Causes of Gloversville police chief’s suspension revealed

The allegations against suspended Gloversville Police Chief John Harzinski are revealed in a court d
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The allegations against suspended Gloversville Police Chief John Harzinski are revealed in a court document filed this week by Mayor Tim Hughes.

An affidavit filed by Hughes in response to Harzinski’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement states that an investigation by attorney David Grandeau is being conducted into allegations that include improper use of a city vehicle, improper expenditure of city funds, improper use of city personnel for personal business and other unspecified topics.

In Hughes’ affidavit, he said he suspended Harzinski with pay “so that an investigation could be conducted by an outside party regarding certain allegations that had been made against [Harzinski].

“Those allegations, if true, could in my opinion, result in the discipline of [Harzinski],” Hughes says in the affidavit. “However, based up [Harzinski’s] lengthy period of service … I concluded that it would be improper to charge him [under civil service law] without having a full and complete investigation performed beforehand,” Hughes said.

Harzinski’s lawyer, John Poklemba, did not respond to a telephone call made to his office Thursday. Poklemba argued in a Jan. 11 hearing in state Supreme Court that the city’s action against Harzinski was improper and that he is entitled to civil service protections.

The city’s brief and Hughes’ affidavit were filed with the court to support arguments made at the hearing before Judge Richard T. Aulisi. Poklemba now has until Tuesday to respond to the city’s documents.

Hughes informs the court in his affidavit that after he reviews Grandeau’s report, “I will decide whether the evidence, as revealed by the investigation, warrants institution of charges against [Harzinski] pursuant to civil service law section 75.”

Hughes’ affidavit accompanied a 12-page brief submitted by the city’s labor attorney, Bryan J. Goldberger, to defend Hughes’ Dec. 6 decision to place Harzinski on paid administrative leave for insubordination.

Harzinski responded to the suspension by filing suit seeking reinstatement and civil service protection.

In his brief, Goldberger cites case law and provisions of the City Charter to argue that Hughes was justified in his actions and that the paid leave does not trigger Harzinski’s civil service protections. The protections would force the city to specify allegations and afford Harzinski a hearing.

Goldberger asks the court to dismiss Harzinski’s lawsuit on the basis of case law and on his contention the city was improperly served with Harzinski’s court papers.

Goldberger argues civil service law defines the discipline that would trigger protections as “a fine, demotion or unpaid suspension,” but not a paid leave.

Poklemba argued at the Jan. 11 hearing that Harzinski has been disciplined or punished by being held up for public embarrassment and ridicule. Goldberger countered that embarrassment and ridicule do “not convert an otherwise lawful employment action to an unlawful disciplinary matter.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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