Plattsburgh council member accuses mayor of bullying tactics

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:37 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y (WCAX) - Is there enough transparency in Plattsburgh city government? That’s the question after a bombshell email from a council member Tuesday accusing the mayor of bullying tactics.

Plattsburgh Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Gibbs, Ward 3, said in the release Tuesday that following last week’s Common Council meeting she had an uncomfortable encounter with Mayor Chris Rosenquest, where she claims he was aggressive and raised his voice in an effort to bully the council.

Rosenquest calls the incident unfortunate and he doesn’t like name-calling. He says much of the incident can be attributed to miscommunication

The incident was prompted after Gibbs at the council meeting asked the mayor that the police and the building inspector’s requested budgets continue to be denied after she made two requests for the information ahead of next week’s budget hearing. “There is no reason not to give councilors budget information they request. He may not want to but he doesn’t have that luxury,” Gibbs said.

The mayor, in an email, says his office provides weekly financial reports to the councilors. But Gibbs says those reports don’t have the information she was asking for in them and she said the weekly meeting of the departments she was looking for was canceled at the last minute. “Which means I have absolutely no access to the department heads,” she said. Her email goes on to share previous issues when it comes to getting city paperwork

To access paperwork, the councilors do have to go through the mayor’s office, but the mayor says councilors have access to the different department heads as long as they respect their time. “I want councilors and the legislative arm of the city of Plattsburgh to make educated decisions, I want them to use our experts. That’s why we hire them,” Rosenquest said.

Gibbs finished her email by saying that the mayor, who had campaigned on bringing transparency, has been anything but. “Transparency is important, accessibility is important, let’s uphold the charter,” Gibbs said.

The mayor says he feels he is transparent with the councilors and the community and has tried to work with Gibbs on multiple occasions to put aside their differences. “Help navigate some of those lines where the council responsibility starts and ends and the mayor’s responsibility starts and ends,” he said.

Some councilors agree about a lack of transparency, while others say they have never had an issue. Nearly all involved, including the mayor, agree there needs to be better communication in general.

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