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Shouting match erupts at Ogdensburg City Council meeting

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A shouting match erupted during Ogdensburg’s city council meeting as a lawmaker took aim at the city manager.

Councillor Dan Skamperle lost his cool Monday night, getting in the face of the mayor and blowing up at City Manager Stephen Jellie for his posts to social media.

“You birds got an awful lot of time to do a lot of talking on Facebook and I’m getting pretty sick and tired of it,” said Skamperle, sounding off on Jellie for posts to a public Facebook page geared towards Ogdensburg residents.

The tirade caught the city manager by surprise.

“We had a very respectful and professional dialogue going on with the meeting the entire time before. I have no idea where that level of emotion and quite frankly unprofessional outburst came from,” said Jellie.

Mayor Mike Skelly wound up in the line of fire too.

Skamperle explains what happened.

“It’s kind of been building. It’s upsetting to see the unprofessional, unethical, slanderous behavior of both the city manager and the mayor on Facebook,” said Skamperle.

Jellie has used Facebook posts to share city data and question Skamperle, along with councillors Mike Powers and Nichole Kennedy, about past decisions.

Jelli wrote, “Paying lip service to unions won’t last long if you don’t actually have a plan” in reference to funding the fire and police departments.

Skamerple calls Jellie’s Facebook posts a smear campaign, as the three minority councilors are often butting heads with the majority of council and their seats are up for election this year.

“They talk about financial reports from years past, but really don’t provide any substantiating evidence. And trying to manipulate people to use general terminology, taxes were raised,” said Skamperle.

Jellie says that’s not true, adding it doesn’t matter to him who’s in those seats; he’s just trying to get information to all candidates in the race.

“I’m not taking a position and will not take a position with any candidate for or against. But, I’m certainly going to identify the facts and if those facts bare out to not be in the favor of some incumbent candidates, that’s their issue to tackle not mine,” said Jellie.

Skamperle went as far as introducing a resolution to investigate Jellie’s Facebook use and if the city manager has violated Ogdensburg’s charter, which Jellie denies and says Facebook is an appropriate platform to reach the public.

Skamperle’s resolution was ultimately tabled by the majority of council. But, he says the goal was to have city residents lead the investigation he was calling for.

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