Rochester City Council formally censures Ward 6 Councilmember Molly Dennis

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(ABC 6 News) – The Rochester City council took action against one of its own Monday evening.

During its council meeting Monday evening, the council voted 4-1 with Councilmember Norman Wahl abstaining to adopt a formal censure of Ward 6 councilmember Molly Dennis.

The formal censure does not mean removal of Dennis from the council board, but instead a formal disagreement with her behavior.

The censure notes that Councilmember Molly Dennis’s conduct and interaction with fellow elected officials and City staff have been an ongoing and persistent concern.

Particularly referencing elevated and unproductive behavior that was evident during and after the February 27, 2023 City council study session.

“Councilmember Molly Dennis’ unwillingness to respect personal boundaries, along with persistent verbal intimidation toward staff and elected officials is not in alignment with creating a positive and respectful workplace.”

The concerns include the following:

  • Intimidating physical behaviors and escalated physical behaviors during times of disagreement.
  • Ongoing inflammatory and unfounded allegations against Council colleagues and City staff, including the City Administrator and City Attorney.
  • Excessive use of City time and resources.
  • Threatening and manipulative behaviors exercised toward city staff and elected officials.

“Dennis’s Interactions have been erratic and confrontational, caught up in an endless loop of personal grievances that never can get resolved,” Keane said. 

Rochester City Councilmember Molly Dennis

“Well, I have for the record have been completely blindsided by this. I believe the respectful thing to have done is to have brought this to my attention. To come to me first instead of publicly like this. My belief as a leader: you praise your colleagues publicly, as I always have done and you criticize in privately,” Dennis said. 

Dennis denied that she was ever threatening or inappropriate and that no one on the council gave her a warning of the censure.

“I will not ever stop showing up and will not stop speaking up. So, the only way to censure to me so I stop amplifying voices is to pass a resolution behind my back. I guess that just shows the character of the council but I am saddened. I am saddened by this,” Dennis said. 

It’s still unclear what exactly happened on the date mentioned in the resolution February 27. Council member Keane tells us that there were conflicts inside and outside of the meeting that some people deemed aggressive.

Keane said that February 27 was a meeting open to the public, it just wasn’t recorded or live-streamed.

“Every single person at this table and I would say our staff as well are here because we love Rochester. Because we love the people that live here because we feel passionate about making this the very best most inclusive community we possibly can. I know each and every one of you, and I know the staff over there and I have the utmost respect even when we disagree that we are here. Because we feel passionately about the community that we live in and are doing our very best for that community. I know this is difficult,” Mayor Kim Norton said.

Dennis will need to limit her staff meetings and communications to Dept. heads, City Administrator and the City Attorney and any meetings related to City business.

All communication from Councilmember Dennis to city employees shall be in writing, by email, and copied to the City Administrator.