Public records show strained relationships between Rochester City Council and staff

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester City Council voted last week to formally censure Council member Molly Dennis was for alleged inappropriate behavior. At that meeting council members claimed Dennis’s unwillingness to respect personal boundaries and persistent verbal intimidation were reasons for their vote to censure her.

“Councilmember Dennis’s interactions have been erratic and confrontational. Caught up in an endless loop of personal grievances that never can get resolved,” said Council member Patrick Keane during last week’s meeting.

That censure is a formal issuance of the council’s disapproval of her behavior.

A public records request of communications between Dennis, council members, and city staff shows that city staff and council members have been frustrated with Dennis for months. However, these records show that Dennis has been frustrated too.

The formal censure alleges four main points: That allegedly council member Dennis accused city staff of wrongdoing, that she excessively used city time and resources, that she displayed threatening and manipulative behaviors, and had both “intimidating physical behaviors” and “escalated physical behaviors.”

No specific instances of physical behaviors were cited in the censure or mentioned during last week’s council meeting. When asked for examples of Dennis getting physical, Keane did not name any instances.

ABC 6 News obtained months of correspondence between city council members and city staff from late last year. What the documents do show, is a breakdown of communication and strained relationships between Dennis and staff.

In a December 2022 email to City Administrator Alison Zelms and City Attorney Michael Spindler-Krage, Dennis said “You both have tried to turn staff against me by lying that I somehow am a “physical threat” to them.

Zelms responded with “Your email is filled with additional misrepresentations that reinforce you are either out of touch with reality or purposefully lying…You are dangerous.”