Walczyk & Jennings Spar Over 'Despicable' Tweet

Walczyk & Jennings Spar Over 'Despicable' Tweet

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Update: We spoke with Watertown City Council Member Mark Walczyk Wednesday morning and he's standing by his tweeted criticism of fellow council member Steve Jennings.

He said he was shocked that inspections for rental housing were included in the council's list of goals for the coming fiscal year.

"There needs to be consensus on the goals, you know, sneaking something like rental inspections on to the list is the wrong way to go about it," he said.

Walczyk also said he has tried to talk to Jennings about this issue in the past and thinks this is something that needs to be debated publicly.

Here's our earlier story:

Watertown city council member Mark Walczyk says Steve Jennings, another city council member, isn't playing fair.

Walcyk sent out a tweet Tuesday saying Jennings had "slipped" a rental housing inspection proposal into a list of annual goals for the council while Walczyk and Mayor Joe Butler were away on vacation. 

Walczyk called it a "scheme" and said it was "despicable."

Rental inspection has been a controversial topic in Watertown. About 60 percent of properties in the city are rentals. 

Last year, the city council passed a law requiring apartments to be registered with the city, but the law doesn't include inspections. 

The debate is resurfacing city leaders prepare for budget talks.

Jennings responded to Walczyk with a statement.

Jennings says he told his fellow city council members publicly that he would be re-proposing rental inspection and listed it has one of his goals.

"While Mark Walcyk tweets, I continue to work hard addressing constituent concerns and to build consensus on policies that could improve our city," Jennings wrote.

Below is a screen capture of Walczyk's tweet.

Below that is Jennings' full statement.

"Unlike Mark Walczyk, I have never 'schemed' to do anything in my life.  My record in support of rental inspection is public and widely understood.  I support it, because it is a proven practice hundreds of U.S. cities employ to ensure safe housing and improved neighborhoods.

"The Watertown Daily Times covered my plan to re-introduce rental inspection in an article February 4, 2017.  I told City Council publicly at our February 6, 2017 meeting that I would re-propose rental inspection following a fire at 934 Academy Street, where a tenant started a fire in her sink because the structure's furnace did not work. Perhaps Mark wasn't present at the meeting.

"I also listed rental inspection in City Council's goals and objectives for the 2017-2018 budget proposal, and shared with the Mayor and all City Council members on April 3, 2017.  Perhaps Mark does not read his correspondence.

"While Mark Walczyk tweets, I continue to work hard addressing constituent concerns and to build consensus on policies that could improve our city."

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