MONTICELLO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Claiming “unscrupulous conduct,” a New York state court has removed the mayor of the Sullivan County village of Monticello.
But as CBS2’s Lou Young reported, Mayor Gordon Jenkins and his supporters believe something else is at work, and Jenkins is fighting the decision.
“If I did something, I would go to jail for it, and I would take my punishment for it,” Jenkins said tearfully. “But this stuff that I’ve been going through — it’s just crazy.”
Jenkins said he could not believe he has been removed from officer after seven years as mayor of the Catskills town – removed not by the voters, but by the court.
His conflicts with the local police and others in the village came to a head with a driving while intoxicated arrest in November 2013, after Jenkins responded to an accident scene in his personal car.
Jenkins was held for roughly 13 hours as he lashed out as a security camera rolled. CBS2 reported on the video at the time.
In one of several confrontations as he is seen with one arm handcuffed to a wall, Jenkins is heard saying to an officer: “Don’t call me mayor. Call me n****r, because that’s what I am when I’m right here in handcuffs. But you know something? I don’t give a f**k.”
He is later seen saying: “What are you going to do? Put me in jail five years? I’ll get out in five years, and I going to f***ing tell you what the f**k you did to me, and I’m going to come back to you.”
Jenkins was also charged with criminal mischief in the 2013 incident, after he was seen on the police video standing up, pulling a clock off the wall, and hurling it out the door of the interrogation room while demanding to know who is at the police station desk.
In the year and a half since, subsequent dustups have been reported outside the G-Man Beauty Supplies store he runs on the main street in Monticello.
Following the controversies, four citizens took the highly unusual legal step of filing suit to have Jenkins removed as unfit. Kirk Orseck is their attorney.
“There was a time we were happy to have Gordon Jenkins as our mayor,” Orseck said. “He became very spiteful, rather angry.”
“I think that he got into office with the intent on looking out for somebody who was wronged, or for the people in our community who have been wronged,” added petitioner Michael Greco. “But at the same time, he forgot about the rest of us.”
Jenkins’ attorney, Michael Sussman, is appealing. Sussman said the case focused most on what the Mayor of Monticello said, and not what he did — especially when it came to the racially-tinged tirade heard in the 2013 police station video.
“He was talking about racial diatribes and his views about racial justice in America. That’s protected speech,” Sussman said. “People may not like it. They might not agree with it. He has a right to say it and not be punished for it.”
Added Jenkins: “I spent my whole life here giving. I make $9,000 a year as mayor there. I don’t ask for anything.”
With casino gambling recently approved for the area, village trustees said they are bracing for a surge in development. Jenkins supporters believe it is one of the reasons they were so anxious to get rid of him ahead of an election.
If Jenkins’ appeal is denied, a special election will be held in June to finish out his term. Oddly, he would be free to run for mayor again when his term expires.