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Signers of the recall petition are your friends, fellow neighbors, and people in the community who have children and grandchildren. They want what is best for Reading. Their recall efforts are based on facts and the abuse and misuse of power by Select Board member Ms. Vanessa Alvarado. The recall is not taken lightly – it is their last resort.
Select Board member Karen Herrick recently submitted a letter accusing individuals (including John Halsey, a candidate to fill the vacancy) of “a non-stop attack and slander campaign specifically designed to tear Reading apart at the seams.” Ms. Herrick provides no documentation for any of her specious claims, and even introduces new rumors herself about defunding the police that are not found anywhere in literature available at www.fortherecall.com or www.johnhalseyforreading.com.
One can only conjecture why Ms. Herrick would make such claims without evidence, but I wish to respond to Ms. Herrick with the following information, all of which is well-documented and verifiable.
First, we know that petitioners finished gathering all signatures by March 12th, eleven days before Governor Baker’s March 23rd order closing all non-essential businesses for two weeks. Mr. Halsey did not sign the recall petition.
Second, we know that Ms. Alvarado made her allegations against law-abiding citizens before she had any grounds to do so. We know this with certainty since Ms. Alvarado made her claims about petition signatures on April 6th (two weeks into the state shutdown), however, she did not receive voter registration cards to review against petition signatures until May 21st or later (six weeks after she made her allegations).
Third, we know that instead of requesting the cards herself, Ms. Alvarado chose to obtain the cards via 24 total public records requests, all submitted by different people. Certainly, Ms. Alvarado could have divvied up the workload after having received the cards herself, which begs the question: why would Ms. Alvarado make 24 separate requests when only 1 was needed?
Spreading her request for 917 challenged signatures among 24 requestors—all of whom are politically connected to Ms. Alvarado—disguises her real impact to Reading. It also makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to know what she is doing.
Responding to Ms. Alvarado’s requests consumed 96 hours of Reading’s town staff time between 5/21/2020- 6/11/2020, during the very “job losses, global pandemic, national and local racial injustice, a tattered economy, and difficult family and personal situations” that Ms. Herrick noted in her letter.
Ms. Alvarado shows no compunction or accountability for squandering 96+ town staff hours during these trying times, or for the $35,000+ in Town Counsel’s legal fees preparing for and participating in her fallacious hearing. Remember, her June 29th hearing was offered (though not required) in response to Ms. Alvarado’s baseless claims that she filed on April 6th. On July 1st, the Registrars unanimously rejected Ms. Alvarado’s single remaining objection, Ms. Alvarado having withdrawn all others by that point.
None of this is illegal, but it clearly reveals Ms. Alvarado’s lack of candor, absence of facts, and conscious efforts to delay the process and conceal her true impact.
Reading has never before experienced this magnitude of dysfunction that its voters have been compelled to invoke the recall portion of the Charter. I respectfully disagree with Ms. Herrick and others who believe that the recall is “petty,” an act of “political revenge,” or that it sets a “dangerous precedent” (former Selectman Bill Burditt’s letter clearly explains why it does not).
I am encouraged that the thousands of residents seeking relief from Ms. Alvarado have remained focused on her past and present actions and behaviors (perhaps most acute and disturbing in the past six months since the petition was filed), and have not devolved into vacant personal attacks.
Character counts. Vote FOR THE RECALL to restore civility, ethics, and honesty in your town leaders.