In their "official" explanation, contenders Mike D'Amore, Mike Schlossberg and Ray O'Connell admit funding these unidentified anti-Hershman robo-calls. But they had no idea former Pawlowski campaign manager Rob Hopkins would be so sneaky. Privately, the whole fiasco is blamed on Pawlowski, who may have even picked up the checks for Hopkins. Pawlowski was supposed to help fund the robo-calls, too, but backed out at the last minute so he could deny everything. In his story, Rob Hopkins falls on the sword. In a lengthy statement, he claims no one knew his specific intentions.
Hershman has his own impassioned statement, which appears in Jarrett Renshaw's Queen City Daily. "I have to ask these gentlemen, what are you afraid of? Why does a 73-year old senior citizen named Lou Hershman scare you?"
Ray O'Connell, to his credit, feels pretty bad about the whole thing. He told me, "If I could see Lou in public, I would reach my hand out and say, 'Lou, I'm sorry about what I did and it will never happen again." That was a noble gesture from O'Connell, and Hershman just as quickly accepted the apology. "I know Ray and when I read his name, I couldn't believe it. He's not like that at all. I accept his apology."
One person who has offered no apology is Rob Hopkins, the Pawlowski sycophant who actually prepared the anonymous attack. He piously claims no one has dared disagree with his assertion that Hershman allowed young police officers to retire early, costing the city a gazillion dollars.
Well, I disagree. Of all people, Hopkins should know the truth. Hershman had actually sued to stop these police pensions. But in 2005, a desperate Pawlowski begged Hershman to drop it. At the time, Hopkins was Pawlowski's campaign manager, and they were trying to wrangle an FOP endorsement. In a meeting arranged by Julio Guridy, Pawlowski promised Hershman that only between 9 and 12 officers would retire, and this would actually save Peanutville $240 thousand. Hershman took Pawlowski at his word, only to learn later that he had been misled. Fifty-three cops would retire.
As you all know, even the filthiest criminal is entitled to face his accusers. But not Lou Hershman. Hopkins and Pawlowski made sure of that. That's pretty amazing from someone who relies on the Constitution to justify anonymous sleaze.
Yesterday afternoon, Hershman exercised some constitutional rights of his own. He is demanding an opportunity to face his accusers. "I want to debate Hopkins and Pawlowski to refresh their memories."
When I reached Hopkins yesterday, he seemed stunned. "Well, I'll have to ... I'll have to ... um ... think about it." He said he'd be happy to meet Hershman face to face, but I told him public accusations warrant a public setting for response. Hopkins is very quick to make anonymous accusations, but seems much slower in defending them.
I'll be happy to arrange a venue.