‘The gloves are off:’ Olney calls out mayor, city attorney in Facebook post

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 5:21 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It has been a controversial first week on the job for Watertown City Council member Cliff Olney. Already firing back against the mayor and city attorney, Olney says the gloves are off.

Just days after Olney’s first Watertown City Council meeting where he was reprimanded by Mayor Jeff Smith and City Attorney Bob Slye, the newcomer is calling out the duo with a Facebook post.

The image implies Olney is being kept from talking to city department heads.

“The fact is if I need information about what the project is that I’m going to be making a vote on, I need the accurate information,” said Olney.

Smith says talking to department heads isn’t the issue. He takes issue with Olney’s action of independently reaching out to the company hired to fix the Alteri Pool.

“You can’t have five council people out talking to the contractor and sending mixed signals. They don’t get their direction from individual council members. Additionally he was out talking to vendors,” said Smith.

In Monday’s meeting, Olney said he also reached out to another company to ask if replacing the sand in the pool filter at Alteri would fix it.

Slye addressed Olney talking to these companies, but also brought up a chain of command starting with the City Manager Ken Mix.

“I have no issue whatsoever with wondering whether the sand can come out or whatever. But, that issue should go to Mr. Mix and Mr. Mix should go to the city engineer,” said Slye.

Olney says this isn’t spelled out in Watertown’s charter. Smith counters that council members traditionally bring big issues to the city manager first.

And both have a different take on Olney’s Facebook post.

“As you take office and represent people, you want to act in a professional and ethical manner,” said Smith.

“The gloves are off now. I gave them the benefit of the doubt on Monday night and they showed me where they wanted to go with this,” said Olney.

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