Letter: Halsey’s Record

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To the Editor:

In an August 15 rebuttal letter to my August 11 letter, Mr. Alec Giacalone attempts to correct some of my statements.  His letter is titled “Facts Matter about John Halsey.”  Facts do matter.  Mr. Giacalone does not have all the facts.  I stand by my original letter.

Mr. Giacalone writes that I “claimed that Mr. Halsey threatened to sue members of the Recreation Committee, which is not true.”  On June 12, 2018, the Recreation Committee met, and Mr. Halsey attended their meeting and talked to Recreation Committee members about their vote asking to remove him as a liaison. These are excerpts from the meeting minutes, publicly available on the Town website:

“J. Halsey says that he met with a lawyer twice and had the resources.  He says he has been considering lawsuits against recreation committee members.  He also states that he could fill the room with 60 people.”  The minutes also state, “J. Halsey says that he indicated that he would not stop his involvement… He said that he will be coming to recreation committee meetings instead of Select Board meetings unless a quorum is needed at the Select Board or important issues are being discussed.” The minutes continue with,  “J. Halsey exits.  Committee members briefly discussed J. Halsey’s comments.  Several members state they felt personally threatened by the lawsuit comment.” 

Mr. Giacalone wrote “She claimed ‘John Halsey is the only Select Board member in memory to have been required to resign from a position as Select Board liaison to a Committee’ which is wrong.  At July 10, 2018, Select Board Meeting, which is on YouTube, Mr. Halsey resigned from his position as Recreation Committee liaison of his own volition.  Mr. Halsey acknowledged that the Recreation Committee felt it was time for a change in their liaison and he was more than willing to accommodate that.”

Mr. Giacalone is wrong in his characterization of events that occurred and the facts surrounding those events.  I attended the July 10, 2018, Select Board meeting, fully expecting Mr. Halsey to be replaced as Select Board liaison to the Recreation Committee during the discussion of the 9 pm agenda item, which was “Discussion of the Recreation Liaison Assignment.” Instead, Mr. Halsey gave his resignation earlier in the meeting.  Mr. Giacalone states that Mr. Halsey was “more than willing to accommodate” the Recreation Committee’s desire for a new liaison.  However, Mr. Giacalone does not explain why the resignation took place months after the request, months after Mr. Halsey knew of the request, and only when the matter was to be discussed publicly, and it was expected that the Select Board would vote to replace him as Recreation Committee liaison. Admittedly, “required to resign” was a poor choice of words on my part.  Mr. Halsey chose to resign, in my opinion, to avoid the embarrassment of a public discussion of events leading to that moment, and to avoid a vote to remove him from this appointed position.  Mr. Halsey was allowed to frame the narrative, as long as he was removed.  He no longer controls that narrative.

Mr. Giacalone intimates that the reason the Recreation Committee asked for a new liaison was that Mr. Halsey was wearing too many hats, and heavily involved in recreation organizations.  This is only partly true.  Select Board members are given liaison assignments based on their interests, so there’s no inherent conflict with Mr. Halsey’s many involvements with ball leagues and other recreational activities and his work as Select Board liaison to the Recreation Committee.  It was his behavior that precipitated the need for his removal.  This is reinforced in a contemporaneous email from the then-Select Board Chair to a Recreation Committee member, in discussing Mr. Halsey’s many recreation involvements and his possible removal as a liaison, where the Select Board Chair wrote, “Board participation by itself is not a reason [for removal].  But overstepping staff, and making volunteers uncomfortable is.” (Email obtained through a public records request.)

Angela Binda
Town Meeting Member
Orchard Park Drive

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