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Ray Stevens Assault on John Pollinger Mutates, This Time Invoking 9/11 Decisions

| July 16, 2012

Even the National Guard had little to do in Lower Manhattan in the days following the 9/11 attacks. (© FlaglerLive)

Even the National Guard had little to do in Lower Manhattan in the days following the 9/11 attacks. (© FlaglerLive)

In the Ray Stevens-John Pollinger battle over the Republican primary for Flagler County Sheriff, nothing is sacred—not even the invocation of 9/11.

Starting Friday, the Stevens campaign began circulating word that Pollinger had been the target of a federal lawsuit over his handling of personnel matters during the 9/11 crisis—that he’d barred officers from his police department in Middletown, N.J., from helping in Lower Manhattan, even on their own time. Different Stevens campaign supporters sent the legal opinion to FlaglerLive. By Sunday evening, Stevens was himself circulating a link to the legal opinion, with the line: “Yet another reason Pollinger should not be sheriff. Click on link below, please forward.” By Monday, Stevens’s new line of attack had reached the News-Journal’s Frank Fernandez, who interviewed Stevens in turn.

Click On:

The odd thing is this: the legal opinion—an appellate decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit—could have just as easily been circulated by Pollinger. It takes Pollinger’s side as categorically as it dismisses the claims of the plaintiffs. Speaking for a unanimous court, Judge Julio Fuentes not only affirmed a lower court decision ruling in Pollinger’s and Middletown’s favor, but devoted the majority of his  decision to paint the officers as rogues and to “underscore our own agreement with that” lower court decision.

Additional material Stevens’s supporters sent to media underscore the legal decision and make Pollinger’s point further: that while he had, in fact pulled back his ranks from Manhattan, he had done so in obedience to statewide orders in new Jersey and New York to police and other public safety agencies to quit sending volunteers uniformed or otherwise, because the city was overrun with them, and didn’t need them. Pollinger, in order words, acted in accordance with orders.

“The issue here is not how did they do at the appellate level, but what was Pollinger thinking when he refused to allow people on their own time to go assisting,” Stevens said in an interview. “That’s the bottom line. How it shakes out at the appellate level is not what’s at issue here.”

Yet the case revolves around the claims of police officers under Pollinger’s command, in that district and appellate decision.

“For Ray Stevens to question my judgment as well as my decisions on surrounding the events of  911  is a new low point, even for him,” Pollinger wrote in an email. “Thankfully he will never experience in his lifetime, the murder of  thirty-seven people in his community in one single day, in such a public way and make the decisions I had to make.”

By the court’s own account, the case was complicated. Michael Rubino, Gerald Weimer and Wayne Bradshaw were Middletown police officers. Pollinger sent them, and many others, to Manhattan on Sept. 11 to help with the rescue effort, as did many police and fire chiefs around the country. The next day, however, Pollinger pulled back the officers in accordance with demands by authorities in New York and New Jersey that volunteers reverse course. At 9:57 p.m. the evening of the attacks, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani had issued his first public announcement that no more volunteers were needed, “not even for the evening’s rescue effort.”

Ray Stevens. (© FlaglerLive) flagler county sheriff candidate elections 2012

Ray Stevens. (© FlaglerLive)

An hour later, a state police teletype was sent to all police receivers, county prosecutors and police stations” on behalf of the highest New Jersey officials, thanking volunteers but deactivating the emergency response and staging areas in New Jersey (which had anticipated a flood of casualties that never materialized), and “releasing all emergency response groups to return to their communities. We are requesting that all emergency response groups remain in their communities unless specifically requested by the N.J. State Police.” A subsequent police communication from the New Jersey Ofice of Emergency Management specified that New York had not requested police assistance from New Jersey, though it might in future. Yet again, on Sept. 17, a third police communication was issued reiterating specifically the order that “county and police agencies are again requested not to send manpower into New York City,” including police officers and firefighters going into the city with their own personal vehicles.

The Saturday after the attacks, the New York Times reported: “There were thousands of volunteers sitting around with nothing to do but eat donated cookies. There were the crash-site crazies who pose as marines and priests and firemen. There were reporters milling around disguised as construction workers. There were men drinking in bars that had their windows blown out. There were tens of thousands photos taken. Some people stood and smiled and posed. There was too much traffic for the trucks to move in and out effectively.”

In other words, volunteers were interfering with crisis management rather than helping to ease the crisis.

For all that, Bradshaw, Rubino and Weimer sued Pollinger. Rubino claims his First Amendment rights were violated when he was forced to quit volunteering in Manhattan. The court didn’t buy it. “Rubino’s concern,” the court wrote, “took the form of challenging Pollinger’s orders persistently, flagrantly, and in front of others. We agree with the District Court that Rubino’s expression of his concern was outweighed by the public interest in maintaining obedience, order, and discipline in the police department, especially in a time of crisis that was the time period immediately following the attacks of September 11.” The court reasoned similarly against the claims of other officers, though the specifics of those claims differed from Rubino’s (who was demoted). The case also involves one officer sending horse manure to other officers’ homes, over comments those officers had made about the man’s dead son, and Pollinger suggesting they seek counseling. The court, in the end, sustained no claim against Pollinger.

Stevens said he hadn’t read the entire case. But, he said, focusing on the 9/11 matter: “The case against Pollinger here is more symbolic than anything else.” Running for sheriff is like applying for a job, Stevens said. “If he had refused to allow his people to return to Ground Zero at the request of the NYPD, I think that may be reflective of his future performance here as sheriff.”

The record stresses that there was no such request. Officers disputing Pollinger’s order said their own sources, unspecified, had requested their help, but Pollinger had official directives to pull back his troops. “These people wanted to go down, these officers wanted to go to NYC on their own time, and he refused to allow them to go, there was a shouting match,” Stevens said. Stevens was not in the Ossining Police Department at the time (he’d moved to Florida). The department, he says, sent 10 officers. Their help was needed at various places in Manhattan, he said.

Stevens boils down the issue to what he describes as “a question of ideology. Pollinger and I are 180 degrees apart, diametrically opposed on ideology.” If a police department asks for help, Stevens said, help must be provided—again repeating the notion, not supported by the record, that the NYPD was seeking help—though it was officially turning it down.

John pollinger (© FlaglerLive) flagler county sheriff candidate elections 2012

John Pollinger. (© FlaglerLive)

To Pollinger, the lawsuit “was a retaliation for the re-assignment of a popular member of the department as well as a personal squabble between factions of the current and past union presidents.”

The unearthing of the lawsuit is the latest episode in a string of attacks that have characterized the Stevens-Pollinger race, which also featured incumbent Don Fleming (the third Republican in the race). Stevens’s ex-campaign manager, Anne-Marie Shaffer, sued Pollinger over his Republican registration, claiming he should not be on the ballot because while he was registered Republican in Florida, he had still been a registered Democrat in new Jersey, a state he left in 2008. Flagler County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Craig ruled against Shaffer, who has appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.

The amount of publicity the case generated, however, does not appear to have helped Stevens’s case as much as it has Pollinger’s. He raised less than $1,000 in the three months ending on July 6 (not including a $1,000 contribution to himself), from just 13 contributors, compared to the $9,600 Pollinger raised (not including an additional $4,000 loan to himself, or $950 in in-kind contributions) from more than 120 contributors. Fleming raised $9,560 in the period.

Bradshaw vs. Middletown & Pollinger: The Full text

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61 Responses for “Ray Stevens Assault on John Pollinger Mutates, This Time Invoking 9/11 Decisions”

  1. H. Jordan says:

    As a good friend of mine said just recently, “as in most elections, those condidates who can’t run on their record of accomplishments, or have no record, typically resort to attacks.”

    But Donna Heiss,….didn’t you miss one? Who did the RRRA support in the District 2 Commission race?


  2. Donna Heiss says:

    H. Jordan. Yes I did miss a few. I took it off the RRR web-site. Not all were listed. Please add to the list. I do not print anything I cannot back-up. So I stay on the side of caution.

    I also did not include Travis Hutson who is also endorsed by the RRR.


    • Linda H. says:

      Isn’t this interesting….members of the REC attacking the Ronald Reagan Republicans. Travis Hutson has offered you a headquarters and this is how you repay him? Shame on you. Each and every one of you.

      You sit at that volunteer desk, or at least you used to, and trash good Republicans. Shame on you Pat, Joan and Linda and the rest of you so bitter you cannot contain yourselves. None of you has walked a precinct or made a phone call to get out the vote in years and you have the gall to attack the one man who has saved your bacon by allowing you to move into his headquarters?

      Shame on you Nancy Prizer, and your whole kit and kaboodle of ugly has-been bitter old Republicans.

      Your husband did a good job in his debate last night, Donna. Is this how you repay Travis for his hospitality?

      Donna, is this how you think Republicans win elections?

      Mr. Lewis, Travis has made it very clear that all Republicans are welcome. In that regard, I think he has shown what a fine person he is. Is this how you and the others repay him?

      Ellen, exactly what lies and nastiness have you heard? Seems pretty one sided to me. Now we have the old guard of the REC attacking the Ronald Reagan Republicans?


      • Robert Lewis says:


        If Republicans are to win elections according to your standard, we force closed primary elections shutting out 40,000 voters, we file law suits against the REC, Nancy Prizer and any other person that does not give in our tactics. We form our own clubs and call it the RRR, and yet my favorite, we utilize the most devastating attack on our nation to attack candidates.

        If you are writing a book on how to win an election based on the tactics exemplified by the RRR, I am confident it will not be on the New York Times Best Sellers List ever.

        As far as my comment with Travis Hutson, it is not him I have my beef with, it is the very people occupying his HQ who have done these tactics above. I do not agree with you on many issues, but I will be the bigger man here and offer my apology for my remark about Travis.

        Mr. Sullivan has set the record straight in a fair and accurate motion. I stand corrected on that issue.


        • Linda H. says:

          Ms. Lewis (nee Prizer), my standard? It was not the RRR who filed suit against the REC. Nor is the RRR involved in any way in the Pollinger suit.

          “We form our own clubs?” That is really what this is about, isn’t it? Is Palm Coast not big enough for 3 Republican Clubs and an REC? We believe it is.

          We look forward to working with you.


    • David Sullivan says:

      D Sullivan
      At this point I cannot let the comment about Travis Hutson stand.
      Travis is the Republican candidate for for the new State House District
      24 seat. I am the Chairman of the Flagler County Republican Executive
      Committee and Travis Hutson has done everything in his power to
      make his election headquarters available to all elements of the
      Republican Party here inFlagler County. This has been a great saving
      of difficult to come by funds for the organizations involved. As an example
      last evening we had all the Republican candidates running for the
      County Commission and Clerk of Court at a Forum at the Travis Hutson
      HQ and all were allowed to speak freely and answer questions.
      There is always going to be strong differences of opinion in local party
      Races but some of this has gone way over the top. As chairman of the
      FCREC I do not take sides in contested Republican Party primary races.
      However when the comments start to discredit one of our Republican
      Party candidates who is not in the Primary and will be the Republican
      Candidate for District 24 in November I must step in tell all Republicans
      To cease this selfish foolishness. Travis Hutson is a good and honorable
      man. Please treat him with fairness and realize that he is making
      every effort to unite the Republican Party here in Flagler just as I am.
      I therefore request that all Republicans think before they put something
      In writing that may give them a momentary feeling of satisfaction but
      will end up hurting ALL Republican candidates and issues.


      • Robert Lewis says:

        David -

        Fair enough. You have made your point and articulated it in a well mannered response. I stand corrected. Thank You Sir.


  3. Ellen Pipino says:

    Bunny Bee,

    I have lived in PC for 17 yrs & have not seen or heard such lies & nastiness, what has happed to all these people?? I bet “Ronnie” is spinning in his grave – he was such a kind & gental president, how dare these people use his name, they are nothing like him!!! Ray Stevens you need to take a “chill pill”.


  4. Robert Lewis says:

    It is too bad Travis drank the RRR poison. He gave them his Palm Coast campaign location as their HQ. when they lose in August, who will man that GOP HQ? Or are we to trust the RRR with campaigning for the very people they are out to cleanse and purify out of the party.

    I hope Travis does the right thing here and offers an olive branch for the party.


  5. Will says:

    Judging from the financial reports in today’s Palm Coast Observer, where Hutson’s contributions are $103,200.40 and the next closest of 3 is $4,250, it looks to me like Hutson is trying to buy the District 24 seat, lock stock and barrel.

    Instead of kissing his feet as some of the R’s seem to be doing, I think we need to know what his motivation is and whose bidding will he be doing. I understand his family is in the development business and they have lots of money, but what’s the reason for throwing so much at this race so early? I’m suspicious.


  6. Magnolia says:

    @Will: I saw that. Also wondered about Pollinger’s nearly $40,000.


  7. Donna Heiss says:

    Linda H. You must have mis read my post. A question was asked about who was endorsed by the RRR. I posted a partial list of who was endorsed. I don’t see that as a problem, unless any of those endorsed didn’t want to be? It was just a list.. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Linda, you asked if I thought this is how “republicans” win an election? Are you talking about publishing an endorsement list? Is that a bad thing? I guess you must think so. It isn’t the candidate that wins or losses. It is the public. The only thing any of us can hope for, is for people to be informed, know the issues facing us and elect qualified people to deal with what faces us on a day to day basis.

    @think first, I must address your comment. 2nd post. You are running for public office. Why the screen name? If you believe what you post, own it. Otherwise, it appears deceptive and hiding in the shadows rather then being out in the sunshine.


  8. Bob Hamby says:

    I want to thank Mr. Mazzie’s wife for announcing our endorsed candidates on this site to all who disagree with tour vitriol and hate. We are a grassroots organization which is all about the principles of limited Constitutional government. Our goal is to represent certain fundamental beliefs in the tradition of Ronald Reagan that cannot be compromised.

    President Reagan said: “A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs, which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell numbers. I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.” This view encapsulates the values of the Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly and we invite all true Republicans to join us in this battle to follow the principles of the Republican Party.

    I also want to thank Dave Sullivan and Travis Hutson for their efforts to unite Flagler County Republicans, For those “republicans” attacking Mr. Hutson for his efforts to unify the party I quote Ronald Reagan again “And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.”

    Bob Hamby, President
    Ronald Reagan Republican Assembly – Flagler


    • Biker says:

      Lets me get this straight. Although I am a life long republican I am not a true republican unless I follow your organizations ideals? Is this the same organization that wrote of “purity of the party” and “cleansing of the candidates” in an earlier blog? I am just curious but exactly how many members does this organization have in Flagler county? What criteria do you use when selecting a candidate to endorse? It doesnt appear to matter how qualified a certain candidate may be for the position he seeks,so what is the criteria? What exactly are the principles you speak of? You do realize how all this sounds Mr Hamby. Dont you?


  9. Dadgum says:

    Flagler deputies union endorsing Pollinger – not Fleming


  10. tulip says:

    By Ms Heiss listing all the RR endorsed candidates, I had a chance to write down the names to remind me of who NOT to vote for. I remembered some of them, but not all ot them. Thank you.


  11. PJ says:

    You know what!!!!!

    I just received a letter from Stevens and I tossed it out after reading it. I’m not happy about the way Stevens is dividing the Republican Party with the cheap political moves. We need leadership not division.

    Wake up Stevens and you should be the one to drop out or at the least fail in the primary. Leadership not cheap politics………………….


  12. Laurie says:

    All I can say is wow.

    As one of the Middletown residents who lost a loved one that day, I can personally vouch for everything John did for our families – and the community as a whole – during the days, months and even years after 9/11.

    Mr. Stevens is obviously blissfully ignorant of what it was actually like after a tragedy such as 9-11.


  13. gerald says:

    never have i ever seen so much mud slinging coming from ray stevens campaign it is nasty with no respect to your opponents because of your actions we will not vote for you this time but we will stand behind and support a man who has a clean campaign john


  14. Lt Kevin Quinn, Ret says:

    I served in a Township very close to Middletown on Sept 11th. I am also very familiar with John Pollinger on a professional basis. As a senior staff officer in my department, the planning and response to the events in New York City were designed to aid the rescue efforts in Manhattan, as well as protect those high profile targets in our jurisdictions. Very quickly on the the morning of Sept 11th, it became apparent that the effort was evolving from one of rescue, to recovery.
    The GSP and Turnpike was crowded with emergency vehicles and the NJ State Police set up a staging area in the Meadowlands, and begged first responders to stop their migration. Any Law Enforcement head would have been severly liable to expose their officers to such a situation. John Pollinger made the only decision posible, the right one. I know John to be an honorable and fair man and a good cop. I would serve with him any time.


  15. Brad says:

    Bravo, Mr. Hamby!

    Remember, last election cycle these posters on here was a group from an online forum (that barely anyone even uses anymore) that went on a slander campaign using anonymous names. One of the candidates who was vying for the RRR endorsement and can be seen around the HQ was a part of that slander campaign against Gail W. and actually worked to get Kimberle Weeks elected. I’m sure she is a part of these posts as well. That same group shows up on here quite a bit because they like to do things “anonymous” similar to the way children act. “Sore losers” I think would be a good label to choose.

    Like I said in a comment to another article elsewhere, I guess it is more exciting to paint a group working so very very hard to raise voter awareness as “shrouded in conspiracy”. The truth is that with everyone complaining so much about voter awareness, why disparage a group that is working so hard to raise awareness and get people out to vote? In the heat and on their own time. I would remind Donna that her husband found it important enough to email the RRR group right before the endorsement vote trying to disparage his competitor with notions of “conspiracy”. I guess he found the group important enough up until he wasn’t endorsed by them.

    The real issue with local politics is this anonymous online group who have been on slander campaigns for years now. They are a group that is mainly disgruntled current or former local government employees. They will only utilize online places where they can be “anonymous” but it’s pretty obvious who they are anymore. Shameful. They are the real problem in all honesty and it’s time to say enough is enough and let’s get serious about simply ignoring them because they have nothing that is truth to add.

    Thank you also, Donna, for plugging the names of candidates . . . all of which are great candidates.



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