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To the Editor,
I am writing this letter in response to what seems like the use of a broad brush to paint an untrue picture of people earnestly and seriously considering the merits of the recall election as either politically motivated or ignorant of the recall issues. People in this town genuinely trying to make their decision on how to vote are not all involved in “petty politics” or smear campaigns as several recent local news articles and letters to the editor have portrayed. For many Reading residents, consideration of the recall vote has zero to do with politics or personality and instead is truly about making the best decision based on the facts we are able to glean from both sides of the argument. Most are starting from a place that assumes Ms. Alvarado’s intentions in the hiring process of the police chief were good and trying to determine if and when things went off track.
Process issues seem to be at the center of this debate about the recall, a process that as Chair of the Select Board Ms. Alvarado had control over. Her control over the process is not in dispute. The disconnect that many of us are trying to reconcile is that while Ms. Alvarado repeatedly said she was, in good faith, acting to open the police chief hiring process to the public, she seemed, at the very same time, to interfere or at least slow down the hiring process itself by delaying its progress in several well-documented instances. It’s completely fair to press in on this issue, especially since three other Select Board members acknowledged the Board’s failings to schedule public hearing sessions early on in the process. What has been most perplexing and frustrating for me, though, is Ms. Alvarado’s unwillingness to acknowledge her part in the shortcomings of the hiring process (in particular hour four, minute sixteen of Select Board mtg on 2/11). I’ve been eager to hear from her since that February meeting about how and why the process went awry but without any further explanation or transparency, it makes her intent very hard to discern.
The Alvarado supporters present a convincing case that the recall vote is precedent-setting and as voters, we should take it extremely seriously. No matter where you land in terms of the potential violation of the town’s charter, whether you interpret it literally or practically and if you come to the conclusion that Ms. Alvarado was acting within the confines of the charter, it is still reasonable to consider the fact that while an action may meet the letter of the law, its resulting consequences and effects may also warrant serious consideration for recalling an elected official. Voters will have to decide for themselves what that tipping point is. With all that has happened on the national stage with our elected leaders over the past four years and our desire to hold our highest elected officials accountable for the consequences of their decisions and actions, it’s justifiable, where we have a local voice and a vote, to also want to hold our Reading officials responsible for their actions. The recall election is a lawful and important part of our democratic process and one that gives every town member the opportunity to have their voice heard and their vote counted.
I hope my fellow Reading residents will read through both fortherecall.com and againsttherecall.com websites, watch the February 11th Select Board meeting in its entirety, read what the Town Manager said about the hiring process, review the timeline of events once the recall was initiated on the town’s website, and position yourself to make an informed and reasoned decision and vote accordingly.