To the editor, and residents of Ogdensburg and St. Lawrence County:
The allegations portrayed in a WWNY-TV/7 News report on Tuesday regarding me and my actions involving Ogdensburg City Hall employees are an absolute lie.
7 News ran a story Tuesday and did not include me. They interviewed Ogdensburg City Councilors Dan Skamperle and Mike Powers, both public union guys, who said that I had gone to City Hall in some sort of rage. That is completely untrue.
The facts: After the city clerk refused to let us have a public meeting Monday, I drove to City Hall to talk to her. We have been friends in the past, and she is an excellent employee of city government. But upon arriving, I was told by Ogdensburg Police Chief Andrew Kennedy that I could not go into City Hall.
I could see several officers already inside. Chief Kennedy said I was not allowed inside. He told me he did not like my politics, and we exchanged words but never any vulgarities. Following the exchange, I went home.
The following day on Tuesday, I made several attempts by phone to reach the City Manager Sarah Purdy and City Clerk Cathy Jock. They did not return those attempts. So I drove to City Hall and once again encountered several Ogdensburg city police officers.
I was initially refused access. But after getting inside, I was met by City Manager Purdy and Comptroller Tim Johnson. Ms. Purdy had police offers on the scene and began to cry and told officers she was afraid and felt intimidated. At no time did I say or do anything that was disrespectful or confrontational. The police escorted me to my office and kept an officer outside.
The officers asked to talk to Ms. Purdy, but she said she would only do so if the City Comptroller Tim Johnson was by her side. I conducted my business from my mayor’s office in City Hall and went home.
The games being played by the city manager and police are an obvious attempt to stop the majority of the City Council in Ogdensburg from making cuts to streamline government and save taxpayer dollars.
We are calling for temporary reductions. But we are met by a police state mentality.
We are asking to reduce the 30-member Ogdensburg Police Department by four positions, the Recreation Department by two administrative positions and the Code Enforcement Office by one position. Layoffs are necessary because we are struggling and will struggle financially for the upcoming future because of the economic shutdown due to the novel coronavirus.
We also had economic problems in the city before that.
I will not stand for being slandered by the police and city officials over allegations that are untrue. Everyone in Ogdensburg knows me as a hardworking local business owner.
To be portrayed by the local Deep State politicians as some kind of angry threatening person is unfair, unjust and a blatant lie.
Ogdensburg City Hall and the Police Department should be ashamed for creating this false narrative. Skamperle and Powers also are a disgrace.
Jeffery M. Skelly
The writer is mayor of the city of Ogdensburg.