Citing an urgent necessity, Mayor Jeffrey Skelly repeatedly interrupted and eventually adjourned a special meeting of the Ogdensburg City Council held Aug. 2.
City Manager Stephen Jellie defended Skelly’s actions after the meeting, saying that the mayor was acting “in the interest of public safety in shutting down the meeting.” Skelly’s rationale for bringing the proceedings to a halt: He claimed someone in the audience was “making faces” at him.
Yes, this is what has become of municipal government in Ogdensburg. Skelly declared that he cannot tolerate someone making faces at him.
“City Manager Stephen P. Jellie was giving five of seven council members an update from the New York State Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments when things started to go awry. Councilors Michael B. Powers and John A. Rishe were not in attendance,” according to a story published Aug. 2 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Councilor Nichole L. Kennedy was asking Mr. Jellie a question about police dispatch services when Mayor Jeffrey M. Skelly interrupted her. She proceeded to call the mayor out before continuing to talk. The mayor then smacked his gavel, pointed it toward the back of council chambers at Gerald H. Mack, a former city fire captain, and said to Mr. Jellie, ‘Steve, he’s gonna have to be removed.’”
Kennedy tried to continue with her question, but Skelly kept demanding that Mack be removed. Kennedy and Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle eventually left the meeting, and Skelly closed it. Nothing on the agenda was voted on; they were expected to be added to Monday’s meeting.
Skelly’s antics are beyond absurd. This was a special meeting called to discuss some important issues, and the mayor admits he can’t concentrate on the business at hand if he believes someone in attendance is mocking him. He rudely interrupted a colleague to throw a temper tantrum.
This mirrors the childish behavior exhibited by city officials since early 2020. They spend much of their time sniping at each other at meetings, in news releases and on social media.
Where are the adults? This is not how to govern a city.
This incident and many others preceding it reflect poorly on Ogdensburg’s leadership. It’s time for everyone to grow up and learn how to carry out the people’s business in a professional and constructive manner.