Letter: Candidate Protests Online Comments (Updated)

I am very dismayed by the vile remarks that have been posted in the private Facebook group called Cold Spring Neighbors. Some remarks shared with our campaign from members of the page beggar description. The postings continually ridicule me in a very personal way outside the bounds of normal political debate. My ministry as a pastor in our community also has been mocked.

If you are a Philipstown resident and are not allowed on this page, I highly recommend you visit my Facebook page, Vote for Tim Greco for Philipstown Board, to view a sample of their remarks and decide for yourselves. [Editor’s note: Greco has since made his campaign page on Facebook a private group.]

I call upon Democratic candidates Richard Shea, Michael Leonard and John Van Tassel, as well as the Philipstown Democrats, to condemn this culture of hate and intolerance.

Tim Greco, Garrison

Editor’s note: We asked Lithgow Osborne, chair of Philipstown Democrats, for a response. He wrote: “While I understand Mr. Greco’s outrage at having been the focus of negative remarks by people on Facebook, I would remind him that once one enters the public realm, one leaves oneself open and exposed to all manner of sniping and criticism. Public figures, even the hardest working, most patriotic of them, must endure endless scrutiny. Finding fault has become a very public preoccupation because every citizen with a laptop and a Facebook account is endowed by the Constitution with the inalienable right to free speech. It’s not always nice and it may sting a bit, but that’s how it is in a democracy during the cyber age — I know this from personal experience, because I too have been a candidate for public office. My advice to Mr. Greco? Don’t spend too much time on Facebook.”

20 thoughts on “Letter: Candidate Protests Online Comments (Updated)

  1. Sadly, there was no apparent “culture of hate and intolerance” prior to the Ailes sojourn in Philipstown, and Mr. Greco’s reporting only served to polarize what was once a loving and peaceful community. A perusal of his Facebook page (prior to this candidate for public office making it private) and his commentary on citizens who have dedicated time, talent, energy and goodwill to Philipstown (strangely, the reverend’s vitriol, creepy and misogynistic, targets and belittles women who have attempted to make enormous inroads in making a better community for all of Philipstown. As it was with his reporting, the tone and its menacing intention is unbecoming a minister or a political candidate.

    • Western Putnam is a “loving and peaceful community”? Are you kidding me? Maybe some of you haven’t been around long enough to know that in years past, Putnam Valley and Philipstown were known as the Wild West in the rest of the county.

      As a lifelong resident of neighboring Putnam Valley and a business owner in Cold Spring who is a political activist, I can attest to the fact that before and after the Ailes family took over and ran the PCNR, there was plenty of “hate and intolerance” in this community, which includes my town as well.

      The thing is, most of the hate, intolerance and bigotry that I experience firsthand emanates from the virtue-signaling, liberal lefties of both parties who, like their comrades in the rest of the country, despise the conservative right-wingers whom their patron saint Hillary Rodham Clitnon labeled the “deplorables.” To this very day, I am persona not grata in a certain Main Street establishment after the owner told me to “get the f— out” because of my politics. (If anyone read about this on one of the seminal Cold Spring Facebook pages, the story is true.)

      Prior to the Ailes family taking over the PCNR, nobody really had much to say about that paper. In fact, in my estimation, they did a better job of covering the local news, especially for my town, before Mrs. Ailes became publisher. If you look back through the archives, you will see that pre-Ailes, they had a dedicated reporter for Putnam Valley who went to all the meetings and covered all the down and dirty details of local politics.

      Be that as it may, and for whatever reasons, the focus did change slightly and shifted to covering more of Philipstown/Cold Spring and the county and that’s where it seems to be today. The reason the local lefties freaked out so much when the Ailes family took over was simply because Roger was such a powerful force of nature in what had previously been “their” media. They were terrified that such a powerful conservative had taken up residence and opened a media outlet in what had previously been “their” territory.

      As far as Tim Greco’s complaints about the mudslinging that’s going on in his campaign, me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. If anyone should know how vicious it gets around here during the elections, it’s him, and I am surprised that he’s surprised at the viciousness of his opponents. All I can say is “welcome to my world.”

      One other thing about our two local newspapers, the PCNR and The Highlands Current. Regardless of one’s political viewpoint, we are lucky to have not one but two such publications in our neighborhood. Both papers print a variety of letters and articles that reflect both sides of the left/right spectrum while concentrating on local events.

      Let us not forget when The Current was first incarnated as Philipstown.info, it was the legacy of Mr. Gordon Stewart who was, shall we say, not exactly a fan of Roger Ailes. Many felt that this publication was started to embody the opposition for everything that the Ailes and their ilk stood for.

      Regardless of the viewpoints of the publishers, past and present, I have been pleasantly surprised that this paper has always been true to the tenets of free speech and a free press. As much of a right-wing conservative as I am, and as you can tell from my comments over the years, I have always been allowed to post in these forums even though I am certain that sometimes the editors totally disagreed with my point of view. I have the highest praise for the editors who have allowed me such liberties and many courtesies.

      Greco, who is running as a conservative Republican, should know that as down-and-dirty as it gets, in the realm of politics there is no such thing as hate speech. Sometimes the debate gets a bit too personal — just look at what’s been going on in the media for the last year — but that is just typical of the way the game is played. Facebook, Twitter and the other social media giants already engage in censorship to a certain degree and I find it appalling that anyone would suggest however subtly, that the local groups should be silenced.

      All’s fair in love and war and if Mr. Greco didn’t realize that he was indeed going to enter into an all-out battle with his opponents that was going to take place online and in the hills, valleys and roadsides of this fair town, let’s just say it’s kind of late to come to that realization a week before the election.

  2. Well, I suppose I should thank all the participants everywhere who in one way or another helped to let us know what’s been going on behind the scenes.

    Evidently if one’s objectives are innuendo, rumor mongering, insult, bile, mudslinging, fear, paranoia, notoriety, finger-pointing, team-building, chest-thumping, fundraising, obfuscation, he-said-she-said… any and all these sorts of mental gymnastics and Olympian contests, anything but an open, frank discussion on matters of public importance… well, great news: a private Facebook group is perfect for you! (No, I did not read any of the comments, but I can just imagine. Relatedly, I heard it was Groucho Marx who said he wouldn’t want to have membership in any club which would admit him.

    Good luck!

  3. OK, so my opposition likes to link me to the late Roger Ailes.

    Here is my story. Happy to share it.

    It’s true Mr. Ailes was instrumental in getting me a job on just a handshake at his wife Elizabeth’s newspaper after hearing I was looking for work. But, in fact, it was Elizabeth Ailes, the owner and publisher of the PCNR, who I actually worked for.

    My beat was Cold Spring and I dove right, into it covering everything from Dunkin’ Donuts to Butterfield and everything in between.

    My favorite story of which I am most proud was of a local dry cleaner who lived through the Cambodian killing fields who trusted me to report her amazing journey.

    For years on end I watched the various Cold Spring boards block, stall and throw road blocks up against very decent property owners who legally had the right to develop their land within the confines of the law.

    From the Village Board to the Historic Board, I covered it all as senior reporter.

    I witnessed the Democrats cannibalize themselves after then-Mayor Seth Gallagher decided the Butterfield project was, in fact, good for the village of Cold Spring.

    I was amazed as Mayor Gallagher, at a meeting in 2012, went to get a police officer at a contentious meeting after having a dust-up with Stephanie Hawkins, then a member of the Special Board. This same person, who would go on to become the First Lady of Cold Spring, gave the finger to a young female reporter taking her picture. We reported that crude moment, too!

    Not to mention that I was the first to report that her husband, Mayor Dave Merandy, wanted to end the Cold Spring Independence Day parade. At the time he denied it, but he could not deny the videotape. Where are we today? Yes, indeed, the parade has been canceled. Every meeting I covered was videotaped and put online so if you had a problem with my reporting, just as the old sports announcers used to say, “Let’s go to the video tape!”

    A few years into reporting I started an online show called “Focus in Philipstown,” where everyone from local store owners and everyday people with heartwarming stories to U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney; the Six Million Dollar Man himself, Lee Majors; and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich stopped by to chat on camera. And, oh yes, let’s not forget former two-time candidate Lithgow Osborne was there front and center at the ole PCNR when he need to.

    Over the years I covered and interviewed Hawkins for her run for trustee, front page no less, and Dar Williams about the Indian Point escape plan. Everyone from any political persuasion was always welcomed to share their side of any story. Sadly, few chose to.

    Let’s not forget this fact those in open opposition to the PCNR gladly used the the paper when they needed to.

    Oh yes, my friends, this was the paper that they turned to when they needed to help themselves or whenever they wanted to express an opinion and guess what it was owned by Mrs. Ailes (gasp!). Is it just me, or do you see the hypocrisy?

    And I just have to laugh as my harshest critic, Historic Board member Kathleen Foley, collaborated with the PCNR on a three-page spread on Mrs. Julia Butterfield’s life. I mean, she actually darkened our doorstep!

    Oh, of course, they absolutely did not want me to cover them as they obstructed and dragged our due process to good people like Kenny Elmes and Paul Guillaro, that goes without saying. But as a reporter I had to do my job which I did with integrity and pride, but in the end it was just a J-O-B.

    People would often wonder where I got my “scoops” and “inside information.” Believe it or not, it was the various Democratic board memberships who with a promise of confidentiality spilled their guts to me many, many times over the years.

    My relationship to the Ailes family is my business and I don’t really care to talk about them. I resigned over a year ago when I took another media position.

    I do know this much to be true. The Ailes were very good to many in our community and fiercely loyal when it counted. I don’t recall anyone complaining when the PCNR paid for the fireworks at the Independence Day festivities or those who benefited from their generous giving.

    I saw myself as a faithful employee who was an OK writer but an excellent reporter who shined a light on the good and bad. That brings me to my favorite aspect of the job, uncovering the truth. For example, when Steve Laifer suggested in February 2016 on the official Haldane PTA Facebook site that the Pledge of America should be taken out of the school. You might find that story somewhere online.

    My fellow citizens: let’s not forget these morsels of facts as we head to Election Day! The simple solution is: if you don’t like me, don’t vote for me on Nov. 7.

    But my hunch is there are going to be plenty of people who will stand with me and put me over the top at the polls just based on your negative comments above and others like it. I rest my case. VOTE GRECO – TIMe for a CHANGE

    • Does Tim Greco recall the harsh treatment he dished out in his “reporting” (heavily opinionated, at that) on Kathleen Foley? He constantly targeted her by name, when no other HDRB members were even mentioned, and portrayed her quite scholarly positions in the most negative light.

      And here he goes again — she dared “darken our doorstep”! So much for a free and open-minded press. Judge not lest ye be judged.

  4. Mr. Greco evidently can’t stand up for himself without stepping on others. I’m voting for Mike and John.

  5. In response to the dozens of emails and messages I received about my post, I’d like to clarify a few things. First of all, I did not mean to imply in any way, shape or form that I bore any ill will to the Ailes family; in fact, I was a great admirer of Roger Ailes and considered him to be a personal hero of mine. Both he and his wife Elizabeth did a great deal of good for the Village of Cold Spring including numerous donations to various causes. At the time, it seemed that no matter what they did, they got castigated by a certain group of locals who despised them for who they were, regardless of how much did for the community.

    Also, nothing I wrote was intended to disparage the PCNR or Tim Greco. I am still a fan of that paper and I think that Tim did a great job reporting. (I also think he will make a good board member if does get elected, not that I can vote for him because I don’t live in Philipstown). The main point I was trying to get across was that there seems to be a certain amount of hypocrisy on the part of those I call the “usual suspects” when it comes to the Ailes family, the PCNR and Mr. Greco.

    It is ludicrous at best to claim that Philipstown/Cold Spring was a veritable Garden of Eden prior to the arrival of Roger and Elizabeth, and that somehow Mr. Greco et al. incited “innuendo, rumor mongering, insult, bile, mudslinging, fear, paranoia, notoriety, finger-pointing, team-building, chest-thumping, fundraising, obfuscation, he-said-she-said.” Believe me, there was plenty of that to go around prior to the Ailes showing up on the scene.

    Finally, while I am a staunch believer in free speech, and I do acknowledge that local politics can be as dirty as it gets, I do not condone libel, slander, threats or obscenities directed at a candidate or their family. I think we all can recognize certain lines that are not to be crossed in that regard.

    Thanks once again to The Current for allowing the dialogue to continue.

    • Reading this now, and as my words were directly quoted, there is a need to clarify one point, lest I be completely misunderstood.

      I have no reason to think that “Mr. Greco et al. (or anyone else for that matter, specifically or intentionally) incited ‘innuendo, rumor mongering, insult, bile, mudslinging, fear, paranoia, notoriety, finger-pointing, team-building, chest-thumping, fundraising, obfuscation, he-said-she-said.’ ”

      I was merely though strongly trying to wheedle or tease out the suggestion, a belief in my case, that, in large part due to the way private, exclusive, and in-group communication platforms and structures tend to function, specifically here in the form of “private Facebook groups,” it should be no surprise if the results are as listed.

      In other words, I do not recommend the use of such private or restricted access groups. Best keep the commentaries in the open. Thereby there will tend to be a moderating and self-regulating effect; and more valid, more impeachable, and thus more publicly meaningful communications will flow. Most importantly, the impuissance of our political system may be mitigated.

      Does this make sense?

  6. In his greatest “hits” above, I am quite surprised that candidate Greco has brought up his attempt to smear me, and the scandalous violation of the PTA’s private Facebook page he undertook to do it. The actual story behind the story says much about his lack of ethics and poor character. It is slander, plain and simple, and he invites legal recourse.

    Not long ago, when Ailes’ PCNR newspaper was busy making imaginary enemies out of some the finest people in Cold Spring, candidate Greco was the PCNR reporter who engaged in the obligatory character assassinations. I became one of Ailes’ and Greco’s targets because of my progressive opinions, which I often made known in this very comment section when it was the Ailes’ alternative known as Philipstown.info.

    As a parent and PTA member, I have had the occasion to share interesting articles on the private, members-only PTA Facebook page with other PTA parents. One that I shared — an expert’s piece that discussed the ill-effects of the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on certain students — apparently caught the eye of reporter Greco, who recognized its potential if weaponized. He could portray me as some kind of anti-patriotic, Communist anarchist extremist. And so he did.

    Greco lifted a private comment from this private group and attempted a character assassination by turning it into a completely misleading front-page story in order to “get me,” as he had threatened months before in person.

    THIS is who Tim Greco is.

  7. Let us not lose sight of what that Pledge of Allegiance stunt really was. It was village election season 2016, quite close to Election Day. Lynn Slater Miller and Steve Voloto were running for Village Trustee against Barney Molloy, the favored candidate of the Ailes’s PCNR. It was a clumsy set/spike meant to imply shadiness on the part of Lynn and Steve by linking them to the standing “Enemies List.” Yes, the Star Reporter, under the tutelage of Ailes, developed a McCarthy-like list of enemies, many of whom are named again above.

    It went like this: Steve finds an interesting article about whether the pledge should be required or optional in schools. He posts it on the PTA Facebook page — a page intended for the use of Haldane families and members of the organization — with an intro that says, roughly, interesting read, something to think about. Not “I want the pledge removed from Haldane,” or any such thing. Greco attempts to incite folks on the PTA page, and is booted by the administrators for his misuse of the forum.

    He crawls back to the protected blockade of Philipstown Uncensored, where he can incite and hate unfettered. Wouldn’t you know, in the next issue of the PCNR, there is a front-page article that attempts to connect all of this to Lynn and Steve. The Facebook-sourced article went like this: Laifer hates the Pledge, Laifer is not a patriot. Laifer is friends with Stephanie Hawkins and Kathleen Foley. Stephanie and Kathleen — constant targets of Greco’s and Ailes’s libel, abuse and misogyny — are working on behalf of candidates Lynn and Steve. Therefore, Lynn and Steve hate the pledge; Lynn and Steve are not patriots.

    Implication: Vote Molloy. This is how Greco worked at the PCNR, with the full encouragement of Ailes, his meal ticket: innuendo, enemies’ lists, incitement, attempts to manipulate the electorate. It didn’t work with Molloy. People saw this ham-handed move for what it was. It won’t work in this election, either. Ad hominem attacks, incitement and manipulation of the electorate were not becoming a “reporter” or a “newspaper,” and they’re certainly not becoming a candidate for public office.

  8. I was never booted from the PTA site. I was added when I had to prove my son was a student. I happily sent a photo of him wearing blue on the soccer team. I was then added and the story was written. Also, my site was called “Philipstown is Talking,” not “Philipstown Uncensored.”

    It’s silly to keep drawing a line between me and Mr. Ailes when Ms. Foley contributed to a story exclusively run in the PCNR. Does that make her complicit, too? The fact of the matter is she has posted many untruths behind a closed site, so much so that people are still sending me her nasty comments. When I win this election she will be at the top of my list of people to thank for handing me the election.

    Philipstown people know the truth and not the truth spun through a distorted lens.

  9. It seems to me that there is more even hostility, rumor mongering, back-biting and negative behavior in Cold Spring/Philipstown since the Ailes family left town and Mr. Greco ceased being a reporter for the PCNR.

    At what point do the residents of that community get honest and own up to the fact of their own intolerance toward people who do not believe as they do when it comes to politics?

  10. On Oct. 27, I was engaged in what I believed to be a private conversation with a friend on Facebook. As a mother of two young children, I have very private security settings on my profile. So I was shocked to learn that Philipstown Town Board candidate Tim Greco was reading my private conversations and would even go so far as to write private messages to me.

    Unfortunately, my friend didn’t realize that his security settings were not optimal. Consequently, our discussion was being read by Greco. No one engaged in the discussion would assume that Greco was reading our conversation because none of us are friends with him. Personally, I have never met him or engaged with him. He is a stranger to me other than the fact that he is running for public office, which was the topic of the discussion that I engaged in.

    We were discussing the fact that Greco had set his campaign Facebook page to a setting that would prevent anyone who was not a member from accessing it. I joked that I would try to join the page but that I’d probably have to “unfriend” most of my friends first. Moments after typing those words I received a private message from Greco that said the following:

    “Hi! Please don’t unfriend your real friends just for ‘lil ole me! So glad you believed in the Constitution! You probably are not going to vote for me anyway, right? God bless you real good for giving platelets today. TG”

    I did, indeed, plan to spend part of my afternoon donating platelets at our local blood center. Greco was making a point to let me know that he was reading my private discussion, in all of its detail, and that he knew where I would be and what I would be doing with my day. I responded and suggested that his spying on the conversations of private citizens was “sick,” especially if we are to become his constituents.

    He sent me several more messages. In one of the messages he told me to “Go away now!” even though I was no longer responding to him. I finally had to block him from trying to communicate with me. I felt sick to my stomach and called my husband at work because the messages had so rattled me.

    Greco’s messages to me were unprovoked, unwanted and intended to violate my privacy and intimidate me. I am reluctant to share this episode of my private life, but I don’t think the kind of person who violates the privacy of people whom he does not know and then uses such information to intimidate them into silence is a man who is fit for the honor of serving Philipstown. You are right, Mr. Greco, I will not be voting for you.

  11. The long, tawdry history of candidate Greco in action in this town as reporter and sycophant are well documented by those he set his sights on. I don’t need to add to that, as those involved tell it and know it best.

    But what I’ve observed during this campaign as a Philipstown resident, voter and Facebook user has given me serious pause about the fitness of this candidate to campaign, much less govern. He has harassed women with private Facebook messages and phone text messages, blamed his unwise co-opting of the Time logo on others, and written the most petty, childish, insulting and taunting comments about people who don’t happen to support him. Is that how he would behave on the Town Board? I have no other experience of his leadership to say otherwise. What a poor showing.

    This behavior barely qualifies as adult, and it is miles from that of a pastor or community leader. It is behavior that one would avoid, block on Facebook, and hope will soon disappear into community lore.

  12. I’m so glad Andrea Hudson had the courage to submit her comment to The Current. Candidate Greco is a bully, plain and simple. When a friend and I expressed (on a private Facebook page) dismay at how many locals seemed to be supporting him, not long after a screenshot of the conversation appeared on his campaign page with a comment along the lines of, “Now we know where to go first when more of my signs disappear.” In short, my friend and I were accused of being thieves, and we shouldn’t be surprised if Greco or his supporters show up on our porches looking for stolen signs.

    Honestly, this is a man running for public office? Philipstown deserves so much better.

  13. I will add that many people in the Facebook group in which you posted these comments sent them to me, thinking they were over the line. I took the time to message you directly and privately with my concerns, and I did it with a bit of humor. I feel writing you directly was the neighborly thing to do. Harassment? Far from it. You could have just asked to join my Facebook group. All you had to do was ask.

    • A play straight out of the harassers’ playbook. A woman says she’s being harassed and the guy says, “Come on! It was just a joke! Getta sense of humor! Calm down! I was just trying to be nice.” Classic.

  14. The comments that were “sent” to Mr. Greco authored by Andrea Conner were not posted in a Facebook group. They were on my personal Facebook feed and taken from there. I have since appropriately reset the privacy settings.

    It’s a tremendous piece of logical gymnastics to equate Kathleen Foley’s contribution to a few PCNR articles over the course of several years as anything equivalent to Greco’s daily and weekly role as “reporter” for that fish wrap. Using the platform of the paper of record for information distribution is exactly what it is there for. However, constantly wielding it like a jagged lawn tool and using it to tear down neighbors is something entirely different.

  15. I will be voting for Michael Leonard and John Van Tassel in this upcoming election, because they have been working diligently, taking one hard look after another at things like the safety of our dams, tourism’s challenges and issues of consolidation. They know this is a town full of flawed and faithful citizens, and they seek to collaborate with all of us, inviting us into public service instead of pointing out our feet of clay at every turn. Mike and John’s temperaments are suited to doing the complicated and often thankless work of community. They do so in the spirit of volunteerism and compassion that clearly brought them to their positions. Lastly, I am casting my absentee vote this week for these two men because they have not questioned my patriotism; they have inspired it.

  16. Many of us had asked to join Greco’s Facebook group but that was not all we had to do. We were given a question on the Constitution and then mysteriously blocked. So asking to join is not all that it takes.