LtE: Do We Need to Fact Check LTEs?

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Dear Reading Post:

This letter is in response to John Lippett’s LTE about the town manager search, posted on Sunday Feb 11, 2024 by the Reading Post.  It was concerning on several levels.

The first level relates to the veracity of its content. It pains me to say this, but Residents of Reading – sometimes you must double check the truth of what is written in an LTE. In this case, before you take what Mr. Lippett writes as Gospel regarding Mr. Haley and Mr. Bacci’s views on the candidates for the town manager position, I invite you to watch the entire discussion for yourselves. Here is a link:

The town manager candidate discussion starts at 23 minutes in and ends about an hour and 5 minutes in. Watch that and decide for yourselves if Mr. Lippett is correctly characterizing what Mr. Bacci and Mr. Haley allegedly have as “key attributes” for the candidate they favor (Matt Kraunelis).  

Mr. Lippett’s LTE says “According to the two Select Board members supporting Kraunelis, his key attributes are stability and that he’s a nice guy.”  

Spoiler alert: the words “nice guy” (or even any words to that effect) are never uttered, not by Mr. Bacci or by Mr. Haley, and not by the other select board members.  

Of course, Mr. Lippett is free to have his own opinion about who should be town manager and is free to disagree with Mr. Haley and Mr. Bacci regarding their differing top choice and to write an LTE about why he prefers a different candidate. However, by putting this sentence in the LTE, Mr. Lippett puts words in their mouths that they did not say (indeed words that no one said), oversimplifies and disparages their reasoning, and makes unfounded assumptions about what these two select board members view as Matt Kraunelis’ s “key attributes.”  

I have rewatched the complete discussion and nowhere did ANY select board member say that a possible rationale or key attribute for choosing Mr. Kraunelis is that he is a “nice guy” (or any words to that effect, e.g., nice person, is nice, etc.). Mr. Bacci and Mr. Haley did mention that Reading needs stability, as but one reason for their support of Mr. Kraunelis. However, Mr. Bacci and Mr. Haley also stated many other things regarding their support for Mr. Kraunelis, including but not limited to the following “attributes” heard on video:

  • The qualities of his impressive resume, including his background as an attorney and his past work for the state 
  • He is “invested in Reading” because he has been here 10 years
  • He has the right experience for the job and is “ready” for the job
  • He has worked closely with two prior town managers (Bob and Fidel)
  • He has been here through many Reading projects in development and under development
  • He is the choice of many town staff
  • Town department heads support him as a town manager
  • He has “sat in their chair” (select board) in another town
  • He has “commitment to Reading”
  • He has been a member of the [Reading] community and has “been here forever”

I have struggled to understand even which possible comment in that list would even imply that Matt Kraunelis should get the job because he is a “nice guy.”  

Mr. Lippett’s assertions in his LTE do a disservice to the thoughtful consideration Mr. Bacci and Mr. Haley gave to this process. Mr. Haley and Mr. Bacci gave many substantive and thoughtful reasons for their choice as did Mr. Dockser and Ms. Herrick, both of whom also gave substantive and thoughtful reasons for their favoring of their candidates.  

But, John Lippett’s LTE was deeply concerning on another level, because it contains what appears to be non-public information regarding the town manager search.  

It appears from the LTE, which was posted on Sunday 2/11/2024, that Mr. Lippett has learned some kind of seemingly non-public information regarding one of the candidates, namely that one candidate (Clancy Main) allegedly withdrew his name from consideration for the town manager position. That information is not available publicly anywhere that I can find. It has not been issued as a press release by the town. The agenda for the 2/13/2024 meeting was posted at 1:48 pm on 2/8/2024, listing all 4 candidates. The acting SB chair had until 7pm Thursday to change that agenda. No changes to that agenda have been posted as of 9 am on Monday 2/12/2024.

How did John Lippett learn the seemingly non-public information, as of Sunday 2/11/2024, that one candidate for the town manager position has withdrawn? I certainly hope it did not come from someone associated with the town manager search, such as a search committee member or a select board member.  

Marianne Downing
Heather Drive

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