No council rebuke for Falls DPW director

Apr. 3—Efforts by some members of the Niagara Falls City Council to condemn a controversial social media video posted by the city's director of Public Works failed Wednesday night when a super-majority of members declined to add it to their regular meeting agenda.

Council Chairman James Perry said on Tuesday night that he and fellow Councilman Brian Archie were working on a resolution that would have made clear that the comments contained in the video posted by DPW Director Anthony Feagin were not acceptable for a department head working in city government.

However, because the resolution was drafted after the deadline for filing items for Wednesday night's regularly scheduled council meeting, four council votes would have been required to add it to the agenda. The practice of adding items after the agenda deadline is known as "walking-on."

"We didn't have enough votes to walk it on," Perry said after the resolution was not introduced. "You need four votes and only three (council members) would support it."

Perry did not say which council members opposed considering the resolution.

The council chair acknowledged that city lawmakers "don't have any authority over discipline (for administrative workers in the city)." On Tuesday, he said he felt the council should say something about the situation.

"As public figures, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard," Perry said. "I will speak for myself in saying there is no place in government for bigotry. Every other member of the council can speak for themselves, but I won't back away from my own standards."

Perry said he has discussed possible disciplinary measures for Feagin with Mayor Robert Restaino who, earlier this year, appointed Feagin to the DPW director's post to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of John Kinney.

Restaino has not publicly commented on the matter.

Feagin was reportedly placed on two days of administrative leave earlier this week but was also reported to be at work on Wednesday.

In addition to his job with the Falls Department of Public Works, Feagin is also a bishop at a local church. In his video, posted on Facebook, Feagin makes disparaging remarks about the LBGTQ+ community.

In the video, he warns of an "exposure" that he said is coming to the "House of God" that will "expose all the homosexuals, all the liars and everyone who would be contrary to His word." He also predicts that 2024 will be a "year of exposure" for "those who continue to hide," lie and continue to cover up the "homosexual acts" of "husbands, pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists, apostles, bishops, archbishops, chief apostles and even the Pope."

The DPW director also encourages viewers of the video to "get their house in order," suggesting that when the "exposure" comes it's going to "shake the very foundation underneath your feet."

Multiple sources have told the Gazette that Feagin has confirmed the authenticity of the video. Reached by phone on Tuesday evening, Feagin declined to comment.

Jim Briggs, president of the Niagara-Orleans Labor Council, which represents unionized employees in the city's DPW, said he did not personally view the video but was made aware of its contents by city workers.

If Feagin said in the video what he's been told he said, Briggs said "it's wrong."

"When a department head or when a superior or one of my union members picks on a protected class of people, whether it is based on color, or who they live with and who they love, we're not happy with it," Briggs said. "We stand for people being treated equally."

Sources tell the Gazette that the city's response to Feagin's video may be muted by concerns over his First Amendment rights.