hat the ‘white’ way...But at least I’m not a racist POS, [Mark].”

Paddack claims his Facebook account was hacked.

Several members of city council, including Council President Matt James, Council Secretary Tony DeLuca, and Councilman Peter Buas asked Paddack to step down from his post until an investigation into the matter that he initiated with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office was complete.

Nearly a month after the investigation into the “hack” was announced, the conclusion is still unknown, and Paddack is still sitting in his seat.

Hammond attended the City Council meeting on Monday and addressed the comments made by Paddack on his wife’s Facebook account.

“I came here to ask Councilman Paddack, did we ever find a conclusion to your Facebook messages?” Hammond asked. He got no response. “No... I recommend you get a dual authenticator for your Facebook. It’s a password and it changes every 10 seconds. What happens is, it seems that the same bigot hacker hacks into your Facebook whenever you say something off color,” he added.

Hammond said most times, people hack accounts to get information, not to make a comment for someone to wear their hat the “white way” while they are off on their honeymoon.

Even though some felt the comments from Paddack were racist, others came to his defense, saying that’s the way things are and if you do not like it, to leave.

Instead of condemning the comments on Facebook and saying that racism is bad, Hammond explained, Paddack just said he was hacked.

“This ain’t the way things are, because I grew up here,” Hammond said. “I went to school with black, white, gay, straight and we all got along.”

Rather than address Hammond’s concerns, Paddack thanked him for his comments.

Ocean City resident Robert Greenebaum, 62, defended Paddack during the meeting, saying he is innocent until proven guilty.

“This cancel culture is a little crazy,” he said. “I don’t think a public official, if they say something that’s racist, should be should be condemned.”

Greenebaum said he has spoken to several people in the community since the comments were made on Facebook and many of them don’t believe Paddack was hacked. But if they did, Greenebaum added, “it’s certainly understandable.”

What Greenebaum did not do, though was condone Paddack’s actions. He said if it did happen, the proper response from the council should be to censor or reprimand Paddack.

“It’s a crappy thing that was put on his fiancé’s Facebook page,” Greenbaum said, referring to Hammond’s now wife’s page.

Councilman John Gehrig asked Paddack what the status of the investigation was.

“Coming from you, no comment,” Paddack said to Gehrig. “I have no comment to you about any of this. To bring this up, I have no comment.”

“I’m just asking for the update on the investigation,” Gehrig said.

“I’m trying to be updated as well and I have no comment,” Paddack said. “So, this outward, digging at me about finding out information I still do not have, I have no comment.”

A spokesman for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday that the incident remains under investigation by the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation, and that there is no other update at this time.

Hammond told Paddack that he knew he was not going to do anything about the comments, including stepping down.

“I don’t expect you to. It’s OK,” Hammond said. “But I promise you, next time you run you won’t win.”

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on Oct. 8, 2021.

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