Videos of a political rally show a confrontation between Shaprio and a protester | News, Sports, Jobs

Administrator Rich Shapiro, in blue, and Jacob Vennie-Vollrath, in white, are seen here facing each other as Vennie-Vollrath holds a sign protesting Franklin County Legislator Lindy Ellis on stage, who is married to Shapiro. (Screenshot from provided video – Neko Jay)

SARANAC LAKE – Saranac Lake Village Administrator Rich Shapiro could be censured by the village council after verbal and physical clashes he was involved in last week – both of which were steeped in years of strife and disagreements between Shapiro and the people he clashed with.

Jacob Vennie-Vollrath said on Facebook that Shapiro pushed him to the “Spring Forward with the Franklin County Democrats Picnic in the Park” on Sunday. Shapiro says the two collided and accuses Vennie-Vollrath of faking his fall.

Vennie-Vollrath did not respond to Enterprise’s multiple requests for comment.

Last Thursday, Shapiro walked out of a joint meeting between city and village councils after village resident Fred Balzac made allegations about him and his wife, Franklin County Legislator Lindy Ellis, during a public comment period. Before leaving, Shapiro shouted at Balzac, saying his accusations were “*** bulls.” When Shapiro returned at the end of the meeting, he called Balzac’s statements “camel dung” and called him “a *** pore.”

Mayor Jimmy Williams said he is “embarrassed for the advice” and that was “not a good look.” Williams and directors Matt Scollin and Kelly Brunette voted Monday to begin a process that could see the board censor Shapiro.


The Enterprise obtained two videos of the confrontation between Shapiro and Vennie-Vollrath at the Democratic rally in Riverside Park on Sunday – one from afar, filmed by Village resident Shaun Kittle and one up close, filmed by Village resident Neko Jay . Both can be viewed at and

In the videos, as Ellis begins his speech, four protesters holding signs show up in front of the bandstand, with some objections from organizers and attendees. Ellis, a Democrat, is running for re-election and is married to Shapiro.

The signs had slogans opposed to Ellis – “Lindy Ellis is bad for Saranac Lake” and “Lindy Ellis made my friend lose his job because of political reprisals”, signs read.

Other event attendees, including Shapiro, speak to the demonstrators, holding election signs in front of the protest signs.

As Ellis speaks, Shapiro approaches Vennie-Vollrath, both holding signs over their heads. They come and go, approach each other. As Vennie-Vollrath moves to continue blocking Ellis’ view of the stage, Shapiro stops backing up and the two collide. Vennie-Vollrath falls backwards, onto the bandshell stage, as the park explodes with reactions.

On social media, Vennie-Vollrath called him a “to push.”

Shapiro said he didn’t push.

“There was no jostling. It hit me and bounced off my stomach. Shapiro said Monday. “It bounced into my bulging belly and faked falling.”

Shapiro thinks Vennie-Vollrath started the fall.

“He’s a basketball player. He was trying to get the poultry called,” Shapiro said. “He did a good performance at the Oscars. … That was their goal, to disrupt and elicit reactions and they made me react.

Shapiro said he actually doesn’t remember what happened at that time, how he felt and what he did. He said his account of that moment came from reviewing a video and he’s adamant the video backs it up.

“He initiated the contact” he said of Vennie-Vollrath on Monday. “He charged me.”

Describing the video, people from different sides of the confrontation say it shows opposite things, based on their personal opinions.

Shapiro said he regretted being so close. He said seeing the signs, which he said contained false claims about his wife, was “shattering.”

Shapiro said these allegations about his wife are a “shameless lie”.

But he said he wasn’t trying to fight.

“I’m not about to start anything” Shapiro said. “I never threw a punch in my life.”

Ellis later pointed out that Shapiro had three severed nerves in his right leg, following a back injury 18 years ago, after which he had to learn to walk again. Shapiro said he had no surface sensation on his right leg, which made contact with Vennie-Volrath’s leg.

She claimed Vennie-Vollrath contacted Shapiro first and Shapiro’s right foot came back to stabilize. Ellis said protesters at the event were “intimidation” and “provoking” with “unpleasant signs” disrupt a happy event.

Neko Jay stood near the stage. She thinks Shapiro lost his balance because of Vennie-Vollrath.

Williams said the video was “disturbing.” Seeing him, he says there was “absolutely physical contact” between Shapiro and Vennie-Vollrath, which he thinks is a push with chest and stomach.

He said Shapiro’s actions were “unacceptable.”

Blasphemy and pores

In a public comment at the start of a joint meeting between Harrietstown City Council and Saranac Lake Village Council on Thursday, Balzac accused Shapiro and Ellis of using their elective office for personal and political vendettas, firing people with whom they had quarrels and to smear them. Vennie-Vollrath in the past.

“It’s *** bulls,” Shapiro shouted several times during the meeting.

Williams said he doesn’t allow profanity in meetings.

Shapiro has left town hall. He returned at the end of the meeting to speak from the podium during a public comment period, addressing Balzac.

“Is it positive and productive? » Williams asked Shapiro when he returned.

“To me, it’s more positive and productive than the things the *** pore over there had to say,” Shapiro said, pointing to Balzac.

Williams began to end the meeting.

“I’m not done here,” Shapiro shouted. “Give me my chance to speak.”

Williams pulled the mic wires from an audio box behind him.

“Actually, I’m doing you a favor right now,” Williams told Shapiro.

On Monday, Shapiro said Williams was “off base” to cut it. He said he had every right to refute the allegations made against him and Ellis.

Shapiro said Williams allowing Balzac to make accusations against him and his wife, and preventing him from refuting them, was biased.

“It’s his obvious bias,” Shapiro said of Williams.

On Monday, Williams said it was “cries and vulgarity” which distinguish the two comments.

Williams said that if the public curses or is derogatory during a public comment session, he will stop them.

He said Balzac’s commentary was “in force,” since this was about $50,000 in Franklin County tourism funds, the city and town need to figure out how to spend it and a county legislator.

“Everyone knows that sometimes not everything that comes out of public comments is perfect,” Williams said Monday.

Shapiro said that was not a valid reason to cut him off. He said he didn’t know of any other way to defend himself and Ellis against the allegations.

“How to refute a negative?” He asked. “You can not.”

He said he thinks Balzac attends every village council meeting to make allegations and denigrate him and he is “fed up.” Shapiro said he “I can’t just ignore it.”

“My response at the time was somewhat brash and furious because I was really pissed off by these false accusations,” he admits. “They keep repeating them over and over and it gets to me.”

He said he regretted having lost his temper, but said he believed he was “strongly provoked”

“A tiny little group of immature people are spouting lies about myself and our county legislator (his wife),” he said. “If you repeat a lie long enough, people believe it.”

At Monday’s meeting, Shapiro initially denied using profanity before administrator Matt Scollin confirmed he had. Later, Shapiro said the curse came out without thinking. He said the phrase “a *** pore,” “was a polite way of saying ‘a**hole.'” At Thursday’s meeting, he said he thought it was “a nicer term than (Balzac) deserves.”

Williams said name calling is “juvenile.”

“I thought, ‘What if my daughter was sitting in the audience?'” said Williams.

His wife had considered bringing the little one to the meeting. Williams said it would have been intimidating and scary for a child to be there. He wants the children to see the local government working for the residents.

“It was not classy” Williams said Monday.

Williams said he also holds board members higher than the public.

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