Upon reading the latest salvo by Ogdensburg City Manager Stephen Jellie in his war of words with St. Lawrence County, I again thought, “Who is this guy?”
As a member of the Ogdensburg Police Department from 1978 through 2007, I served under several city managers. As an 11-year chief of police, I served primarily during the tenure of John Krol and also under Art Sciorra.
Simplistically, city managers oversee city operations and implement policy as established by the City Council. In my experience, they have always striven to remain apolitical and did not seek the limelight. Until now.
Mr. Jellie could not seem to be more political. He wields social media and news releases as cudgels. He calls out county representatives by name and party and is quick to apportion perceived blame for things not going his way. This is much like the kid who takes his ball and goes home.
He now refers to a divided City Council as “majority City Council” and “minority City Council.” All credit goes to the most recently elected “majority” Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s as if our also elected Councilors Michael Powers, Daniel Skamperle and Nichole Kennedy do not exist. He has become an enabler of our Mayor Jeffrey Skelly’s juvenile actions, most recently defending the mayor’s halting of a special meeting as “in the interest of public safety.” What?
To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Jellie was an unsolicited applicant for interim city manager. He was shoehorned into that position without the benefit of a proper search process and was likewise appointed to the permanent position without a search. This is almost unheard of for such an occupation.
I sense a sea change in the future with respect to the now “majority City Council.” I hope it ends up including Mr. Jellie.
Andrew P. Wells