Innocent until proven guilty

On Wednesday, Gloversville Mayor Dayton King was arrested. Again. This time he allegedly used the city’s postal meter to send personal and outside business mail after hours, and, according to state police information officer Kerra Burns, the amount was less than $500. He is also accused of a felony for allegedly falsifying the ledger kept to monitor the postal meter for audits by entering incorrect information, allegedly to cover up his alleged use of the meter.

We use the word “alleged” because King has not been found guilty of these charges — he is accused – and in this country, it is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

But one of the problems now is this is not the first time the mayor has been accused of a crime or an impropriety.

He recently pled guilty in a plea arrangement to second-degree harassment, a violation. It was pled down from official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for releasing information from the personnel file of his mayoral opponent, William Rowback Jr. during a live radio debate.

His plea arrangement included an order for him to apologize to Rowback and the fireman’s association, (Rowback is a full-time firefighter for the city of Gloversville), for releasing that information.

He did apologize. Kind of. His apology, while taking responsibility for releasing the information, still placed blame on Rowback for pressing him to say what he knew about Rowback’s personnel file during the debate.

Some of King’s supporters are blaming Rowback — he did tell the mayor during the debate that if he knew something about his career ambitions with the fire company, tell what he knew.

But, that is not “giving permission.” King had already reviewed Rowback’s file and someone posted copies of the personnel file on social media prior to the debate. He was already “looking for dirt” against his opponent and he used his position as mayor to access the confidential file. He had an legal and moral obligation to not say a word no matter how much Rowback “pressured” him.

King’s brushes with improprieties are steady. For instance, in 2013, it was discovered King was not keeping consistent mileage reports for a city-owned vehicle he was using.

The Leader-Herald filed a Freedom of Information request in May 2013 for the records and it revealed three city employees used the Ford Explorer — King and two others.

During a three-month period, King put more than 2,000 miles on the SUV that taxpayers pay for, that were unaccounted for.

Within two weeks, the Common Council, as a result of the inconsistency in King’s mileage record-keeping, changed its vehicle law to make it a crime to use city-owned vehicles for anything but city business. The law reads city vehicles “may be used only for official business and are not additional compensation or added benefit for the city of Gloversville elected officials.”

And then there are little things, such as not paying his property taxes, his recent letter to editor urging people to lie to their friends and do the opposite of what they tell them; and his Halloween post that was in poor taste — especially for someone who is held to a higher standard.

And that is the problem. If one is in an important position — being mayor of a city is an important position — one is held to a higher standard. Like a parent, that person is supposed to be the kind of person we want our children to grow up to be.

Some on social media seem to feel King being charged with a felony for taking a “couple of stamps” is akin to a “witch hunt.” It is not the stamps — doctoring an official document is a serious crime. But taking even a “couple of stamps” from your employer is stealing. It is not a “perk.”

While he has not been convicted of these charges and he is innocent until proven guilty, there should not even be a hint of impropriety when in public office. King knows the truth of whether or not he used the meter for personal and outside business use and he knows if he altered the ledger. Until this works its way through the court system, he is our elected mayor and we need to let him do his job.

But, if he is or found guilty or even pleads the case down, he should step down from his position. Many are working very hard to improve this city and a mayor whose actions are continually an embarrassment is not what most of us want.