War of words continues as Ogdensburg’s fire union pens open letter to public

War of words continues as Ogdensburg’s fire union pens open letter to public

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - The war of words continues in Ogdensburg. This time the city firefighters' union is firing back against the mayor, who called members “so-called public servants” and accused them of being under the influence of alcohol at Monday night’s city council meeting.

You’ll recall that on Wednesday Mayor Mike Skelly issued an open letter to the public, saying “the smell of alcohol was thick in the air” and a city worker was assaulted by an off-duty firefighter during the council meeting.

On Thursday, the firefighters' union fired off an open letter of its own, saying Skelly “will go to any length to discredit and disparage those who faithfully serve this city.”

It goes on to say, “This only furthers his constructed goal to try to totally dismantle the Ogdensburg Fire Department.”

The union’s president says he neither saw nor smelled evidence of any of his members being drunk. Jason Bouchard also says he knows of no assault.

“Despite the mudslinging and continued efforts by those who try to tarnish this department, those people, the citizens, all citizens of Ogdensburg need to realize that we are dedicated to public safety over politics, over all. That will not change,” said Bouchard.

In other Ogdensburg news, the city faces three serious violations when it comes to its workplace violence prevention program.

The state Labor Department cited the city for failing to train several employees, including the mayor and at least one city councillor.

Mayor Mike Skelly tells 7 News he didn’t even know training existed until the state sent the city a notice last week. He said he will gladly go through the training.

The state also says Ogdensburg failed to keep records for reporting workplace violence incidents. According to the Labor Department, workplace violence reports were filed in connection with incidents in May 2020.

City Manager Stephen Jellie says he believes there were 2 complaints, but officials have been unable to locate the records. He says it’s believed the former city manager may have them, but they haven’t been able to connect with her.

The state calls the violations “serious” and orders the city to correct the violations or face fines.

We reached out to the Labor Department for more details, but we didn’t hear back.

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