Ogdensburg residents flood online city council meeting

Updated: May. 12, 2020 at 8:06 AM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg city officials had to cancel an online meeting Monday night after the number of attendees overwhelmed the system.

“There are currently 1,189 people registered to attend this meeting,” city clerk Cathy Jock said. “The platform only allows for the first 1,000 registered attendees to participate. Because we are unable to accommodate all those who are trying to attend, we cannot open this meeting.”

The hot topic is whether orders from city councilors to lay off workers can be legally enforced the way they were written.

The cuts were part of a resolution passed 4 to 3 by Mayor Mike Skelly and his council allies last week. On Monday night, the city's teleconferencing software couldn't handle the number of people who wanted to take part.

A similar problem happened during a recent special meeting. City clerk Cathy Jock ended the web session just minutes after it started.

At one point, Councillor John Rishe asked to move forward with the meeting anyway, suggesting people were overloading the system "intentionally."

Rishe tells 7 News he believes a vocal minority may be trying to flood these webinars to keep lawmakers from doing business.

In the end there was concern limiting participants would violate open meeting rules.

Skelly wants to increase the capacity for the city council webinar to 2,000 with the hope of rescheduling for Wednesday.

Meanwhile city manager Sarah Purdy says she supports the clerk’s decision to cancel Monday night's meeting.

Purdy says she plans to discuss layoffs and the budget with lawmakers at the next meeting.

She says she wants to make sure everything is done according to the law.

Purdy said she informed two city employees on Monday they would be laid off, one in the codes department and one in Parks and Recreation.

Another parks employee was notified they would be furloughed.

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