Article portrayed harmful addiction roots

It was sad, but not unexpected, to see the Watertown Daily Times from Jefferson County publish an editorial Tuesday that calls my recent decision to end an Ogdensburg City Council meeting early as being “beyond absurd” and an example of a “temper tantrum” on my part.

The editorial asserts that I behaved childishly because someone in the crowd was “mocking” me. In typical Watertown Times fashion, the editorial leaves out key background and important facts.

Although the paper correctly points out that the person disrupting the meeting was retired firefighter Gerald Mack, it avoids pointing out that Mr. Mack has been removed from meetings by police before, that Mr. Mack has hurled obscenities at the council from the public gallery at past meetings, and that Mr. Mack has falsely accused me and filed charges against me for allegedly throwing him into the street.

Mr. Mack has also sought, and received, a court order of protection against me apparently because he lives in fear. Yet he continues to violate his own order of protection by showing up at City Council meetings and acting in a threatening and intimidating manner.

These are important facts, but ones the Watertown Times editorial board doesn’t feel is needed before passing a snap judgment. I shut down the meeting because Mr. Mack continues to be a threatening presence at our open meetings and, as mayor, it is my duty to safeguard the safety of all in attendance.

According to the Watertown Times editorial, the decision to shut down the Aug. 2 council meeting also reflects poorly on Ogdensburg’s leadership and “mirrors the childish behavior exhibited by city officials since early 2020.” I would point out to the newspaper that the accomplishments of this City Council far outshine those of any other councils in recent memory.

Examples of the positive accomplishments over the past 18 months include our decision to right-size our government operations, resulting in a fund balance of more than $4 million and growing. When I and the other new councilors took over, we were nearly bankrupt and the city routinely borrowed money through a tax anticipation note to make ends meet. We now no longer have that need.

We have used that money to reinvest in our city infrastructure and now have enough money to take down the condemned building at 212 Ford St.; we also have begun marketing the old Diamond paper property on our riverfront, have made repairs and upgrades to our recreational facilities, and we have developed a new comprehensive plan for the city.

What else has this “poor leadership” accomplished?

The city of Ogdensburg has paid off $1.2 million in debt, has cut property taxes by 10 percent with a similar goal for our new budget year, and we’ve seen our bond rating increase dramatically as a result. We have reinvested in our historic City Hall to include repairs to our clock tower and bell and pending upgrades to replace the outdated HVAC system and roof repairs.

These are just a few of the growing list of accomplishments under current “leadership” that the city has carried out. In the next months and years, you will see even more positive improvements as we begin receiving our proper share of sales tax revenue and continue implementing cost-saving recommendations from the New York State Financial Restructuring Board.

The Watertown Daily Times should focus more on saving its own crumbling newspaper instead of preaching to those of us in the trenches making the tough decisions needed to improve quality of life here in the north country.

Being fair and accurate would be a good place for the newspaper editors to start. Maybe it’s time for the “leadership” at the Watertown Times to address some of the internal problems that have resulted in its own financial and readership decline in recent years instead of taking childish one-sided potshots at elected officials.

Jeffrey M. Skelly

Ogdensburg

The writer is the mayor of Ogdensburg.

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(4) comments

Earlybird

Accomplishments, really? PERTINENT FACTS left out? Here are some FACTS: Skelly, Rishe, Fisher and Dillabough (THEY) first needed votes to get on City Council so THEY 1)LIED about cutting Employees positions, stating Employees need not worry that their jobs would be safe under their leadership 2)Made up many LIES (untrue stories) about City Management being bullies as to paint a picture that City Management was bad and THEY would correct Managements' (falsely accused) behavior. The FACTS are the 4 Majority Council and the Unqualified City Manager Jellie have bullied, harassed and disrespected City Employees until they leave City Employment thus making their workforce reduction plan happen. The FACTS are some Employees where fortunate to be able to retire (before they wanted to), some have transferred to other municipal jobs (but would have rather kept working for the City), some just plain quit because they couldn't take the bullying and harassment anymore and some were told their position was abolished (like the Recreation Director position) only demonstrating discrimination when the UCM/Majority Council rehired someone else in this exact same position. The FACTS are employees who gave two-week notices: females were told to leave immediately, males were allowed to serve out their final two weeks demonstrating more discrimination. The FACTS are the Minority City Council and the Citizens of Ogdensburg have also been subjected to disrespect by being ignored and left out of many decisions of the Majority Council and Unqualified City Manager. Examples: Changes to the City Charter, Secret Council resolutions, moving Skate Board Park/Pickle Park, renovations at City Hall, Library Board Recommendations and the hiring an Unqualified City Manager, etc. The FACT is the City was nearly bankrupt when "Qualified" City Manager Purdy took over and she started with a Fund Balance of about $100,000 and it was increased to over $2.5 million prior to her forced departure. The FACT is the 4 Majority Council inherited this generous Fund Balance but take credit for it all. The FACT is City Manager Purdy requested the help from the Financial Restructuring Board to help save the City but the Unqualified City Manager Jellie (who is not from Ogdensburg) wants to implement every little thing in the FRB report weather it makes sense for Ogdensburg or not. The FACT is the FRB report was written by people who live all over NYS and not from Ogdensburg. Do these FRB people or the UCM know what's best for Ogdensburg? The FACT is these 4 Council Majority aren't representing ALL the Citizens of Ogdensburg, they only represent themselves by asserting only their ideas. Skelly boasts about Accomplishments but they were all obtained by FRAUD!

Jellie

You speak only in fiction while you hide behind your alias name. Do something proactive for your community and reveal yourself so you can be held to account for your fiction.

Marsha9149

Wow! First of all this IS an OPINION page so facts are NOT checked for accuracy, therefore are only 1 sided opinions. My OPINION is that the WDT was right on calling the meeting accurately. The reporter was either present at the meeting OR must have seen the video you, obviously did not.

You stated the the editorial left key facts. So did you. You did NOT throw Mr. Mack INTO the street. The video shows that. You did state that Mr. Mack has a restraining order against you like it was not a serious event. Judges do not frivolously give out restraining orders. It appears to anyone watching the video that you were fixated on HIM, not the other way around. If everyone who rolled their eyes, or made comments about your words and actions were asked to leave, there would not be anyone in attendance at the meetings you have lost control of. Speaking of which, you were out of line rudely disrupting Mrs. Kennedy several times,when she had the floor, to satisfy your need to have Mr. Mack removed. You can't make this stuff up or put a spin on it. It is in the video.

As for all the accomplishments, in your own words, this "poor leadership" has completed, let me give you my opinion, poor research, poor planning, poor long range maintenance and viability planning. The beach was scheduled to be opened June 1st, July 1st, and August 1st, we are still waiting and 10's of thousands of dollars in the hole, because you did not do your homework. Many taxpayers and children let down with promises. The Pickleball and skateboard efforts, surrounded by secrecy on your part, were a fiasco that several of our young people and adults respectfully, and intelligently attempted to educate you on in Monday's meeting; their reward? An article putting a spin on it to discredit them and make yourself look good. The bell tower; love it! Hearing it ring again was wonderful! Thank you for that! However, you, yourself posted a scathing post on your private Facebook page telling the world the roof was in bad shape and blamed the last council for not fixing it. Shouldn't that have been a priority before the clock tower falls through it? You are bragging about our fund balance, and we have money for unprioritized projects, however with the county not giving us the 1% you are threatening to cut our police down to as low as 15?

....and remove our School Resource officer? We NEED the PD presence in this era of drug issues. No school resource officer but 2 present at council meetings because you inflame

the public? Your last statement, that the, WDT Editorial took "childish potshots" at elected officials should read, in my opinion, "The WDT took potshots at a childish elected official."

I give WDT my "The Emperor's Not Wearing Any Clothes Award!"

Videos and taped meeting videos do not lie folks.

Jellie

What are you doing to help restore your city?

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