Fulton County

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King’s apology not accepted

Former opponent William Rowback not satisfied
William Rowback Jr., left, shakes hands with Mayor Dayton King at the Gloversville Common Council meeting Tuesday night.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
William Rowback Jr., left, shakes hands with Mayor Dayton King at the Gloversville Common Council meeting Tuesday night.

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Dayton King fulfilled the legal requirements of his plea deal Tuesday night by publicly apologizing to his former mayoral election rival William Rowback Jr. for having used information from Rowback’s personnel file during a live radio debate.

But the last chapter in the fierce political feud between the two men appears to be far from written. 

After a brief public comment session Tuesday night King read his apology to Rowback. 

“If I had a chance to hit rewind, and Bill Rowback told me to speak about what was in his personnel file, I should have refused. For any embarrassment that bringing this to light has caused for you or your family, I apologize,” King said. 

King then walked down to shake Rowback’s hand, which Rowback agreed to do, but Rowback had a statement of his own to give. The Gloversville Common Council agreed to suspend the rules to allow Rowback to give his own statement. 

“My hope is that the words in Mr. King’s apology letter and subsequent actions moving forward, are truthful in nature,” Rowback said. “However, as a human, flawed much like everyone in the room, I will undoubtedly struggle with trusting Mr. King’s sincerity with the reason being, I felt very ridiculed by Mr. King’s Facebook post announcing the city of Gloversville’s official trick-or-treating on Sept. 29.”

Rowback then said King’s social media post was personally hurtful to him. “I am willing to go forward, but do so with trepidation; the only hope in my heart is that God has a bigger plan for all parties involved, including the city of Gloversville.” 

In an interview session with reporters while the Common Council was in executive session, Rowback rejected King’s apology and said he’s talking to attorneys about the possibility of a civil lawsuit alleging workplace harassment against King and the city. He pointed to King’s Facebook post in which the mayor showed himself with facial hair nearly identical to Rowback’s signature handlebar mustache and stated he might celebrate Halloween this year as a firefighter. 

Rowback, a full-time Gloversville firefighter, said the playing field isn’t level between himself and his boss the mayor, but he isn’t done in his quest to take the top city job for himself. Rowback vowed to run for Gloversville mayor again.  

“If he wants to be a firefighter and dress up like a firefighter why does he have to show a picture of the mustache looking like mine?” Rowback said.

King vs Rowback legal case

In September King agreed to pay a $250 fine, plus $125 court surcharge as part of a plea agreement to reduce a misdemeanor official misconduct charge down to 2nd degree harassment, a violation. The charge against King developed out of a complaint made by Rowback. 

King was arrested by New York State Police in December. The charge stemmed from King’s having referenced an incident in Rowback’s personnel file as a firefighter with the city during a live radio debate on WENT on Oct. 28, 2017.

During the debate the discussion turned to Rowback’s 28-year history with the Fire Department. 

“If you looked at my work history at the city of Gloversville …” Rowback said as King interjected: “I have.” 

“You have?” Rowback responded. “Oh.”

Rowback then paused for several seconds and started pressing King, asking whether he noticed that Rowback had applied multiple times to be a fire investigator, and whether there was a reason why he wasn’t appointed.

King referenced “calling in sick” and “going bowling” as potential reasons.

During the broadcast King repeatedly said he believed Rowback’s personnel file was subject to the New York state Freedom of Information Law, which is not correct.

The file showed that Rowback was reprimanded for going bowling on a sick day, something he still denies. Rowback said he wouldn’t change anything he did or said during the debate.

Rowback’s compliant to the state police was that King had violated New York state Civil Rights Law 50-a, which states the personnel files of firefighters and police officers “used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion” of those officers and firefighters … “shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express written consent of such … firefighter,” except under court order. 

Johnstown Town Court Justice Karen Palmateer agreed to the plea deal to reduce the charges against King, which was negotiated by special prosecutor Peter Califano from Montgomery County and King’s lawyer Robert Abdella, on the condition that King read a public letter of apology to Rowback and the city Fire Department, the language of which would be agreed to in advance by Califano. Califano also agreed to allow Rowback, as the complainant in the case, to see the apology. 

Rowback said that after he rejected seven different versions of the apology, Califano, after having discussions with Gloversville City Attorney Anthony Casale, agreed to the apology letter without his consent. 

Rowback acknowledged that his consent was not necessary for the plea deal, but said he still doubts King’s sincerity. 

 

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