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I’ve watched Reading politics for all 33 years I’ve lived here, and can honestly say that this past year has been the most dispiriting I have ever observed. After reading countless letters to various editors arguing for and against this proposed recall, and watching a number of excruciatingly long Select Board meetings, I have to conclude that Vanessa Alvarado has done nothing to justify the vitriol voiced against her except to try to muscle in on the “old guard’s team.” I raised three sons (and one feisty daughter) here in town and I recognize playground posturing and chest-bumping when I see it.
The (mostly male) old guard has held sway in Reading politics for a long time. Now someone new (and female!) has somehow gotten onto the team and wouldn’t let John Halsey – long time Select Board member and liaison to the Public Safety Department – call the shots regarding a timeline for hiring the town police chief. I object to the suggestions that she has somehow disrespected the police by choosing to allow time for Board discussion and citizen input: we have a marvelous police department and Chief David Clark was duly appointed within 7 months of the job being posted, and less than 3 weeks after the Town Manager notified the Select Board of his choice of appointee. That seems perfectly appropriate to me. Despite claims that the Select Board “violated the town charter” by means of the delay for discussion and input, no one has yet demonstrated that the deliberately vague charter actually says anything at all about a timeline.
I note that the old guard had no problem at all with an actual violation of the town charter when they appointed an old friend to the Board of Health without due process, and conclude that the “charter” is a smokescreen trotted out when they are personally disappointed.
I object even more strongly to claims that Vanessa Alvarado has “cost the town $35,000” by refusing to step down. Those who initiated the recall petition knew that a recall requires a town election which would cost $20,00 to $30,000. There are consequences when people can’t learn to play nice with each other.
I say let the voters decide and then get on with the real work of running the towns of Reading. I have great respect for all those willing to serve as volunteers on the various boards required for town governance and hope this past year’s ugliness won’t discourage others from stepping up. Real adults know how to work together respectfully.