During the public comment portion of the Select Board meeting last week, vice chair Irfan Nasrullah read aloud two letters from individuals who criticized Planning Board member Muriel Kramer for her involvement with the Massachusetts Bail Fund. Two other individuals also spoke against Kramer, calling for her to resign her town position.
During public comment at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, Nasrullah offered his own take, criticizing the statements and defending Kramer.
“I believe the accusations were at best misleading, and at worst disinformation,” he said. “The emails accused Ms. Kramer of releasing a dangerous criminal back onto the street. That is not accurate.”
Nasrullah said that while Kramer is listed as treasurer/director, her role is more like an auditor and she “does not have a say in who gets bailed out.”
“To accuse her of releasing dangerous criminals onto the street and calling for her to resign is entirely inappropriate,” Nasrullah said, adding: “To call for Ms. Kramer’s resignation is the type of knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t resolve the issues complained of and is not conducive to civil discourse on an important subject.
“While I take no view for or against the Bail Fund, I do see arguments both in favor or against,” Nasrullah continued. “This is particularly true in light of the fact that the day after I read those emails at the Select Board meeting Steve Bannon was indicted on an alleged $300 million fraud case. He was able to post $3 million in bail to gain his freedom. So the question in my mind is: Is freedom while under indictment reserved only for those who have deep pockets?
“As I said, calling for Ms. Kramer’s resignation in light of the tragic events will not resolve the issue. It will only smear the name of a person who has worked diligently in the best interests of Hopkinton. Lastly, I want to add that it is entirely irresponsible not to separate what we as volunteers do in our private lives either through work or advocacy in important issues from our work for the town.”
Resident Anne Mattina, speaking after Nasrullah, slammed the Select Board for allowing the critics to comment last week without revealing their full names and addresses, something that has been standard at Select Board meetings. Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone’s explanation for allowing anonymity was that the speakers had reason to be afraid for their safety, as the issue dealt with individuals who were accused of violent crimes.
“I thought the decision made last week to grant anonymity to the people seeking to publicly chastise an elected official for a matter which had nothing to do with her town position was a poor one,” Mattina said. “It did not follow standard protocol that people state their name and address when participating in the public comment section. Also, it undermined and demeaned the process of local government in that it was a clearly coordinated attack on Ms. Kramer’s character, with calls for her resignation from the Planning Board, which became part of the public record and gave her no opportunity for rebuttal or defense.
“Finally, the reasoning that some of the commentators were at risk by speaking out is ludicrous. Instead, the whole event seems to have put Ms. Kramer and her family in danger. And my question is, to what end? Who does this benefit? Not the town at all, because other citizens will be reluctant to put themselves out there as volunteers or candidates. I believe Hopkinton deserves better.”
I agree that the attacks on Ms. Kramer should not have been allowed, unless the individuals allowed their names to be released. Town discourse relies on openness.