ROCHESTER - Rochester's deputy mayor on Tuesday single handedly cemented a rift on Rochester's City Council with a public "bashing" of three councilors, two of whom were convinced it was over their voting against the removal of former city councilor Chris Rice last May.
Another councilor, who stated on social media after the trial was over that he wished he'd voted against Rice's removal, was also singled out. (The controversial remarks by the deputy mayor begin at 124:30 of the April 18 City Council workshop)
While the councilors weren't named by Deputy Mayor Pete Lachapelle, City Councilor Steven Beaudoin told The Rochester Voice today that he was the councilor who posted on Facebook he wished he'd voted against removal, which would have allowed Rice to remain on the board.
In a breathtaking 15 minutes Lachapelle not only condemned three councilors, but also single handedly concluded an ethics probe against Rochester Mayor Paul Callaghan brought by Rice's mother, Susan Rice, who had charged the mayor with an ethics complaint on March 21 for refusing to leave a Rochester Chamber ribbon cutting at her business, Bartlettyarns on North Main Street on March 17.
Both Susan and Chris Rice have recently told The Rochester Voice Callaghan was told at least three times he wasn't welcome at the ribbon cutting but refused to leave.
Lachapelle on Tuesday said interviews were conducted with what he called "unbiased" witnesses and he'd come to the conclusion that Susan Rice did not tell the truth and that she, in general, "lacks credibility."
"I have concluded (Susan) Rice lied in both her verbal and written complaint vs. Callaghan," Lachapelle said. "She seeks revenge vs. Callaghan for the City Council's justifiable decision to remove (Chris) Rice last May."
In conclusion Lachapelle ruled that "Callaghan did not violate the code of ethics, and no further investigation is necessary."
Asked by The Rochester Voice if Rochester Chamber leadership had instructed Susan Rice that it was up to her to contact Callaghan to let him know he wasn't welcome at the ribbon cutting - as Lachapelle indicated at the workshop - chamber CEO and President Laura Ring said she would have no comment till she discussed it with the chamber's Board of Directors.
While it seems dubious at best that a single councilor such as Lachapelle should be allowed to adjudicate an ethics complaint, it is truly stunning that he would go on to admonish three councilors he called "a cancer" on the council.
When he first began his censure of the three councilors Beaudoin called for a point of order, which he had to do several times as Lachapelle continued reading his statement.
After being recognized Beaudoin called for Lachapelle to to be muzzled.
"I take exception to these words," he said. "He's impugned a citizen, rightly or wrongly. It was uncalled for. Now he's impugning politicians for having a differing opinions. I don't think this is in order. I think this needs to stop."
Lachapelle then continued reading a few moments before Beaudoin noted that his motion was seconded by City Councilor Dana Berlin, which should have prompted a call by the mayor for discussion and then a vote.
Instead, Callaghan looked back and forth across the chamber floor and said nothing.
"Do you want me to continue?" asked Lachapelle.
"Yes," replied Callaghan.
"I thought we had removed the cancer in the early stages," Lachapelle continued referring to the Chris Rice trial. "However, hope isn't lost; there is a cure. That cure is simple. Accept what happened. Let it go and stop the retaliatory behavior."
Lachapelle ended his bizarre soliloquy by stating, "Some free advice for someone who's been on the stage a long time and lived in Rochester his whole life. Our residents don't like negativity on their council or at the podium. That won't get you elected or re-elected."
Beaudoin then commented that Lachapelle had just violated Item three of the Code of Ethics he helped draft, which states you don't make verbal attacks on the character or motives (of councilors or the public) in public.
"This was way out of line," a clearly frustrated Beaudoin said. "Everyone should be able to have an opinion."
A bristling Berlin then looked at Lachapelle and said, "It's very clear in your words when you say three and three votes were cast against (Chris Rice) his removal you're calling out us. And I would like an apology right now."
Several seconds ensued during which Lachapelle remained silent before the mayor tried to move on but was asked for a point of order from Hainey, who blasted Lachapelle for not discussing the matter individually with the three he'd just attacked.
"We've been trying to move on, but the code of ethics says the first thing you do is talk to the person," Hainey said. "You're supposed to have a meeting with the person first."
Looking at Lachapelle she added, "You, the mayor have not brought anything to me. Let's not have a public bashing. Why didn't you come to me personally?"
Again, crickets from Lachapelle.