Categories: Schenectady County
City Police Chief John Harzinski returned to work Thursday morning and was promptly sent home by Mayor Tim Hughes.
Harzinski, who was placed on paid administrative leave by the mayor on Dec. 6, won a round in court this week when a state Supreme Court justice said he was entitled to due process under civil service law.
So Harzinski was clear to go back to work. But the city filed a notice of appeal in the case late Wednesday. The notice carries with it an automatic stay, city labor attorney Bryan Goldberger said Thursday.
Harzinski’s attorney, John Poklemba, said it’s wrong that the city continues to fight the chief.
“I will try to get the stay vacated, but I think it’s really wrong. In spite of a Supreme Court justice’s ruling, to continue this is the wrong thing to do,” he said.1
Hughes suspended Harzinski for an alleged, as yet undisclosed act of insubordination.
Judge Richard C. Aulisi ruled Tuesday that Harzinski was entitled to notice of the charges and a hearing and was therefore eligible to return to active duty.
Harzinski filed necessary paperwork following the decision Wednesday, which paved the way for his return to City Hall.
“The chief called yesterday and was told to report to the mayor at 10 o’clock,” Poklemba said. “He did, and he was told to go home.”
While Poklemba said he would try to have the stay vacated, Goldberger said he is preparing to appeal Aulisi’s decision with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division.
Goldberger had argued in Aulisi’s court that paid administrative leave did not constitute discipline. Aulisi, in his decision, said there is no basis for the city’s theory that paid administrative leave doesn’t constitute discipline.
Hughes did not respond to a voicemail message seeking comment on Thursday.
He said in court papers that he wanted Harzinski out of City Hall while the city’s public integrity consultant, David Grandeau, conducts an investigation.
Hughes said Grandeau is investigating allegations of improper use of city vehicles and personnel, and improper expenses in the Police Department.