Select Board Tension Continues

Dockser Responds

Listen to this article
Mark Dockser

READING, MA — Acting Select Board chair Mark Dockser opened the public portion of the Tuesday Select Board meeting with a statement regarding what he referred to as the “toxic exchange” between himself and fellow Select Board member Christopher Haley at the February 17 meeting. In that meeting, Haley suggested that Dockser knew more about the recent resignation of former chair Jackie McCarthy than he was sharing and that it tainted the process of choosing a new town manager from the group of finalists. Dockser indicated he did not know what Haley was referencing during that meeting.

Dockser stated that Haley’s comments on February 17 were an attempt to weaponize innuendo and conjecture and have “no place in a public meeting.” Dockser continued to state that Haley’s comments were “inaccurate, inappropriate, divisive, and insulting” to him. Dockser then called upon the board to “redouble our efforts to work together for the good of the town.”

Christopher Haley

Haley responded by sharing his belief that McCarthy had been threatened to change her opinion regarding her vote for town manager from Matthew Kraunelis to Matthew Coogan, reading a quote that she “will never forget the fear I felt when I was being threatened.”

“I will not sit here silent and allow that to fester in the background and not bring it forward and then get attacked online and belittled for exactly exposing what took place here,” Haley stated. He also indicated that he had been in contact with the office of the Attorney General regarding the matter.

Select Board member Karen Herrick affirmed Dockser’s call for working together, noting that the board is made up of volunteers, while member Carlo Bacci shared that he does not know what happened, but “something happened.” He also stressed his belief that “the public deserves better” from the board.

Several members of the public addressed the issue, with Thomas Wise, John Arena, and Karen Janowski stressing the need for the board to investigate the matter. Vanessa Alvarado questioned Haley’s motive in making the allegations and also suggested that an investigation was outside the purview of the board. Linda Snow Dockser focused on the challenges the town faces in securing volunteers, suggesting that the environment created by such allegations is one of the reasons for those difficulties.

Special Election May 14

In other business, by a vote of 4-0, the Select Board set a date of May 14 for a special election to replace McCarthy on the board. It also appointed Bacci and Herrick to the Volunteer Appointment Screening Committee by a 4-0 vote.

Community Preservation Act

The board formed an ad hoc committee by a vote of 3-0 to research and report on whether or not to pursue participation in the Community Preservation Act with a goal of placing the choice before the voters at the November election. Haley abstained from the vote due to a possible conflict of interest. If the Select Board chooses to move forward, a Special Town Meeting may be called in the late spring or during the summer to discuss the issue.

Town Meeting

The board ended the evening by voting 4-0 to close the sixteen-article warrant for April Town Meeting. The board adjourned to executive session to discuss a legal matter at 9:55 pm.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email