It’s time to go. Dennis Gabryszak is playing his constituents for fools and, however much they may have wanted him in office, they must surely be tired of his games. He needs to resign. Today would be good.
We know the women in his office were tired of his games. Seven women who worked for the Cheektowaga assemblyman have complained about lewd behavior on his part. One said he tried to kiss her. Another said her pay was halved after she complained to Gabryszak’s chief of staff, Adam Locher, about the assemblyman’s chronic misconduct.
The first reports of intolerable behavior by the Democratic assemblyman surfaced three weeks ago, and since then Gabryszak hasn’t had the decency to address his constituents. He hasn’t denied the accusations – which, at this late date, is damning in itself – nor has he confirmed them.
He hasn’t said if he will resign or drag his district and family through weeks and months of scandal before he, inevitably, calls it quits or is forced out.
It is fair to surmise that with the accumulated weight of the accusations against him and his refusal to comment, that they are largely, and maybe completely, true. Under those circumstances, Gabryszak has no business representing the people of his district at the highest levels of public service in New York. It is simply intolerable for New Yorkers to have to pay the salary of a man who cuts the salary of female employees who don’t accommodate his revolting demands.
But even if it turned out the allegations were untrue or exaggerated, Gabryszak’s silence has ruined him. Not only would an innocent man shout his denials, but an honorable one would want his constituents to know what was happening. He would want them on his side. His disgraceful silence misuses the people who sent him to Albany.
While Gabryszak remains in office, his constituents are, for all intents and purposes, unrepresented. No one will take him seriously. He will have no sway with colleagues, who won’t want to be seen next to him, in any case. It can’t be noticeably worse for the seat to be actually vacant until it can be filled in an election.
Thankfully, he had the sense to avoid Wednesday’s State of the State address. But reports have suggested that he plans to show up for work on Monday, there to gum up the works, accomplish nothing of value and induce women to keep their distance. He should just stay away.
If he won’t do the right thing and step down, then the Assembly Ethics Committee, to which Speaker Sheldon Silver has forwarded the seedy matter, should work as expeditiously as it can in fairness to both Gabryszak and his accusers. If it finds that any of the allegations is true, the Assembly should vote to expel him.
Only last year, Silver was accused of covering up sexual harassment by then-Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn. Even then, Albany clung to a boys-will-be-boys attitude about sexual misconduct by state officials, but it appears that the speaker, at least, has learned a lesson.
Albany simply cannot tolerate this kind of behavior. It needs to send a swift message. If Gabryszak won’t quit, he needs to be fired. End this episode quickly.