Dayton King apologizes to Bill Rowback, city

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King reads a letter of apology to former Gloversville mayoral candidate and city firefighter William Rowback Jr. and the Gloversville Firefighters Association admitting he violated Civil Rights Law Section 50-A by releasing RowbackÕs personnel information during a live debate on a local radio station during Tuesday's Common Council meeting as required by the plea agreement King accepted in Johnstown Town Court in September. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Dayton King publicly apologized to former mayoral candidate and city firefighter William Rowback Jr. during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting as required by a plea agreement relating to the release of information from Rowback’s personnel file during a live radio debate.

“For any embarrassment that bringing this to light has caused Mr. Rowback and his family, I am very sorry,” King stated.

King was ordered to publicly deliver the written apology to Rowback and the Gloversville Firefighters Association admitting he violated Civil Rights Law Section 50-A by releasing Rowback’s personnel information.

Under the Sept. 10 agreement reached between King, his attorney Robert Abdella, Rowback and special prosecutor Peter Califano from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office before Johnstown Town Court Justice Karen Palmateer, King pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment, a violation, and received a $250 fine with a $125 surcharge.

King was originally charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, by state police on Dec. 8 after Rowback filed a complaint with troopers in Mayfield based on the release of information from his employee personnel file.

Former Gloversville mayoral candidate and city firefighter William Rowback Jr. responds to the written apology from Mayor Dayton King during Tuesday's Common Council meeting. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Under the initial official misconduct charge, state troopers alleged that King used his position as mayor of Gloversville to gain access to, and review, Rowback’s personnel file and then released the information during the radio debate on Oct. 28, 2017.

In a Dec. 8 Facebook post, King stated that Rowback “repeatedly pressured” him to discuss his file on air. King said the discussion was a result of Rowback’s insistence to cover the topic, “not because of anything I said or did.” Rowback has maintained that he did not give permission for the release of his personnel information.

In his apology, King again referenced this point, saying he should have refused to discuss the information during the debate.

“If I had a chance to hit rewind during the mayoral debate last year when Bill Rowback told me to speak about what was in his personnel file, I should have refused,” King stated. “To the extent that my comments released information from Mr. Rowback’s personnel file that should have not been released, pursuant to Civil Rights Law 50-A, I take responsibility and apologize to the union and I assure nothing like this will happen again.”

King then approached Rowback who was present for the meeting, handing him a copy of the apology, shaking his hand and saying once more “I apologize.”

Rowback then asked to respond to the apology, a decision King left to the council.

“It’s up to the council if they want to waive the rules they certainly can,” King said. “Just like any other time, if you ever want to make a motion to waive the rules and allow anybody to speak you certainly can, you have that right, you don’t have to.”

Fifth Ward Councilman Jay Zarrelli motioned to waive the rules, the motion was seconded by Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski and approved by the council.

Rowback then approached the podium and read a prepared statement.

“My hope is that the words in Mr. King’s apology letter and subsequent actions moving forward are truthful in nature,” Rowback stated. “I will undoubtedly struggle with trusting Mr. King’s sincerity.”

Rowback went on to question the apology in light of a since deleted Facebook post King made on Sept. 29 announcing trick-or-treating hours in the city on Halloween. In the post King said he would likely dress up as a firefighter this year and shared a picture of himself with a mustache similar to Rowback’s.

“The post was hurtful personally and I see it as a reflection of King’s poor judgment in the face of what he was asked to do by Justice Palmateer at this Common Council meeting tonight, which is to meaningfully apologize,” Rowback stated. “I am willing to move forward, but do so with trepidation; the only hope in my heart is that God has a bigger plan for all parties involved, including the city of Gloversville.”

Following the statements, the council entered an unrelated executive session and Rowback further discussed the apology with members of the media saying he approved the court ordered apology as a way to move on from the incident, but did not accept the apology personally.

“I’m OK with it because it was read,” Rowback said. “I want this to end.”

But Rowback is still mulling over potential action relating to King’s Facebook post, saying he is discussing the issue with his attorneys, pointing out that several city firefighters have mustaches similar to his own.

“Whether it’s considered as workplace harassment or just making fun of the individuals that are protecting and serving this city, it shouldn’t have been done,” Rowback said. “He made a statement that it was only a joke, if it was a joke then why did he take it down?”

Rowback went on to say that as a city employee, he could not make similar statements or posts referencing King.

“If I were to make a statement back making reference to the mayor, as a city firefighter I’m held accountable for my actions when talking about my boss, so the playing field is not level. He’s able to do and say what he wants with very little consequences,” Rowback said.

Following Tuesday’s meeting King said he deleted the post after being asked to do so by people he “highly” respects.

“I have no intention of hurting anybody, any time,” King said. “At the end of the day we can second guess what everybody says about everything.”

When asked to consider Rowback’s thoughts about the apology, King said that he bears no ill will towards Rowback and wants to move forward.

“Whether it’s a heartfelt apology or whether I did it to serve my plea agreement has no bearing. I don’t want any harm for Mr. Rowback, I’d like to move forward,” King said. “Over the next several weeks and months we’re just going to do city business and if I see Mr. Rowback on the street I’m going to say hello and I wish him well.”

Discussion over the alleged release of information from Rowback’s personnel file by King has not fully concluded, as the city Ethics Board will hold a hearing on Nov. 14 on a complaint Rowback filed against the mayor in February stemming from the release.