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Mechanicville council hires attorney to probe complaint against mayor

Mechanicville council hires attorney to probe complaint against mayor

Mechanicville Police Benevolent Association claims harassment
Mechanicville council hires attorney to probe complaint against mayor
From left, City Council members Anthony Gotti, Barbara McGuire, Mayor Dennis Baker, City Clark Kimberly Dunn and Jodie Gilheany.
Photographer: Ann Friedman

MECHANICVILLE — The Mechanicville City Council on Wednesday voted to hire an outside attorney to investigate a complaint filed against Mayor Dennis Baker by the Mechanicville Police Benevolent Association.

The complaint was filed on Jan. 19 by PBA President Alexander Dunn, Vice President Matthew Dunn, Treasurer Ian Foard and Secretary William Rabbitt. It alleges that Mayor Dennis Baker harassed several PBA members and city of Mechanicville employees. 

Before City Council members Jodie Gilheany, Barbara McGuire, Anthony Gotti and City Clerk Kimberly Dunn voted on Wednesday, Baker said, "I am really sick about what's going on — I feel horrible. 

"I think it's embarrassing the city and the press isn't helping that."

The council met on Feb. 7 to discuss hiring an outside attorney to investigate the complaint. 

On Wednesday, Baker advised the council that they should vote "yes" on hiring an outside attorney despite the fact that it would cost the city money.

"At the end of this whole thing, I will be vindicated from false charges," he said before abstaining from the vote. 

Dunn, Gilheany, McGuire and Gotti voted in favor to hire Robert Hite of the Albany law firm, Hite and Beaumont. 

The meeting was attended by more than 20 people who were not given a chance to address the council. 

Mechanicville resident Amy Pickett said it was "absolutely ridiculous" that the public wasn't given the opportunity to speak. 

"What's the purpose of having all these people here?" she said. 

Pickett said she doesn't understand why the city is choosing to seek legal counsel to address the complaint against the mayor. 

"I don't get why they are taking this to the next level," she said. 

Despite her frustrations, Pickett said she agrees with Baker when he said he will be "vindicated from false charges."

"I think he's an upstanding person," she said. "I do believe what he said is true."

Bill Claydon of Mechanicville said how the city is handling the complaint against the mayor is an embarrassment to the city. 

"I don't understand why they're going through all of this for a complaint," he said. "It should've been dealt with internally."

As an owner of several properties in Mechanicville, Claydon is not pleased with the fact that the attorney will be paid for with taxpayer money.

"This is a significant issue, because in a small town, a person's reputation is very important," he said. "But this is a resolvable issue." 

Baker's personal attorney, James Walsh of Ballston Spa, said Hite would launch an investigation into the complaint. 

"The mayor will have the opportunity to defend himself," he said. "I will help put forth the facts to cut through the misinformation."

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