Complaint filed with Ethics Board over mayor’s actions

Editor’s note: The following is the letter William Rowback Jr. filed to the Gloversville Ethics Board in his formal complaint against Mayor Dayton King.

As everyone is aware, Mayor [Dayton] King and I participated in a debate that was broadcast live on radio (AM 1340 WENT) on Oct. 28, 2017.

During this live radio debate, Mayor King disclosed confidential information from my personal file. This confidential information had been obtained by him days earlier and related to alleged past discipline and/or performance evaluations.

In addition, Gloversville City Councilwoman Marsha Weiss obtained this clearly confidential information and disseminated it publicly on social media, also in clear violation of the law and her moral and ethical obligations as a councilwoman for the city of Gloversville.

I am by this letter filing a formal complaint with the Ethics Board of the city of Gloversville and requesting an investigation into the matter.

This formal complaint is with respect to Mayor King and Councilwoman Weiss’ actions in both obtaining and disseminating this clearly confidential information, as well as with respect to Mayor King violating the Penal Law of the state of New York in this regard.

Dayton King, in his official capacity as mayor and as the city’s executive, has access to personnel files for city employees working in the various city departments, including the fire department. However, certain information in personnel files is by law confidential and must not be disclosed. Information used to “evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion” in a firefighter’s personnel record is by law confidential and may not be disclosed without written consent or a court order. Furthermore, since these records are confidential and would constitute an unwarranted invasion of my personal privacy, they are by law not available by Freedom of Information Law request (Public Officers Law SS87 [2] [a], [b]; 89 [2].

While Mayor King may have access to this information in his official capacity, it was a clear abuse of power by him to both obtain and then publicly disclose that information and to use it against me (once I became a political opponent) specifically — and in fact only — in order to gain a political advantage.

Simply put — Mayor King improperly “disclose[d] confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties or use[d] such information to further his personal interests” (General Municipal Law S 805-a [1] [b]; see also Gloversville City Code S 25-5 [D], [G]).

I also believe Mayor King’s actions constituted the crime of official misconduct (Penal Law S 195.00).

As a direct result of Mayor King’s unlawful actions, supporters of Dayton King shared a video with an audio recording of the live debate via social media.

Additionally, and again as a direct result of Mayor King’s actions, a person who used the name “Joshua Daly” on Facebook shared a link to a PDF file of what appears to be confidential disciplinary materials from my personnel file.

Perhaps most disturbingly, council member Marsha Weiss also shared this clearly confidential information — thereby perhaps violating the Penal Law herself, and certainly violating the city’s Code of Ethics.

With every action they took to commence and continue this unethical and illegal activity Mayor King and Councilwoman Weiss continuously put their own self interest ahead of the residents of the city they were elected to represent. They let their own fears and biases overwhelm their obligations to their constituents.

I believe that the confidential information obtained by Mayor King was obtained without the mayor having filed a FOIL request. I further believe that this confidential information, thereafter shared publicly by Councilwoman Weiss was obtained by her without her having filed a FOIL request.

To the extent that a FOIL request might have been made by Dayton King, Councilwoman Weiss or any other person, I believe it was unlawful to release the information.

My understanding is that City Attorney Anthony Casale is the FOIL officer for the city of Gloversville. As such, it is one of his fundamental job responsibilities to review every FOIL request for appropriateness, as well as legality. This information was released either with — or without — advice of the council (the FOIL officer).

Clearly this review either did not occur or did not occur competently. If this confidential information was released by the city to any party through a FOIL request, it was released in violation of the law.

If the information was released without a FOIL request (for example, if Mayor King or Councilwoman Weiss simply walked over to the fire station and reviewed this confidential file without a formal written request), that by definition is a clear abuse of their power and position.

I am asking that the Ethic’s Board’s investigation include the entirety of the time-frame from Mayor King’s first contact with the fire department regarding this confidential information going forward.

Given the clear outline in the state as well as the local law as to what actions are — and more to the point what actions are not — allowed by city “officials and employees,” and their obligations to the residents of the city they supposedly represent, I am hereby filing a formal complaint with the Ethics Board with regard to:

Mayor King’s actions in violation of state and local law and ordinance.

Counciwoman Weiss’ actions in violation of state and local law and ordinance.

City Attorney Casale’s failure to fulfill and carry out his obligations as city attorney and the city’s FOIL officer.

“All personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion, under the control of any political subdivision — under the control of a paid fire department — shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the expressed written consent of such firefighter.” New York Stae Civil Rights Law S 50-a.

“No municipal officer or employee shall — disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties or use such information to further his personal gain.” New York state general municipal law S805-a [1][b].

A public servant is guilty of official misconduct when, with the intent to obtain a benefit or deprive another person of a benefit: He commits an act relating to his office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of his official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized.”

Official misconduct is a Class A mindemeanor.

New York State Penal Law S195.00 — official misconduct.


By Kerry Minor

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