Monday, March 23, 2009

News---Gettysburg Battlefield Guide Prez Steps Down, Dissatisfaction of Members Cited

Battlefield Guide Chief Resigns Under Pressure, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, Monday, March 23, 2009

The two-year leader of the Licensed Battlefield Guide Association in Gettysburg has resigned, citing internal pressure from the 118-member group. “For the good of the organization, I feel that I have no choice but to step down,” said Rick Hohmann. “If you took a vote of the organization, I think I would have the support of the majority. But we’re at the point where the minority has power.”

Hohmann’s resignation stems from a Feb. 26 newspaper letter to the editor, and subsequent letters to two federal Pennsylvania officials, in which he called for oversight of Gettysburg National Military Park Supt. Dr. John Latschar. The letters, signed by Hohmann, cite “possible ethics violations” by Latschar. Hohmann signed the letters using his title of president, upsetting other guides.

“To some, the resignation might look like a win for Latschar, but I think he’s got other problems,” said Hohmann, naming an ongoing U.S. Inspector General’s probe as an example. He announced his resignation during the group’s membership meeting Friday night. “I’ve stood up for the guides for two years,” says Hohmann. “I just don’t think there’s anything else that I can do for the organization.”

Reportedly, some guides threatened to leave the organization if Hohmann didn’t step down, which would have resulted in a loss of membership dues. According to Hohmann, proceeds from a book — written by former ALBG President Frederick Hawthorne — may have also been pulled if he didn’t resign. The proceeds generate about $5,000 annually, representing the group’s largest source of income. Hawthorne did not immediately return a call Sunday seeking comment. “I’m not going to be blackmailed,” said Hohmann, adding that he didn’t leave the association. He did, however, resign as president. “I don’t quit,” Hohmann says.

Association member Roy Frampton is replacing Hohmann as president. The group will appoint a vice president at its executive board meeting in April. “That’s the way our bylaws work,” says ALBG Treasurer Phil Lechak. “(Frampton) was our vice president, so he automatically becomes the new president.” Even though he represented the group as president, the views expressed in Hohmann’s letters did not please other guides. Hohmann asked Congress to explore possible “abuses” and “malfeasance” related to Latschar’s role in creating the new $103 million Battlefield Visitor Center.

The U.S. Inspector General (IG) is reviewing the issue, as well as many other allegations. His letters were written when the IG investigation became public. Hohmann also wrote letters to two federal officials, U.S. Rep. Todd Platts and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, seeking congressional hearings. Hohmann and Latschar have clashed over the years on matters such as a new tour reservation system, park rules and regulations, and Latschar’s wife taking notes at association meetings. Hohmann led the group during a period of growth and change.

In Jan. 2008, the membership voted to vacate its headquarters at the old park visitor center on Taneytown Road, after voicing displeasure about the park’s new scheduling system. The group branched out to sub-locations, and now has an office at Patriots Point along Steinwehr Avenue.

Text and Picture Source: Gettysburg Times

CWL: Yep, that's right. It is 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' and is not 'I am the one that I've been waiting for.'

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