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I am writing to share my reasoning for opposing the recall of Select Board member Vanessa Alvarado.
The main point of the recall is “an apparent violation of Sec. 5.2.b of the Reading Home Rule Charter.” The petitioners claim that Ms. Alvarado overstepped the bounds of what the Charter allows for the Select Board involvement in selection of the Police Chief. The Charter specifies that the Town Manager hires the Police Chief, and the Select Board votes to ratify that selection (or not). But if would be absurd to think the Select Board members could make an informed decision on whether to ratify a selection of such an important town official without understanding how the Town Manager made his decision. A thorough, transparent selection process benefits the Town and the chief, whose qualifications are then less likely to be called into question at a later point by anyone who disagrees with the chief’s policies, priorities, or handling of a situation.
I invite those supporting the recall to consider a parallel situation from the School Committee. The Town Charter specifies only that the School Committee hires the Superintendent; it is silent regarding other school positions, not even mentioning ratification. But I think most parents would be astounded if the School Committee were not involved in any other hires and the Superintendent made decisions about hiring principals or the special education director without public input. School Committee policy – not the Town Charter – spells out a ratification process (File CBBA/GCEBA): “It will be the responsibility of the Reading School Committee to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation for the screening process for Principal, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Human Resources and Finance, and Director of Pupil Services.” Is this a violation of the Town Charter, which does not explicitly give the School Committee such authority? I should think not. Similarly, it is not a violation of the Charter for a Select Board member to request information that he or she feels necessary to carry out the duty – ratifying the selection of Police Chief – that is spelled out in the Charter.
I understand that some people do not agree with Ms. Alvarado’s actions or opinions, but such disagreement is not justification for a recall, which should be used only in urgent cases – such as that of the mayor of Fall River, who is facing federal fraud and extortion charges. Whether or not one believes that Ms. Alvarado overstepped, this situation does not even remotely approach that level, and she should be allowed to finish out her term. Please join me in voting against the recall.