Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sidonio used racial, misogynist slurs, harassed employees:

Board demands Murray supervisor resign after racial slurs and vulgarities aimed at women come to light

Murray Town Board members Monday voted for the immediate resignation of Supervisor Joseph Sidonio, citing, among other things, his use of racial slurs and vile language to describe female employees. Councilman Paul Hendel made a motion at the start of Monday night’s monthly board meeting, before any other business could be addressed. The motion, seconded by Lloyd Christ, demanded that Sidonio resign based on numerous reasons, including that 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,” the motion reads. “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---“!” Vendetti was a much maligned former assessor. Those recordings obtained by board members and verified by The Daily News also revealed Sidonio’s use of the N word. Hendel, in his statement to the board, said that his son-in-law and grandson are African-American. “You disrespect them and every person of color when you are using racial terminology to describe people of color,” Hendel added. “I find that abhorrent and disgusting.” The motion cites other reasons: That Sidonio manipulates facts, information and people, has repeatedly harassed elected and non-elected employees, and violated the confidentiality of executive sessions, all things that are revealed on the recordings. The recordings were made by a citizen who has spoken multiple times to Sidonio, board members said. The motion was approved by Hendel, Christ and Randall Bower. Deputy Supervisor Michael Mele abstained from the vote, since he would become supervisor if Sidonio resigns. The resolution was adopted. 
Sidonio, according to board minutes, said that, while the motion was carried to approval, it was “non-binding” and “moot” and said that there are certain proceedings that have to be done to remove an elected official from office.

“At this time, under advice, I don’t wish to respond,” Sidonio said when contacted by phone Thursday night.

He said he would respond at a later time but did not want to make any comments “off the cuff.”

Friday afternoon, Sidonio released a statement, saying he would rather issue a statement then speak on the phone. He said he would be open to discussing the situation at a later time.

Mele, although he abstained from voting, did say that what was written in the board minutes and that the cited recordings are “110 percent factual,” saying that Sidonio’s vulgar comments were “disgusting.”

Hendel said he introduced the motion now because he and other board members were only recently made aware of the recordings.

He said Sidonio has been calling a resident of the town who has no affiliation to the government and divulging confidential information from executive sessions.

“I was flabbergasted,” Hendel said Thursday. “I know the importance of confidentiality and this was a violation of the sanctity of executive sessions.”

Hendel admitted he also had personal reasons to introduce the motion. As he listened to the recordings, which apparently were not done with Sidonio’s knowledge, “I heard some of the other names he had been calling people.”

“How could he be so disrespectful, especially a leader, to the people who work so hard for the town?” he said. “You reach a point when enough is enough.”

Hendel also said that he “took a burn” to Sidonio’s racist language. His daughter, a doctor who lives in another state, is married to an African-American person and the couple had their first child on July 4.

“Nobody should be using that type of language,” he said. “I took it personally.”

Hendel said he didn’t expect Sidonio to resign after Monday’s meeting and realizes the board has no authority to remove an elected official.

“But it was time to let others see what we have been seeing for several years.”

Christ, who has been a board member for 28 years, said he has never experienced anything like what has happened since Sidonio took office in 2019.

“The environment is not a good one to work in,” he said. “People have come to us asking us to do something. We’ve had eight to 10 people resign, including town attorneys, code enforcement, clerks. This is the first time I’ve gone through anything like this.”

Christ said Sidonio’s racial slurs and vulgarities are “totally disgusting.”

Bower, too, said he has never experienced such a situation.

“I was appalled at what I heard,” said Bower, former Orleans County sheriff. “We shouldn’t be hearing these words from anybody, let alone a town supervisor. It’s appalling and unacceptable.”

Sidonio has been a political gadfly for years. He was, and still is, a frequent writer of letters to the editor for local publications and often had been critical of those who were on the board and in other positions in the town.

Hendel said that, too, was a reason behind the resolution.

“I know how critical he has been to people in this position,” he said. “Now that he’s in office, it’s a betrayal of what he said during his campaign.”

Sidonio served on the town and county planning boards for many years before running for supervisor in 2017, a contentious race that included Sidonio getting charged with petit larceny for stealing his opponent’s campaign sign. Sidonio said the sign was defamatory.

Sidonio had a narrow lead after election day but lost to Miller when absentee votes were counted.

In 2019, Sidonio defeated Miller in a narrow primary win and won the November election, despite more than 400 write-in votes for Miller.

Sidonio was re-elected in 2021, after defeating Bower in the primary by 11 votes and later running unopposed in November.

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