Opinion: City manager is unprofessional, unsafe, sets bad example, says Former Ogdensburg assistant fire chief
To the Editor:
Ogdensburg’s city manager is once again all over the place trying to defend imprudent actions. It seems his every move suits only his agenda, not what’s best for our community.When an arbitrator made a binding decision that the four politicians (his enablers) violated the City Charter and needed to step down, he said the city “absolutely disagrees”, and then completely ignored it. But when a judge made what he calls a “legally binding decision”, against Ogdensburg Firefighters (his main target), he says they should abide by the decision and not continue the “legal battle.”
Also, it’s pretty bizarre to see him now want to honor a “legally binding decision”, when the decision itself was rendered because he chose to violate a legally binding contract.
Speaking of honoring something perceived as binding; the city manager is required by the City Charter and his contract to live in the city. The contract he agreed to and signed states: “The Employee agrees to reside in the City of Ogdensburg, New York within 120 days of the effective date of this contract.”
The effective date being “October 1, 2020” means that he had until January 28, 2021 to live here. But, now over two months past his contractual deadline, he still isn’t.
He’ll say he’s in the process of buying a house, but he had four months after signing his contract and has been city manager for nine months. So there’s no legitimate excuse.
He’s being allowed to blatantly violate his own binding agreement now. And if he claims he stays here during the week, that clearly wasn’t the intent in the Charter or his contract. Most likely, his top enabler (the mayor) is occasionally putting him up at his apartment building (handout to a city employee?), essentially helping him violate the contract they both signed. Or if he’s actually paying to stay in one of the mayor’s apartments, taxpayers are then paying the city manager to help profit the mayor.
With all that, how can anyone see his attempt to shut down the union’s defense of its contract, because of a judge’s recent ruling, as anything other than self serving. Appeals are a right and are common in cases like this. There’s no doubt an appeal would have been filed by the city if the stay of arbitration had been denied. And let’s not forget the most important point; there would be no “legal battle” without the city manager choosing to violate the union’s collective bargaining agreement.
One other thing to note about the city manager is how he handled himself at his first structure fire here (just happened to be in the city that day). None of us are perfect and problems arise in the controlled chaos at a fire scene, but it appears he brings his own chaos to such a scene. In his rambunctious need to prove his authority, he made things worse, as many witnessed and can attest.
Barking orders, without justification or merit, just to try to prove worth, is easily identified and fails those being led. Also, him not wearing PPE (turnout gear) on the fire ground, while designating himself as Incident Commander, is unsafe, sets a bad example, and is clearly unprofessional. And responding with the mayor, to let him wander around an emergency scene?
How he handled himself at that incident is a microcosm of how he’s handling the city’s business. Let’s just hope irreparable damage isn’t done in his time here, because his four enablers have turned a blind eye.
Former Ogdensburg assistant fire chief