The competition for the designation “worst elected official” is, like the competition for everything else in New York, extremely stiff. In the last month and a half alone, we’ve seen a New York City councilman arrested for siphoning off $30,000 in taxpayer money, and a New York Assemblywoman resign in disgrace after admitting to bankruptcy fraud, accepting an illegal campaign contributions, and marriage fraud. That said, the Voice humbly submits Gordon Jenkins for your consideration.
You’re forgiven if you’ve never even heard of Jenkins. Since 2008, he’s been the mayor of Monticello, New York, a Catskills resort town kind of like the one where Dirty Dancing took place. He has also been arrested once a year over the last three years.
The first time was in 2011, when Jenkins pled of guilty to five counts of counterfeiting for selling knock-off Nikes at a store he operated with his girlfriend.
A little over a year later, in July 2012, Jenkins was arrested again, charged with “obstructing governmental administration and disorderly conduct” after punching a police officer in the back of the head outside his store. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail, and three years probation for that one.
But his arrest in November 2013 was Jenkins’ star-making turn. He ranted, raved, cursed and threatened police officers after he was arrested for driving under the influence… The spectacle–all 90 minutes of it–was posted to YouTube where it has now racked up more than 90,000 views. The footage, above, begins with Jenkins muttering “Fucking peckerwood motherfuckers…” and devolves from there.
Somehow, through it all, Jenkins has managed to retain his position as mayor. But after three years of this absurdity, four residents of Monticello filed a petition earlier this year to remove Jenkins from office.
Jenkins, the residents allege,
“refused to provide necessary funding for the Village’s police department until the various criminal charges against him are resolved, resulting in understaffing and forcing the department to seek donations from local businesses in order to obtain a functioning heating system for its building.”
“attempted to use his position as Mayor and Village Manager to obtain ‘special treatment’ from the Village’s police department with respect to his various criminal charges and has repeatedly threatened various local law enforcement officials with termination or disciplinary action for pursuing such charges against him.”
(In the video Jenkins tells officers “You still work for me, don’t you?”, warns them they “pay for” detaining him, threatens he will “do something tomorrow” about his arrest, and mutters, ominously, “it’s on. It’s on. It’s on. It’s on.”)
“awarded a ‘suspiciously low,’ no-bid contract to a local firm to demolish the Village’s former justice court building and dispose of the resulting debris…According to petitioners, ‘[t]he debris from the demolition was laden with asbestos, and was illegally dumped near drinking wells in violation of numerous environmental laws,’ thereby exposing the Village to fines and legal fees estimated to exceed $200,000.”
The mayor, naturally, asked the court to dismiss the suit. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of New York denied his motion and added that, if true, the allegations against him would certainly meet the standard of “unscrupulous conduct or gross dereliction of duty or conduct that connotes a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority.”
A judge was appointed to investigate the matter and report back.
Read that allegations in full:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2014