Murray board demands town supervisor resign, claiming he used racial slurs
Sidonio apologizes, says he faces ‘hostile environment’ at Town Hall
MURRAY – The majority of the Murray’s five Town Board members are demanding that Joe Sidonio resign as town supervisor due to his use of racial slurs and “inappropriate language” in how he describes female employees.
Board members Paul Hendel, Randy Bower and Lloyd Christ all called for Sidonio’s resignation at Monday’s board meeting. Hendel, Bower and Christ voted for Sidonio’s resignation with Michael Mele abstaining because as deputy town supervisor he would take over if Sidonio resigned.
Sidonio said this evening he doesn’t plan on resigning and did nothing illegal. He did say he regrets his language in private conversations with a resident that were recorded without Sidonio’s knowledge.
The board went on the record saying he should resign.
“Elected officials should exhibit behaviors that are held to a higher standard than others,” Councilman Hendel said during the meeting, according to draft minutes posted on the town website. “Mr. Sidonio’s behaviors demonstrate a total lack of leadership, lack of morals and lack of ethics, and when taken together prohibits his ability to continue to lead this Town in an effective manner focused on the best interests of the residents of the Town.
The draft minutes on the town website say the resolution calling for Sidonio’s resignation, states:
“The reasons for this motion are as follows:
- Mr. Sidonio has consistently fostered a working atmosphere of ridicule and intimidation with the elected and non-elected individuals working for the Town.
- Mr. Sidonio has consistently used vulgar and inappropriate language to identify and describe both elected and non-elected individuals working for the Town. For example: In recorded messages that have been obtained by the Town Board, he refers to our town Clerk as a “F—ing C—“; and our court clerk as “a clone of Ron Vendetti and a F—ing C—“! Mr. Sidonio said the full words, Mr. Hendel would not.
- Mr. Sidonio has consistently manipulated facts, information and individuals to ensure that he would achieve what is in his best interest with little or no regard to the truth. Direct evidence of this behavior is again revealed in audio recordings.
- Mr. Sidonio has multiple accusations of harassment to both elected and non-elected individuals since his tenure began as supervisor.
- Mr. Sidonio has consistently violated the confidentiality of Town Board executive sessions by revealing the contents of those discussions with town residents outside of executive sessions. Again, in recorded messages he is revealing specific personal matters; results of personal interviews; and other such matters that must be kept as confidential executive session discussions.
- Mr. Sidonio has used the most vile words often used to slander and degrade persons of color when describing work tasks. Again, he is recorded using the “N” word in statements such as: “I’m not going to be doing your N—– work”! Mr. Sidonio said the full word, Mr. Hendel would not.
Sidonio, during the meeting on Monday, said the board’s vote is non-binding and a moot resolution.
He issued this statement this evening:
I am sorry and embarrassed for the emotionally charged, regrettable language I used in private conversation. That language does not reflect the person I am and has no place in our discourse today.
“While this is not an excuse, I made these remarks in unguarded moments during the course of private conversations with a person whom I thought was a friend. These private conversations were recorded without my knowledge or consent, and then shared with, and used by, members of the Town Board in an attempt to coerce my resignation as Town Supervisor.
“In fact, before the April 18, 2022 Town Board meeting, a member of the Board, Michael Mele, told me that ‘if I resigned, this would all go away.’ I refused to resign, and, sure enough, these recordings were released to the media.
“While I am sorry for the words I used, my unguarded expressions of frustration reflected my discouragement and disillusionment with the business-as-usual corruption and waste I routinely encountered in Town government. In fact, the words I used in frustration are not the real story here. I invite you to get to the truth of how the people of Murray have been betrayed by their elected officials.
“If any story or report of this juncture in our town is printed without full context and clarity one and all are enabling the cruel practices of the Town of Murray Board to continue unimpaired and giving validity to the tactics of conspiracy, bullying, threats, fear mongering and corruption that have overshadowed our community for too long.
“At the outset of the Murray board meeting on Monday April 18th the four other members of the town board hijacked the town meeting in a coup attempt to get me to resign the Supervisorship.
“When the meeting was forced to be quickly adjourned many, many people who believe in good government vocalized their support for the honest, equal, welcoming, fair governance for which I stand. I stand up against bullies and against self-interested mismanagement of town government.
“With respect to all previous allegations made and the opinions proffered about me by the other town board members and employees – both verbally and in print – each has been thoroughly investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, warranting no action.
“Yes, a hostile work environment exists in the Town of Murray. Each day I face board members and long-term employees who work hard to concoct schemes to dislodge me, disgrace me, foil my earnest work, frame me and in addition do not speak to me.
“The most egregious example is the horrific text sent between three women, both elected, appointed and employed, which outlined a conspiracy to falsely accuse someone, potentially me, of a crime. These same individuals then proceeded to investigate me for wrongdoing in objecting to their scheme. Their claims were found to have no merit. I objected then and I object now.
“It is worth noting that we have one board member who allegedly took early retirement from the Sheriff’s Office to avoid embarrassment. We have one town board member who allegedly has no permit to operate a septic business from his property and was found to have been using public water from a fire hydrant allegedly without either a water meter nor a back flow preventer on the hydrant. Another board member championed the unlawful healthcare benefits paid to an employee’s girlfriend.
“I was elected by voters to create an efficient and effective government delivered in an accountable and transparent manner. I had to challenge the status quo step on toes and be tough. I stated from the beginning I am not a politician. I am not perfect. But I try and work hard to learn and move forward.
“I declined the town board’s backroom offer to resign and ‘make all this go away.’
“I will not be coerced, blackmailed, bought or co-opted.
“I began the effort of helping Murray by reaching for a vision of a beautiful community.
In my vision there was no oppression and no persecution. Each citizen was treated with equality and had a voice that was heard. Governance was fair, spending was conservative, and procedures were followed. In this vision the energy of the town was focused on creating a beautiful place to live, a place for everybody, where people want to be, businesses want to be and where people want to be involved without fear of repercussion.
“Sadly, the citizens of the Town of Murray have been robbed of access to this vision, this promised democracy in America.” – Joe Sidonio