LTE: Confronting Misinformation Relative to the Ad Hoc Committee on Human Rights

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Editors Note – the author sent a clarification to this letter now attached to the end of this article.

Dear fellow members of the Reading community:

I hope this message finds you healthy and well and that you are finding moments of peace, comfort, and joy in this challenging time. 

In this challenging time, misinformation abounds, amplified and spread by social media, and it can be difficult to ascertain what is true. Here in Reading, I have witnessed misinformation regarding the ad hoc committee on human rights spread via social media and elevated in multiple letters to the editor published in the Reading Post and the Reading Patch over the past year, including in one published just this past week.

As the former co-chair of the ad hoc committee on human rights, which completed its work in December 2020, I am proud of the work of the ad hoc committee and firmly support its recommendation to fund the position of Director of Equity and Social Justice for the town as a part of a structure modeled after the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support. My support for that position will be the subject of a separate letter to the editor, but you can read more about the proposed position in a letter to November Town Meeting from me and my co-chair, Carlo Bacci,[1] or on the Reading Public Library’s website.[2]  I would like to take this opportunity to challenge the misinformation I have seen repeated throughout the last year relative to the work of the committee by sharing what I know:

 1. My colleague Vanessa Alvarado was not solely responsible for the appointment of the original ad hoc committee members. 

In fact, the original appointments were made by unanimous vote of all five members of the Select Board at the time- Vanessa Alvarado, Barry Berman, Dan Ensminger, Andy Friedmann, and John Halsey.[3] [4]

It is true that the committee, in its original iteration, included two non-residents: the Superintendent of Schools and the parent of an RPS student who participated in the METCO program. I believe the intention of the then-Board was good: to include a diverse and representative cross-section of our community and to bring important school perspectives to the table in its appointments, goals I certainly support. When I was tapped as a co-chair of the ad hoc committee soon after my election on 4/2/19, I was made aware that, under the Town Charter, non-residents could not be appointed to town committees, and I worked with the ad hoc committee and Town Counsel to develop a solution that would comply with the Charter while still allowing the participation of a representative cross-section of the community in the process. The solution we ulitmately adopted was to have the designated elected officials from the Select Board, School Committee, and Library Board of Trustees serve as the members of the ad hoc committee, while including members of the Reading community in the process as advisors- a proposal made by a resident participating in the process and one approved by Town Counsel. 

We committed to utilize a consensus-building process in our work, and nothing in my tenure on the Select Board has given me a greater sense of pride or satisfaction than when all individuals present in the room indicated by a raising of hands their approval of the general direction of hiring a Director of Equity and Social Justice and creating a group modeled after the Reading Coalition for Prevention and Support in the ad hoc committee’s meeting on January 30, 2020. At the committee’s final meeting on December 23, 2020, all members and ad hoc committee advisors likewise expressed their approval, with all members voting to adopt a letter expressing such support for the recommendation.

2. The ad hoc committee on human rights did not cost the Town $10,000 in legal fees.

While I did consult with Town Counsel in identifying a solution to the membership dilemma (consisting of about 10 minutes of phone calls and some quick emails), I was baffled when I first read in a letter to the editor in the Reading Post an assertion that this kind of consultation had resulted in a cost of $10,000 to the Town. Soon thereafter, I asked our Town Manager where such a figure would have come from; he did not know. Later, I inquired with Town Counsel, who indicated that the office did not account for work related to the ad hoc committee separately from all legal work they did for the Select Board, and that, regardless, the work they had done was not significant in time and would not have approached $10,000 in legal fees.

 3. Vanessa Alvarado was not involved in making the ultimate recommendation of the committee.

By the time the ad hoc committee began considering and discussing its recommendation, Vanessa was not a part of the committee; she never voted on the recommendation and only heard about the recommendation as part of liaison reports made by me and my co-chair (first, Andy Friedmann, and later, Carlo Bacci) in open sessions of the Reading Select Board.

I aim to be a consensus builder in our community, as I sought to be in the process undertaken by the ad hoc committee. Consensus building is made much easier, however, when we are all operating from the same set of facts.


Anne Landry
Center Ave

In the interest of continuing to share what I know and not perpetuate misinformation, I want to offer this point of clarification on and context to my previous Letter to the Editor (“Confronting Misinformation Relative to the Ad Hoc Committee on Human Rights”):

It was pointed out to me following the publication of my Letter to the Editor in the Reading Post that I was not the only person to reach out to Town Counsel relative to the work of the ad hoc committee on human rights; there were conversations to which I was not privy. Thus, my involvement of “about 10 minutes of phone calls and some quick emails” would not have comprised the totality of correspondence with Town Counsel on the matter. It remains true that I was told by Town Counsel that their work related to the ad hoc committee did not take up a lot of time.

Anne Landry
Center Ave

[1] November 2020 Town Meeting Warrant Report, available at, starting at page 8.

[2] Division for Equity and Social Justice, available at

[3] See the 3/12/19 Select Board meeting packet, available at,0,0/doc/499847/Page1.aspx,

[4] And the 3/12/19 Select Board meeting minutes, available at

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