SYRACUSE, NY (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Director of the New York State Fair, Dan O'Hara, has stepped in it again. O'Hara sparked controversy earlier this year when he awarded a no-bid contract for entertainment at the fair to Live Nation, but now he's stirred the pot anew with some alleged sharp words to a union usher working at the fair.
According to a story in the Syracuse Post-Standard, O'Hare brought his 16-year-old daughter and several of her friends to a sold-out Jonas Brothers concert at the fair and installed them with folding chairs in an elevated area normally reserved for disabled guests in wheelchairs. When another fair patron, who had been cautioned by ushers against sitting in the wheelchair zone complained, a fair usher named Thomas Schug asked the girls to move to unoccupied seats 2 rows back.
Schug told the Post-Standard: "I said, 'Excuse me girls, do you mind moving your seats back?' The oldest of the girls said — really nice, almost nervous — 'My dad is the director of the fair.' I said, 'That's fine, honey. You still need to move your seats back.' "
Schug noted that one of the girls made a call on her cellphone and a man identifying himself as O'Hara soon arrived on the scene.
"Five minutes after this, the gentleman in the green shirt came up to me and said, 'I'm Dan O'Hara. I'm the director. I put them there. I recommend you fix your attitude toward my girls,'" Schug reported O'Hara as saying.
The encounter quickly turned confrontational with O'Hara reportedly attempting to exert his authority over Schug, insinuating that Schug's employment was at jeopardy and according to witnesses, cursing at him. Schug responded by noting that he worked for the State of New York rather than O'Hara.
The girls ended up watching the show from empty seats 29 rows back, however, the story doesn't end there. After the concert, O'Hara and his wife Monique again confronted Schug.
"If there's one thing my children shouldn't have to deal with, it's dealing with (two expletives deleted) like you." Schug reported Monique O'Hara as saying.
Schug, a member of the SEIU Local 200, one of the largest unions in the central part of the state, later reported the incident to his supervisor and Bob Connelly, a representative for the union later spoke with O'Hara about the incident. Connelly said that O'hara told him that another usher had seated his daughters there and denied cursing at Schug or threatening to fire him. A spokesman has declined to provide any official comment on the issue.
"We will not be providing any comment or allowing you access to Dan to talk about this," Jessica Chittenden, a spokesman for Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker said in a statement "We're not going to comment on or provide any comment on these stories that are nothing but he-said-she-said kind of situations."
Schug, who only works as an usher during the state fair and otherwise works as a corrections officer for New York, was told to report to work subsequently. "Tom[Schug] doesn't have any reason to lie about it. The other ushers saw it and said that's what happened. I truly believe it did happen just the way Tom said it happened," said Edwin Cook, Schug's supervisor. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers