Settlement: Talking trash not allowed

A five-page settlement agreement between suspended Police Chief John Harzinski and the city forbids
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Categories: Schenectady County

A five-page settlement agreement between suspended Police Chief John Harzinski and the city forbids either side from saying anything disparaging about the other.

Failure to abide by that provision and many others agreed to this week would void the settlement.

Under terms of the agreement, Harzinski retires June 30 and drops his lawsuit against the city. He will not return to work but will be available for consulting services.

He filed suit in December to challenge Mayor Tim Hughes’ decision to suspend him on Dec. 6 for alleged insubordination. State Supreme Court Judge Richard T. Aulisi ruled in January that the city failed to provide Harzinski with civil service protections and therefore he should be restored to active duty.

The city appealed to the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, which was in the process of deciding whether the stay obtained by the city could be lifted.

As part of the settlement, both sides will file to terminate the court case.

Harzinski said Monday that he considers himself vindicated because the city never filed any charges against him.

The city’s consultant, David Grandeau, has been investigating the police department the past month but will now, as part of the agreement, focus only on improving department operations. An affidavit filed by Hughes in response to Harzinski’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement stated that the investigation by Grandeau was being conducted into allegations against Harzinski that included improper use of a city vehicle, improper expenditure of city funds, improper use of city personnel for personal business and other unspecified topics.

Harzinski’s resignation letter, attached to the agreement, states “I hereby irrevocably retire as chief.”

Harzinski will receive full pay through June 30 along with a benefit package that includes payment for 54 sick days, 50 vacation days and 10 holidays — the last at time and a half — for 2008.

In keeping with established city practices regarding retirement, he will receive lifetime health insurance coverage.

The city agreed to provide him with a retirement badge inscribed “chief of police, retired, city of Gloversville,” along with a badge case and professionally produced identification card.

Harzinski will be permitted to return to his office to retrieve all personal items, including e-mail addresses and other contact information he developed during his career.

Harzinski was named chief in 1998 and concludes a 32-year career with the city.

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