OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ogdensburg Mayor Michael Skelly has been charged with harassment. State police say it happened the day of a demonstration outside city hall.
A month ago, Skelly gave this account of what happened when he and fire captain Gerald Mack came face to face during a December 9 demonstration outside city hall: “He leaned just a tad into me. I felt it on my arm, very light touch. And then he falls to the ground.”
But now, there’s a different version. A complaint filed by state police accuses Skelly of harassment. It says the mayor initiated the physical contact causing Mack to fall. Mack has been waiting for this.
“I was relieved that Skelly wasn’t going to get just away with anything, like he’s been trying to do,” said Mack.
Mack has since retired from the fire department. He says he was basically forced into it.
“The city administration, or some of the city administration, mostly the mayor and city manager have targeted a few of us individuals on the fire department,” he said.
Mack says some of the trouble started the week before the demonstration.
Firefighters say Mack was provoked by City Manager Stephen Jellie clapping at them. They were just leaving city hall after Jellie had suspended Mack. Jellie says he wasn’t trying to provoke anyone.
The December 9 dust-up between the mayor and Mack has also led to an increase in the tally of workplace violence complaints.
Mack filed a workplace violence complaint against Skelly for what happened. Skelly filed one against Mack and two other firefighters.
Skelly said he’ll fight the harassment charge and won’t change course on fire department cuts.
“It changes nothing. And their ploy to bring false charges against me, changes nothing,” said Skelly.
Firefighters and the city continue to battle over the cuts at the fire department. Most recently, the city won a round when a judge turned down a union plea for an injunction.