You Endorsed Who? Some Parents and Teachers are Angered & Bewildered by RTA Endorsement

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School Board elections are usually mundane affairs.  Many times they are uncontested but every so often an additional candidate shows up to try to unseat an incumbent. It happened last year when Joe Gravagna placed a distance fourth and complaints flew about fake Facebook profiles hijacking pages advocating for his candidacy.

This year things took a curious turn as the Ramapo Teachers Association came out in favor of Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn—a recent member of the RCSD board and Gravagna, while declining to endorse incumbents Teresa Monahan and Terri DiFalco.

Ramapo Times and the Rockland Star have been inundated with calls, texts, emails and FB messages from parents and more than 15 RTA members who are upset with this endorsement.   A quick look at community group Facebook pages provides a more in-depth view of the rancor and animosity swirling around this election.

If you will recall, last year we published a piece entitled “Who is Samuel Kasanovich?” which outlined the fake and since deleted Facebook profile of Gravagna fan Samuel Kasanovich.  According to Gravagna himself, he had no idea who Kasanovich is/was although he admitted that the ‘Phantom of Facebook’ took care of his Facebook page, Twitter account, website and election signs.  Curiously enough, the day after we published our expose on Samuel Kasanovich, Joe Gravagna was independently witnessed four times (including one time by yours truly) removing the election signs that he claimed to know nothing about.

Earlier this year, Ramapo Times and Rockland Star exposed three more fake Facebook accounts that were promptly removed—we’re not sure if Facebook or the ‘owners’ of the accounts removed them.  Interestingly enough, we are monitoring an account that was affiliated with Gravanga’s election website last year and that is advocating for his candidacy again this year.  The image used of the ‘person’ has been traced and it is a ‘stock’ image and not a personal photo.

Joe Claims to Know Ramapo but Apparently Joe and Sam know nothing about Airmont Laws

We submitted a FOIL request to the Village of Airmont and spoke to their very helpful Village Clerk Irene Murphy.  We were informed that a permit to display election signs was not filed by either Samuel Kasanovich last year nor Joseph Gravanga this year.  Incredibly both sign posters are unaware that they have violated the law.  For the record, candidates Terri DiFalco and Clarke Osborn both filed applications for and received approval to post their election signs in Airmont this year. We have not as of yet heard back from Teresa Monahan on this issue.

Serious Credibility Issues With Gravagna and the Suffern Chamber of Commerce

The RTA in their endorsement of Gravagna mentions that “He’s not polished but we don’t care.”   The RTA is willing to “look past his lack of style and savvy”.  Many others are not nearly as forgiving.  A few years back Granvagna approached the Suffern Chamber of Commerce with the idea of holding a road race—a 5k or 10k through the Village of Suffern in order to raise money so that he could then run the New York City Marathon in order to raise more money for a worthy cause.  The chamber of commerce was in favor of the idea in theory but immediately told Gravagna that it would ultimately depend upon approval from the Police and Fire Chiefs before the idea would be proposed to the Village of Suffern Board as public safety was the most important concern.  Upon review by both departments it was determined that this type of event could not be adequately covered due to manpower and logistical concerns.  Upon hearing that the chamber was no longer willing to support this endeavor because of public safety issues, Gravagna attended a Village board meeting and completely misrepresented the situation and trashed Chief Clarke Osborn to the Village Board.  At this point the chamber of commerce completely backed away from any further involvement with Mr. Gravagna.

Gravagna as a Lightning Rod for Controversy

There have been a number of exchanges with Mr. Gravagna on Facebook as he pushes his candidacy including admonishment for using thinly veiled profanity and back-and-forths where people have taken issue with Gravanga’s election platform.  Mr. Gravagna  later deleted his controversial post but the debate and comments continue.

Questions have been asked by members of the voting public but not adequately answered by Mr. Gravagna.  People have produced and posted videos of Gravagna at a Rockland County Republican Party event claiming that Gravagna was affiliated or somehow aligned with Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence (not true) and that Rockland County Executive Ed Day refused to allow Gravagna to invoke his name or align his campaign to become chair of the Rockland County Republican Committee with Day’s candidacy to become County Executive (this is true).

Complaints have come in from parents in Sloatsburg who claim that Mr. Gravagna has been showing up at bus stops to campaign and from others who have questioned his campaign promises that included RCSD funding for PTA’s (which seems to be illegal) to having corporate sponsorship of district sports teams which would seem to fly in the face of the decision a few years ago that Coca-Cola should not be able to come into the district with sponsorship money.

Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s RCSD election for School Board members, Mr. Gravanga should be commended if for nothing else, the entertainment value he brings to the table as this has been one of the more interesting and entertaining school district campaign seasons in recent memory.   In the end, it should and must be about voting for the best, most qualified candidates to move the district forward while advocating for the best interests of our children.

Polling Locations:

  • Cherry Lane Elementary School, 1 Heather Drive, Suffern
  • Hillburn Administration Building, 45 Mountain Avenue, Hillburn
  • RP Connor Elementary School, 13 Cypress Road, Suffern
  • Sloatsburg Elementary School, 11 Second Street, Sloatsburg
  • Suffern Middle School, 80 Hemion Road, Suffern

If you’re not sure where you should go to vote, call (845) 357-7783 x11234 to confirm your polling place.