In response to what they describe as “sneaky” and “strong-arm” tactics by Supervisor Patrick Killen, the members of the Jerusalem Town Board let their anger with him be known Dec. 19.
Killen penned a letter to the editor which appeared in a November edition of The Chronicle-Express critical of Town Clerk Sheila McMichael, with whom he has had a contentious working relationship with for years; as well as a specific equipment purchase request from Highway Supervisor Robert Martin. After an earlier and similar letter to the editor this summer, Killen had been warned by Deputy Supervisor Ray Stewart, “Letters like that might make the writer feel better but they make all of us look like fools.”
Now, other board members joined Stewart in that criticism. Stewart said all Killen wanted to do was slam McMichael and grab money out of the highway budget to get a raise for himself.
Council member Jamie Sisson, confined to a wheelchair due to serious complications from knee replacement surgery, called the letter “sneaky” and called it similar to the night when Killen showed up at his home uninvited and unannounced, in a “strong-arm tactic” to try to make Sisson change his vote on the budget. Killen replied that he didn’t consider it that way, that he was just dropping by on his way from his job as a substitute teacher. Sisson reiterated that he considered it strong-arming, saying felt it to such a degree he had to ask Killen to leave his house. “And don’t do it again,” Sisson added.
Killen’s letter generated responses from six residents, one of whom accused town crews of doing work at McMichael’s home. McMichael filed a Freedom of Information request for those email responses. Killen responded by copy/pasting the letters into a document. The town attorney informed Killen this was incorrect and he had to provide the emails as received. Killen did, but admitted he had left one email out of the parsed document, and he redacted the name of the writer who made the accusation about the work done at McMichael’s house.
Killen also admitted he did no investigation of this claim before passing it on to the other board members, despite the fact the work was done in his term as supervisor. Martin and Councilman Daryl Jones said the work was done to stabilize the road, not for McMichael’s benefit, and Killen would have known that if he had asked.