Robert Rhodes' Response to Slanderous Letter

March 22, 2007

Ramapo Supervisor Chris St. Lawrence is in real political trouble. In previous Town of Ramapo elections underground supporters have waited until just before the Supervisor election to mail out their vicious slanders. But apparently Mr. St. Lawrence is so frightened that the people of Ramapo have had enough of his policies favoring urbanization of the Town, that his underground supporters have decided that they had better get a head start on their slanderous ways, months before the November election.

At the end of the 2003 Supervisor election, a vicious anonymous flier was mailed throughout the Orthodox community that falsely claimed that Kathy Ellsworth (the then Montebello Mayor who opposed Mr. St. Lawrence in the Supervisor's race), and her running mates were anti-Semites. The outrageous letter went on to attack 10 "self-hating Jews" including me, and, among others, Shimon Suntag, a distinguished leader of the Orthodox community. Shimon had not even been involved in that campaign, but he had won a major lawsuit against a prominent local builder.

At the end of the 2005 Supervisor election there were full page ads in Orthodox periodicals calling on the Ramapo Orthodox community to defend its schools and houses of worship. The nature of the attack was never defined, but the ads went on to endorse St. Lawrence for re-election as Supervisor.

Now in 2007, Mr. St. Lawrence is again up for re-election and again the slanders are coming. This time they are coming earlier and are more hysterical, which reflects the general panic in the St. Lawrence political machine. Yesterday, a truly filthy letter was mailed out to all of our local schools, to the wives of day camp owners in Rockland County, our political leaders, and others, suggesting that I am associated with the production of pornography.

In the early 1970’s, my father, Irwin Rhodes, who was then the owner of our family’s camp and who had been President of the East Ramapo School Board, was approached by a local political leader who was also on the Nyack School Board. He told my father that he was a location agent for a film company that was looking to film a few scenes at a local day camp. He asked whether they could use our camp after the camp season ended to film a few scenes. My father agreed. While my father and our family were on vacation, a pornographic film was made at my dad’s camp. My old fashioned dad could never have imagined that somebody would violate his trust and do such a terrible thing. Needless to say, he was horrified, but the community at large understood what had happened, and my father’s reputation and the reputation of his beloved camp never suffered from this unfortunate incident. In fact, our family camp has continued to thrive. My father died in 1991.

Shame on Mr. St. Lawrence’s underground cronies for trying to destroy my late father’s reputation in a twisted effort to divert attention from Mr. St. Lawrence’s poor performance on behalf of the Town of Ramapo.

This trash talk will not intimidate me and will not succeed in diverting the public’s attention from the real and serious issues facing the Town of Ramapo including the creeping urbanization of our Town, encouraged and promoted by Mr. St. Lawrence and his constant pandering to special interests at the expense of the vast majority of our Town’s citizenry.

Rest assured that I will be contacting the Rockland District Attorney’s office regarding this anonymous and cowardly slander. Preserve Ramapo will continue to focus on the issues that matter to the residents of our Town.

Warmest regards,

Robert I. Rhodes, Ph.D., Chairman, Preserve Ramapo