GLOVERSVILLE – A joint news release from Mayor Vincent DeSantis and Anthony “Tony” Casale Thursday announced Casale will end his 11-year tenure as city attorney on Sept. 4.
“Throughout the last several days, we have met and discussed the history of events that have unfolded over the last several months,” reads the news release. “We mutually agree that rather than going down a path of potential further controversy over the next several weeks and months, it would be better for both the city and Attorney Casale for us to amicably part ways and end on a high note.”
During a special meeting on July 20 the Common Council voted 6-0 to ask for Casale’s resignation after he had gotten into a shouting match with 4th Ward Councilwoman Ellen Anadio at the council’s July 13 meeting.
In the news release DeSantis praised Casale’s work for the city over the course of both former Mayor Dayton King’s administration as well as the last two years DeSantis has served as mayor.
“Over the past 11 years this city has greatly benefitted by the capable legal advice and guidance of Attorney Casale,” reads the news release. “This administration over the past two and a half years is especially indebted to him in that much of our progress and many accomplishments are due to his work. Code changes that have streamlined maintenance code enforcement, the establishment of our Property Disposition Committee and our Vacancy Ordinance are a few examples.”
Casale’s tenure has also included tough political battles, particularly with Republican mayoral candidate and current Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr. and his staunch council ally Anadio.
The disagreement stemmed from Rowback’s decision not to comply with any of the recommendations of the council’s special investigative committee, which had concluded Rowback was “untruthful” under oath when interviewed by the committee, and had exposed the city to potential lawsuits due to harassing, intimidating, and threatening conduct toward city employees.
The committee had recommended Rowback apologize to city employees they say he threatened to fire and take harassment training, all of which he has refused to do, stating the committee should apologize to him.
During the July 13 meeting, Anadio, a frequent defender of Rowback, had gone on the attack against Casale and 1st Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss, bringing up past conflicts they had with Rowback stemming from the 2017 mayoral elections.
In 2017 Rowback accused Casale and Weiss of wrongfully releasing portions of his personnel file as city firefighter after Rowback had mistakenly filed a Freedom of Information Law request for his own file after a dispute between Rowback and former Mayor Dayton King. The dispute was over whether Rowback had been reprimanded during his career for having gone bowling during a sick day.
In 2017 firefighter and police personnel files were not considered public documents under the state’s FOIL law, but Casale had released the form to Rowback anyway, and then released it again to another person who had filed a FOIL request for it, who then distributed the information on the internet.
Casale defended himself, stating the city’s ethics panel had unanimously rejected Rowback’s ethics complaint against him and that he had talked to Rowback about the dispute many times since then and considered it “water under the bridge,” but then also criticized Rowback for refusing to comment on the investigative probe other than a written statement Casale said he could “barely read himself.”
Anadio had attempted to interrupt Casale when Casale shouted over her.
“Excuse me, I have the floor now! If you want to have a contest of who can talk loudest, I’ll win that contest!” Casale yelled.
DeSantis then verbally restrained Casale.
“I can’t take anymore of this, he’s got to go!” Casale said of Rowback.
“Tony, you’re out of order,” DeSantis said.
At the council’s July 27 meeting, Casale continued to perform his regular duties as city attorney, and it was unclear whether he would resign. After the meeting DeSantis said the council had approved $17,000 to hire special legal counsel for the transition from Casale to a new city attorney.
In the joint news release Thursday Casale explained his decision to resign.
“I am tremendously proud of the many achievements that the city of Gloversville has realized since the time I commenced my representation of the city in 2011,” he stated. “I very much do not want to see these accomplishments become overshadowed by any continued political controversy. After carefully considering all scenarios, I am confident that the path we have agreed upon is the path that is best for me, my family, and the city of Gloversville. … I will always be a cheerleader for the city of Gloversville and I wish the city the very best.”
DeSantis said Casale’s salary and benefits will end with the pay period closest to Sept. 4. He said he hopes to present the Common Council with a new city attorney candidate by Aug. 24. The council will set the new city attorney’s salary when the council votes on the appointment.