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May 25, 2010 5:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Allegations of physical, verbal abuse target East Hampton Town highway superintendent

May 25, 2010 5:34 PM

East Hampton Town Highway Superintendent Scott King is in hot water over reports this week that he cannot control his temper: Three employees complained to the town workers’ union of repeated verbal abuse—and, on at least one occasion, physical violence.

One employee, Barry Forde, filed a report with the East Hampton Town Police on Friday afternoon, May 14, saying Mr. King had slapped him in the head while he was discussing rerouting traffic on Springs-Fireplace Road with the foreman of a paving company. The police report classified the incident as harassment in the second degree, although Mr. Forde did not wish to press charges.

Another Highway Department employee, Arthur Lucas, filed an incident report with Town Police on April 5. He said that on March 31 he had been working on a flooded road when Mr. King drove up to him in a town vehicle at a high rate of speed, “almost striking him with his vehicle and yelling and cursing at him.”

He said that Mr. King continued to yell that he was going to fire Mr. Lucas for not following his directions and going ahead and closing the road, though Mr. Lucas said that he was not the one who ordered the road closed. The incident is documented as a case of harassment, though Mr. Lucas said that he only wanted it documented and was not filing charges.

Both reports were not released by East Hampton Town Police until this week.

East Hampton Civil Service Employees Association President Heath Liebman said Monday morning that he has been told three people have attempted to seek redress with the town’s Human Resources Department over Mr. King’s temper.

“From what I’m told, there’s a large amount of verbal abuse, and there was a recent incident in which there was physical abuse,” said Mr. Liebman. “I don’t know anywhere that’s acceptable, but definitely not here.”

Mr. King acknowledged Monday that two of his employees had filed complaints. He said that he gave his statement of what happened to the Town Police last Thursday, May 20, and has been advised to not make any comments.

“In the end, the truth is going to come out. I’ll be on top,” Mr. King said. “I have to let them make their move.

“I hear it went to the [district attorney]. From what I understand, the police department doesn’t think there’s anything there. When you hear the names of the people involved, you’ll figure it out,” he added.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Todd Sarris said that his office has not referred the matter to the District Attorney’s office and would not do so unless either complainant wished to press charges. Even then, he said, the matter would not be referred to the District Attorney unless he believed the Town Police needed assistance in determining whether to charge Mr. King.

“I’m not saying that would happen,” he said, adding that he had not investigated either complaint.

This isn’t the first time Mr. King’s temper has been called into question. At a forum sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk during last fall’s campaign, Mr. King was visibly angered when his opponent for highway superintendent, Town Engineer Tom Talmage, and members of the audience questioned his effectiveness in his job.

Mr. King, who is a Democrat, won that election and is now in his second term in office. But he came under fire on Election Night after he drove his pickup truck, with a campaign sign in the bed, onto Mr. Talmage’s front lawn.

Mr. Liebman said that he has assisted the employees in speaking with the union’s lawyer about their rights and has made preparations to bring their cases to the State Division of Human Rights. He also said that he was unsure if the town’s Human Resources Department, which handles complaints against town workers, had taken the employees’ concerns seriously.`

Human Resources Director Patricia Breen would not comment on this particular case, but she said that her office takes all complaints seriously. “No complaints are turned away. If someone said they made a complaint and it was not taken, that’s not true. We take complaints as submitted,” she said. “I’m not at liberty to comment on a particular investigation, but I am here, and I am receptive to any employee with a complaint. Complaints will be taken seriously.”

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said, however, that he has not received any official complaints from Ms. Breen’s office.

“There are things an employer can and can’t do so that an unfair labor practice charge isn’t filed against an employer,” he said, adding that he met with members of the union’s management labor committee last week to discuss the issue. “I told them I can’t do anything without you officially letting me know of something ... I still haven’t received an official complaint ... If the union is going to represent the employees, it has to grieve a practice that’s going on. They have to do that.”

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I am glad people are speaking up. There is a lot of this behavior that is overlooked in Town and Federal management positions. When an employee acts up, he (or she) is reassigned and usually given a promotion!!! Go figure!
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on May 24, 10 4:15 PM
Looka like this has been going on for some time.Time for this creep to look for a new job
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on May 24, 10 4:23 PM
It sounds as if Mr. King lacks certain aspects mature emotional control. Mr. King should get these violent outbursts under control or find another occupation. The Town can ill afford losing a lawsuit arrising out of such misbehacior now or in the future.
By Lost Tribe (66), East Hampton on May 24, 10 4:25 PM
Now this is really shocking considering the vast qualifications and expertise one needs to be a "highway supe". Perhaps a high school grad would be a minimum for the next candidate.
By tuckahoetrip (46), Water Mill on May 24, 10 4:28 PM
if I were Ms Q.. i'd keep quiet, she herself should had been charged months back...by the way where does that stand ?.....all got quiet in a hurry......Can 27 east look into that for its followers?
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on May 24, 10 4:30 PM
If a work force policy is in effect, employees should follow the proper channels. They can always sue the town if nothing is done about the alledged harassment.

I would recommend going to the NY State Police to report any criminal behavior. Putting it on file at the Town Police does not cut it and may be a conflict of interest. Yea, the Town Police have to answer to the same board.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on May 24, 10 4:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
To Lost Tribe: I don't know who you are, but I like you!
By disappointed (96), wainscott on May 24, 10 6:21 PM
now that this has come out do you think king is gonna break some ****s.100 percent sure on that.
By asurest (117), easthampton on May 24, 10 7:09 PM
Barry Forde is a stand up guy. It sounds like he has a lot of courage. It takes guts to stand up against abuse of any sort.
By MaryB (19), East Hampton on May 24, 10 7:55 PM
Bozo would make a better highway super. That's right, Bozo.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on May 24, 10 8:28 PM
unacceptable behavior and really nothing shocking to people who have known mr king through his younger yrs..but you voted him in..how do you fix it? the town is now making employees/new hires sign on the dotted line that if they witness or are being harrassed in their town jobs that they can complain in writing without fear of punishment. it will be investigated..Now..how about if your children are coached in our EHHS district by an Adult Coach that humiliates,screams and basically bullies his charges?? ...more
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on May 24, 10 9:03 PM
Barry, drop your "good guy" face & heart, for a minute. I know you like to rise above, but this is just b.s., plain & simple. A bully will continue to bully until he is called out on it. I know you both personally & Mr King did not get my vote. You ARE a stand up guy. I think that now that this out in the open, he cannot possibly retaliate. He's gonna have to get his temper under control and watch where he's stepping...because "we" are watching. I would nail his ass to the wall. My anger 1st rose ...more
By trublnocknatmydr (35), East Hampton on May 24, 10 10:20 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Hambone (514), New York on May 24, 10 10:54 PM
"When you hear the names of the people involved, you'll figure it out"? The name Barry Forde brings to mind a hardworking, local, family man. He has worked in that department for years. Scott King should not besmirch Barry's name to cover his own shortcomings. Scott has shown himself to be a small minded, arrogant person before. That odious incident with the sign on election night says it all. I would also like to know why those police reports were not published. Very strange!
By Gabrielle Brady (9), East Hampton on May 25, 10 10:59 AM
Although I am not a EH town resident, many of my friends are, last week I had one over who was quite upset about Mr. King and what was going on. He stated he was friends with both parties ( I know neither of them) and he was afraid Mr. king will lose his job because he assulted an other of his friends. I applaud the man who stood up to this BULLY. If he laid his hands on someone
which I believe to be fact he should lose his job, pension and any benefits that go along with it. This is the ...more
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on May 25, 10 12:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
Looks to me like King thinks he is a KING
If all this is true he should be fired,lose all benefits and be brought up on criminal charges
By sjd (420), Westhampton Beach on May 25, 10 1:10 PM
Andrew Dice Clay is our highway super???
By Dayo (33), Sag Harbor on May 25, 10 2:44 PM
He never could drive in the rain.
By Greg (1), Southampton on May 25, 10 11:40 PM
Mr. King won't be chuckling when the human rights division and the NAACP get involved. He is a bully and should never have been elected. The men should never be afraid to speak out because there are whistle blower laws to protect them. Also violence in the work place is not permitted.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 26, 10 3:06 PM
Maybe someone should smack this idiot back one day! I don't believe he is anywhere near as tough as he thinks he is. Bullies usually aren't.
By independent observer (34), east hampton on May 26, 10 10:39 PM
Hooray lets all pile on Scott King! He's guilty because the mob has decided! What fun! What hippocrits. If you all remember last fall the blood lust to fire employees was at a boil because they aren't anything but lazy leaches. (yes some of you said essentily that in this same publication.) And you voted in a town board who promised to throw them all out nomatter what. (Civil Service and union be damned.) And now your hoping that same union will crucify Mr. King on the nearest post. Also you reelected ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on May 27, 10 12:17 PM
There were allegations of abuse from Mr. King before the election. The night he was elected he parked his vehicle on his opponents front lawn for no reason other than to be the arrogant man he is. It seems his vicotry has gone to his head even worse. You can't lay your hands on your men.
By housewife (79), east hampton on May 28, 10 10:21 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By eastendgolf (28), Manorville on May 28, 10 4:04 PM
What's truly amazing is how this idiot got the job in the first place. His erractic, offensive behavior is widely known to anyone who's had the unpleasant experience of having any dealings with him. He's done a horrible job with the roads and has done a lot of crappy driveway paving work around these parts. Wake up folks!!!
By EHobserver (1), East Hampton on May 27, 10 12:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Coming from an insider, Mr. King has on numerous times laid his hands on Town Highway employees....and for verbally abusing the employees using names to refer to his workers ex: Mexicans, Spics, Ni**er.....you get my point but the workers are so scared to say anything in fear of losing there jobs. King should be fired immediately for his action as on numerous occasions he has crossed the line. His actions speaks for them self. NOBODY FILES CHARGES BECAUSE THEY DONT WANT TO BE DEMOTED AND ...more
By 4fd653 (2), east hampton on May 27, 10 8:46 PM
Charges need to be filed so he loses his job!....It's really sad no one files charges because they don't was to be punished by "The King" as he refers to himself as. As for Mr Lucas, this man has been abused for years from Mr.King, Verbally and physically...Every other word out of his mouth is how stupid we all are, and how lazy we are. When does abuse stop?....How about Safety??

I recall an episode where our men were out using the Crack Sealer spreading 500 degree material with no safety ...more
By 4fd653 (2), east hampton on May 27, 10 8:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Supervisor Wilkinson seems to sincerely care about his town workers. Even though King is elected the supervisor needs to get involved in this. The union will need his support and backing. A friend actually heard him say previously in more than 1 other incident, "The board can't do anything to me, I'm elected." There have been just 1 too many incidents involving this guy!
By disappointed (96), wainscott on May 27, 10 10:33 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By eastendgolf (28), Manorville on May 28, 10 4:02 PM
Mr. King ought to be careful who he's trying to slander. I've known Barry most of my life. He's one of the finest people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. If he says it's so, it is so.

The town board needs to do something about this while it's cleaning up the rest of the mess.
By arleenwest (2), East Hampton on May 29, 10 2:49 PM
“In the end, the truth is going to come out. I’ll be on top,” Mr. King said. “I have to let them make their move.

“I hear it went to the [district attorney]. From what I understand, the police department doesn’t think there’s anything there. When you hear the names of the people involved, you’ll figure it out,” he added.
Could Mr. King be more arrogant!!!! He abuses the men who work with him and then tries to shift the blame in their direction? I am shocked and appauled at his comments. ...more
By Babyblue (1), Flanders on May 29, 10 4:17 PM
Mr. Forde, Mr Lucas and anyone else in that department PLEASE do everyone a favor and press charges when anything like this happens. If you do that you and everyone else in your department will be protected against this type of behavior in the future. Filing a report & not pressing charges doesn't make sense. Of course, what we are hearing is the police talked you out of pressing charges. If this is true they are a disgrace.
By disappointed (96), wainscott on May 29, 10 4:36 PM
I'm on Barry Forde and Mr Lucas's side. And I hope they keep their jobs and something is done about Mr. King.
By Gailforce13 (1), East Hampton on May 29, 10 5:58 PM