OGDENSBURG — A series of text messages from a former council member caused City Manager Stephen P. Jellie to report the exchange to the police.
The text messages came from former City Councilman David G. Price to Mr. Jellie.
The exchange centers around Mr. Jellie’s proposed 2021 city budget, which calls for the reduction of 10 positions in the city fire department.
“It will be ugly, nasty, and brutish, but the people will prevail. If I’m wrong, I will suffer little, but if I’m right, you and the four will suffer greatly,” Mr. Price wrote, referring to the four members of the new majority on City Council.
Mr. Price warned Mr. Jellie that members of the public would be executing boycotts on businesses owned by council members and himself.
“We will attack all personal revenue streams to make sure we are heard. This won’t end well, but we have been preparing for months,” he wrote.
Mr. Jellie supplied the Times with the text messages Wednesday morning.
“This has reached a point of no return. Run while you can,” Mr. Price wrote.
Mr. Price confirmed he was contacted by the police about the text messages. Mr. Jellie said no charges were filed, but a warning was delivered. Police Chief Robert Westcott did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
“I was shocked,” Mr. Price said about being contacted by police.
Mr. Price said he and Mr. Jellie played football together in the mid 1980s at Carthage, and he had been texting and talking on the phone with Mr. Jellie since he took the job in Ogdensburg this summer.
“I text him after almost every meeting,” Mr. Price said.
The most recent exchange was not a threat, Mr. Price said.
“My intent was not threats, but warnings about what people were going to do,” he said. “People have had it with the way he — the city manager — and the other councilors are running things.”
Mr. Price said the elimination of positions from the city fire department is a threat to the livelihoods of people and is causing the tension and angry discord.
Mr. Price said he told Mr. Jellie early on that there would be animosity attached to the job.
“Hey, I see you were just hired by Ogdensburg, I hope it goes well for you, but watch your back, this is a crazy time in this city,” Mr. Price said he wrote in his first text exchange to Mr. Jellie.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly said he supported Mr. Jellie reporting the text messages to the police.
“There’s no place for threats and intimidation,” Mr. Skelly said.
Mr. Skelly said it wasn’t fair that Mr. Jellie was getting the bulk of the criticism from the public.
“He’s an employee. He’s doing his job, and he is doing it responsibly,” he said. “We’re elected officials and I don’t agree with making things personal, but I don’t really agree that an employee doing his job should be attacked and attacked personally for it.”
The criticism, Mr. Skelly said, should be directed at him and the councilors, not an employee.
Budget workshops continue at 6 p.m. Thursday when the topics will be assessment, engineering, planning and development, code enforcement and recreation.
The public will have an opportunity to attend the meeting by going to wdt.me/k7faSZ, or by calling 1-415-655-0060 and entering access code #356-076-853.