Traffic board meeting gets ugly

The suspension and sudden retirement of Gloversville Police Chief John Harzinski has sparked a name-

The suspension and sudden retirement of Gloversville Police Chief John Harzinski has sparked a name-calling feud on the Fulton County Traffic Safety Board, a body Harzinski chaired until February.

Gloversville Mayor Tim Hughes is demanding in writing that safety board member Kevin Quinn of Johnstown apologize, be censured or removed in accordance with safety board bylaws.

Quinn, at last week’s board meeting, called Hughes “that pile of pus mayor” and said he didn’t care about Gloversville. On Wednesday he said he would not apologize.

Quinn took the occasion to throw in some additional insults and said the Fulton County Board of Supervisors can remove him from the safety board, for all he cares. The board is an advisory agency of county supervisors. Each county in the state has a safety board under vehicle and traffic law.

The dispute revolves around Harzinski, a designated Gloversville Police Department representative on the safety board, who stepped down as chairman and from his board seat after retiring last month.

Harzinski expressed an interest in remaining on the board as a civilian member and Quinn made a motion at the February meeting to accommodate that wish.

The motion was tabled in a 6-1 vote after members cited bylaws limiting the number of civilian members to three from each of the two cities. Harzinski, a Johnstown resident, would be No. 4 from that municipality.

When it appeared the board was not ready at the March meeting to take the measure off the table, Quinn said he became frustrated and expressed his views. He said Wednesday Hughes is free to ask supervisors to remove him.

But, he said, Hughes is only known for “fumbling feats of oral flatulism” and for producing “more noxious fumes than any number of woodstoves that can ever be installed in the city of Gloversville.”

Hughes, whose council recently imposed a moratorium on outdoor wood furnaces, found the remarks amusing and replied: “I wish he would tell me how he really feels. That’s true professionalism right there.”

Hughes, in a letter to safety board members, which was supported by a letter from safety board member and Gloversville Police Capt. James Lorenzoni, said he was informed of “several comments [that] were very disturbing, uncalled for and very unprofessional.”

Hughes reminded safety board members that Quinn “is voting on issues of public safety, something that directly affects Gloversville and our Police Department. … At the same time, this individual is expressing personal agendas.”

Hughes questions whether Quinn can “be trusted to act in a manner becoming a board member and fairly vote on issues concerning Gloversville.”

Lorenzoni, in his letter, said Quinn’s statements “placed me professionally in an untenable position.”

Quinn is entitled to express his opinions, Lorenzoni said, but added “it is entirely another issue when such opinions are publicly expressed to the detriment of a participating agency, municipality or political entity. … It is also immature to say the least.”

Lorenzoni asks safety board Chairwoman Denise Frederick: “Can this board now provide a 100 percent guarantee that Mr. Quinn’s political opinions of our city and its administration, as well as his obvious personal agenda and expressed bias, will not influence his vote negatively against our city or Police Department?”

Frederick did not return a call seeking comment.

Quinn said it is Gloversville officials who injected politics into safety board business.

Quinn said he is frustrated because there are safety board members who will not take a stand.

“He’s down and people are kicking him,” Quinn said of Harzinski. “I have every right to express my opinion. … I would say it to his face,” Quinn said of Hughes, who suspended Harzinski in December for alleged insubordination. Harzinski retired as part of a settlement of a lawsuit he filed seeking to return to active duty.

Quinn, a retired Johnstown police officer who has served on the safety board for about 25 years, said that he would step down to create a seat for Harzinski.

County Administrator Jon R. Stead said Wednesday he was not aware of the safety board dispute. But, he said, supervisors have sole appointment and removal authority over safety board members.

Under safety board bylaws, he said, a member targeted for possible removal must be notified by the safety board in writing at least 10 days in advance. If a two-thirds vote for removal ensues, then the measure is passed to the county Board of Supervisors as a recommendation, Stead said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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