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Nov 2, 2011 3:09 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Workers Dispute East Hampton Highway Superintendent's Claim That Discrimination Charges Have Been Dropped

Nov 8, 2011 5:00 PM

East Hampton Town Highway Department employees said on Monday evening that they and their coworkers have no immediate plans to drop harassment and discrimination charges against Highway Superintendent Scott King, contesting Mr. King’s account last Wednesday—six days before Election Day—that the charges would soon be withdrawn.

Mr. King, who is running for a third term on the Democratic and Working Families lines, sent reporters a press release last week in which he said that all three employees had agreed to settle their claims against him, and that one had already signed a settlement agreement dropping the charges while the two others would likely sign similar agreements after Election Day.

But this week, two employees said no one had signed settlement agreements at the time Mr. King sent his press release, and that a fourth employee had filed a new complaint against Mr. King with the New York State Division of Human Rights. One of the original employees signed a settlement agreement after the press release came out, they said, while the other two have no plans to drop their complaints any time soon.

Luis Bahamondes, a foreman who claimed that Mr. King used racial slurs against him, said on Monday that he has not signed his settlement agreement and doesn’t intend to, at least for now. He said he may hold off on signing the settlement even if Mr. King wins reelection.

“It wouldn’t do me any good anyway, because, like I said, he’s still going to retaliate anyway,” Mr. Bahamondes said. “Why sign it?”

Kevin Cobb, a foreman who filed a new complaint against Mr. King on September 29, said another employee, Irsan Bonilla, also had no plans to drop his claim against Mr. King, in which he accuses Mr. King of using racial slurs. Mr. Bonilla could not be reached on Monday.

“Irsan is still extremely hurt by what happened to him, and he’s not settling for some extra training or this and that,” Mr. Cobb said. “And I don’t blame him. When you talk to that man there are tears in his eyes when he tries to tell you what happened to him.”

Another employee, Wallace Trotman, who also claimed Mr. King aimed racial slurs at him, recently signed a settlement agreement that guarantees him additional training, according to Mr. Cobb and Mr. Bahamondes. Mr. Trotman could not be reached on Monday.

Mr. Bahamondes, Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Trotman filed claims with the Division of Human Rights in July. Mr. King has been dogged by claims that he has been physically and verbally abusive to his workers for the past two years.

Last Wednesday, Mr. King said all three original complainants were dropping their charges, and that, in exchange, two would receive additional training while the third—Mr. Bahamondes—would no longer be assigned to removing deer carcasses from the roads. He also claimed the charges were orchestrated by Elaine Jones, chairwoman of the East Hampton Independence Party, whose niece is married to Mr. King’s challenger this year, Stephen K. Lynch.

“We said from the beginning that these charges were baseless and the town has not had to accept any responsibility for these claims,” Mr. King said. “This was a political hatchet job and the fact that the employees agreed to withdraw their claims in exchange for an agreement to give two of them more training and not to assign one of them to picking up dead deer, something all our employees have to do sometime, indicates how weak the claims were.”

Mr. King first announced that the complaints would be dropped at a Concerned Citizens of Montauk candidates forum on October 23. On Monday, he said he sent out the press release because the employees themselves proposed the settlement agreements, indicating they were going to withdraw their charges. In the press release, he speculated that 
Ms. Jones convinced Mr. 
Bahamondes and Mr. Bonilla to hold off on signing their agreements.

On Monday, Ms. Jones, who helped the employees file their complaints, denied that her help was politically motivated. She said she began helping Highway Department employees last year, long before Mr. Lynch was a candidate and it was clear that Mr. King would be running for reelection.

“It had nothing to do with politics then, and it doesn’t have anything to do with politics now,” she said. “It has to do with Scott King and who he is.”

Mr. Cobb said he filed a complaint with the Division of Human Rights after an incident on September 1. He said he took a personal day, but Mr. King logged it as a sick day, then caught Mr. Cobb working at his second job as an estate manager. “He’s trying to get me in trouble,” Mr. Cobb said.

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Perhaps before the Press writes any stories about Scott King, the reporters should read the East Hampton Independent. Perhaps Scott King can fool some reporters who support him but you would think that at least those reporters would investigate a press release five days before the election. The charges have not been dismissed as Scott King claims and I would think that I would have the right to dispute Mr. Kings claims as to whether or not it is a political agenda on my part. At least the other ...more
By housewife (79), east hampton on Nov 2, 11 4:17 PM
3 members liked this comment
To quote Bugs (sort of):

Nov 2, 11 10:00 PM appended by Mr. Z
IF, this ain't fluff...
By Mr. Z (11817), North Sea on Nov 2, 11 10:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Did he pay for this to be printed? What a joke!
By BigOne (22), Hampton Bays on Nov 3, 11 12:02 AM
2 members liked this comment
What is particularly funny is that Cohen, Overby, VanScoyac, Frankl, Klopmam, and all the Connnnnservators, etc. all love Scott King because he is a tough boss that gets the job done, but they whine about Bill Wilkinson being too tough when he has really got the job done. The hypocrisy is unbelievable. The difference I guess between King and Wilkinson is that Wilkinson is not a bigot and racist. In fact Wilkinson has multiple national awards for diversity in the work place. Aren't these Dems ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on Nov 3, 11 5:32 PM
3 members liked this comment
I'll bet he says a lot of things ...
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Nov 4, 11 6:53 AM
I was all set to vote AGAINST King, because I don't think any racist should be in a position of power over anyone. After reading this story, I did start to wonder what stories are true. Is there anyone out there that works with King, that can say first hand what kind of guy he is.
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Nov 4, 11 10:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
He is a Bubby and the old school treated people "from away" with disdain. He is a generation away from that but, not very far.
By Bandguy (23), Sag Harbor on Nov 4, 11 7:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
King keeps saying its unproductive workers,disgruntled workers and malcontents. Why then would Supervisor Wilkinson(by Scotts own admission in the press) ask him to resign. Why all the apologies. Why do you apologize to workers who wont do there jobs???
By Kevin L. cobb (2), East hampton on Nov 5, 11 9:44 PM
Is it my imagination or did David Rattray of the Star not even mention Highway Superintendent in the endorsements? After Rattray criticized Wilkinson for being demanding on workers I guess he had to stay clear of Democrat Scott King -- Cohen's good buddy (Cohen is often seen in King's office). One major difference between King and Wilkinson however is Wilkinson is not a bigot -- in fact he is an expert on equality in the work place and has received awards based on what I have read. I did look ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on Nov 6, 11 1:17 PM
I have documentation proving that in no way did i abandon coworkers or taxpayers. Dream on Pinnochio
By Kevin L. cobb (2), East hampton on Nov 8, 11 8:23 PM
Kevin Cobb had an APPROVED Personal Day......there is proof of it....Scott King changed it without anyones knowlodge and then claimed he was neglecting his duties by taking sick time.....did anyone bother to look at the fact that Scott King stole time from the Town of East Hampton, in a town vehicle, stalked and followed Kevin Cobb on his approved day off? He followed Kevin Cobb and bore down on him in his vehicle on him , video camera in hand and taped Kevin and his son just sitting in their ...more
By jdcsea1000 (1), westhampton on Nov 9, 11 8:34 AM