Tempers flare at Common Council

GLOVERSVILLE — Tensions ran high at the Gloversville City Common Council meeting last week as members discussed a video, a letter, and the overall response to their Ethics Board investigation involving  Councilman-at-Large William Rowback, Jr. 

Rowback’s actions dominated much of the meeting including a lengthy discussion from Department of Public Works Director Chris Perry that addressed the repercussions of a video Rowback posted on social media. In the video Rowback accused the city of negligence in terms of their response to flooding complaints by residents after an early June storm.

“The video posted seemed to stir up residents who we had been working with. Things were going in the right direction, but now the tenor has changed. My whole day was consumed by damage control because of a video posted on social media instead of being able to investigate what needs to be fixed. We know what the long term obligations are to solve this issue. We have our guys working so hard, so to have such a gratifying movement ruined is disturbing. The city has been working on it since the day that storm hit,” said Perry.

Perry said the flooding has plagued certain parts of the city, including Northern Terrace, Brentwood Avenue and Lee Avenue. He said once he was made aware of the flooding, he and his department went to work, looking at what is causing the water overflow and how they can alleviate it. Mayor Vincent DeSantis and Perry posted their own video last week in response to what they called misinformation being spread by Rowback.

“The effect of the construction here was to channel a lot of the groundwater and surface water into this area. We had that big storm on June 8 and he immediately began to investigate. It is the first time the city has been able to get into the details of where this water is coming from. Chris was on it. We have never had a more proactive leader of the DPW,” DeSantis said.

Later in the meeting, Rowback read an unapologetic statement in response to the Ethics Board’s board conclusion that he had been dishonest in his accusations against several city employees. The council meeting quickly turned to raised voices and tense moments.

City Attorney Anthony Casale became emotional after Councilwoman Ellen Anadio began speaking on  Rowback’s behalf. The two began talking over one another several times including a heated exchange over Rowback’s silence.

“Shame on you Ellen, shame on you, you know better. He doesn’t have a thought of his own to defend himself. He just sat there and read a statement, which he can barely read. He hasn’t said a word to defend himself over his misconduct over the flooding video,” said Casale.

Casale was speaking in response to the video Rowback posted, which Rowback again did not address. He did, however, read a prepared statement saying that not only does he not plan to apologize for his previous actions that were investigated by the ethics committee, he  said in fact he feels that he is owed an apology.

“I disagree with the findings and believe the sole purpose was to undermine my credibility. I will not be apologizing, in fact if there is anyone apologizing, it should be by the members of the investigative committee,” said Rowback.

In other news, the board discussed the re-opening of Melchior Park. The park had been closed in order to remove what had been deemed as hazardous trees. A total of 34 hazardous or dying trees were removed, including stumps that needed to be ground out. For the remainder of the summer and fall, DPW crews will be in the park to mow the park on a rotational basis to improve the overall turf conditions. Approximately 40 trees consisting of 16 to 18 different species will be planted throughout the park in the fall as part of the ongoing effort to establish Melchior Park as the City Arboretum.