GLOVERSVILLE — All but one of the city’s department heads were reappointed to one-year terms at the city’s organizational meeting Jan. 1, the exception being Department of Public Works Director Dale Trumbull.
Unlike most municipalities, Gloversville operates with one-year appointments for positions like city attorney, city clerk and DPW director.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said Trumbull remains in the position as a “hold over,” but there won’t be a vote on his reappointment for at least a few months. DeSantis said he chose not to put Trumbull’s name up for a reappointment vote because he knew Trumbull would not receive unanimous support from the council.
“I like to have complete consensus,” DeSantis said. “I like to have everybody on board. I think the success of Gloversville over the last few years has really been that we listen to each other’s opinions about things.”
Two new members were sworn onto the Gloversville Common Council Jan. 1, Republican William Rowback Jr. as councilman-at-large, and Republican Ellen Anadio as 4th Ward councilwoman.
Rowback, Anadio, 2nd Ward Councilman Arthur Simonds, 5th Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli and 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski now form a 5-2 majority on the council, wresting control from the Gloversville Party, a fusion party consisting of Democrats, independents and non-establishment Republicans formed by DeSantis.
One of Rowback’s signature issues has been improving the city’s DPW. Rowback did not return messages seeking comment on Trumbull.
Siarkowski refused to comment on the Trumbull issue and hung up the phone when called by a Daily Gazette reporter.
Zarrelli said the city wants to get the “best director” out of Trumbull as possible, and delaying the reappointment vote is one means of accomplishing that goal.
DeSantis said it’s become a priority of his administration to improve performance from the city’s DPW and Trumbull has been tasked with implementing some changes to the way the department operates.
“A task force of myself and the council has been meeting with Dale a few times, and we’re very happy with the results,” DeSantis said. “He’s been doing a good job, we just have a few more things to go through.”
DeSantis said one of the areas the city wants Trumbull to tackle is a better system to prevent too many of the DPW’s 27 employees from taking vacations at the same time, which has resulted in delayed work. He said better snowplowing, dealing with sinkholes and catch basins, and possibly the construction of a new DPW building are all important items on the agenda for the city’s Department of Public Works.
“Dale’s got probably the hardest job of anyone at City Hall, with the vicissitudes of the weather and the 130-year-old infrastructure we have to struggle with,” DeSantis said. “This is probably the most important department we have because it affects the everyday quality of the city, the streetscape, the services we have to perform. Gloversville, our little city of about 15,000 people, has about 58 miles of streets, which is really a lot to maintain, so it’s a big, big job, and we’re trying to find ways to make it more efficient.”
Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss said she’s part of the task force working to improve the DPW. She said she’s 99 percent sure Trumbull would have been reappointed on Jan. 1 had there been a vote, but she would not say how she would have voted. She said the DPW also needs improved equipment, and the council will work to help to get it what it needs.
Trumbull has been in the spotlight before. He gave a sworn statement that was used as part of the case against former Mayor Dayton King, who resigned in January 2019 as part of a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to stealing some stamps from City Hall. Trumbull told the Gloversville police he had received a piece of mail from King’s personal business that had a stamp from City Hall’s stamp wheel on it.
DeSantis was elected in November to serve out the remaining two years of King’s term. All of King’s appointed department heads, including city attorney Anthony Casale, remain in office.
One question going into the Jan. 1 organizational meeting was whether Casale would face any opposition from the new council members.
Rowback and Casale have had public conflicts in the past. Rowback filed an ethics complaint against Casale and against 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, a Democrat, after the 2017 Gloversville mayoral race, claiming both had acted inappropriately concerning the release of information on Rowback’s personnel record as a member of the Gloversville Fire Department. During a mayoral election debate aired on radio station WENT, then Mayor Dayton King and Rowback argued over whether Rowback had ever been reprimanded by the Fire Department for allegedly bowling during a sick day.
King challenged Rowback to file a Freedom of Information Law Request (FOIL) for his personnel file to show whether or not the alleged bowling incident was in his file. Rowback filed the FOIL. Casale, as FOIL officer, approved the request, but then approved a subsequent request from another person who published the information on the internet, which Rowback alleged Weiss had shared on social media.
Personnel files of firefighters and police officers are not public documents under the FOIL law.
Rowback, who has vowed to win the Gloversville mayorship one day, said before the Jan. 1 meeting that he would not oppose Casale and at the meeting did vote for his reappointment.
“The mayor is the one who will appoint the city attorney,” he said in a social media message. “I will work with him respectfully.”
Rowback said he put in his retirement papers for the Gloversville Fire Department on Christmas Eve, giving him 30 years and seven days on the job.
DeSantis said the city has a full agenda ahead for 2020, which he will discuss in his state of the city address. Among the issues is a $300,000 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment Grant that was awarded to the city, one of 149 such awards made nationwide.