Rochester City Council votes to censure one of its own

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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By Catharine Richert

The Rochester City Council on Monday night approved a censure of one of its members.

The vote comes after what city council members and officials said has been repeated inappropriate behavior from Council Member Molly Dennis.

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City staff and council members did not give specific examples of Dennis’ behavior, but the censure resolution cited “intimidating physical behaviors and escalated physical behaviors during times of disagreement” and “ongoing inflammatory and unfounded allegations against Council colleagues and city staff.”

It also mentioned “excessive use of city time and resources” and “threatening and manipulative behaviors.”

“Council Member Dennis’s interactions have been erratic and confrontational, caught up in an endless loop of personal grievances that can never get resolved,” said fellow Council Member Patrick Keane, who brought forward the resolution.

Dennis, who represents Ward 6 in Rochester, said the action came as a surprise to her and said she believes it was a response to her questioning of city practices.

Dennis said she was “blindsided” by the resolution. “They only way to censure me so I stop amplifying voices is to pass a resolution behind my back? I guess that’s just the character of the Council. I’m saddened,” she said.

Dennis is in her first term on the council, after being elected to the seat in 2020.

Under terms of the censure, for the remainder of the year, Dennis is only allowed to attend virtual meetings with city staff.

It also requires Dennis to “limit her staff meetings and communications to department heads, the City Administrator, and the City Attorney, and such meetings shall be for information related to city business.” And it calls on Dennis to “refrain from continued negative interactions and behaviors, personal attacks, and inappropriate communications with the Council and city staff.”

The censure was approved 4-1 with one member abstaining and another absent.